A Caveat

Helping People Isn't Always Easy

Boy in Window "It's just truly complicated to help people," discovered Graham Wigle, 22, a participant in the UF in Nicaragua program. "It's a lot harder than you think, and, when you go into a country with a lot of money and good intentions, you can do a lot of harm if you don't listen and you don't have patience."

Wigle's lesson is a common one for volunteers. As U.S. Americans, we are often taught that our way is the right way, and many volunteers become frustrated or disillusioned. It is important to understand that often, participation in development projects, for both the volunteers and the Nicaraguans, can be an end in itself.

Sage Advice from a Jubilee House Community Member

Jubilee House Community member Mike Woodard, who has worked in Nicaragua since the early 90s, offers sound advice for those traveling to Nicaragua:

All the people who think they are going to save Nicaragua by taking two weeks of their vacation coming down here and building a health center or whatever, they really ought to just not waste their time. Other people see a whole lot of value in that kind of work. But my own personal perspective is that you need to be here not because of what you can do, not because people here need you to be here. You need to be here because you need to be here. This is something other than what you know. It is a full sensory experience.

So, Are You Ready?

Woodard's words are not meant to be harsh; they only serve as a reminder that when volunteering, humility and an open mind are key. Be open to new ways of thinking, and your experience will be richer for it. So, are you ready?