BYU grads start Help International work in Nicaragua


Natural disasters, poverty and smiling people are images that come to mind when first hearing about international development. For HELP International, a local nonprofit, these images will now be associated with Nicaragua, a new country the organization has entered.

HELP International has been sending volunteers to disaster-struck areas since 1999. Founded by a BYU professor, the organization was created to empower people to fight global poverty through sustainable, life-changing development programs. It is now in nine different countries and has 10 teams around the world.

Megan Patterson has her bachelor’s degree in international relations and is one of the new country directors for Nicaragua. Patterson said she is eager to get the team working together and to get new contacts in Nicaragua.

“One of the hardest things and the most exciting with opening a new country is not really knowing what to expect,” Patterson said.

Matthew Colling is the HELP International co-executive director and first started working with HELP when it only had four teams. He is convinced Nicaragua is going to do well.

“Nicaragua is one of the safest Central American countries because of its poverty,” Colling said. “Nicaraguans are notoriously friendly and accommodating people that have an inviting demeanor about them.”

Abraham Mooney, the other country director for Nicaragua, loves international development. He said he is glad they are opening up a new program in this country.

“Well I am pretty excited to just work in developing countries again,” Mooney said. “I am familiar with how things work and I really enjoy it.”

Mooney said he loves these programs because of the growth and depth it gives to the volunteers.

“It’s also a great cultural growth on your own life when you leave the country,” Mooney said. “You learn more about yourself just by seeing another way of doing things.”

Nicaragua is just another step for HELP International and its goal of changing the world. It has some expansive plans for the future and for its success.

“We are trying to become the Teach for America but teach for the world for international development,” Colling said. “We want to become the standard barer of international development entrepreneurs.”

For more information about HELP International or to become a volunteer, visit

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