Working With Families as a Volunteer in Guatemala
We planned to study Spanish in Guatemala for three months and spend nine months volunteering,” said Zach Thomas, a volunteer at Antigua’s Common Hope for more than two years. “We saw a lot of projects; however, we knew immediately when we came to Common Hope that it was different. “They deliver what they promise.”
Common Hope, a nonprofit organization, provides impoverished Guatemalan children, families, and communities with healthcare, education, and housing. Its goal is to empower the families to permanently lift themselves out of poverty while maintaining their dignity and independence. Through its Family Development Center in Antigua and other satellite projects in Guatemala, it works with up to 2,600 children and their families. Common Hope believes that a child’s health depends on the health of the family; when a mother attends one of their nutrition classes, her children benefit.
Common Hope accepts many types of volunteers, from people just passing through to long-term volunteers who commit for a year or more. Long-term volunteers must be fluent (or very close to it) in Spanish and commit to the program for at least a year. Those who want to become a long-term volunteer but lack Spanish skills can live off site and take Spanish classes. (Expect to pay about $125 per week for homestay, meals, and private instruction at one of Antigua’s 75 Spanish schools.) Once proficient in Spanish the volunteer becomes full time and lives on the premises. Short-term volunteers live off site and fund their own stay.
In addition to those who volunteer on site, from 20-30 volunteer Vision Teams of 6-12 people travel to Guatemala each year and stay 7-10 days. They pay their own expenses but live on the premises. Projects include constructing new houses, organizing the library, working at the project’s medical clinic, etc. Through training lectures and interaction with the Guatemalan staff, the sponsored children, and the children’s families, they learn about the culture and life in Guatemala.
Long-term volunteers and Vision Teams must apply in advance to the St. Paul office. Short-term volunteers should inquire in advance but can also contact the project leader in Antigua and arrange for a tour and interview.
Contact: Common Hope; email@example.com, www.commonhope.org. In Guatemala: Tel./fax 832-4111; Info@guate.commonhope.org. (In Guatemala, the project is called Familias de Esperanza, www.commonhope.org/ourwork/antiguasite.htm)