Letters to the Editor

Ometepe program seeks a volunteer | Letters | April 30

Next year, the Bainbridge Ometepe Sister Islands Association will celebrate its 25th anniversary.

This organization has enriched lives on Bainbridge Island and our sister island in Nicaragua in many ways. We buy Ometepe coffee, sell it at T&C and elsewhere, and send the profits back to pay for projects suggested by communities there. Dozens of latrines, several school libraries and many other projects have been funded this way.

Bainbridge third-graders have also funded many projects by making and selling calendars. Each year, families on Ometepe welcome Bainbridge high school students into their homes, and our students gain a new world view. Likewise, Bainbridge families host Ometepe teachers, who get a chance to practice their language skills as they experience a different culture.

We also sponsor a college scholarship program that links families on Bainbridge to the top graduates of each of the nine high schools on Ometepe. It’s a real one-on-one exchange that benefits both sides. And we sponsor health projects and team up with businesses and other organizations on Bainbridge to support projects on Ometepe – all with volunteers.

We have three paid staff members in our office on Ometepe: an office manager and scholarship coordinator, both Ometepe natives, and an “office volunteer,” which is reserved for someone from here.

We provide airfare, housing and a modest stipend. Applicants need to have decent Spanish, be at least 21 years old, and be able to commit to working on Ometepe for one year.

Many office volunteers have been recent college graduates interested in careers in international development, food policy, or other fields that benefit from having a deeper understanding of a culture other than our own.

We have also had office volunteers well along in their careers who decided to take a break and do something completely different for a year.

I am writing because many Bainbridge residents do not know that this opportunity exists.

Our current office volunteer will be on Ometepe until July. We are beginning to take applications now from people who are interested in serving for the following year—our anniversary year. If you or someone you know wants to learn more, please phone me at 780-1246.

Jeanne Huber

Bainbridge Island

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