Quetzal Trekkers Nicaragua
Who they are
Quetzaltrekkers was founded in 1995 as a means of self-substainable, grassroots fund-raising for the functioning of Escuela de la Calle, a school for street children in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.
Quetzaltrekkers was started by a South London social worker, Gavin Barrer, as part of a multilateral fundraising effort ranging from a restaurant to a newspaper delivery service. The aim of these efforts was to fund a rehabilitative home which provided 24 hour care for children living on the street with histories of drug abuse and child prostitution.
As in Guatemala, the idea of Quetzaltrekkers in Nicaragua is to support street kids. When Quetzaltrekkers arrived in León, they decided not to set up a project themselves, but to look for an existing one to raise money for. They found many organisations helping children, and after talking to some of the women at Las Tias,, they decided that this would be a good place to direct their profits.
As time moved on and profits rose Quetzaltrekkers realised that they could take on other projects. See below what projects they support
What they do
Association Las Tías (The Aunties) is an independent non profit organisation set up by a group of merchant women in León. The organisation started in 1989, focusing on children with drug problems, such as glue sniffing. Seeing the needs of children who were at a high risk of getting into drug taking, they have extended their focus to younger ages. To give the children better attention, Las Tías was divided into two programs for different age groups.
- The first is a Preventative Program for children from 6 to 14 years that directly helps 100 child workers from a local market and indirectly helps 500 children, offering them support and opportunities in school, art and dance.
- The second is a Vocational Program for 14 to 18 years, focusing on a group of 30 youths. These youths receive psychological and recreational therapy and are also incorporated into workshops for carpentry, photography and leatherwork, as well as primary and secondary schools.
Preventative Program (6-14 years)
- A 90% increase in school attendance and a 77% improvement in school performance. 98% of the children continue on to higher grades at school. 60% have left work, the number of hours that the children work has reduced and others work only on the weekends.
Vocational Program (14-18 years)
- After 2 or 3 years the youths are qualified with a trade (carpentry, bricklaying, leatherwork etc.). In many cases they have overcome their drug problems and have improved their family relations and reduced domestic violence.
There are possibilities to work for Las Tías (The Aunties), who are always looking for professional teachers, psychologists, social workers, healthcare workers or simply anyone who can teach the kids something valuable. They are an independent organisation though and take care of their own volunteers. Please contact:
Phone: Office: +505 2311 2493; Doña Justa: +505 8918 7707; Doña Corina: +505 8447 5209
The day care centre of Los Ositos (The Little Bears) is located on the outskirts of León in the Fundesi neighbourhood.
Originally set up by the local community, it has been here for almost a decade, and has developed a good reputation during that time. Los Ositos currently provides day care to about 50 children, ranging in age between 1 month and 6 years. The team consists of two teachers and a director.
The good thing about Los Ositos is that it provides women with the possibility to gain more independence. Women who live on the outskirts of León can drop their children off on their way to work in the centre of town and vice versa. And, as we all know, work generates income and income allows more independence. This is especially important for women, because many mothers in Nicaragua have to raise their children without the support of a husband.
Los Ositos provides a much-needed service to the women of the community. In fact, they’re so successful now that the demand has greatly exceeded the number of spaces available for children. Furthermore, the current building is old and dark, and it partially floods during the rainy season. So Quetzaltrekkers is going to build three additional classrooms which will approximately double the total number of spaces currently available for children.
In 2008, QuetzalTrekkers funded the construction of a school in Aguas Frias, a small commnuity near the volcano Telica. Formerly the school was just a roof on stilts. Quetzaltrekkers has added walls, a concrete floor, and a fresh coat of orange paint. Thanks to a donation by Laurent S.C., a former volunteer, Quetzaltrekkers was able pay for a second classroom which was added onto the original building.
Quetzaltrekkers also supply books and other educational materials to Aguas Frias. In July of 2009 Hannah & Jess went to Hispanamer, a large book store in Managua, and bought over $400 dollars of books and other materials.
What they offer
Volunteering as a trekking guide:
Quetzaltrekkers are almost always looking for people to come and support their team! Their project offers several positions to volunteer with. You will be guiding all of the different hikes they offer. They are between one and three days and take you to the volcanoes around León. The proceeds of these hikes form the main source of funding for their programs. For volunteers there is a minimum of three months commitment required. You pay a $50 deposit, which you get back after working for three months. Quetzaltrekkers looks for volunteers that enjoy hiking, being in nature, working as a team member, and who take on projects on their own initiative. Strong experience is not necessary. They welcome the skills you bring and help train you in the ones you lack.
Some important points:
- Spend at least three months with us
- Be in good physical condition
- Have hinking experience
- Be a sociable person
- Speak English
- Have at least an intermediate level of Spanish
- Have a valid first aid certification
- Guiding availability for at least 1 hike a week
You will gain invaluable experience in guiding, experience in cooperatively running a volunteer organisation, and most importantly, the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the children here in León and the surrounding area.
What you will do:
You handle all preparations such as buying and preparing food, checking and repairing the gear and preparing the water. Then comes the actual hike, guiding people up to some of the most beautiful views you will ever see, interacting with the locals and ensuring an enjoyable, safe, and exciting trip. Upon return everyone works together to air out the tents and clean dishes and water bottles. Depending on the time of year and number of volunteers you can expect to do between 1 and 3 hikes per week.
Another thing you are responsible for is promotion. This is an integral part of your work because: no promotions=no clients=no Quetzaltrekkers. Doing promotions consists of distributing flyers and talking to tourists you meet on your assigned promotion shifts. Apart from this, Quetzaltrekkers have a trivia night (pub quiz) and a raffle night in which you will also be expected to participate.
The third part of your work will consist of office duty. This means that usually about two mornings or afternoons per week you will work in the office talking to the people who are interested in hiking or simply about the work Quetzaltrekkers does. You will give them detailed descriptions of the upcoming hikes, where their donation ends up, and finally sign them up, prepare them for the hike and collect their money.
Finally Quetzaltrekkers have some special tasks which specific volunteers do such as: taking care of first aid kits and refresher training, handling the bodega where the equipment is stored, updating the website and computer and managing promotions and marketing strategy. Expect to spend roughly four hours a week completing your assigned task.
Quetzaltrekkers also offers a range of stunning treks between 1 and 3 days throughout the highlands of Nicaragua. Depending on your hike you will have the opportunity to hike to the top of smoking volcanos by day or moonlit night, discover stunning volcanic crater lakes, and even scramble to a breathtaking peak which offers a view of 3 countries!
Please use the website link provided for Quetzaltrekkers (Nicaragua) to find out more!
1 1/2 blocks east of Iglesia la Recolección,
(in front of Union Fenosa)
What you need
This will depend on the treks you decide to undertake but some essentails are:
- Warm clothes
- Rain gear
- Good trekking boots
- Sun screen
- Good backpack
- Quetzaltrekkers does not charge for volunteer opportunities and as a guide on a trek they cover all expenses and food. However you will have to cover your living expenses in León throughout your placement. The estimated cost: US$80.00-100.00 per month for rent (NIO1,600-2,000); US$ 100.00 per month for food (NIO2,000).
The donation payment for the treks ranges from US$30.00 to US$75.00 depending on duration.
Check out the current exchange rate NIO to USD