Volunteer in Guatemala with International Volunteer HQ today. IVHQ’s local staff in Guatemala require volunteers NOW! IVHQ has a wide range of volunteering projects available in Guatemala, including Teaching English, Childcare/Orphanage work, Medical Placement, Working with the Elderly, Animal Care/Animal Rights, Lake Conservation, Eco-Agriculture Conservation, Construction and Renovation and Special Needs.
LOCATION OF GUATEMALA VOLUNTEER PROGRAM
IVHQ has volunteer placements located in Antigua and surrounding towns and villages. Antigua is a very old colonial city in Guatemala, located approximately 30 minutes out of Guatemala City. This town is extremely popular with volunteers and has a lot of work available. The Turtle/Environmental Conservation project is based 2.5 hours from Antigua, in the rural town of Hawaii on Guatemala's Pacific Coast. The Lake Conservation project is based 3 hours from Antigua at the project site on Lake Atitlan.
START AND DURATION OF GUATEMALA VOLUNTEER PROGRAM
Programs begin on each Monday of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 6 months.
GUATEMALA VOLUNTEER REQUIREMENTS
Volunteers must be 18 years or older at the beginning of the program and have at least a high school education. Volunteers participating in the Healthcare project must have appropriate training and certification to be presented to IVHQ partner staff on arrival in Guatemala. All volunteers must provide a criminal background check to IVHQ partner staff on arrival in Guatemala.
We recommend that all volunteers regardless of their Spanish language ability (unless they are extremely fluent), take advantage of the very affordable Spanish lessons offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers by our program staff in Guatemala. Past volunteer feedback has shown us that volunteers feel they can contribute far more with some Spanish ability. Spanish is NOT a prerequisite for our Guatemala program, however on certain placements (such as medical placements) the level of work a volunteer can do will be restricted with limited Spanish. Our local staff in Guatemala offer hugely discounted Spanish lessons to our volunteers and a wide variety of options (one on one learning, group classes and a local student language exchange). More details on these options are provided when a volunteer registers.
HOW MANY OTHER VOLUNTEERS WILL THERE BE?
Last year IVHQ placed over 300 volunteers on our Guatemala program, making us one of the most popular volunteer placement organizations in Guatemala! Between 20 and 50 volunteers start on our programs in Guatemala each month. What does this mean for you? More people to socialize with and travel with, more people to meet from different cultures, more people to volunteer with, more projects to work on, more staff support, better infrastructure for volunteers and lower fees!
GUATEMALA VOLUNTEER TESTIMONIALS
"I certainly felt I was making a difference and helping the nurses and doctors out with such a large patient load in one clinic and with an understaffed problem in the other. My favorite moment was after washing a little girl's feet and hands as a part of the healthy kids program at the clinic, she jumped up gave me a huge hug and said she loved me. It was very touching. It was an excellent learning experience and very rewarding." - Leah Pagnozzi (Healthcare)
Click here to read more testimonials from IVHQ volunteers in Guatemala.
GUATEMALA VOLUNTEER PROJECT DESCRIPTIONS
The ability to speak English gives Guatemalans a genuine opportunity to find work and build a career in tourism, business, or teaching. Volunteers play an integral part in providing free English lessons to adults and children so they can learn English. Volunteers work in a variety of settings including English learning programs for the poor, public schools, community centers, and public libraries. Work varies but generally consists of providing tutoring to local students, setting up workshops, assisting local teachers and organizing educational games and activities. Classes are taught in the mornings, afternoons or evenings for two to four hours. Volunteers also participate in cleaning and fixing up the teaching areas as well as fundraising, and collecting donations of books and other educational materials. NB Volunteers DO NOT need to be a qualified or experienced teacher.
The childcare program in Guatemala provides individual attention and assistance to children from poor homes and communities. Many children at the projects we work with are affected by poor home life, little to no schooling and alcohol or drug abuse among their families. Volunteers will work in rehabilitation clinics with disabled children, schools, daycare centers, and orphanages. Work varies but generally consists of providing individual attention, playing with children, organizing games and activities, educating children regarding hygiene, and assisting with home work. Volunteers play an important role in working alongside local staff to improve the educational, emotional, and hygiene conditions of the children. Volunteers working with disabled children can also be involved in physical therapy and speech therapy.
