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Friends of Batahola Volunteers (FOBV) is searching for volunteers to accompany the Centro Cultural Batahola Norte for two years beginning in the summer of 2015!

Our program brings two young people from the US to live live in community and work in the Centro Cultural Batahola Norte (CCBN) in Managua, Nicaragua. Volunteers accompany the CCBN in its mission to empower individuals, especially women and youth, for social transformation through holistic education and artistic formation.

What is the Centro Cultural Batahola Norte?

The Centro Cultural Batahola Norte (CCBN) was founded in 1983 by Sister Margie Navarro and Fr. Ángel Torrellas during the Contra War in Nicaragua.  The CCBN offers certified technical courses, arts programs, violence prevention programs, scholarships, and a community library. Over 1,000 students enroll in 20 courses every year.

Our Mission:

Friends of Batahola Volunteers is a program that brings two young people from the U.S. to live and work in Nicaragua for two years. Volunteers seek to accompany the Centro Cultural Batahola Norte in its mission of empowering women and youth for social transformation. Volunteers dedicate themselves to the development of their spirituality and social consciousness through their community life.

Our Values:

Accompaniment: Batahola Volunteers strive to live and work in solidarity with the Nicaraguan people by opening themselves to listening, learning, and sharing with community members.

Social Justice: As collaborators with the CCBN, Batahola Volunteers become a part of the action-reflection cycle that leads to social change.  We support the CCBN’s initiatives of women and youth empowerment, while endeavoring to lead a simple, sustainable lifestyle.

Spirituality: Batahola Volunteers seek to share and explore spirituality together and with the larger community through participating in local faith gatherings, self-led reflection, and retreats.

What do we do?

Batahola Volunteers co-teach the adult English class and respond directly to other needs expressed by the CCBN, according to the individual volunteer’s skills and interests.

Other activities Kelsey and Erika are involved in include:

– Updating this blog and the Center’s Facebook page, taking pictures and writing articles to keep friends and supporters in the U.S. updated on current events in Nicaragua, the Center, and our experiences as volunteers

-Accompanying weekly women’s focus groups with a psychologist from the Center

-Participating and offering logistical support in the Youth Violence Prevention Network

– Leading bi-monthly Tai Chi sessions and other self-care activities for staff

-Organizing educational activities about environmental sustainability with kids and adolescents

-Interviewing over 200 scholarship students each year (January-April) and making student profiles to send to donors through Project Education

– Orienting short-term volunteers and translating for delegations to the CCBN

-Participating in Friday morning volunteer reflection/meditation

– Being involved in community activities and classes, including Latin rhythms dance class, monthly community forums on violence prevention, weekly Mass, etc.

Who supports us?

Friends of Batahola Volunteers is supported by two organizations: Volunteer Missionary Movement and Friends of Batahola.

Volunteer Missionary Movement is an ecumenical Christian nonprofit organization that provides volunteers with:

 – Medical and life insurance, including 3 months of medical insurance after completion of service

– Monthly stipend

– Pre-departure orientation

– Visa expenses

– Spanish language training

– Annual retreats with other volunteers in Central America

– Re-entry stipend upon completion of service

Friends of Batahola, a not-for-profit organization that provides resources for the growth and sustenance of the Cultural Center Batahola Norte, also supports volunteers, paying rent for the volunteer house (located adjacent to the CCBN) and helping volunteers with various program costs.

Who We Are Looking For:

Two highly motivated young people committed to learning about and participating in social change for two years in Nicaragua!

Friends of Batahola Volunteers (FOBV) welcomes women and men of all ethnic origins, gender, economic status, and sexual orientations.

Applicants should:

– Be age 21 or older

– Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident

– Be willing to live in two-person intentional community

– Be in good physical and psychological health

– Have no dependents

Batahola volunteers also have:

– Experience of at least 3 consecutive months living abroad, with a strong preference for those with experience in Latin America.

– Actively connected to a Christian community and in accordance with the values of Volunteer Missionary Movement and the CCBN

– At least intermediate proficiency in Spanish

The Centro Cultural Batahola Norte is an exciting and dynamic work environment. We encourage applications from candidates who can work well independently as well as collaboratively, are flexible, and have a strong commitment to social justice and their own personal growth.

How to Apply:

Send a letter of interest and your résumé to bataholavolunteers@gmail.com. Feel free to e-mail us with any questions throughout the process!

After reviewing these documents we’ll send you an application.

Follow-up Skype or phone interviews will be conducted in English and Spanish with eligible candidates.

We will be receiving applications until February 28th, 2015.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Paz,

Kelsey & Erika, November 2014

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There’s a spirit that’s present everywhere!

Thank you Natalie Woodke, IHM Parishioner and SUA Graduate, for sharing your reflection on the 2015 trip to Nicaragua!

“When I was asked to write this reflection, I honestly didn’t know where to start. There are no words to fully describe how absolutely eye-opening and powerful this trip was. I knew this trip would be incredible, but I had no idea how overwhelming it would become. I didn’t realize what I was feeling until someone else said it, but I have experienced TRUE joy in this country. There’s a spirit that’s present everywhere we’ve gone, and I’m amazed every single day. The people living here have almost Nothing but each other…and that’s enough. Every person I’ve met has been so kind, open-hearted, patient and simply just full of life and passion. It’s so breathtakingly inspiring. I hope to take away the simplicity of this country with me. And the idea of finding God and beauty in everyone and everything around me.

I hope to carry with me the amazing qualities I’ve seen in so many people here, and to become that Christ-like figure in someone else’s life. I hope to continue taking time to step back, and focusing on what’s truly important in life. I’ve learned how powerful it is to surround yourself with good people and that the little things truly do make a difference in the lives of others. 90% of the time, I couldn’t communicate verbally very well with the Nicaraguans, especially the kids. However, some of the most powerful moments I experienced were with these kids. We laughed and played games and make funny faces at each other, and words weren’t even necessary. I saw the face of Christ in every single child I encountered and these experiences and connections will stick with me forever. As our journey comes to a close, I know, I will take a whole new sense of appreciation with me back home. Seeing how hard the Nicaraguans work, and how eager the kids are to learn has completely humbled me. Everything in my life seems so trivial now, and I think stepping back for a week is exactly what my life needed. I hope to continue in service work, and pursue my love for helping others, especially kids. I hope to always follow my passions, and never put money or material goods over what truly makes me happy.

On a spiritual level, this trip has given me so much reassurance in my faith. I’ve encountered Christ more times this week than I ever have in my life, and the fact that this happened in a 3rd world country is so inspiring to me. This proved to me that God will always be present where He is needed, because these people need Him more than anything. However, despite their situations, the faith of the Nicaraguans was always present, and absolutely contagious, which is something I truly admired. I can’t say enough how blessed I am to have been exposed to this country and its people. I know I will be able to go back to my journal and re-read it when I’m having a bad day, because just the thought of it makes me so happy. The combination of the Nicaraguans, the culture, the beauty of the country and the wonderful people that came down with me has forever changed my life, and made me a better person.”

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