For those of you who may be on this site because you are looking for a future international project, look no further than La Esperanza Granada. A few of the most appealing features in my opinion:
- The program is (virtually) FREE at $20 which covers the administrative paperwork. As you may know, many volunteer organizations charge VERY high fees to provide the volunteer with an “experience” in addition to the project itself. La Esperanza does a wonderful job of spreading their resources. The director, Pauline Jackson, doesn’t even pay herself – she works as a volunteer herself.
- The program makes it very easy to make friends. Volunteers came from all over the globe and I had the chance to meet people from countries I’ll probably never get the chance to visit. In addition to being an attractive program to people all over the world, the organization does an excellent job of providing optional weekly activities to get involved. Once a week there is a pub quiz (which raises a small amount of funds for the organization) at one of the bars on the calzada. There is also a list of activities that you’ll be sent during your first week from one of the office volunteers about things going on in town during your off time – Zumba class, Salsa dance lessons, swimming pool at the chocolate museum and more.
- Housing – One of the biggest challenges to a volunteer arriving in a new country is just knowing where to spend your first night. While all the housing provided, is rustic (to put it gently), it is reasonably priced, a good starting ground after flying in, and the best place to make your first friends. I know it’s where I made mine! Since Bo and I planned to stay for 6 months we knew we wanted to rent our own house, but it was so handy to have the La Esperanza Granada housing for the first two weeks while I settled and then started my housing search.
- Lastly, but most important – La Esperanza does worthwhile work. At the time of writing this blog, the main projects include – teaching English (you must speak some Spanish for this one), assisting a teacher as an assistant in a primary classroom (less Spanish needed, but always helpful), home construction (lottery is done for students meeting their goals, and each year several families are chosen to receive new homes. 36 homes have been built to date), assist in the office. I volunteered in the office and I did everything from lead tours for community members, update the blog and facebook page, post on recruitment sites and much more.
If you have any specific questions about La Esperanza before signing up or inquiring directly with them, feel free to message me for more info.