Am I allowed to drink or smoke at any time during the 2 weeks?
Yes, but... There is NO bringing alcohol onto, drinking or being drunk on our local partner's compound, we are there to represent World Accord and Canada. After work and on the weekend there may be opportunities to buy alcohol, but we ask that you do so in moderation. If a problem arises, then we have the right to ask you to leave.
If you can't do without smoking, then we ask that you be very very discrete. Once again, we don't want to premote these activities.
DO NOT bring or consume Marijuana in any form (or anyother drug). You are crossing international borders and spending time in countries whenre the drug laws are different than at home.
How old do I have to be to come on an expedition?
Our trips are open to anyone over 18 (or 14 and up with a guardian.)
What sort of food do we eat?
Local women will prepare all of our food for us. It will be similar to what they eat. Simple but good and filling: not spicy, lots of rice, beans and tortillas, plus vegetables, fruit, eggs, and meat.
The women have been trained in the safe preparation of our food, using bottled water. If you think food is going to be a problem for you, consider bringing some extras like peanut butter to spread on tortillas, etc..
If you have dietary restrictions or preferences (e.g. vegetarian), please let Richard Kirsh know well before departure.
Our meals are usually served buffet style. Volunteers are invited to give thanks.
Always eat all that you take. Food is not thrown out! What else are friends for?
What sort of biting bugs are there?
Mosquitoes - They are around a bit in the evenings, but it is not an area which is overrun by them. Where you will be staying is also a low risk area for malaria.
Chiggers - They do no real harm but burrow under your skin and itch like crazy. The treatment is to cover their air hole with nail polish or slather some VIX on it.
Scorpions - Occasionally we see these little guys. They won’t bug you if you don’t bug them, and there’s usually someone brave enough around to scoop them up with a bit of paper and a cup to put them outside. Shake out your shoes each morning, just in case.
How do get my laundry clean?
You can have a local woman do your laundry for the equivalent of about $2.50. Bring a laundry bag and mark your name on your clothes.
To do your own laundry there’s a scrubbing board and water basin that you can use, just ask and we’ll show you where it is. Laundry soap can be bought in the local village.
Is there electricity?
The electricity supply in most places is similar to Canada: 110/120 volts and two pronged plugs.
What are our accommodations like?
Living quarters - Will be basic and cosy. A blanket, sheets, and pillowl will be provided for you as well as a simple bed with a couple thin mattresses.
Showers - At the end of the work day you might want a cold shower which is fine. But if you decide that you want a warm or hot shower then you have to find the ‘sweet spot’ when you turn it on... it’s easy once you know how, and we’ll teach you :)
Toilets - The toilets in Central America are constructed in a way that traps toilet paper, causing them to overflow. As a result, it is necessary to place all used toilet paper in a container next to the toilet. Do not flush it down! Of course when you are using an outhouse (on the work site) that isn’t a problem. Also, most toilets in Central America don’t have toilet paper in them. So always carry some with you in a day bag (1/4 roll in a ziplock bag) - especially when we are travelling or at the construction site.
Where will we be staying?
In Honduras - La Buena Fe, Zacapa, Santa Barbara, Honduras
In Guatemala - Chimaltenango, Guatemala
Will we have any free time to go shopping?
On the weekend we will go to Copan (Honduras) or Antigua (Guatemala) where there will be loads of shopping opportunities to buy gifts for yourself, friends and family back at home.
Will I be able to phone home from Honduras / Guatemala? Or will home be able to reach me?
If you do need to phone home, you can use the trip leader's cell phone and pay him afterwards for the minutes that you use up.
If you bring your own phone, remeber to download an internet based app, authorize roaming or otherwise set up your phone.
There is wi-fi access at our billet. Ask the trip leader for the password.
We will give you a number for your family to call in an emergency situation.
Can I bring gifts for kids or adults that i will meet in Central America?
If you want to give something to a special friend you make in Central America, keep it very modest. While you may not consider something worth $10 to be excessive, there it represents a day’s wages for a skilled labourer or a week’s wages for the unskilled. There is also a risk of creating an obligation for that person to return the gesture by giving you a gift. Ask Al when in doubt.
Do I need medical insurance? Does World Accord pay for it?
Yes, you do need medical insurance. You must arrange and pay for this yourself.
Can I buy things I might need down in Honduras/Guatemala?
The only opportunity that you would have to do this is on the weekend trip, so we suggest that you bring everything that you may need with you.
