At Unearth the World (UTW) we specialize in pairing volunteers with grassroots organizations creating real change in their communities around the world. We are thorough in our research to select partner organizations that are reputable, ethical, and able to provide both volunteers and beneficiaries of the services with a meaningful experience that breaks down cultural barriers and makes impact.
We are thrilled to work with such amazing partners and to be able to support them in whatever capacity they request. This post is the second in a series of articles that highlight our international partner organizations. We are fortunate to witness the important work and tangible results that our partners make every day and are so excited to share their mission and impact with you.
Today, we are honored to highlight our partner in the Masaya region of Nicaragua – a Spanish school and eco-hotel that uses its profits to fund local community initiatives. Volunteers stay at the eco-hotel or with local families and can work on a variety of projects facilitated by the local community. This organization’s main mission is to provide sustainable employment opportunities to as many local people as possible. When the hotel opened, there were only 10 employees. This year they are now able to employ around 70 people! The eco-hotel is also involved with several community projects falling into several categories: children, the environment, health, and animals.
This year, around 100 children in the community have participated in these projects, which focus on help with reading and writing, putting on plays, and learning through a community garden. In April of this year, the eco-hotel also launched a program offering English lessons to young children. Generally students don’t begin learning English until secondary school, so this program will give them a head start while providing work to the eco-hotel’s bilingual Spanish teachers. In addition, this partner offers a few programs for disabled children, including physical therapy, education, equine therapy, and hydrotherapy. Their new project is an employment opportunity for disabled community members who register to work in the vegetable farm, which 28 people are participating in this year.
A true passion for the leadership team at the eco-hotel is the environment and there are several projects ongoing. To date, over 25,000 trees have been planted in the area. Most recently, the eco-hotel has begun purchasing land at risk of monoculture or development. And in the health category, volunteers who have medical certifications can assist in the local health clinic or donate supplies. The eco-hotel also rescues animals, sterilizes local dogs and cats, and rehabilitates wild animals; all projects that have continued into 2017.
What’s next for this amazing international organization? The team has plans to expand the disabled children’s project by building a center from sustainable materials that will be used for therapy and education for disabled people of all ages. There are also plans to build a playground and a larger space to accommodate the increase in children attending the programs offered onsite. Other projects in the community include creating a communal eating space for the local children and building a storage facility for dragon fruit production.
This eco-hotel has created a sustainable tourism experience that supports local initiatives and offers meaningful employment opportunities in a region where such opportunities are sparse. Volunteers are able to not only hone their Spanish skills during daily class, but also participate in a project that suits their skills and interests.
We at Unearth the World are so passionate about the work that our partner is doing in their community. But, don’t just take our word for it. Below, you can read a few blog posts and a testimonial from people who spent time volunteering at this project!
Abbie, who volunteered in February of 2016 at the Nature Reserve project says: “Volunteering [at Unearth the World’s Sustainable Tourism in Nicaragua project] was a true testament to how a philanthropic program can bring a community together. My Spanish classes were the initial obvious take away from the trip, but I was not expecting to have such quick comradery with the locals, the staff of the eco-hotel & school as well as the other students and volunteers. These bonds ended up being the strongest memory from my trip to Nicaragua. Voluntourism can be a tense subject among travelers, questioning the positive impact it has locally and globally. It’s been my experience that there are organizations like Unearth the World that are making strides to better the world of volunteer travel.”
- Cornell Students Travel to Nicaragua: Reflections from the Field
- Stories of Transformation: Kate Unearths Nicaragua