Friday, August 7, 2009

Volunteers Needed In Nicaragua

As most of you know I have been volunteering at a place called Project Bona Fide ( on Ometepe a well known center for permaculture (Permanent Culture) education and community development. Permaculture is defined in the Wikipedia Article as an approach to designing communities and agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in the natural ecologies. The main goals are to reduce reliance on industrial systems of production and distribution, minimizing waste and the demand for human labor or energy, produce a high density of food and materials with minimal input, etc. I found out about Bona Fide while reading through the Wiki article into the Nicaragua Section and noticed that they are among one of the main learning centers in Central America not to mention a great group of people.

Tours: Join us for a 2 to 3 hour guided tour through a working sustainable farm that focuses on Permaculture a design principle and approach to everyday life that integrates plants, landscapes, structures and animals to enhance environmental sustainability within a permanent, sustainable agricultural and cultural system. Learn about soil management, waste water management, energy efficiency, our use of solar & wind power, inter-planting, agro-forestry, layering methods, water catchment systems, how to discourage ravenous insects and how to support wider varieties of birds, insects and animals on a farm all while maximizing food production. After the tour enjoy a full traditional Nicaraguan lunch prepared with products from the farm and a chance to meet the locals.

Accommodation: there are plenty of places to stay in Balque but I like Finca Madalena which is a farm located near Balgue on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua. You can sign up for tours at Finca Magdalena which is a 15 minute walk from Bona Fide and has dorms for $2.50 or private rooms from $8 in a farmhouse on an organic coffee plantation, set on a hillside with gorgeous views of the volcanoes, lake, gardens, and sunsets, complete with hammocks, internet, and trails for exploring. Website: with full meals from $1 to $4, and cheap beers and rum (I spend about $10 per day).

Volunteers: support a variety of projects including; natural building, tree propagation, gardening, irrigation, cooking, planting and community projects with the local community. Please check out for more information or email me directly.

Community work: there are also many opportunities to work with the local community through projects like Café Isabella ( open-aired feeding center is crowded and lively as mothers weave around children handing out vitamins, peeling eggs, wiping off milk mustaches and trying to keep a hold of the growing excitement. There is also Café Infantil (, a Children's Nutritional Program's aim is to address vitamin, mineral, and protein deficiencies in children during their period of greatest mental and physical development. Café Infantil operates in the rural community of Balgue in south-west Nicaragua where malnutrition is a limiting factor in the mental and physical development of school-age children. In the three to six-year age range, the program is currently helping 70 children, six days a week, with a daily serving of fresh milk, eggs, multivitamins, tooth brushing* and sanitation education.

How to get here: if you’re not already in Central America you can fly into Managua, Nicaragua or San Jose, Costa Rica depending on flight prices and how much time you have. From the states most people pay around $300 roundtrip. I can give you exact direction to the island – just send me an email with your specifics ( Once you get to Ometepe you can take a taxi or bus to Balque and ask to be dropped off at the road to Finca Magdalena. There will be a sign on the main road and it’s a 15 minute walk from there. For further information or directions you can email me or call (505) 8901-5782 or visit our website:

Nicaragua and Ometepe Island: Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America and has the largest primary growth rainforest north of the Amazon with 84 National Parks, reserves and wildlife sanctuaries that protect 20% of the total land area, far more than any other country in Central America. It is a democratic country that has had 4 peaceful transfers of power in the last 25 years, is the second safest country in all of Latin America (behind Uruguay), and has a lower reported crime rate than France, Germany, and the United States, according to a United Nations/Interpol study. Tourism in Nicaragua is booming thanks to its majestic panoramas of giant volcanoes, rivers, rolling hills, crystal clear crater lagoons, tropical vegetation, and large fresh water lakes. In a one hour drive you can go from a 500 year old colonial city to the top of a volcano covered in virgin rain forest and then end up on an empty white sand beach with great surfing.

Ometepe Island is considered the largest island in the world found in a freshwater lake. It is formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua joined by a land isthmus offering a great variety of ecosystems and natural tourist attractions such as rivers, waterfalls, springs, beaches and wetlands, all characterized by their almost virgin conditions. Ometepe is currently one of the destinations admired by both local and international tourists for its nature, hospitality, beautiful landscapes, relaxing beaches and its numerous natural reserves teeming with rich biodiversity including howler monkeys, deer, anteaters, and parrots, and hiding a wealth of archaeological treasures. The island is currently inhabited by friendly people who love their territory, dedicated to fishing and high quality agricultural production which is made possible by the fertile soil. Average temperatures range between 80 and 90 degrees (28 and 32 degrees centigrade), and during the rainy season, it is not uncommon for heavy rainfall to last for thirty minutes, after which a bright sun will appear. For this reason, many tourists describe Ometepe as the island of eternal summer.


  1. Hey Duane,

    I'd love to get involved. I went to their website and it's down. Do you know if there's any other way to contact the organization aside from their website? I see the number listed but is that your private phone number or is that a number I can call to get information on volunteer work?

    Thanks so much!

    Erika Salan-Motta

  2. For those who want to make a difference in wild nature in Nicaragua, we invite you to volunteer at Laguna de Apoyo. Not only is this the most beautiful place in Nicaragua, it is located inside a nature reserve, protected by the government protected area system. Help us reforest the denuded slopes with native tree species, and study the wildlife still abundant in its forests. Find more about us at or