I had to go to Central America and visit potential projects I want to promote on www.ChebVolunteer.org. I planned to arrive in Guatemala and leave out of Costa Rica. On Tuesday, May 13 I was picked up at the Guatemala City airport and got a ride to my home stay in Antigua. In the next five days I visited four projects in or near Guatemala City and met people who do organic farming, build houses for poor indigenous people, teach kids from low-income families, orphans and many other volunteering activities.
Next country to visit was Honduras. After 6 hour bus ride I made it to a tiny town close to Guatemala border – Copan Ruins. The following day I visited two programs and learned how they help locals to be healthy, educated and employed. I didn’t feel safe while traveling alone. On the bus to Nicaragua I watched Taken and that made me feel uneasy about being a woman traveler with no knowledge of Spanish. Nicaragua and Honduras are number 2 and 3 poorest countries in the Americas only after Haiti. I truly believed that nothing bad can happen to me since I’m on a mission to help the locals and promote volunteering. I was too gullible and didn’t exercise vigilance. In Managua I was kidnapped and robbed in a taxi. I was happy to be alive and have my passport but lost my computer, cash and other valuables. As I learned later half the country lives below poverty level and on less than 2 dollars a day. When they see a foreigner all they think is money and filthy rich. The robbers had no idea that the computer they stole from me was the most expensive thing I own, as I don’t own a car or real estate or even a TV. I told the robbers, one of whom was a woman, that I’m a volunteer who came to help their country, they seemed not to care. I know for sure that their deeds will haunt them and one day the robbers will get caught because of everything they’ve done to people who only wanted to help improve their lives and their future.
After I recovered emotionally from what happened, I visited several more organizations both in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. I met more volunteers and heard their stories: saving turtles, launching micro-finance programs, educating those who want to be educated.
I decided to continue what I’m doing no matter how much I went through or how much I lost as I still believe that there are people who need and appreciate our help in spite of the fact that there are others who do not care about volunteering and loose their humanity.