CONSTRUCTION AND RENOVATION
Guatemalan construction projects are focused on home-building, school and orphanage renovation, and building playground and bathroom facilities for areas that don’t have them. Volunteers work with a local foreman who provides guidance and training, along with families and other volunteers. Volunteers should come ready to work and to work hard, as you’ll be laying brick, doing carpentry, painting, laying tile, and landscaping/gardening. Volunteers are not required to have experience with construction work, but a reasonable level of fitness and strong dedication to the work at hand will go a long way to ensuring you get the most out of your volunteer project.
- Harvesting and processing coffee beans
- Tending to the coffee tree nursery
- Planting and pruning coffee trees
- Packaging and marketing of coffee
- Fertilizing the fields with organic matter (coffee husks)
- Reforestation projects
- Supporting supplemental agriculture projects
- Translating for Coffee Farm Tours
- Repairing coffee production equipment
- Assisting in construction projects
- Tending to the small farm animals
- If desired, assisting with international marketing and sales of the coffee
The rural areas of Guatemala contrast sharply with those in large cities, especially with respect to medical care. Volunteers get hands on experience working in small local clinics for the poor and/or working with local doctors and nurses on medical programs – providing check-ups and basic medical care in poor communities and at orphanages. Our health projects are some of the highest impact opportunities we offer, both in terms of what the volunteer provides to the local community as well as the field experience the volunteer gains from the experience. It is important that healthcare volunteers have realistic expectations with regard to the activities that they will get involved in (see below). Medical students should understand that independence in medical projects will always be determined by: - level of training and demonstrated expertise - Spanish level - age - personality and ability to take initiative - duration of program NB All healthcare volunteers must bring evidence of their level of education, their white coat and their stethoscope.
Pre-med, 1st year or 2nd year medical students:
- Clinic or hospital for low-income families - Triage: Taking weight, height, blood pressure, heart rate, temperature - Hospital wards: Making beds, cleaning, talking with patients - Materials: Preparing materials, sterilizing equipment
- Clinic for mentally and physically disabled children - Activities: Taking the kids to the park or farm, organizing art and crafts workshops, providing individual attention - Mealtimes: Assisting during mealtimes, assisting with tooth brushing
3rd year or 4th year medical students and medical professionals:
- It is important to note that due to strict insurance laws professionals can at times be restricted within their placements and the work that they can do but some task are listed below:
- Clinic or hospital for low-income families - Triage: Taking weight, height, blood pressure, heart rate, temperature. Cleaning wounds, giving injections and sutures - Consult rooms and specialized departments: Assisting doctor taking physicals and histories - Campaigns: Giving vaccinations, taking records, drawing blood samples
- Clinic for mentally and physically disabled children - Activities: Taking the kids to the park or farm, organizing art and crafts workshops, providing love and attention - Mealtimes: Assisting during mealtimes, assisting with tooth brushing - Physiotherapy: Providing basic assistance with physiotherapy.
WORKING WITH THE ELDERLY
Elderly care programs in Guatemala place volunteers at nursing homes and senior centers in and around La Antigua. The focus of these projects is to help create a compassionate and friendly atmosphere for the elderly. In the communities where we work, elderly people are from very low-income families and now late in life they rely on local service organizations even for their basic needs. Unfortunately, most of these organizations are extremely under funded and international volunteers are a great source of manpower and support for these organizations and communities. Volunteers provide one-on-one attention, basic healthcare, and socialize with senior citizens. Volunteers also organize recreational activities, medicine distribution, and meal preparation. Some volunteers have even created exercise programs, song and dance activities, and arts and crafts projects.
The IVHQ Guatemala Lake Conservation project works with a local organization founded to help preserve the natural resources of Lake Atitlan by raising awareness and educating the local population on the proper use of the lake and its basin. The Lake Conservation project begins with other IVHQ volunteers with two days in Antigua where you will receive orientation at the local offices. After orientation is finished, volunteers will be transported to Lake Atitlan (which is about 2 ½ hours from La Antigua) where they will live on-site with a local host family. The Lake Conservation project can be broke down into three sub projects: Environmental Education, Natural Resource Management and Environmental Clean Up. The Environmental Education project focuses on the themes of recycling, proper trash disposal, water conservation, and pollution in the school system and targeting local populations. The Natural Resources Management project is dedicated to restoring the surrounding hillsides of Lake Atitlan through reforestation and increased soil fertilization. The project produces its own natural fertilizer using worm castings. Finally, the Environmental Clean up project is multifaceted and focuses on water filtration, recycling, waste management, and seasonal area clean-up.
