Since our organization was inspired by a service immersion trip, we have made them an integral part of our mission. We provide people with an opportunity to take part in the lives of those living in garbage dump poverty and work hand in hand with them. Our goal is to raise awareness about garbage dump poverty but also to provide an experience that will change perspectives on poverty and lead volunteers to further compassion and action for the rest of their lives.
Our first trip was in 1995 to Guatemala City with St. John’s Jesuit High School (Toledo, OH). By 2008 over 100 people were traveling to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to serve and by 2011 we had expanded our trips to include Haiti and Egypt with over 200 volunteers. Currently, we have volunteers traveling to Guatemala and Nicaragua. In 2017 we will have over 30 trips with the total number of volunteers exceeding 400.
With the help of Dr. Kenneth Coleman, director of the Association of American Universities’ we have researched the impact our service immersion trips have had on those who have volunteered with us. Here are some of the findings:
- Before the trip 40% of volunteers surveyed viewed the poor as a main cause for their own poverty. After the trip that number dropped to 10%.
- Before the trip 18% of volunteers wanted to know more about the causes of poverty which jumped to 95% after the trip.
- Before the trip 21% of volunteers thought it was essential for citizens of developing nations to engage their government in order to change their circumstances. After the trip it rose to 80%.
- 70% of volunteers surveyed say they learned that working with others was a necessary step in alleviating poverty.
- 83% say their experience made them want to do more volunteer work upon returning to the United States
- 90% report feeling more empathy for the poor.
- International Samaritan provides the program site, service opportunities, airfare, most meals, lodging, ground transportation within host country, optional side trips within the country, informational handbooks, security when necessary, translators when necessary, fundraising tips, volunteer handbook of preparation materials, and a written partnership agreement.
- You are expected to promote and recruit 10-25 participants, submit all participant paperwork, provide participants with International Samaritan orientation materials, appoint leaders who will be on the trip, collect participant payments and submit them to International Samaritan, pack and bring items to donate, provide transportation to airport in the U.S., administer provided surveys, and meet with volunteers and conduct meetings.
- Typical Daily schedule
- 7 AM Wake up
- 7:15 AM Reflection
- 7:30 AM Breakfast
- 8:00 AM Depart for garbage dump neighborhood
- 9:00 AM Service projects
- 12:00 AM Lunch
- 1:30 AM Service Projects
- 4:00 AM Return to retreat center
- 6:00 AM Dinner
- 7:30 AM Reflection
- Volunteers will do a variety of work, from playing with children, helping out in classrooms, gardening, taking part in daily chores and constructing homes and additions to schools!
- Every morning and evening volunteers will be led in reflections that tie social justice themes to the work that they are doing (for volunteers from Catholic insitutions, reflections will incorporate themes of Catholic Social Teaching as well as Gospel themes).
- Retreat houses
- All groups stay at retreat centers run by Catholic religious orders. There are places for quiet reflection as well as recreation. The accommodations are simple yet comfortable and the food is excellent!
- Typical Daily schedule
- Zone 3:
- Zone 3 is our original site in Guatemala City that we have been working in since 1995. Volunteers have helped at the Santa Clara Nursery, Francisco Coll School and other local schools with construction projects, playing with the kids and teaching English.
- International Samaritan has been working in Chinautla since 2013 and to date we have built an addition to the local school, a house and multiple bathrooms for families.
- Escuintla is one of our newest sites and we have been partnering with the San Gabriel School to build classrooms and teaching English to and playing with the students.
- Ciudad Sandino
- Located in the capital Managua, Ciudad Sandino is a site where we partner with schools like Jose Artigas School and Nueva Vida School to build libraries, gardens and other projects as well to help teach English and spend time playing with the kids.
- In Granada we have worked to build 9 homes to date, with more to come! Volunteers get opportunities to work hand in hand with the family on a home but also take part in the day to day life of families in the area.
- Esteli is our newest site in Nicaragua and your group could be among the first to volunteer there! We have opportunities to help at a school for primary students, through construction projects and time helping in the classroom, as well as the possibility of future work within the community!
If you are a campus minister, service director, teacher or school administrator and you want to see what our trips are like firsthand, we invite you to join us for a Come and See experience! You will get an opportunity to visit our program sites and learn about volunteer opportunities and see a service immersion in action for a few days this summer. All costs are covered by us, all you have to do is pay for your airfare to and from Guatemala or Nicaragua! Come and join us for the following dates this summer:
June 20-23 or July 4-7 in Guatemala
June 5-7 or July 25-27 in Nicaragua