What is so unique about the Mariposa volunteer opportunity?|
- You combine volunteer work with Spanish classes - we offer 20 hours formal classes (2 hours of grammar
and 2 hours of conversation) within the delightful garden surroundings of the Mariposa. For newcomers to Nicaragua
we also recommend starting your time here with a week or two joining in with the Mariposa programme of afternoon
and weekend activities in order to familiarise yourself with Nicaragua, its history and culture and with the immediate
surroundings of La Concha.
- If you wish to come with a group to do service/volunteer work as part of an educational trip, then please see the section
on "Group Service and Educational Trips". If, however, you are travelling as an individual,
then we can find you a volunteer placement as an individual.
This ensures flexibility to meet your learning needs
and that you do not spend your time here mainly interacting with groups of other Westerners - on the contrary, we
maximise the opportunities for you to work alongside and so get to know individual workers in La Concha. This also allows
us to offer you a placement suitable to your particular interests (subject to availability).
- In keeping with the Mariposa principle of maximising local employment opportunities, we do not use volunteers to replace
local workers. Instead, we place each individual volunteer alongside a Nicaraguan worker (this of course has the additional benefit
of improving your Spanish)
- We offer opportunities for volunteers to become immersed in the community of La Concha by working within the
community alongside workers from local organisations - such as working alongside a pre-school teacher in a school,
observing in the health centre, or even with a bee project - so you can really get out there to see for yourself, experience
and understand how the community functions. We also have a range of volunteer opportunities within the more protected
setting of the Mariposa - you similarly work alongside one of the Mariposa workers.
- Volunteers live in homestays with local families (all known to the Mariposa). This of course enhances the
opportunities to get to know a Nicaraguan family and practice that Spanish!
- Weekly de-briefing sessions are held within the Mariposa, in English, so you can share the upside of your
placement, reflecting on learning aspects. Also to help you make sense of some of those more demanding and
difficult experiences (led by Dr. Paulette Goudge who has a PhD in Development issues). You can browse the
excellent selection of books on both Nicaragua and development and aid issues which are available in the
- We can offer you placements doing practical work or manual labor for as little as one week, but we ask for
a longer time commitment if you prefer to work with people, suggested minimum one month.
Learn spanish in the stunning gardens of the Mariposa|
Currently available placements:|
That working hours are from 8 to 11.30am, occasionally 1pm to 4.30pm (unless otherwise specified). This means (as with any work!)
you should leave your house or La Mariposa around 7.30am or 12.30pm to be there on time.
- Working with children with disabilities in San Juan de la Concepcion
La Mariposa is starting a new project as of December 2013 working with Los Pipitos in San Juan de la Concepcion. Los Pipitos
is a national organisation that works with families and children with disabilities around the country. Alongside local staff and volunteers
we will provide a 6 week program of activities for children with disabilities, including music, crafts, games, and sports.
A few years ago the special education school run by Los Pipitos in San Juan de la Concepcion was robbed of everything. Prior to last
week they only had chairs, one table and a chalkboard. There are at least 15 children with disabilities in San Juan de la Concepcion,
however only two have been going to school, as the school has no resources. Some children are integrated into public schools, while
others stay home.
Thanks to the generosity of students at La Mariposa we donated books, pens, paper, Legos, lacing materials, variety of games, soccer ball,
and more! We hope that after this program during the vacation ends, that more children will attend school, and La Mariposa can continue to
offer this as a volunteer placement.
The needs for children with disability in this area are huge. We hope this is the first of many projects in the area for children with disabilities.
Volunteers are needed between Jan 6th and 20th 2014 for the second half of our program. Volunteers alongside the local teacher and
volunteers, will help play with the children, organise a variety of games and activities that are appropriate to the children's developmental
level. No experience necessary, but special education teachers, OT's, PT 's, speech therapists very welcome. Intermediate Spanish helpful.
