1. Q: Do I need to speak Spanish?
A: No. It certainly wouldn’t hurt, but most of our trip participants (& even leaders) do not speak Spanish!
2. Q: Do I need to be a Christian to be involved in a service trip?
A: No. Anyone who wants to serve the people in our target communities is welcome to participate. We have had atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Hindis, and people of other faith orientations on service trips.
3. Q: If I'm not a Christian, will I be asked to act like one while on a trip?
A: No. We do not encourage superficial or constrained faith commitments from anyone. You may be invited to participate in faith-based activities if you like, but there will always be an alternative. We do, of course, expect everyone who serves under the auspices of 516NOW to conduct themselves with integrity, ethical behavior, and moral responsibility as appropriate for a service organization.
4. Q: Is there any time for fun & tourism on these trips?
A: Yes. We typically plan one “Free-Day” for tourism and fun activities at the end of each week. Past actives have included float trips through the Somoto Canyon, tours of active volcanoes, boat cruises on scenic lakes, horseback riding, tours of coffee and cookie factories, etc. Every trip includes opportunities to shop for souvenirs.
5. Q: How can I join a trip?
A: Contact us at [email protected] tell us about your skills/interests and we will connect you with a group.
6. Q: Can I organize and lead a group of my own?
A: Yes. Contact us at [email protected] Tell us about your proposed trip and we will be happy to work with you.
7. Q: What do you mean by "work with you?"
A: We have experience that can help make your trip a smooth success. We can organize everything from your group’s arrival at the airport in Managua to your return. We can also work with you on State-side planning and trip/participant preparation if you like.
8. Q: What does 516NOW get out of this?
9. Q: You are in South Carolina, and I'm not. Can we work together?
A: Absolutely. Although we’d love to meet with you face-to-face, in today’s technical world, we can work together even if you are in Finland.
10. Q: How many people go on a single trip?
A: It varies. Groups of 10-13 can use a minivan for transportation. Larger groups require a full-size bus. Within reason, more participants means a lower per-participant cost. Accommodations can be found for groups of any size, but 20 is a very workable number.
11. Q: How much will it cost?
A: The price of any given trip varies based on the projects and activities planed. Typically the single most expensive line item is airfare, Other costs include in-country transportation, food and lodging, activities, and purchasing tools and materials needed to complete planned projects. In general, we target $1,500 for a one-week trip (including food, housing, basic project costs, and excursion fees) with ~15 participants. Shopping, snacks, & airport food are not included.
12. Q: Is it safe?
A: Yes! One’s safety can never be guaranteed anywhere, even in the U.S. However, Nicaragua is considered the safest country in Central America. While theft is common, violent crime is not. Palacagüina is a particularly clean and safe location. We will provide food and water that is safe and healthy. Emergency health care is available in Palacagüina and a hospital is located about 30 minutes away.
The same criteria apply to El Salvador and the Dominican Republic. Although as it is known, El Salvador has some social problems, we always take our groups to safe places. In the case of the Dominican Republic, tourism is number one in Latin America, so finding tourists on the day of the trip always happens.
13. Q: What should I plan to take with me?
A: We encourage people to take clothing to wear, and to plan to donate this clothing to the people in the target community. Donations of daily hygiene and over-the-counter medical and baby supplies, books, shoes, and sporting equipment are a great way to fill up the rest of your luggage allotment.