Eighteen young men and women (aged 17 -24); nine from across Canada and nine from across Nicaragua will spend three months in Red Deer (Dec. 6 to March 4, 2013) after spending three months in Nicaragua.
Muna Salah, the Canadian Project Supervisor for this year’s Somoto, Nicaragua – Red Deer youth exchange, took part as a youth volunteer in a similar project last year. She spent three months in Somoto, a city of 40,000 people in northern Nicaragua, and three months in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
“What’s nice about this program is that it is really affordable. Participants only have to raise $3,200 themselves. For me it was an eye-opening experience. You live in the community, with a family. You share, you eat the same meals, you live exactly as the family does.
“And you find out you can live off a lot less,” adds Salah with a laugh. “That you can live without a washer and a dryer for three months, for example. You find out you’re very adaptable, something we don’t always realize. Life’s a lot simpler there (in Somoto), I learned how to start a fire without a lighter, I learned to use my wits. It can be a challenge.”
While volunteers live in pairs (one Nicaraguan, one Canadian) they also work on community projects as a group. In Somoto they will continue working on a community garden and in Red Deer they’ll work on projects at CARE, The Hub and other agencies. As well, participants get to compare issues like gender in the two countries. It’s also an opportunity to learn another language, since the ability to speak Spanish (for Canadians) or English (for Nicaraguans) is not part of the selection process.
Canada World Youth (CWY) provides international educational programs to young people from Canada and around the world.
Since 1971 close to 35,000 youth have volunteered for projects in 67 countries. Participants live with host families and the project is looking for suitable families in Red Deer. Host families receive a weekly allowance of $180 to help cover expenses and CWY covers medical, insurance and other program expenses. One spare room is required and the visitors are expected to be treated as family members, not guests, and contribute to family chores. Funding comes from donations and the Canadian government through the Canadian International Development Agency.
The program is also looking for resource people in Red Deer who can help participants volunteer and contribute to unique local learning opportunities and projects. However, work placements are for learning opportunities and not designed to replace local paid labour. For more information contact Muna Salah at 403-872-7139 or firstname.lastname@example.org.