Nicaragua Volunteering

Global Partners volunteer teams have been traveling to Nicaragua since March 2010. Since then, more than 25 volunteer teams have traveled to the Matagalpa Region of Nicaragua to provide training for Nicaraguan physicians and other healthcare workers, provide specialty services that are not readily available, support community development projects such as lending libraries, provide educational support in local schools and universities, and conduct health and literacy assessments. 

Global Partners-Nicaragua teams blog during their trips to provide real-time updates on their activities. Click here to read current and past blog entries by Global Partners' volunteers in Nicaragua!

In 2016, trips are scheduled for the dates below, and each trip will have a different area of focus. These areas of focus are subject to change as our partners sometimes request changes to our schedule. Teams will be going in March, June and October. In addition to the roles outlined below, fluent Spanish speakers are almost always needed on trips to provide interpretation services for the volunteer teams.

Also, please note that while a "sign-up deadline" is listed for each trip, volunteers are encouraged to complete the volunteer form or contact the Global Partners office as soon as possible to indicate their interest in a trip. Teams fill quickly and there is no guarantee space will be available on the sign-up deadline date.

 2016 Trip Dates  Trip Focus Volunteer Roles Needed  Sign-up Deadline 
March 3-11 Viterbo University student trip:
   - Social work, nursing education
   - Cultural experiences
Only open to Viterbo University students October 1, 2015
(FULL)
March 6-13     Early Detection of Breast Cancer
   - ultrasound/biopsy training
   - awareness training
Cervical Cancer
UNAN Nursing School
Education Activities
   - lending library
Radiologists
GYN providers
Clinical staff to teach at nursing school
Educators, non-clinical volunteers
December 11, 2015 
June 21-30 Vascular Surgery
Education Workshops
Vision Project Development
Vascular Surgery providers
Nurses, Surgical Techs
Ultrasonographer
Educators (Spanish fluency preferred)
Vision team leadership
February 26, 2016
Sept. 25-Oct. 2
(tentative)
Early Detection of Breast Cancer
   - ultrasound/biopsy training
   - awareness training
Cervical Cancer
UNAN Nursing School
Education Activities
   - early literacy training
   - library project
Radiologists
GYN providers
Clinical staff to teach at nursing school
Educators, non-clinical volunteers
June 17, 2016
Oct. 2-9
(tentative)
Vision Screening Ophthalmology/Optometry providers
Ophthalmic techs
Non-clinical volunteers
June 17, 2016

Each trip requires participation in 3 orientation sessions (2 for returning volunteers), usually held from 5-7pm at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse. Due to the community-based nature of our program, in-person attendance is required at the orientation sessions and preference is given to volunteers from the local region (vs. those from outside this region). Details about these sessions will be sent out via email to the volunteers signed up for each trip.

If you are interested in learning about opportunities to get involved with the Nicaragua partnerships, please complete a volunteer form, and a member of the Nicaragua team will follow up with you regarding your interest.

Travel
Trips typically are Saturday to Saturday. The group will leave from La Crosse, Wisconsin, in the morning and arrive in Managua that evening. All volunteers must be on the same flight, and must depart from La Crosse. The first night in Nicaragua will be spent at the Las Mercedes Best Western, a comfortable hotel just across from the airport. Matagalpa is a 2.5 hour car ride from Managua. Volunteers usually stay at the Hotel St. Thomas, on the hill overlooking Matagalpa. The hotel is approximately 45 minutes from Santa Celia and 10 minutes from the Matagalpa Regional Hospital.

Cost
Airfare from La Crosse is generally $800-1,100 depending on multiple factors. The additional cost to cover lodging, in-country transportation, interpreters, breakfast at the hotel, and other shared team expenses for the trip varies depending on whether the volunteer is staying in a single, double or triple room as well as the exact length of stay. An estimate for these in-country costs is $700-1000. These volunteer costs will be paid to Global Partners and can be considered a charitable contribution for volunteer service work, per the IRS code. 

Occasionally teams decide to stay one extra day to do additional site-seeing within Nicaragua; this added day will increase the cost slightly. Additional expenses which will be each volunteer's responsibility to cover (i.e. these are not paid to Global Partners) include pre-trip immunizations, passport costs, and medications (malaria prophylaxis and medicine for traveler's diarrhea). Total estimated cost per volunteer is $1,800-2,000.

Gundersen employees may apply for a Global Partners grant to help offset the costs of volunteering in Nicaragua (up to $500). Click here to learn more about how to apply for a Global Partners Grant.

Medical issues
Your trip leader will inform you of needed vaccinations and medications for travel to Nicaragua. Vaccinations need to be up-to-date and include Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Influenza, DPT, and MMR. Malaria prophylaxis is recommended. Volunteers - please do not make an appointment to get your vaccines at Gundersen until AFTER your first orientation meeting. Volunteers will need to schedule a visit with their primary care provider to receive needed vaccines.

Zika Virus and Travel to Nicaragua
In November 2015, the first local transmission of Zika virus infection (Zika) was reported in Central America. Since then, several Central American countries, including Nicaragua, have reported ongoing transmission of Zika. There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant.Global Partners recommends that women who ARE or MIGHT BE pregnant during the time they would be in Nicaragua should postpone travel. The infection is mainly spread by mosquito bites and is a mild infection for adults, so it is not dangerous to non-pregnant individuals. Also, women who wish to become pregnant after travel are advised that there is no evidence that previous infection with Zika virus will affect future pregnancy. More information about Zika will be shared with GP volunteers during orientations prior to a trip. Up to date information can also be found on the CDC website or by contacting Global Partners-Nicaragua medical leads: Judy Klevan, MD judikins@me.com, or Dana Benden, MD dmbenden@gundersenhealth.org.

Communication
Spanish is the primary language and as you go further from the centers of commerce fewer people speak English. Therefore, each trip will provide at least one interpreter. Learning phrases in Spanish is a helpful and friendly way to meet the Nicaraguan people.

Passport
Your passport cannot be within 6 months of expiration or you will not be allowed into the country. If you are a frequent traveler, please check and see that you have enough pages available in your passport.

Time off
This is a volunteer experience for which you will not be paid. You may choose to take PTO or unpaid time off – you need to make arrangements with your manager. Gundersen associate and medical staff may also use CME time (but not CME money) to participate in a Global Partners trip.

Volunteering
If you are interested in volunteering with the Global Partners-Nicaragua team, please fill out our volunteer form.

NOTE: Volunteers in Nicaragua must be able to endure long days (10+ hours) of physical activity, which may include standing, walking, light lifting and sitting. Volunteers must be age 14 or older. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

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