Volunteer Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Where exactly is Amigos de Jesús and how do I get there?
A: Amigos de Jesús is located just outside the town of Macuelizo in western Honduras, just 9 miles east of the Guatemala border. Macuelizo is situated halfway between the second largest city in Honduras, San Pedro Sula, and the popular tourist destination of Copan Ruinas. Honduras is not as far away as it seems! Flights to San Pedro Sula from either Miami or Houston are around two and a half hours. Flights also leave from Atlanta and will be a bit longer flight. From there, the home is two hours by car.
Q: Do I need to speak Spanish?
A: Fluency in Spanish is not required during the application or acceptance processes. Volunteers are required to attend language school for one to two months prior to arriving at Amigos de Jesús. Volunteers will attend the same language school.
Q: What is the time commitment?
A: Our volunteer program has two start dates: early-August until late-August of the following year, or early February through late February of the following year, for a total of almost 13 months. While at Amigos, the commitment is practically 24/7. The volunteers live on-site and work long hours with our children.
Q: Where will I live?
A: Volunteers live on the grounds of our home in a house that is home for an intentional community of 3-10 volunteers. The house is a simple but spacious 4-bedroom, 2-bath house with cold running water and electricity. The house has a simple kitchen, washboards for laundry, some space for gardening, an avocado tree, and a front porch with hammocks.
Q: What will I eat?
A: Volunteers eat most meals with the children in our family’s large dining room. Meals are basic but filling and may include a meat or beans, rice, vegetables, a fresh fruit juice, and corn tortillas. Volunteers eat breakfast as well as 2 dinners a week in their own house.
Q: Is there a financial commitment?
A: All volunteers are encouraged to fundraise for their expenses. Choosing to fundraise not only assists the volunteer in lessening his/her own costs, but also invites friends and family into the journey that is being a volunteer with Amigos de Jesús. Fundraising offers a wonderful opportunity to let others share in the experience of the orphanage and grants others a unique perspective into the decision the volunteer makes to spend 13 months with us in Honduras. The Amigos staff will assist the volunteer in fundraising strategies.
We ask that volunteers fundraise during the volunteer year to help cover the costs of our program. However, we recognize that some volunteers’ backgrounds make fundraising an easier task than others, so all interested candidates should apply even if fundraising may be a challenge.
Fundraising enables us to provide volunteers with room and board, a stipend health insurance and a retreat after the service year. Fundraising beyond the goal amount will allow volunteers to put funds raised toward the costs of flights and language school.
Volunteers are responsible for travel arrangements to/from Honduras. If you are attending language school, your flight arrangements would be from home to the language school. We will assist you in the residency process and in setting you up at the language school.
Q: Is it safe?
A: Like any travel experience, volunteers take on a certain amount of risk when they commit to 13 months of service in Honduras. In the more than decade-long history of Amigos de Jesús there have been no incidents of violence, trauma or serious accidents involving long- or short-term American volunteers. The home is located in a peaceful, rural area well outside the city and the organization is well established and well respected in the local community. However, Honduras is known for its high rates of crime and it is up to each individual to decide if the level of risk is acceptable before choosing to come to Honduras.
Q: What kind of support system will I have throughout the year?
A: Volunteers are asked to sacrifice many of the communication conveniences available in the United States during their time in Honduras. They will be asked to support each other as a community and to rely on each other. In addition to community nights, community retreats, and community travel, volunteers will be supported by U.S.-based staff. At the site in Honduras, volunteers will be supported by the Honduran Directors and staff.
Q: Can my family and friends come and visit me?
A: Volunteers’ families and close friends are highly encouraged to visit their sons/daughters/sisters/brothers/friends. Visitors are permitted to visit for up to one week at a time. Visitors are also encouraged to visit other parts of Central America with their volunteer member after spending time at Amigos de Jesús. Visitors are generally not allowed until after Christmas to allow volunteers time to adjust and so that Christmas is spent with our Amigos de Jesús family.
Q: Can I go home during the year?
A: Volunteers have 3 weeks of vacation time during their year. Two of those weeks will be mandatory vacation weeks for all community members. The other week can be used when the volunteer wishes. Trips home before Christmas of the volunteer year are only allowed for special exceptions (weddings, funerals, etc.). Volunteers are encouraged to prayerfully consider the best use of their vacation time and the possible impact of the shock from their time back home should they decide to visit the US during their volunteer year.
Q: What is a volunteer’s typical day like?
A: The volunteer lifestyle is very busy! The ministry centers on the children of Amigos de Jesús who range in age from 1 to 25 and participate in activities ranging from school to sports to special projects and more. All volunteers usually have some role at our school, whether its teaching all day or offering one class several times a week. The school day begins at 7:15 and ends at 2:15. After school, volunteers spend their time in various activities. Whether it’s planning for the next school day, helping children with their homework or fulfilling secondary job roles, all of the volunteer’s work effects our children. There is free time for the volunteers before dinner and two weekends off a month. After dinner, we spend time with the children playing games, watching soccer, or any number of possible past-times. The day always ends with prayer circle with the children and staff.
We share all meals with the children except for two nights a week when the volunteer community shares dinner together. One of those nights is followed by a spirituality night; the other is followed by an evening of fun as a community, such as movie night or game night. Volunteers are asked to be available to serve where they are most needed—as teachers, parents, tutors or working in the office. Volunteers are also encouraged to use their individual skills and talents to bring new ideas to the program. A musical talent may translate to private guitar lessons for a child who shows musical aptitude; a love for the outdoors may translate to an after school “boy scouts” club; a deep faith may translate to facilitator of weekly celebrations of the Word. Secondary jobs may include managing the Padrino sponsor program, tutoring, photography, social media, speech therapy, IT support and child care. The opportunities are endless!
Q: What does “faith-based program” mean?
A: Amigos de Jesús was co-founded by a Catholic priest and our children are raised in the Catholic faith. Volunteers of all faiths accepted into the program are asked to make a commitment active participation in the children’s Catholic faith formation and to participate actively in the Catholic spirituality of the community. Among other things, this commitment is manifested in regular prayer, attendance at weekly mass, attendance at weekly celebrations of the Word and celebration of religious holidays.