There are small 'tiendas' where you can buy chips, pop, candy, popsicles, etc.
What if I want to go travel before or after the construction expedition?
That is totally fine, just let Richard Kirsh (firstname.lastname@example.org) know what you want to do. He'll help you make sure it connects properly with the construction expedition.
If you do decide to do this, then World Accord can NOT give you a tax receipt for the whole trip.
If you stay for extra time, we are not responsible for you or your travel plans, unless you indicate they want to help out with construction afterwards. If people want to leave / arrive before or after the rest of the volunteers with the help of PRR staff, it should be on the weekend, and if it will cost you extra.
How much money do I have to raise or pay?
$2,340 plus airfair (toronto flights between $800 and $1,300)
The $2,340 breaks down:
$1,000 for in-country costs: room, board, local transportation, food etc. in Copan
$1,140 for construction materials
$200 for Admin
It’s easier than you think to raise, Check out our ‘Fundraising’ section!!!
How do I get my airplane ticket?
After you have submitted your application to come on the trip, Richard Kirsh will help you book your ticket and suggest good fligts that get you to Honduras or Guatemala and home again at anecessary times at reasonable prices
Contact Richard Kirsh at (email@example.com) for more information.
Do I need a travel visa?
If you are Canadian, you get issued a visa at the airport in Honduras.
If you don't have a Canadian passport then e-mail Richard Kirsh (firstname.lastname@example.org) and he will help you figure it out.
How hard is the work?
As hard as you want it to be!
Depending on what you decide to take on, the work can range from cutting wire, bending rebar, passing blocks to the layers, mixing cement, carrying buckets of water and/or cement, scraping the edges of tiles, laying blocks, laying tiles, stuffing cracks between blocks, cleaning up, and when you need a break, take one! There are usually children around who would love to meet you and teach you some spanish... a stick and some dirt makes an excellent chalk board :)
Is there free time?
Yes. After work which ends at about 4pm (depending on work location... may get home at 5pm) you have the rest of the day to yourself to shower, read, play soccer with the local team, play cards, write in a journal, chat with the other volunteers and locals, etc. On the weekend we go visit a different part of the country.
Will I be safe?
Yes. We work through local partners who know the country and in-country politics. They know which places are safe, and which are not. If our partners say it is not safe, then we don’t go there.
We bring our partners and children.
Why does World Accord construct mostly schools?
In constructing mostly schools, we know that these buildings will be used, and they are what is most needed in the remote mountain villages that we work in. Kindergarten schools especially are very important as it allows the older girls, who would normally have to stay home and care for younger siblings, to get an education too. The government will not build kindergartens, and does not fund the schools beyond 6th grade.
Why do we offer these construction trips?
We offer these construction expeditions so that you can form connections between those that live in the North America, and those that live in Central America. So that you can bear witness to the struggles and successes that these individuals go through every day. So that you can learn from these hardworking, kind, amazing individuals and families as they learn from you.
What is being constructed and why?
The buildings that we construct with the locals on these expeditions are usually kindergartens, elementary schools, colleges, technical colleges, adding on rooms, community centers, etc.
How do the projects get chosen?
The communities will bring build requests to our partners. Our partners will meet with the community and go through a screening process where they establish that there is a need, that the community will provide the necessary support, and will look after the building after it is built. Our partners then prioritize which projects they think are the most needed into a list. World Accord works based on that.
Can I bring my computer, gameboy, iPad, etc.?
Yes, but remember being there is all about being present and building relationships with fellow volunteers and the local community.
Is World Accord a religious or missionary trip?
No, we are an organization that believes we have a role to play in promoting sustainability in Canada and overseas. As well as promoting dialogues between the global south and the global north.
In which countries does World Accord have construction expeditions?
World Accord offers construction expeditions in Honduras and Guatemala.
Is World Accord asked into the countries or does it go in first and find the people and projects?
Usually WA has been invited by a local perspective partner or introduced to a new partner. We go through a process of getting to know the new organization and the local context, the needs and the resources and strengths that they have. We start by working on small initiatives and grow gradually. For us it’s very important to ensure the integrity of the partner organization. To know that they have the support and acceptance of the local community that they will be working with, that they will use resources in a transparent way and that our outlook and values match theirs. Everything must be participatory and community led. By working that way we have grown to be a program that has 7 partners in 6 countries. Some of those partners are quite new. Working for Peace and Democracy, a women’s group in Nepal, since 2010 whereas we have been partners with Women in Action (MeA) since before 1988.