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Honduras Volunteers - Welcome

Amelia Cook (
pictured below), a present volunteer living near Tegucigalpa, has graciously shared her thoughts on how one best prepares oneself for the volunteer time ahead in Honduras. On behalf of our readers, thanks Ameila.  Amelia begins:

Dear Volunteer,

Soon you will be saying goodbye to your family and friends and coming to a place that many people can´t even locate on a map. Whether you are planning on volunteering in Honduras for 2 weeks or 2 years, you are leaving behind hot showers, your favorite sushi restaurant, and your native language.
But why? We all come to Honduras for our own reasons, our own missions. Whatever your reason, you will probably find that during your work in Honduras that reason will change many times over and, some days, you may find
you have no answer at all.

This letter is, for me, what I wish I would have had before coming to Honduras as a volunteer almost a year ago. I don´t write this as an expert of any sort, just as a person in the middle of a volunteer experience, trying to share with you what I have learned so far.

My experience here has been life-changing, thrilling, and challenging and if I had to do it all again, I would. I hope my advice helps you as you prepare for the adventure of life in Honduras and I hope that, when you come back to the United States, you too would do it again.


As you prepare to come to Honduras, educate yourself as much as you can about Honduran history, culture, and language. The more you know in advance, the more prepared you´ll feel when you step off the plane. Read Don´t Be Afraid Gringo by Elvia Alvarez, study your Spanish, talk to people who´ve lived or visited Honduras. As you educate yourself, keep an open mind and heart.

Honduras is a diverse country and people have varied experiences here. A Peace Corp volunteer will have a vastly different impression of Honduras than someone who spent a week in The Bay Islands. Don´t let one idea sway you into believing Honduras is either a paradise or an unsafe, scary place. Like anywhere, it can be both.


If you are a spiritual person, pray! Have your family, your place of worship, and your friends keep you in their prayers and thoughts before, during, and after your volunteer work. Ask them to pray (and pray yourself) that you will be strong in mind and body and that you keep an open heart and humble spirit. You will feel these prayers and the support of the people who care about you, especially during hard times.

Dealing Emotionally

OK. So you have read up on Honduras, practiced your Spanish, and enlisted the support and prayers of friends and family. Now what? Before you pack your bags, let me offer you some tips on “dealing” emotionally before and during your volunteer work.
Volunteering in Honduras is beautiful and rewarding, but it is not easy. You will have days where you will want to pack up and go home. But you will also have days in which you would not rather be anywhere
else in the world. The emotional life of a volunteer is a bit, shall we say, hilly. You may find yourself experiencing extreme joy and extreme sadness both in the same day, maybe even in the same hour! Accept this as part of your experience, let yourself experience the highs and lows an always have faith that the low
moments will pass. They will!

Learn about culture shock and identify it in yourself. I´ve found that by putting a name on the struggle of adapting and realizing that other people before you have experience the same thing makes it easier to handle.

A final note on emotional and mental preparation--don´t overdo it! Preparation helps, but no matter how prepared you are you will still be surprised, amazed, humbled and altered by your experience as a volunteer.

(cont'd at part 2)

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Amelia Cook has worked as ghost tour guide, yogurt sample girl, and freelance music reviewer before coming to Honduras as a volunteer. She currently lives outside of Tegucigalpa at Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, a home for 500 orphaned children. She spends her days teaching long division and her nights reading Jorge el Curioso over and over again. In her free moments, she rambles a bit of her experiences in Honduras at


Good Writer and Have Visited Honduras?

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Part 1 - An Intro to Volunteering

Part 2 - Volunteer Packing List

Part 3 - Tips from a Volunteer

Esperanza Clinic
On Being a Volunteer
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