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Volunteering in Nicaragua

Due to the current state of unrest in Nicaragua, Global Partners has cancelled trips for 2018.

On April 18, 2018, demonstrators in several cities of Nicaragua began protests against President Daniel Ortega's decree of social security reforms that increased taxes and decreased benefits. After five days of unrest in which nearly thirty people were killed, Ortega announced the cancellation of the reforms. However, the opposition has grown - also through years of repressed protests - to denounce Ortega and demand his resignation, becoming one of the largest protests in his government's history and the deadliest civil conflict since the end of the Nicaraguan Revolution.

As a result of the unrest, the Nicaraguan public and international governments alike have called for the next presidential elections to be moved ahead, with the European Union supporting this move. (Wikipedia, 2018)

Time has only served to increase tension between the government and opposition, with violent demonstrations and protests a regular occurrence. The United States Department of State has issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory (out of a 4-point scale) to "reconsider travel to Nicaragua due to crime, civil unrest and limited healthcare availability." Similarly, our partners in-country have strongly advised against any travel. Therefore, Global Partners has suspended all volunteer travel to Nicaragua until further notice.

We remain committed to supporting our partners in Nicaragua during this difficult time and, when it is safe to return, fully intend to re-engage with our partners in serving the Nicaraguan people.

To learn our plans moving forward in Nicaragua, read the letter from our Nicaragua leadership team.

Read now

Trip Dates Trip Focus Roles Needed Sign-up Deadline

To be determined 

If interested in volunteering, please fill out the Volunteer Form.

Each trip requires participation in 3 orientation sessions (2 for returning volunteers), usually held from 5-7 p.m. 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.

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.

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 $700-1,000. 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). 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 lead: Dana Benden, MD

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.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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