Thursday, October 28, 2010

Volunteer in Guatemala

Guatemala is one of the most bio-diverse and historically significant countries in Central America. Bordered by Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras, and Guatemala has coastlines along the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. It is one of the poorer Latin American countries, yet considered one of the most beautiful to visit.

General poverty is a major problem in Guatemala, with roughly half the population living under the UN defined poverty line. Inequality is also a major problem, with 15% of the country living in extreme poverty, and Guatemala is one of the most unequal countries in the region. Those living in the countryside are at a particular disadvantage. Despite the low expenditure on education (just 2.6% of GDP), literacy rates have reached almost 70%, however this still remains one of the lowest in the region. Infant mortality and malnutrition rates are also very high compared to the other nations in the region.

GVN's newest program gives you the opportunity to share your time, skills and experience with projects in La Antigua.

Childrens Program
Many of the children at our projects have been affected by poor living conditions, little or no education and alcohol / drug abuse. Volunteers provide loving care, support and companionship to children in need, organising games and activities, providing individual attention, educating children in hygiene and assisting with homework. Volunteers will work in street children centres, orphanages and schools across La Antigua, working alongside local staff to provide this essential support.

Teaching Program
As well as volunteering in the Childcare project, volunteers can teach English tutoring local students, establishing workshops, assisting local teachers, and organising educational games and activities. The ability to speak English gives Guatemalans a genuine opportunity to find employment and build a career in tourism, business or teaching. Volunteers play an integral part in providing free English to adults and children so they can learn English.

The construction projects are focused on school and orphanage renovation, and building playground and bathroom facilities for areas that do not have these facilities. Volunteers work with a local foreman who provides guidance and training, along with families and other volunteers.

Volunteers will work in the rural clinics surrounding La Antigua. There is a strong rural / urban divide in terms of medical facilities in Guatemala. Volunteers will get hands on experience working in small local clinics for the poor and / or working with local doctors and nurses on medical programs; such as providing checkups and basic medical care in poor communities and at orphanages.

Volunteers will work in a clinic or hospital for low income families, or a clinic for physically and disabled children. Depending on the level of medical experience and Spanish spoken, volunteers will participate in Triage (taking weight, blood pressure, pulse taking etc), working in the hospital wards and preparing medical materials, physiotherapy, health campaigns and assisting with mealtimes and activities for the local children.

The Working with the Elderly program is the second medical option, and volunteers work in nursing homes and senior centres in and around La Antigua. The projects are there to provide a compassionate and friendly atmosphere for the elderly, in under-resourced and under-funded centres in need of volunteer manpower. Volunteers provide one-on-one attention, basic healthcare and organise recreational activities for the elderly.

Animal Care and Animal Rights
Culturally speaking, cats and dogs across Latin America are not really looked upon as integral members of the family the way they are in the ‘West’. This often leads to neglect and animals being abandoned in the streets. This project allows volunteers to work with and protect these animals, providing human company, medical treatment and play time for the animals. Volunteers also participate in educational programs in local schools, spay and neuter programs, rabies vaccination clinics and fund-raising events. Volunteer roles may also include bathing and brushing the animals, providing obedience training, cleaning cages, walking and playing with the animals. Volunteers may also have the opportunity to work in small construction projects building dog runs and creating fences. Additionally, there may be the opportunity for some photography and fund raising projects.

To check out all the details on this program go to