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Volunteering Abroad In Guatemala
December 31, 1969
The Republic of Guatemala is a country of wonder in Central America—having as rich of a history as an environment, making the people as unique and diverse as the land they inhabit. Like many countries in this region, Guatemala faces many challenges today in regards to the economy, employment, infrastructure, and crime, and it is estimated that over 1 million Guatemalan citizens currently live in the United States, Mexico, and other countries. Additionally, Guatemala has a national poverty rate of over 50%, demonstrating the desperation many families face.
Volunteers are needed in all areas of the country, and all levels of experience are usually welcome. Although the official language of Guatemala is Spanish, do not be surprised if you are asked to learn a bit of the Maya dialect in your volunteer region, as Spanish is not universal amongst all indigenous groups!
If you’re interested in volunteering in Guatemala, the following are just two great organizations for you to check out—and be sure to check out the others featured on Volunteer Global as well!
Casa Guatemala, a Canadian organization established in 1977, was originally dedicated to assisting the malnourished, orphaned, and abused children during the Guatemalan Civil War that tore the country from 1960 to the mid 1990s. Casa Guatemala’s efforts of the past and present are focused on providing safe homes, nurturing, healthcare, and education to the children of Guatemala facing poor living conditions—including malnourishment, extreme poverty, and abuse. Casa Guatemala aims to provide the children in their care with the skills, education, and values necessary to become empowered citizens capable of becoming community leaders.
Volunteers are able to work in all three of Casa Guatemala’s locations—including the nursery, administration center, and Children’s Village (where the majority of the children live). Since 1987, Casa Guatemala has provided thousands of children with education and health services that their communities or families are unable to provide.
Other services include healthcare for the local communities free of charge, and farming—and the surplus produce and meat is sold to the local community.
Volunteers take on several roles, from assisting in education facilities and healthcare to agriculture and water filtration, to working in the hotel—a small business venture of Casa Guatemala.
Time Commitment: Depending on project, 1 week-1 year
Accommodations: Shared volunteer house
Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older and willing to work in the jungle. Spanish speaking is required for some positions.
For more information, check out: www.casa-guatemala.org/volunteer
Founded in the early 1990’s, Ak’Tenamit’s (in conjunction with the Guatemalan Tomorrow Fund) mission was to improve and provide additional elementary education and healthcare resources for the Rio Dulce region of Guatemala. Eventually, the organization grew to include projects such as finding means for girls to stay in school, secondary education services, vocational training, and fair trade industry—including handicraft cooperatives, shops, and restaurants, and more! In just about 20 years, the organization has grown at an incredible rate and now serves hundreds of students annually as well as over 10,000 with their health programs. Today, students are also able to gain degrees in sustainable tourism and well-being.
In addition to their education and healthcare projects, Ak’Tenamit provides dentistry, environment, gender equality, cultural preservation, and income support services to the communities in which they serve.
Volunteers are able to take on a number of projects in areas that vary from community development and land conservation to education, medicine, and community tourism.
Time Commitment: 3—6 months+
Accommodations: Volunteer dorms
Volunteers must have at least an intermediate level of Spanish and experience in their project field. Professionals preferred!
Volunteer opportunities with the organization in the U.S. become available occasionally as well.
For more information, check out: www.aktenamit.org/help-aktenamit