Located in Central America, Guatemala shares borders with Mexico in the north/northwest, El Salvador in the south, Honduras in the southeast, and Belize in the northeast. The southwest of Guatemala is the Pacific coastline, while east has a tiny slice of the Caribbean. Volunteering in Guatemala is can be both self-rewarding as well as self-satisfying. A country ravaged by 36 years of civil war that left 100,000 people dead as well as forced 1million people to become refugees, if there is any country that needs volunteers it's Guatemala. Now, as it struggles hard to overcome the vast socio-economic problems, strengthen its infrastructure, and meet the growing needs of a population steeped in poverty, volunteering in Guatemala gives you the rare opportunity to gain a real understanding of this country steep in history and traditions and once the epicenter of the extraordinary Mayan civilization.
Divvied into 5 regions, Guatemala consists of the Central Highlands (area around the Guatemala city), Western Highlands (consisting of several modern Maya towns), Caribbean Coast (hot and happening), Peten (the main jungle in the north and home to impressive Maya ruins), and Pacific Highlands (hot and gorgeous beaches). Volunteering in Guatemala is an impressive combination of adapting to an ancient culture, while enjoy the wondrous bounties of nature in the form of Lake Atitlan, and many more as well as working with locals to improve their standard of living.
Why Volunteer in Guatemala
If you enjoy discovering new places, and exploring the diversities each country presents, then volunteering in Guatemala is perfect for you. Experience the varied riches of this vibrant cradle of Maya civilization and learn about the various ethnicities and languages spoken here. The Guatemalans include Ladinos or people of Spanish heritage, Mayans, and Mestizos or people who are of mixed ethnicity. Working as a volunteer will give you the unique opportunity to make friends with other international volunteers, as well as forge long-term relationships with the local people and help them in their endeavor to make their country a better place for all to live in
Types Of Projects Available
If you are interested in volunteering in Guatemala, there are many interesting projects available in many different categories. Some of the projects mentioned below are representatives of four of the most common categories, but it's not necessary that you'll be placed in the same category. As a volunteer in Guatemala, you must be prepared to be flexible with respect to your job placement as well as in your disposition. The two most important qualities you'll require while volunteering in Guatemala are patience and tolerance.
1. Welfare: One of the poorest countries in Central America, 75% of Guatemalans lives below the poverty line and there is vast inequality between rich and poor. Many refugees who are returning back to the country after years of civil war are now trying to start their lives from scratch again. As a volunteer in Guatemala, you will be dealing with various projects such as welfare for homeless, poverty stricken, and child labor.
2. Teaching: The public schools in Guatemala are free, but there is still the case that many children don't receive any education at all. Almost 25% of the population is illiterate and volunteers like you can make a difference by teaching them to learn and write. Volunteering in Guatemala will see you help several charitable organizations that work to provide basic education for those Guatemalans who may otherwise not be able to take benefit of this facility.
3. Health: Due to being such a poor country, many people are unable to afford basic medical care. Volunteers in Guatemala work with charitable organizations to provide basic and emergency medical care to the locals.
4. Conservation: Center to Maya civilization, Guatemala is full of dramatic beauty. But the growth in population, deforestation, industrial development, and a general lack of environmental consciousness as well as lack of education, have led to straining of the fragile ecosystems. As a volunteer, you can help protect and conserve the ecosystems in Guatemala.
Volunteering in Guatemala Requirements
1. 18 or above 18 years of age
2. Free from all health problems
3. No qualification necessary
Fee and Other details
There are fees attached for every volunteering project you opt for. The fee is charged in advance and is applied for food, accommodation, comprehensive travel insurance, in country travel, fund raising ideas etc.
If you speak Spanish and enjoy being part of a society steeped in ancient culture, then Volunteering in Guatemala is best suited for you!