UCDVO began its first project in Nicaragua in 2007 in the village of San Isabel near the town of Somoto in northern Nicaragua. Locals identified the need for a Health Centre and the supply of water as their chief needs. In partnership with SILIAS the governmental health organisation UCDVO volunteers and locals built the health centre and paid for the drilling and supply of water to the village. In 2008, volunteers built another Health Centre in El Kairo with funding from Irish Aid.
Since 2009, volunteers have been based in the town of Somoto and collaborate with a number of NGOs for implementing educational and construction projects. UCDVO's main partners are:
'It was a huge privilege for me to be afforded the opportunity to make a real impact on the lives of less fortunate, but very special people. I think the emotions on both sides as we left Los Quinchos for the last time was perhaps a sign that we had made a real difference. The relationship between Los Quinchos and UCDVO has now been firmly established and it is very important that future groups go on to strengthen this bond.' - Shane O'Byrne, Student Volunteer, Nicaragua 2009 & 2010 projects
"I was extremely privileged to experience three weeks on the construction site and spend my last week in Los Quinchos Education Centre, in effect getting the best of both worlds. A core group of five, competent Spanish speaking volunteers ensured routine and familiarity for the attending children. English classes, arts and crafts, skipping and plenty of games was the order of the day."- Chloe Halpenny, Student Volunteer, Nicaragua 2011 project
Nicaragua Country Profile
Nicaragua is in Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Costa Rica and Honduras. Despite being the second poorest country in Latin America (after Haiti), Nicaragua has improved its access to potable water and sanitation and has ameliorated its life expectancy, infant and child mortality, and immunization rates. However, income distribution is very uneven, and the poor, agriculturalists, and indigenous people continue to have less access to basic services.
What Nicaragua is probably best known for is the political turmoil, civil war, and natural disasters that afflicted the country from the 1970s through to the 1990s. It shaped the social and economic stability of the country and saw a huge flow of refugees and permanent migrants seeking jobs, higher wages, and better social and healthcare benefits outside of Nicaragua.
Climate: As in all tropical countries, Nicaragua has only two distinct seasons, the dry season from December through late May, and the rainy season from June through November. Average Temperature: June/July 30 Celsius.
Head of State: José Daniel Ortega Saavedra
Security: In urban areas you would be advised to exercise a high degree of caution. Also hurricane season is between June to November when landslides, mudslides and flooding may occur.
Population: 6 million
Time: GMT -6
Health: Be mentally and physically prepared before you go, consider taking Acidophilus (probiotics) and a good quality multi-vitamin in advance.
Currency: Nicaraguan Cordoba. LASER is not accepted in most parts of Central America.
Religion: Roman Catholic 58.5%, Protestant 23.2% (Evangelical 21.6%, Moravian 1.6%), Jehovah’s Witnesses 0.9%, other 1.7%, none 15.7%.Muslim
Language: Spanish (official) 97.5%, Miskito 1.7%, other 0.8%. Learning Spanish will greatly enhance your experience in Nicaragua.
Dress: Nicaraguan dress code is casual; it is very practical and somewhat conservative. You rarely see Nicaragua men and women wearing shorts, except teenagers or local guides. However, Nicaraguans are accustomed to viewing tourists wearing shorts.
Accommodation: You will be staying in dormitory accommodation with our partner INPRHU in Somoto. Power cuts are a possibility.
Food: Nicaraguan cuisine includes a mixture of indigenous, Spanish cuisine and Creole cuisine; corn, rice and beans are staples in the Nicaraguan diet.
Ethnic groups: Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 69%, white 17%, black 9%, Amerindian 5%.
5 Things You Should Know
- The average Nicaraguan has 4.6 years of schooling and only 2.1 in extremely poor rural areas.
- 1 out of 10 Nicaraguans cannot read or write and only 29% of children complete primary school.
- Respiratory disease and malnutrition affects a huge number of the population, with deaths from HIV and AIDS on the rise
- Nicaragua has experienced the devastating effects of severe hurricanes, including Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
- Nicaragua is rated ‘Critical’ for crime incidence; drugs and human trafficking continues to be a significant problem.
UCDVO Key Project Acheivements 2007 - 2016
- Tree house, basketball court and chicken coop built in Los Quinchos Education Centre
- Health centres built in Santa Isabel and El Kairo
- 200 children engaged in arts and crafts, sports and education workshops
- Drip irrigation systems built for several local communities
- Agricultural processing centre built, increasing the daily wage of local farmers
- Fencing built around La Escuelita de Mercado
- Pre-school and Primary School built in Las Palmiras
- Library developed and stocked in Los Quinchos
- Extension built onto La Escuelita del Mercado in the centre of Somoto
- Construction of stoves to improve health conditions in local homes
- Construction of dormitories at an agricultural training centre
Click here to view photos of UCDVO's projects in Nicaragua