I'd have to say that I was very impressed with IVHQ from the beginning. I have never worked with an organization that had such quick feedback and a staff with the willingness to really meet your needs. I decided to go with IVHQ because I really felt through their service that they were indeed a "legit" organization. I got off of the plane in Guatemala and per specific instructions prior to my arrival I was greeted immediately by a smiley face flag to the left of the exit door. I never once felt that I was in danger and always felt that the open communication between the in-country organization, Maximo Nivel was helpful. I was taken to my accommodation, which I have to say was AWESOME! I walked into Casa Shakina and was greeted by 20 new friends (who by the end of the week were sisters.) Maria was the "house mom" for us and provided us with wonderfully made meals 3 times a day (how lucky were we!?) and Lopez who was the security guard making us always feel at home and safe!
I cannot tell you how happy I am to have chosen IVHQ- Guatemala! Antigua was a beautiful little town with cobblestone roads and enough history to keep you busy for a few days! We didn't find it hard to scope out a little local bar for ladies night or the local Crepes place for dinner/desert one night...we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in this beautiful place.
As for the Renovation and Construction project, I definitely felt they my time and effort was appreciated not only by the community of San Mateo but also by the Maximo Nivel staff. I felt so welcomed and so loved by the community and every day in the courtyard I was able to play with the local children! The transportation to and from the work site was not bad and I actually enjoyed mingling with the locals on the chicken bus. By the end of the week I had perfected the jump onto and off of the continually moving bus, yes, it comes to a rolling stop IF THAT! Although my Spanish was little to none, every single person I came into contact with was so helpful and met me halfway in broken "Spanglish." I will never be able to quite put into words the impact that this trip has made on my life...but I do know that I will carry the memories with me forever. I am so thankful for an organization that puts the money that you pay to volunteer directly back into the community/program that you're working on. As soon as I landed back in the U.S. I was immediately wanting to go back! So I went home and applied for another volunteer opportunity with IVHQ, here I come South Africa, December 2015!!
I highly recommend IVHQ if you're wanting your money to be used in the best way, to get THE BEST support, and to ultimately Impact others while having your life impacted. I am so very thankful for IVHQ and what they provide.