Volunteering in Honduras
An increasing number of foreign visitors to Honduras are coming not for a tropical vacation, but for a trip with more meaning. Honduras is a very poor country, and the motivated will find plenty of opportunities for volunteering time in a myriad of settings. Teams of doctors and nurses from Canada, the United States, and elsewhere frequently come to poorer parts of the country to offer basic medical care. Volunteers help out running orphanages and homes for street children, installing computer systems in local town governments, building housing and clean water systems, or teaching in local schools. Those with particular skills, like health care, construction, computer skills, or the like, are most appreciated, but anyone willing to work hard can find a place to put themselves to use, and any native English speaker can find a place to teach English. Most situations will require volunteers to pay their own way, although some minimal housing and food may be provided.
Coming with an attitude for learning, rather than one of “benefactor,” will open up many doors. Hondurans complain of volunteers that make no effort to interact with the locals or try local cuisine. The cost of a volunteer trip is often as much as a Honduran earns in six months. The best way to make sure that money is well-spent is by learning as much as possible and bringing that knowledge home to share.
One excellent clearing house for information on volunteering in Honduras is www.volunteerhonduras.com, with links to dozens of opportunities to work with NGOs and social projects in Honduras, as well as homestays with families accustomed to hosting foreigners. An international volunteer website with many links in Honduras is www.idealist.org. Many of the more socially active churches in other countries run projects in Honduras for any number of different causes.
People who volunteer their time quickly realize that lending a useful hand opens up an entirely different manner of relating with Hondurans, one that offers emotional and spiritual rewards far beyond a mere vacation.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition