Volunteer in Guatemala

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Traces of the Zika virus have been found in Guatemala. To learn more about Zika and how to avoid getting infected, read the Washington Post's article on Zika precautions.

Known as a biodiversity hotspot, Guatemala is steeped in natural and political history from coast to coast. Life since the 1996 Peace Accord ending the 36-year civil war can be less than peaceful though, in the country with the lowest literacy rate in Central America. Volunteering in this poverty-stricken country allows for a truly rewarding experience with plenty of opportunities to make a real difference in the life of a child or even a whole community. Work to educate an orphan, provide health care for a rural community, empower women with preventive health care, and help grow local businesses all before the backdrop of Ancient Mayan ruins and active volcanoes.

Photo Credits: Rémi.

Education/Youth Outreach

With the lowest literacy rate in Central America and a high rate of poverty, volunteers can make a difference for Guatemala’s children. Volunteers are needed to be caring mentors to teach life skills, English language and to offer emotional support to keep them off the street.

Healthcare

Volunteers with a background in healthcare and medicine are especially needed in Guatemala. Many volunteer organizations in Guatemala look for medical and dental professions to offer services in orphanages and rural villages where poverty is rampant.

Community Development

There is plenty of community development volunteer work to be done in Guatemala. Work with organizations contributing to growing the employment rate and economic growth at textile factories, building projects using recycled materials such as bicycles, farming and building homes for poor families.

Small Business Development

With much of the country living in poverty, supporting microfinance and small local businesses has an important long-term effect on the local community. Support local businesses by teaching and employing office skills, project management, and marketing.

Volunteering Tips

For volunteers interested in providing aid and support to a country in serious need, there is support available to deal with the potential dangers. Organizations working in Guatemala provide homestays with reliable families who provide three meals a day for volunteers. Support organizations also have databases to find the right volunteer opportunity for each individual and open office hours for volunteers looking for a friendly face and a consultation regarding project placement and culture shock.

There are many volunteer programs in Guatemala that are free of charge to the volunteer, excluding travel expenses, and included room and board. Talk to support groups and the organization before your trip to ensure you will be safe and useful during your stay. Guatemala is a country in which a volunteer can feel useful in his/her work so long as one takes care of his/her health and safety first.

Health and Safety of Volunteers in Guatemala

Guatemala is very much a developing country and while it is rich in culture and biodiversity, it can also be a dangerous place to visit. Volunteers should make sure to take extra precautions to secure valuables and ensure their own personal safety while traveling. Guatemala has wide income disparities and excesses of weapons leftover from a 36-year civil war that ended in 1996, which are now used in violent crimes throughout the country.

Travelers should be aware of pickpocketing and other schemes locals may use to rob foreigners of cash and other valuables. Do not trust local law enforcement to be of much help in these situations - getting in touch with the local US embassy will be the best option. It is also recommended to carry a copy of one’s passport at all times and to keep the real passport in a safe, secure location.

Demonstrations have been known to break out suddenly, which can cause traffic disruptions. These demonstrations are usually peaceful, but there is a possibility for them to turn violent and it is best to avoid these situations as a foreigner. The country has also had issues with child napping in the past and it is recommended to stay a safe distance from children, particularly in the countryside, so as not be accused of this crime.

Other safety concerns are earthbound, such as earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes. Guatemala has 37 volcanoes, 4 of which are active, 2 of which erupted most recently in 2010, though all clean up from those eruptions is complete.

Visas for Volunteers in Guatemala

US citizens traveling to Guatemala do not need a visa for a trip up to 90 days and there is a $30 exit fee to leave the country by air.

Contributed by Leah Weisman

Showing 99 Programs

Guatemala

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Volunteer abroad in Guatemala with IVHQ! Every year, hundreds of volunteers join IVHQ's highly affordable volunteer projects...

Guatemala

Maximo Nivel
Maximo Nivel provides great volunteer programs in Antigua, Guatemala. Maximo is a locally-based organization and you work dir...

Peru

Maximo Nivel
Maximo Nivel is a locally based organization in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Volunteer abroad—get involved, make an impac...

Vietnam

Volunteering Solutions
The Medical & Healthcare projects are aimed towards providing better healthcare facilities to people living in the rural part...

Guatemala

Operation Groundswell
Nestled in Central America, Guatemala has one of the most interesting, yet tragic histories. Home to the Mayan civilization,...

Guatemala

Bamboo
Bamboo currently has opportunities to work on a range of projects in Guatemala. Volunteers can become involved in healthcare,...

Vietnam

Bamboo
Volunteering in the medical field is your chance to make a huge difference in people's lives. Bamboo offers medical related p...

Nicaragua

Carpe Diem Education
This semester intertwines personal growth with adventure, service, and a greater awareness of the global community as you tra...

Guatemala

INLEXCA
Guatemala is a developing country that needs as much help as possible. The program is designed to help those who need it the...

India

Dream Volunteers Gap Year Program
WorldStamp is a gap year volunteer-abroad program with opportunities to engage meaningfully in three countries — India, Guate...

Guatemala

INLEXCA
Low income communities have very limited access to good health services, and this is where this project comes in. We partner...

Guatemala

ELI Abroad
Guatemala is an enchanting and magical country - the landscape is incredibly diverse and breathtakingly beautiful! Volunteers...

Guatemala

Love Volunteers
Love Volunteers in Guatemala have the opportunity to volunteer and assist in numerous different fields. Projects include work...

Guatemala

INLEXCA
This program is designed to make Spanish learning easy by complementing a current classroom curriculum with intensive classes...

Guatemala

API
Volunteering abroad offers a unique opportunity for personal growth while making significant contributions to the local commu...