- Primary school reading and writing: Primary schools need people to work alongside teachers to help
small groups of children improve their reading and writing skills. We support two local schools, Panama School
and Ruben Dario School, and an after-school reading program in the barrio of Santiago. These positions are not
teaching positions, and thus require no certification, but the children benefit immensely from the individual
attention they receive from our volunteers.
- Primary school arts and crafts: Working alongside Fernando, the teacher
employed by the Mariposa to manage the Panama School and Ruben Dario school
support groups, your role would be primarily to develop arts and crafts projects with the children. This work would be also invaluable
during the holiday time when the out of school project is becoming increasingly popular with local children. Linking with local schools
and involving children in painting their own murals is another activity that mariposa volunteers are undertaking. Our
afternoon children´s reading project would also welcome this kind of help.
- Teaching arts and crafts to women: The Casa de Cultura in La Concha would welcome someone who could offer classes in
art or in a craft activity, especially to the mothers of children who are receiving their afternoon folklore dancing classes. So you
would also be in an ideal position to learn a great deal about Nicaraguan culture!
- Sports Project: The Mariposa supports a number of soccer leagues in the community – we started by trying to offer youngg
people in some of the poorer barrios the chance to play and, building on the success of this work, have now expanded into
leagues for girls and young children. Volunteers could help with this work at all levels – offering coaching and training sessions,
visiting local schools to organize more tournaments (hugely popular with everybody!) and help us expand into other sports –
* this placement may involve unusual hours - e.g. weekend work, evening work or split hours during the day.
- Cookery: Working in the Mariposa kitchen, alongside our wonderful kitchen staff you will get to practice your Spanish and learn
a lot about Nicaraguan food (your hours of volunteering will differ from normal as you will work at meal preparation times). What
we ask from a volunteer is a contribution in terms of practical help but also ideas and recipes – especially in how to imaginatively
prepare our organnic produce from the farm (this includes eggs, fruit and veggies). You can also help with harvesting the produce
from the farms. Please note we do not serve red meat and fish/chicken only once or twice a week. We are also looking for help
with progressing a Mariposa cookery book!
*Working hours are flexible for this placement. It may require unusual or split hours (from 7.00am to 10.00am, for example).
- Animal care: Please note we are NOT an animal rescue centre in the sense that we go looking for animals to rescue! We have
in the past, when we had room, accepted a number of different animals and birds who needed care and attention (some from
the police, some from local people). The majority of them have been genuinely rehabilitated and released back into the wild
(most of them at the local nature reserve with whom we work very closely). This includes a sloth, an anteater, a raccoon,
several boa snakes, a howler monkey…..andd hundreds of parrots and parakeets. Those who still live at the Mariposa
cannot be released because, quite simply, they would not survive. And we do need help with looking after our 5 cats, 8 dogs,
13 horses, 4 monkeys and 25 or so parrots and parakeets. As well as the chickens, turkeys and ducks!
* Working hours are flexible for this placement. It may require unusual or split hours
- Wildlife promotion: We have a very small piece of land at the Mariposa (about 2 acres) and we have worked hard to maximize
its attractiveness to as varied a group of wild animals and birds as possible. We plant fruit trees to help feed birds and squirrels,
built a house for iguana to live in (now fully occupied!), built a very successful frog pond. We would be looking for a volunteer to help
us progress this work, together with Oscar and Manuel, two of the Mariposa staff who have great local knowledge and love for wildlife.
An example would be building bat boxes and bird nesting boxes.
- Childcare: In the barrio of Santiago, the community has begun using the same building for the after-school
reading program for a daycare project in the mornings. The daycare provides childcare targeted at the poorest families
in the barrio. This allows parents to work in mornings and also prepares young children (ages 1-5) for primary school.
Volunteers would work alongside three daycare workers in the mornings, helping out with childcare.
- Gardening: We have placements both on the grounds of La Mariposa and in the barrio of Santiago. On
Mariposa grounds our gardener, Santos, can always use extra help caring for our garden. In the barrio of Santiago, there
is a small community garden around the after-school reading program that we support. We place volunteers with a
community organizer, Pedro, who takes care of the garden and often brings volunteers along on work he is doing locally.
