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Nicaragua: Building/Construction Volunteer Program

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

When strangers become family

Fourteen students and two staff members from North Central College, IL ventured to Nicaragua in late July of 2016, expecting to serve a community--to give of our time and resources selflessly, to retreat from our daily, media filled lives and do good. But, our hands, our feet, our presence quickly became more than just tools to serve; our hands bridged connections and comfort with our new friends, our feet offered our marking of change as they stepped into concrete, sand, and new pathways, our presence, our souls fed by the opportunity to share hope and witness true, authentic community. The Fuller Center-Global Builders Nicaragua program is the reason our group experienced what we did. It's the reason students came back to Illinois with a change of vocation, deeper questions of faith, and a longing to continue a life of service.

In Nicaragua, Danilo, Santos, and Alberto went out of their way to help our group adjust; they offered life lessons, spiritual stories, and most of all friendship that will last forever. The homes we worked on gave us practical construction experience, but more importantly, meaningful connection--with children, people, a culture, a country we now all would call a piece of "home". Logistically, it was the smoothest trip our college has ever experienced, we felt safe the entire trip and well cared for, and not to mention the food was out of this world amazing. We plan to go back to Nicaragua every summer as a college simply because our experience was real, raw, and above all else rewarding. The Fuller Center and its people gave more to us in 10 days than we could ever have imagined. We went to serve and they ended up serving us; we went as strangers and became family.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Impact

    9

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    10

I left with a full heart and a few extra pounds:)

I recently led a team of 20 people ages 18 to 70 on a volunteer trip with The Fuller Center Global Builders program to Las Penitas. This trip exceeded my expectations! I have participated in 4 previous volunteer trips (3 to Guatemala and 1 to Nicaragua) through another organization, but this was just an unbelievable experience.

As the leader there is always a large amount of additional work to be done prior to leaving. The Fuller Center Staff based in the US responded to any and all questions immediately and were so friendly and fun to work with. Once I arrived in Nicaragua I had the same experience with the staff there as well! Simply the best! Las Penitas is a beautiful village and everyone there welcomed out team with open arms. Fuller made sure that all of the volunteers were extremely well fed and taken care of the entire trip. Anything we asked for or needed was dealt with right away. On past trips with larger teams I have sometimes found that there was not always enough work for everyone to do on the construction site. There was always a job, task or chore that someone could help with and the Fuller Staff would continuously check in on each job site to check in with people and offer suggestions. They were flexible with our schedule and extremely accommodating. If we wanted to start early, have a longer or shorter lunch, end early, stay longer - whatever we wanted we were able to work out with them! I have also never been on a trip where I was able to see house go from foundation to a finished roof and floor in one week. Fuller was able to make that happen, while at the same time the team was able to enjoy the scenic village, have some downtime and live in the moment. I would not hesitate to work with Fuller again and would highly recommend Nicaragua to anyone who may be interested in life changing volunteer experience. I had many first timers on my team this time around and I am confident that they will all be signing up for future trips!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

A Life-Changing Experience, Twice

My mum got me involved with the Fuller Center on a trip to Las Penitas and from day 1, I was sold. The people, food, accommodations, activities, scenery and culture are all phenomenal. I cannot think what could be more motivating and enriching than building houses alongside the families who will come to live and grow in them, and even more motivating when you see how thankful, warm and welcoming they are.

The days will fly by and you will return home a little heartsore but with a completely new outlook.
The average day involved waking up, eating a full breakfast, heading to your assigned house to help with various tasks as needed such as mixing cement or filling the joints between cinder blocks, break for a delicious lunch (hopefully cooked by undiscovered Master Chef, Lorena), return to work into the late afternoon, at which point you're free to visit the beach, enjoy a Tona beer at one of the surfer bars lining the streets or have a walk around the town, before and after dinner. At some point on both trips I'd been on, a side trip was arranged for a half day during the week where those who wished could visit the large turtle reserve at the end of a guided boat ride. The guide was extremely knowledgeable and could spot a teeny tiny bird from 50 feet and, upon arriving at the turtle reserve, we were handed newborn babies that were to be released into the ocean.

If you want a real venture into a completely different world where you are utterly immersed in the culture and language, while also learning a few handy construction skills and picking up some Spanish, THIS is the trip for you.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

1st trip to Nicaragua

Enjoyed this trip temendously. I have been on trips with other organizations, and can say that the Fuller Center project was as good as any. Rooms were comfortable and food was good and there was plenty of it. The walk to the worksite was enjoyable and there was a bus provided if you did not want to walk. Community was very friendly and the families a joy to work with. R&R time was perfect with a choice of 2 afternoon excursion trips. The group worked incredibly well together and the team leader -fantastic. Provided great information prior to trip, so you were very well informed of what to expect, what to bring, etc. Highly recommend.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

The Fuller Center does not disappoint!

