Volunteer with Grid Alternatives’ International Program in Nicaragua

Grid Alternatives’ International Program is a nonprofit that helps disadvantaged communities install solar electric systems on community buildings such as schools, libraries, health clinics, and orphanages. Grid Alternatives works closely with the communities it serves to ensure that in addition to need, there is a community desire to have the project and the ability to actively participate in its preparation, installation, and maintenance. While the organization is based out of California, it works in rural communities across Nicaragua.

Grid Alternatives’ International Program is a nonprofit that works to install solar electric systems in rural communities across Nicaragua.

Grid Alternatives’ International Program is a nonprofit that works to install solar electric systems in rural communities across Nicaragua. Photo © kmr18819, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Grid Alternatives offers several nine-day service trips per year where volunteers travel with the organization to install solar panels. Trip dates are set well in advance and are available online.

With guidance from a professional solar company, volunteers work side by side with local community members to install the solar panels.With guidance from a professional solar company, volunteers work side by side with local community members to install the solar panels. Specific installation tasks may include: installing the solar modules and the racking on the roof, mounting the battery rack and hooking up the batteries, hanging and wiring the inverter and charge controller on the wall, and installing and wiring all of the light sockets, outlets, and switches inside the building. Other tasks may include training community members, moving equipment, entertaining the kids in the community, organizing components, drilling holes in the wall, pulling wires, hanging conduit, and measuring the battery voltage. Volunteers usually work from morning to evening for 2-3 days to complete the installation.

Due to the remote locations of Grid Alternatives projects, there may not be many opportunities for traditional tourism while at the project site. However, trips always include a couple of days of sightseeing before and after installiation, including activities such as a visit to a crafts market or one of Nicaragua’s colonial towns, a lake tour by boat, nature hikes to a waterfall or on one of Nicaragua’s volcanoes, dinner out, a music performance, and a trip to a coffee plantation or a cigar factory.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Volunteer Vacations in Latin America.

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