- Organic Farm:
Between planting, weeding, and watering there's never a lack of need for an extra pair hands
to help out on our three organic farms. The veggies that our volunteers help plant and harvest are served up here at the hotel to our guests.
- Healthcare: The volunteer placements in the local health centers offer a unique learning opportunity. Volunteers
provide support to over-worked doctors and nurses and under-staffed local clinics. For anyone working in the health field, the
experience of observing the practice of medical care in a country with limited resources is invaluable. Opportunities range from
assisting the nurses with routine cleanings, injections and paper work to accompanying in-home preventative education. An
intermediate level of Spanish is desirable for this placement. Placements in a health care facility requires a copy of your
professional certificate and a letter of reference from your school or work facility. These must be faxed to us before your arrival.
- Reforestation: La Mariposa maintains a small plant nursery with local flora and fauna sprouts as
well as tree saplings. We plant these, as well as the flower seed donations we receive from guests, in public space around San
Juan and la Concha. Volunteers are placed alongside a local gardener and/or members of the Ecological Brigade from San Juan's
secondary school to work on reforestation projects.
- Construction: We are always looking for a pair of useful hands to do any number of construction projects
we have lined up either on Mariposa grounds or in the community. From helping build shelves and birdbaths on our
premises to repairs at local schools to repainting public buildings and constructing fences to replace barbed wire, there
is always a bit of building that needs to be done.
- Teach English: The teachers at the local secondary school welcome help with both formal grammar classes and,
especially important, small group conversational practice. To teach formal grammar, volunteers must have TOEFL certification.
As there is always an overwhelming desire in our community to learn English, particularly among secondary school students
and our staff at La Mariposa, conversation classes can be arranged as well (no certification necessary).
We always have a wide variety of things going on at La Mariposa, so often new placements spring up spontaneously! If you would
like to volunteer we can be in touch with the latest placement availabilities via email and we will ask you to fill out a volunteer/homestay
information form, you can check it out beforehand here.
Please note that we cannot guarantee the availability of placements. We will try to accommodate
your interests based on what is available at a given time. We also welcome suggestions as to
where we might put our energy and resources next!
What we ask from you:
- Working hours vary a bit but we ask you to work approximately 4 hours a day at your volunteer placement
- An ability to reflect on how things work - or don't work - here in Nicaragua (the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere) and why
that might be the case. At times this demands a degree of self reflection as well as the easier task of observing and judging Nicaraguans!
- Good health is essential and an attitude that goes with the flow is invaluable
- An understanding that although we work closely with Nicaraguans and other organizations to ensure that your placement runs as smoothly as
possible - from both your point of view and the organizations - we cannot offer guarantees. Plans often have to be changed in Nicaragua due to
unforseen weather, school schedules or other unforseen contingencies. Please note we reserve the right to terminate a placement.
- Depending on the placement, at least a basic understanding of Spanish is advisable. The Mariposa is an excellent Spanish
school and we can orient your classes to the needs of your placement.
- All placements require that you have your own internationally valid insurance covering illness, accident, theft, etc and
have a liability disclaimer.
- Please send us one character reference if you want to work with small children.
- The majority of placements are walking distance or a short bus ride (fares are around 20 cents, you are responsible) away from the
Mariposa. We can also provide bicycles or even a horse for placements further out!
- We can offer placements doing practical work within the Mariposa for as little as a week but we ask for a longer time
commitment if you prefer to work with people, suggested minimum one month.
- For more detailed information, write to Paulette at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that students who elect the homestay/Spanish classes/volunteer work package receive a significant
discount for doing volunteer work and therefore forgo the afternoon activities program. Students wishing to participate in
both volunteer work and afternoon activities will be charged the price for homestay/Spanish classes/activities and can help
out during their stay (for example gardening, construction, English classes, animals), but we can not guarantee a volunteer
placement. Volunteer placements are reserved first and foremost for students participating full-time in volunteer work.