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Volunteering in Guatemala

In Guatemala, opportunities exist for a wide variety of volunteering options. You can help with everything from constructing houses in poor communities to teaching English, assisting with the care of sea turtles, and looking after children and animals that have been orphaned or otherwise abandoned. In particular, those in the medical profession, teachers and people with Internet development or design skills are highly sought after. In order to volunteer in the country, you will need basic Spanish as a minimum–more advanced Spanish is preferred. You are normally required to pay for your accommodation and food during your stay. Language schools are a good place to pick up information about volunteering opportunities, a number of which are detailed here:

ARCAS ( ARCAS is a non-profit NGO, formed in Guatemala in 1989 by Guatemalans. The focus is on wildlife, in particular caring for wildlife being sold on the black market. This organization has a Research Center that houses anywhere between 300 and 600 animals. They also work with the Hawaii ecological center at Monterrico to help with the preservation of turtles and the wetlands. Areas of focus are: Guatemala City, Petén, and the Hawaii area on the coast.

Asociación COED (Cooperative for Education) ( This Cincinnati-based non-profit is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty in Guatemala by providing textbooks and educational opportunities to underprivileged schoolchildren. The cooperative's projects are aimed at improving traditional and technological literacy in impoverished schools from Guatemala City, where it is headquartered, to the department of Quetzaltenango.

EntreMundos ( EntreMundos is an NGO that was founded in 2001 and is based in Quetzaltenango. The organization focuses on providing assistance to the rural poor in the Western Highlands region of Guatemala. The organization has a database of opportunities to explore.

Escuela de la Calle ( Escuela de la Calle is an organization dedicated to the service of children. Many of its goals are related to the teaching of children and ensuring that children get an education. They are based in Quetzaltenango.

Project Mosaic ( Project Mosaic is a German nonprofit organization which helps to place volunteers in both Guatemala and Nicaragua. They have a large database of opportunities, and request a donation of between $55 and $270 to take part, for which they also assist the volunteering process and provide support to volunteers.

Proyecto Ecológico Quetzal ( In 1988, a group of German students worked in the cloud forest region to inventory the number of quetzal in the department of Alta Verapaz. Following the effort, the organization was created, with goals of providing assistance in the fields of agriculture, eco-tourism, environmental education and biology to local communities.

Other websites to check out for volunteer opportunities are:

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Guatemala: Antigua and around - Things to see and do, Conscientious Turtle Behavior, Things To See And Do, Safety, Laundry, Restaurant Summary, Things To See And Do Summary, Nightlife Etiquette For Women, Tours and Accommodation Summary.

By Paula Newton
I am V!VA's operations expert. With an MBA and a background in the Interactive Television industry in the U.K. I am the organizing force behind the...
04 Jan 2012

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