During your time on the project, you will be supported by IVHQ’s in-country staff, however they will not be on-site at your project at Lake Atitlan. You will be reporting directly to the Project Director and the assistant project staff. Once you arrive at Lake Atitlan, you will assist the environmental educators and/or conservation workers who are involved in managing the Lake Conservation activities. Depending on the season and the needs of the project, volunteers will take part in:
- Educational programs in local schools (some Spanish required)
- Educational discussions with indigenous women in the small towns (some Spanish required)
- Planning and organizing fundraising events
- Clean up campaigns around the shore. This is seasonal and typically during Holy Week and the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve
- Reforestation – between May and August
- Construction or installation of water filters
- Teaching English to the local communities
- Working at the solid waste treatment plant (recycling plant)
It is highly recommended that volunteers bring a pair of work gloves, sturdy boots, bug repellent, a wide-brimmed and sun protection to the Lake Conservation project.
ANIMAL CARE/ ANIMAL RIGHTS
Culturally speaking, in Latin America dogs and cats are not really looked upon as integral members of the family the way they are in more developed countries. This often leads to neglect and animals being abandoned on the streets. There is a high demand and need for volunteer assistance within this project. The projects we work with protect these animals and provide human company, medical treatment, and playtime for the animals. They also run spay/neuter programs, rabies vaccination clinics, fundraising events and lead educational programs in local schools. Volunteers work bathing and brushing the animals, providing basic obedience training, cleaning cages, and walking and playing with them; small construction projects like building dog runs and creating fences along with photography and fundraising are other activities that volunteers do.
Volunteers who are interested also have the opportunity to work in a rehabilitation center working with exotic animals. This is the only center of its kind in Guatemala with a goal of alleviating the environmental problems and habitat destruction happening in Guatemala. The center works with snakes, lizards, arthropods, alligators, and more. This project also runs environmental education for the public in schools and by tours/field trips of the center. Key tasks for volunteers working at this center include cleaning cages and feeding, maintaining and cleaning the facilities, taking care of injured animals, care for animals in quarantine, and also helping with exhibitions and tour groups.
Play an important role in preserving the natural heritage of Guatemala, joining conservation efforts on the Pacific Coast. Volunteers on the Turtle/Environmental Conservation project work alongside local conservation workers in the rural town of Hawaii, located 2.5 hours from Antigua. Volunteer work includes turtle egg collection, releasing turtle hatchlings and night beach patrols (between June and November), turtle biology research, beach clean-up campaigns, reforestation efforts, construction or repair of park facilities and hatcheries, educational programs in local schools (some Spanish required), teaching English to the local community, organizing community projects, fishing for food for the onsite Caimanes (crocodiles) and helping with Iguana and Camian breeding. Work hours will vary depending on the needs of the project, however volunteers can expect to work between 6 and 8 hours per day, Monday to Friday. The daily schedule will also vary depending on the time of year and work available. During some months, almost all work will take place after dark, or working hours may be split into shifts, morning and evening. Volunteers with a keen go-getter attitude and an active approach towards pitching in wherever possible will be well suited to this project. Embracing the language barrier and busy nature of this project will ensure volunteers can make a valuable contribution and enjoy a successful volunteer experience. Please note, this project has a minimum duration of 2 weeks and incurs a US$7 surcharge per day, which will be quoted to you by IVHQ when you apply.
Compassionate volunteers looking to make a real difference can join our Special Needs project in Guatemala. Volunteers work in homes and clinics for mentally and physically disabled children and babies. Volunteers assist with the personal care of the children, providing specialized attention and helping with physical therapy, feeding, clothing, bathing, and organizing crafts and games for playtime. The range of disabilities found amongst the children is wide, so volunteers must come prepared to help with both basic life functions and engaging the children in imaginative games.