This is my second trip to Nicaragua with the Fuller Center (FC) and my second review of this program and nothing has changed from the first. This trip is a great experience for the first timer or the veteran. The location is beautiful, the local FC staff are professional and accommodating, the local people warm and friendly and the Hotel top notch. FC makes sure that Trip Leaders are well trained and qualified to lead these builds so you can have every confidence in your choice to participate here.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Las Peñitas, Nicaragua - An unforgettable family experience

As our children reached 18 and 21, we decided we wanted to take a meaningful family vacation. Without having any build or even much travel experience, we decided to take a chance on Fuller and go to Nicaragua. We worked hard and it certainly was hot, but the build team was remarkable and the local people were warm and friendly and genuinely happy to have Fuller within their community (hugs and 'holas' all around)! We were impressed with the local Fuller people as well; dedicated, sweet individuals who work hard to try to make a difference in the lives of their brothers and sisters. We stayed in a clean and safe environment and the food provided was outstanding! By Day 3 of the build, my husband said, "You know we have to do this again....". And we certainly shall. This type of experience touches your heart in ways you cannot imagine.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Giving Back

I have attended two one week building programs in Nicaragua. The first time I was a member of the team in August 2014; the second, I was the team leader in March 2015. We had loads of fun interacting with the locals and assisting in the building process. The people are extremely grateful for your help and they are very very friendly. Food was provided and outstanding; fresh fish, fruit, meat, etc. If you have time, take an extra week to see more sights in the country like I did. You come away with a warmer heart and a great sense of accomplishment.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Impact

    9

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    9

A working vacation

Our experience in Las Penitas, Nicaragua was first rate. The accommodations are top notch with clean comfortable rooms with a friendly staff and inviting atmosphere. The local Fuller Center staff is on top of their game, as they host many groups thru-out the year. Meals were excellent with breakfast at the hotel and lunch and dinner served by the Fuller Center, at a house close by. Otherwise, there are many local choices for dining or socializing after the work is finished for the day. The beach is spectacular, especially at sunset. It's really nice that all the build sites and everything else in the village are within walking distance. We've volunteered with the Fuller Center several times in South and Central America and Las Penitas is by far our favorite.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Building in Las Peñitas is an unforgettable experience!

I was on the first Fuller Global Builders team to Las Peñitas, Nicaragua in March 2013. It was one of the best experiences of my life. The community made us feel so welcome and our partner family worked so hard with us. The work is hard and the weather is hot, but we were well fed, kept hydrated, always felt safe and the experience is so rewarding. The location is spectacular - is there a better way to end a hard day of work than to watch a gorgeous sunset over the Pacific Ocean? I have not been able to work a return trip into my schedule - yet! - but hope to go back soon and often. I have referred many friends to this trip and they all loved it as much as I did.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

Great location, great people

We have been to Nicaragua many times but participated in a Fuller Center build in 2013. It was well organized and we were very well received by the community. The location is spectacular, right on the Pacific Ocean. Las Penitas is a very small town, with the natural beauty being the main attraction. This is a wonderful opportunity to work alongside partner families. I must warn you, it is HOT most of the time.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Building in Las Penitas with Fuller Center for Housing

I participated in 2 builds in 2013 & 2015. I will definitely return.
Las Penitas is a fishing village about 30 minutes from Leon. The people are happy and hard working. They just need resources and a helping hand to build decent, simple housing. The houses are simple, one room dwellings but they are strong, secure and dry. The houses that we built were much appreciated by the families. The families worked hard along side us the whole time.
We stayed at the Supaya Beach Hotel which was very nice. Right on the beach, clean with friendly staff. Each day after the build we cooled off in the ocean. The water was refreshing.
The food throughout the week was delicious and plentiful. We had breakfast at the hotel and lunch & dinner at a local house rented by the Fuller Center.
Wendy Miller is an awesome team leader. If you can, sign up for one of her trips as she has returned numerous times.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

Went twice and loved it.

We have done volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity. We were with the RV care a Vanners and for the last ten years, the Fuller Center for Housing.
We have worked in other countries and all over the US. Nicaragua was among the most rewarding.
The local people were so involved and inspiring. The builds were organized, everyone got along,
experienced or not, everyone was included and encouraged. A truly wonderful group event.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    7

Have been many times the past two years and love it there!

I went on the very first trip to Las Peñitas in 2013 and fell in love with the tiny fishing village on the Pacific Coast. The people are very friendly, the town is safe, and working shoulder to shoulder with Nicaraguans is a life-changing experience. I've now done six builds there and highly recommend it for heat-tolerant, hard-working, eager to help, and humble folks who want to make a difference in the world.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    6

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    6

Veteran builder craving for lucious tropical fruit

When people ask why I do so many builds in hot places when I don't like heat and humidity, I say it's for the "fresh tropical fruit". Seriously, this is a comfortable build for new team members because of the community organization as well as great for a veteran. This was one of my few large, multi-house builds, so it allowed me to help another house and learn other skills. I really enjoyed being able to "walk to work", bringing me closer to the community, as I engaged in conversation with the people. There is shade and enough "down time" to play with children. Yes, it's H & H, but it's so rewarding to work alongside the homeowners, their children and animals.