WHY we need you in Guatemala
HOW can you help?
WHAT you can do?
Why Involvement Volunteers International?
PROJECT NAME: COMMUNITY HEALTHCARE
LOCATION: ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA
START DATES: WEEKLY (SAT/SUN ARRIVALS)
ACCOMMODATION: HOMESTAY (SHARED ROOMS)
MIN DURATION: ONE WEEK
MIN AGE: 18+
SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS: MEDICAL OR HEALTH PROFESSIONAL OR STUDENT
In developing countries such as Guatemala, those with special needs, like the elderly and disabled, can face a significant disadvantage. On this project you will work at assisted living-facilities, helping with people who are physically or mentally disabled, elderly patients, and children infected with HIV.
You will be able to get involved in all aspects of the patients care, including conversation and speech therapy, feeding, bathing, physical therapy, workshops (e.g. exercise, dental care), sorting and distributing medication, arts and craft activities. You can help with some of the most vulnerable groups in the country and help them to be as independent as possible and to provide comfort and stimulation.
Projects are located in and around the city of Antigua, which was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. This is a popular tourist spot due to the pretty colonial buildings and ancient ruins. From the streets and rooftops, you can even see volcanoes towering over the city. Antigua’s Central Plaza has plenty of restaurants, shops, markets, and regular cultural events, making it an exciting city to call home.
- Work on specialised living facilities
- Help to care for patients
- Health checks, taking blood pressure, handing out medications
- Shadow local doctors and nurses
- Talk to patients and interact with them
Food & Accommodation
The majority of volunteers stay with a pre-approved middle-class Guatemalan host family. You may choose from a shared or a private room. Shared rooms are between 1-3 other people (same gender & age group). You are provided with a key to the house and are free to come and go as you please, we ask you to respect the rules of the family. Our host families live in and around Antigua and are 10-25 minutes walking or by bus from the volunteer centre.
You can also choose to stay in a student residence room, hostel, hotel or apartment, all of which can be private or shared between single genders. Please note, for hostels, hotels and apartments, meals are not included.
Breakfast and dinner are provided 7 days a week* and will generally be of local cuisine. Corn, rice, beans, beef, pork, chicken, cheese, and tortillas form the basis of the typical local foods. Meat stews and soups are very popular also.
Photos below are of the volunteer centre (not homestays)
- Airport Pickup
- Local Transportation
- 1 Day Orientation
- 24/7 In-Country Support
- Project Materials & Equipment
- Pre-departure Expert Advice
- Preperation Tools & Checklists
- Certificate of Completion
If you have a desire to help those in need, love talking and communicating with people, putting a smile on their faces and getting stuck in what whatever work is required, this could be the project for you. Spanish language skills are recommended, and tasks will depend on how you communicate in Spanish and how you take initiative. Medical students are encouraged to apply.
- Airport pick-up
- Host family accommodations
- Breakfast and dinner, 7 days/week
- 3-4 hours/day practical work, Monday-Friday
- Program and safety orientation
- Walking tour
- Official certificate of volunteer service
- Letter of recommendation
- Spanish language tutoring table
- Tandem Conversation Program
- Office-wide WiFi and computer lab
- Salsa dance classes
- Cooking classes
- Free coffee and tea and on-site snack bar
- Institute is open 7 days/week
- Emergency contact number 24/7
- Medical insurance
- Daily transportation
- Travel and tours
- Transfer back to the airport
- Personal spending money
Each project will include a 1-day orientation to familiarise yourself with the local area, rules, safety advice and general information. Your host family will show you the best way to get to/from your accommodation to the volunteer centre. Orientation will include health and safety advice, do’s and don’ts, cultural norms, activities and tours you can do on weekends, and a short walking tour, showing you the local area. You are also able to take a free Spanish placement exam. On your first day the local coordinator will take you to the placement, where you will be introduced to everyone and shown around the project.
Our projects are situated in the Antigua area. The most effective way to get you your project is to walk or take the bus. Travel time can vary between projects, and you should expect to spend 20-60 minutes travelling each way. You may need to change buses, depending on where your accommodation/project is located. Taxis are widely available but much more expensive than the bus.
PLEASE NOTE: You are responsible for your daily transportation to and from your project site. Local bus journeys are very affordable and will typically cost Q8 (about US $1) or less each way but may cost more if your project is further outside Antigua. We recommend budgeting about US $5 per day for transport.
Sunday – Arrival / Welcome and Home Stay Introduction
Monday – Orientation day
Tuesday to Friday
Here is a rough guide on what to expect:
- Breakfast at the accommodation
- 3-4 hours of volunteer work either in the morning or afternoon
- Your own lunch at the accommodation or project site
- Free time
- Dinner at the accommodation
There is so much to see and do around Antigua, including cultural events, tours and treks, and exploring the various markets. The local coordinators regularly post a monthly events calendar to let you know of the activities going on nearby. For more ideas on things to do in Guatemala…
These Mayan ruins are set amidst the jungle of northern Guatemala and close to the borders between Belize and Mexico. The incredible ruins are a little hard to get to but have a spectacular backdrop. The ruins used to be one of the most influential cities in the Mayan empire.
Semuc Champey Pools
Another destination a little hard to get to (think long and windy bus ride) but definitely worth it for the incredibly blue pools of water you will find here, all surrounded by Guatemalan jungle. You can go swimming in the pools too!
Pacaya, Santiaguito and Fuego are active volcanoes which visitors can climb up. These 3 are still active but Guatemala also has 37 volcanoes dotted around the country. If you love hiking, then make sure to try one of these treks for spectacular views.
Lake Atitlan is a place where you can easily spend several days. This pretty lake has the backdrop of volcanoes and pretty wildflowers around the edge of the water. There are lots of small towns around the lake to explore, or you could simply relax by the sparling water or try SUP and kayaking.
Indian Nose Hike
This is a spectacular viewpoint which will only take around a 45 minutes climb. Situated close to San Pedro, this mountain is known for incredible sunrises, but we would recommend going with a tour group for this, for safety reasons.
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Provide proof or a certificate to say you are studying medicine or a health-related course
- Bring your own scrubs, stethoscope, closed-toed shoes
Limited access to education and healthcare, poverty, illness, unemployment and illiteracy continuing problems in Guatemala. Guatemala is bordered by El Salvador and Honduras to the South, Belize to the East, and Mexico to the North. There is plenty for outdoor and nature lovers here, including tropical coastal beaches and lush jungles, mountains, rivers and volcanoes. Guatemala has a population of 14 million people, half of that being indigenous. You will see plenty of ancient Mayan traditions and customs still alive today.
The climate in Guatemala changes somewhat dramatically. In the lowlands there is a hot, tropical and humid climate year-round. The mountain regions are a lot cooler and can even fall below freezing in the cooler months. The climate in the popular tourist destinations in Guatemala, such as Antigua and Guatemala City, is temperate and a comfortable warm temperature.
May to October is the rainy season, which brings short rains usually in the afternoon. This can be a great time to visit, as the landscape are lush and green. The dry season is from March to May.
Guatemala has strong Mayan and Latin influences, with the main language being Spanish, as well as some Mayan languages. The indigenous people are known for their colourful clothing and textiles and Guatemalans love their sport (soccer in particular) and music. The designs of the clothing vary in patterns from which village you come from. Religion in Guatemala varies from Mayan spirituality, Catholicism, and Evangelical Christianity. Muslim and Jewish populations can be seen in Guatemala City as well. A lot of the festivals here are influenced by religion.
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