GUATEMALA PROGRAM COSTS
One of the strengths of IVHQ is our extremely affordable fees. Click here to see the program cost to volunteer in Guatemala and what you receive in exchange for your fees.
ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS
Volunteers are accommodated in either a home-stay or volunteer house where they will live with a local family or other volunteers. We give that local family money from your fee for support, food and board. It is exciting to stay with a family; that way you will learn the Guatemalan way of life, meet local people, eat local food, speak the local language (Spanish) and engage in local customs and traditions. Living is comfortable and all home stays and volunteer houses have electricity and running water. Volunteers can expect to share a room with two or three other volunteers Guatemalan food is tasty, diverse and volunteers can expect to experience a myriad of flavours and meals during their home stay experience. If volunteers wish to eat out, there are a large numbers of restaurants and diners to suit all tastes and budgets. If you have special eating needs, please let us know ahead of time so that we can make arrangements for you. However, we need to stress the point that you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of, but also as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible.
Orientation will begin on every Monday of each month and last for approximately one day. Orientation will be conducted by staff in Antigua and cover everything you need to know for your volunteering placement in Guatemala – Introduction to Guatemala, Guatemalan Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in Guatemala and Introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing. Once orientation is complete, volunteers will be transported to their home stay and introduced to all relevant parties – home stay family members and program placement staff.
EXTRA ACTIVITIES - SURF IN EL SALVADOR
If you would like to compliment your volunteer experience in Antigua with a 5-day, 4-night trip to the coast of El Salvador for an amazing surf school experience then you can arrange this directly with our local staff once you are in Antigua! After spending the weekend in Antigua, you will head down to El Salvador Monday morning and arrive in time for your first one-on-one surf lesson. While staying at a local boutique hotel with a pool, hammocks and ocean views, you will enjoy 3 meals and 2 hours of personal surf instruction per day. Spend your free time on the beach, body boarding, enjoying the hotel facilities or exploring nearby caves. Nearby beaches have great nightlife with music and dancing! The fee is US$590 and the following is included:
EXTRA ACTIVITIES - MINI ADVENTURE IN GUATEMALA
First Day: On the first day of the volunteering placement, the volunteers will be escorted to the project and introduced to the staff at the project you will be working with.
Weekdays: Volunteers will have a morning, afternoon or evening shift which will last about 2 to 4 hours. A typical afternoon schedule would be as follows:
12PM - Lunch with the host family
1PM - Volunteer leaves home and travels to the project. The volunteer joins with the local staff. You will be given a duty roster and a plan for your work. Work and hours is dependent on the project and location that the volunteer is participating in.
4PM - Work at the project usually ends. The volunteer at this point is free to travel home, visit and see places or do shopping. If volunteers are taking a Spanish language course they will usually do this in the morning (or in the afternoons if you are volunteering in the morning) and this may take 2-3 hours.
7PM - Dinner with the host family or other volunteers.
*Please note this schedule can vary as some projects take place in the morning or evening
Weekends: During the weekend, volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of their local district and Antigua. Long weekends can be taken to go and explore Guatemala or to travel further afield to places such as El Salvador or Mexico.
GUATEMALA VOLUNTEER FEES
|Volunteer Period||Program Fee US$|
|1 Month (4 weeks)||785|
|2 Months (8 weeks)||1245|
|3 Months (12 weeks)||1705|
|4 Months (16 weeks)||2165|
|5 Months (20 weeks)||2625|
|6 Months (24 weeks)||3085|
To convert these prices to your local currency click here.
The medical, construction and conservation programs also have an extra cost of US$7 per day for materials and surcharges. This will be included in the fees quoted to you by IVHQ when you apply.
What do my fees pay for?
Registration Fee (Refundable if you choose not to go*) – 24/7 support from IVHQ staff, program marketing costs, information pack, administration costs, travel costs to inspect programs and communication costs with volunteers.
Program Fee – Airport pick up, orientation, program supervision, accommodation and meals during volunteer placement period, In-country 24/7 volunteer support and In-country administration costs.
What additional costs will I have?
Visa, flights, travel insurance, transfer back to the airport at conclusion of program, vaccinations, souvenirs, spending money (volunteers in Guatemala generally find US$20 to be sufficient for basic weekly expenses).