The Olancho Aid Foundation is a Catholic non-profit organization that seeks to provide a quality education and clean drinking water to our community in Honduras. The Foundation operates schools (a special needs school, a bilingual elementary, a bilingual high school, and a Spanish-speaking college prep high school), over 800 students, and over 60 teachers, as well as a number of water purification projects in our area.
Two distinct volunteer programs help the Foundation accomplish these goals: the traditional volunteer program and the specialist volunteer program. The Foundation recruits a cohort of up to ten foreign volunteers every semester to participate in the traditional volunteer program. The focus of this program is on community, spirituality, social justice, and simple living. It is a cultural exchange program that allows students to practice English with native-English speakers and offers volunteers opportunities for personal, professional, and spiritual growth.
The specialist volunteer program is geared toward experienced professionals and experts in their field who work to fill a specific, immediate need in the Foundation. Specialists serve as leaders and mentors within the Foundation administration.
Service Abroad FAQ’s
Serve as needed within the Foundation, often in educational roles. Roles are determined on an individual basis through a process of mutual discernment based on the strengths of the volunteers and the needs of the Foundation. Volunteers may serve as resource teachers, tutors, classroom teachers, water project auditors, curriculum consultants, science lab coordinators, art/music teachers, ESL instructors, and more. We do our best to match a volunteer’s preferences with his or her final assignment, though volunteers should approach their assignments with flexibility.
Volunteers who serve for at least four months will receive a monthly stipend to cover food, utilities, and personal care items, which are the responsibility of the volunteers. Vacation time during Christmas holidays and Holy Week is paid. Further benefits include housing, travel medical insurance, wireless internet, and a local cell phone and charger. The Foundation provides transportation to and from the airport on the scheduled dates of arrival and departure. Volunteers are responsible for the cost of their flight and personal expenses including any leisure travel during scheduled breaks.
Volunteers live together as a community in the volunteer house, which is a short walk to the central square. The home has 8 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, 2 kitchens, a living room, and a large outdoor space. Each volunteer will be given his or her own room with a shared bathroom. The house is modestly furnished and contains necessary kitchen appliances and utensils. A water cooler for drinking water is also provided. Other amenities include wireless internet, indoor plumbing, and electricity, though due to lack of infrastructure, these are unreliable and often unavailable for periods up to 24 hours. Volunteers will be responsible for paying all water and electricity bills.
Juticalpa (estimated population 50,000) is the capital of Olancho Department in Honduras and is a commercial center for much of Olancho’s ranching and agricultural economy. The volunteer house is located near the center of the city, within walking distance of a number of parks, restaurants, hospitals, markets, and the cathedral. Temperatures range from about 70°F in “winter” (the rainy season between May and November) to 105°F in April and May.
Safety of our volunteers is of highest priority to Olancho Aid. We require all volunteers to sign a safety agreement that details specific policies and procedures both for living in Juticalpa and travel outside of the region. The current political and social climate in Juticalpa has made crime a minimal concern for our volunteers. However, our leadership keeps a close watch on community happenings and security precautions will be implemented as necessary.
Honduras is a low-income country with a high crime rate. Drug and gang related violence are a concern in large cities like Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba, and San Pedro Sula. Increased police and military presence have been in place in Juticalpa for the last several years to combat drug trafficking in the region.
Like in many cities, crimes of opportunity may be the biggest safety concern for our volunteers. We ask volunteers to be aware of their surroundings, to avoid unnecessary risk, and be mindful of possessions they carry with them or leave in the home. Walking around during the day is generally safe, especially in the city itself. More desolate areas should be approached with caution. Volunteers should not walk alone in the evenings.
All volunteers attend an orientation upon arrival in Honduras, which includes important information on language and culture, safety, Foundation policies and expectations, and information specific to their job assignments. Throughout their time of service with Olancho Aid, volunteers are expected to support one another and will receive additional support from the onsite Volunteer Coordinator. Volunteers will participate in a number of team-building and community activities, including a weekly dinner.
For most volunteer positions, Spanish is not considered necessary, as many Foundation employees and students speak English. However, it is highly recommended that you acquaint yourself with basic phrases and verbs in order to communicate with other Spanish-speakers in the community.
Olancho Aid is a Catholic organization that attracts and welcomes volunteers from a variety of backgrounds including non-Catholics. Please keep in mind that as a volunteer for a Catholic Foundation, we expect all to carry themselves accordingly in our schools and the Juticalpa community, and volunteers will be required to attend religious retreats and Catholic mass on occasion.
There is no need to apply for a visa before traveling to Honduras, as volunteers from North America and most Asian and European countries will receive a tourist visa upon arrival.
Please check with your insurance provider to find out if you are covered abroad. Olancho Aid will provide a travel medical policy to cover minor illness and injury that can be treated at local private clinics. It includes coverage in the case of emergency evacuation.
Olancho Aid recommends consulting your physician and/or a travel medical clinic along with the Centers for Disease Control website at least THREE MONTHS PRIOR to traveling to Honduras to get current recommendations for immunizations and preventative medications. If a volunteer uses prescription medication regularly, he or she should plan to bring enough with them to Honduras for their entire term of service.