Volunteer Opportunities

All funds donated to FoM go directly to Puerto Morazán, so we rely on volunteers to help us achieve our goal of relieving the effects of poverty on young children in this part of Nicaragua.  Whether you would like to spend a few hours a week on a good cause or you would like to make a trip to Puerto Morazán to make a difference on the ground, we would love to hear from you.

Martha Kelly from Clifton Children’s House during a one month volunteer placement in Puerto Morazán.

We are currently looking for two new trustee members to join us.  These voluntary positions fixed for a term of three years would be suitable for people who have a strong interest in Nicaragua and Central America and/or have a background working with young children.  Knowledge of Spanish would be a plus.  Our new trustees will work on projects and events aimed at bringing in donations and standing orders to support our work in Puerto Morazán.  We are looking for people who can bring enthusiasm and fresh ideas to keep our charity sustainable and accessible to even more children.

For more information, please contact FoM trustee Alix Hughes at rozjpayne@gmail.com


Comments from previous volunteers:

2012 Rosa

Having just finished my degree, I decided rather than do some sensible paying-off loans, I would have an adventure. I knew about BLINC as my mum was one of the first people to go to Puerto Morazan and establish the link. It seemed like an opportunity to give something to the community, learn some Spanish and experience a different culture.

Puerto Morazan: A port town – and you can smell it on the air. The salt and breeze complete the hammock-lying-experience. The houses are simple – a lot of them are built from sticks and have palm leaves, and there’s only one main street. For someone who doesn’t live there, it might look like not a lot has changed in the past twenty years. But progress is gradually being made – they now have drinking water, the bridge is a solid metal construction rather than rotten wood, and there’s a secondary school.

Tonola: The skyline is rich in exotic fruit, but the streets are in bad shape and despite the rubbish collection truck, plastic is burnt every evening. The pace is very slow in Tonola – which means that everybody knows everybody. You can’t pass someone on the street without saying Adios! (confusingly – rarely Hola) It’s also small enough that there’s a business made out of people taking it in turns to use a loudspeaker, to say whatever they like, for the cost of 20 cordobas (about 50p). It wakes you up at five in the morning, but also regularly informs you that there’s no school. There are lots of shops in town, but none very big, and most are run from the window of someone’s house. There are a few bars, one fiesta and no cafes or restaurants. The main source of local entertainment seems to be going to the church multiple times a day where graduates from the school of flat singing are given very loud microphones. In a word, Tonola is an experience.

Food: The national dish is rice and beans, and you will be served a lot. Breakfast, lunch and dinner some days. But Nicaragua’s land is rich, so exotic fruit can be found in most gardens. Sapote is one I recommend – especially when made into a milkshake. Some of the more interesting dishes include Nacatomale (a maize based mix, filled with meat, potatoes, mint and sometimes olives and raisons), Nicaraguan Taco (a tortilla filled with beef and deep fried), Nicaraguan Guacamole (unlike other versions, egg is included), and fresh from Puerto Morazan’s waters – camerones (shrimp). If you have a sweet tooth, make sure you try a chocobanano – a frozen banana coated in melted chocolate and available sporadically from people´s houses.

Health: It’s recommended not to drink the water in PM, but I did for 7 weeks without problem. However, the attack of the mosquitoes was a problem. Make sure you bring a net, repellent and after-bite spray. Your nurse will recommend malaria tablets, but a lot of travellers (including Peace Corps volunteers who stay for two years) don’t take them and have no problem. Mosquitoes can also transmit Dengue fever, but there’s no form of prevention other than not getting bitten. Travel vaccinations for the area include rabies, hepatitus A and B and typhoid. Hepatitus A can be done free on the NHS when combined. Give yourself plenty of time to get vaccinations that require more than one dose and be sure to consult a travel clinic, such as Nomad on Park Street in Bristol.

Further Reading:
Jaguar’s Smile – a book written by Salmon Rushdie about his visit to Nicaragua during the revolution
Azul – is you want to know about Nica culture, then you have to know Ruben Dario.
Country Under My Skin – an autobiography by Nicaraguan writer Gioconda Belli

Rosa Lia  2012

1995-96 Jinny

In 1995 I travelled out to Nicaragua for the Bristol link with the pre-school in Puerto Morazan. I arrived with 100 teddy bears knitted for the children, and toys, and equipment for the Montessori pre-school. I spent 9 months in Nicaragua, travelling a little, spending the long holiday in the capital Managua helping at an orphanage, but mostly living in the small village in the north of the country, an impoverished area, but with locals who opened their homes to welcome a visitor. A people of charm, beauty and surprising joy.

The country suffered from 70% unemployment. The village had one telephone and a “runner” to fetch the lucky recipient of the call. An intermittent water supply, just a few hours a day, and an unreliable electricity supply. Only a few houses were of brick, others of mud with thatch or corrugated metal rooves, beaten mud floors. Cooking mostly on open fires, and hammocks to sleep on strung between the trees for a cool outlook.

We had a volcanic eruption whilst I was there, with days of ash falling from the sky and nights lit up with the molten rock, and a minor earthquake.

The dry season, when the sun was too hot and the land parched, and the wet season when the village came alive with visitors selling what they could, seasonal workers, and cold store lorries coming and going with the local “grown” atlantic prawns farmed in flooded fields, netted and brought back to the village where the women de-headed them and packed them off, mostly at night as it was cooler. This was when the main and only road to the village became rutted and impassable for all except horses and the cold storage lorries.

This is the life that the local children attending the Bristol-funded pre-school are involved in. Their families find the money necessary to attend school, buy the uniform and send the children, washed and clean, to school each morning. And this may be the only schooling they have, so when they leave they all enjoy a “graduation day”. (nb this was written in 1995)

At that time the school met in the village hall, with tables and chairs and blackboards. The children sang songs and recited the alphabet, but with little other equipment the curriculum was sparse.

The gifts I brought caused quite a sensation, the teddy bears were given to all the children who had no soft toys at all, and they may have been the first they had seen; and the toys and equipment  for the school were pounced upon and clutched hard, the children unwilling to share these gifts and therefore unable to play with them. Fortunately, over time, they shared and joined together to play with them. Unfortunately I heard later that all were lost in the hurricane “Mitch” when the village was flooded and all the villagers moved up to the local hill to await the river subsiding.

With constant financial help from Friends of Morazan the school has now expanded beyond all recognition. A purpose built building of their own, training for the teachers and Montessori equipment give a roomy, bright and colourful place to learn. The children care for, use and learn from their toys, including a computer, and this basis will help towards their future life whatever it may hold for them.

Jinny Rawlings

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