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Honduras Volunteers - continued

What To Bring

Don´t over-pack! If you are near a larger city in Honduras, you can buy almost everything you may forget. Obviously, your packing list will depend on the duration and type of volunteer work you will be doing and in what region of Honduras you will be living. Based on my experience as a long-term volunteer outside of Tegucigalpa, here is a list to guide you.

Essentials to be Packed - Honduras Volunteers

  Contact solution (very expensive and somewhat hard to find)
  Tampons (expensive, hard to find)
  Hand sanitizer (you will rarely find soap in a restroom)
  Bug repellent (expensive, hard to find)
  Sunscreen (expensive, hard to find)
  Condoms (Honduras has an extremely high rate of HIV and AIDS and even if you don´t plan on being sexually active, you can share them with friends who may be considering a sexual relationship while in Honduras. Condoms are sold here, but are fairly expensive, not very accessible to buy, and may be of an unfamiliar brand. Play it safe and bring some along!)Kids on the Bus
  Important Medications (Many prescription and non-prescription medicines can be found at low prices at a pharmacy or grocery. Cold medicine, Dramamine, and pain reliever can all be bought for less than you will pay in the States.)
  Warm clothes (This depends on the duration and location of your volunteer work. I had it in my head that every part of Honduras was warm all year round and upon my arrival in January, had to wear almost all my clothes—at the same time—to keep warm. I hadn´t brought a warm sweater or blue jeans. Big mistake!)
  Jeans and other sturdy, well-made clothing that will stand up to harsh detergents and hand-washing. Dark colors are best as they look clean the longest! You can buy clothing and shoes very inexpensively here, but the low price often reflects low quality.
  A pair of high-quality, waterproof sandals (Chacos or Tevas, for example)
  Favorite treats from home (For me, Chai Tea and Sour Patch Kids!)
  Photos of friends and family
  US Postage Stamps (If there will be any North Americans passing through your work site, the fastest, most reliable way to send letters home is with them. All they have to do is drop your pre-stamped, addressed envelope in a mailbox when they get back to the States.)
  Disposable cameras (great for when you are traveling or don´t want to have the worry of your camera—i.e. in big cities)
  Electronics and accessories (very expensive here!)
  Gifts to Share This is something I wish I would have brought more of! For thank you gifts, birthdays, etc., it´s nice to have something small from the States (a magnet from your home town, t-shirts, favorite candy) to give as a meaningful gift.

The longer I have lived in Honduras, the more I´ve found that you can buy almost anything—from bagels to brie cheese to BMWs—in the big cities . . . but at a cost! The good thing is, whatever you have forgotten, lost, or used up can be replaced.

Your Work

If you arrive at your new job, new neighborhood, or new village with a smile and an open attitude, you will find that the transition into Honduran culture will be smoother and quicker. Based on my experiences, here are some other guidelines.

  Don´t try to change things.  While this advice can seem a bit stifling to those of us with a “change the world” attitude, I have found it to be utterly important. Remember, whether you are in Honduras for 1 week or 1 year, you are the outsider. The people with whom you work have been doing things a certain way long before you arrived and may feel insulted or belittled if you come in and try to rearrange things. Even little things. It is best to work within the system, especially at first. If you want to make suggestions, wait until you´ve developed camaraderie with your Honduran co-workers and then, gently, make your suggestions. Then, be prepared to not have them taken.

(cont'd at part 3)

Part 1  |  2

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Part 1 - An Intro to Volunteering

Part 2 - Volunteer Packing List

Part 3 - Tips from a Volunteer

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