"English volunteers are not foreigners but part of my family and part of my heart" - Esperanza Del Carmen Brenes Alemán

Arriving on a yellow American school bus, the busy hussle and bussle of Masaya had a definite buzz about it.  Beaming with excitement, the British volunteers gurned out of the windows like a pack of hungry mooses.  

As well as excitement, there was a determination of development and progression.  Seeing the people whom we were here to work alongside walking the streets was humbling and really reiterated the purpose of our visit.  

Departing the most yellow object I had ever seen meant that it was time to meet the family I would be sharing a home with for the next 2 and a half months.  Climbing the short set of steps, a lady tinged with emotion greeted us with a hug and a kiss, uttering 'Esperanza'.  As she showed us around the house, a definite 'firm but fair' vibe emanated from her aura - this was not a lady to be messed with.

Therefore, it was decided that gifts would break the ice.  Some tea bags, a leprechaun and an Oasis CD down the line and we were firmly in the good books.  This did not mean however that leniency would ensue.  A strict cleaning timetable (including mattress buffering on Sundays) definitely proved this point.  Prior to our arrival we were unsure on just how basic our accommodation would be, so Esperanza's home pride was somewhat of a welcome relief.

As a former teacher, Esperanza was initially motivated to open the doors of her home because of the educational-based aims of the project;

"I knew that the project would help all of the community, especially the poor people in the area… To me, English volunteers are not foreigners but part of my family and part of my heart." - Esperanza Del Carmen Brenes Alemán

As the days passed, the welcoming feel of Masaya became very apparent.  With its eye-catching churches and quirky population, it had much more of a home from home feel than Managua.  The volcanic air running through the lungs of Masaya's people must add a certain spring to their step; a new friend on each street.

With each trombone-led parade (which happen almost daily believe it or not) this city cuddles your heart a little more, something which UK volunteers could not have asked more from Masaya: our home from home.

Written by ICS volunteer Jamie Regan