Guatemala Volunteer Projects

Volunteer Silas Talbot helping Guatemalan kids

Silas Talbot volunteering in Guatemala

Mundo has partnered with local NGO’s in a small Maya town in the NW Highlands.  This area was one of the most impacted areas by the 30 plus years of violence, experiencing massacres and razing of entire villages.

Community members experience the highest level of poverty, having access to bare bones health care and education.  The living conditions are difficult, but your efforts will be rewarded with rich experiences, long-term friendships and wonderful hospitality.  The following projects are currently supported by Mundo Exchange and our Donors:

  • Fundraising and collection of educational and health supplies for rural indigenous community schools and health centers
  • Fundraising to support Guatemalan women and girls who are seeking a quality education beyond the third grade
  • Internships to Guatemala to help communities in need

In addition, Mundo offers an annual Service/Cross Cultural trip to the Ixil area in the Northwestern Highlands of Guatemala.  Team members will also team with local indigenous NGO’s on a variety of projects.  Basic Spanish is a must!  In the past volunteers have:

OES  & Catlin students volunteer to help Guatemalan communities

Global volunteers putting ideas into practice for Guatemalan people

  • Spent days with an indigenous school that focuses on literacy in both Ixil (the local Maya language) and Spanish
  • Conducted local health well-care check-ups
  • Worked on community construction and clean-up projects
  • Developed an organic garden
  • Worked at various schools teaching English and art to students

Cross Cultural activities have included:

  • Spending the day with a Maya Priest learning about present day and past traditional Maya religion and cultures
  • Visiting important Maya Ceros (mountains) and learning about the Maya folklore
  • Learning from ex-guerillera/os about the 36 years of civil war and the immense impact it had on the Ixil area, including the razing on numerous villages, widespread massacres and significant levels of trauma from the massacres and challenges that confronted local people on an almost daily basis for 36 plus years
  • Weaving and the importance of textiles in the Maya culture
  • Organic farming practices
  • Cooking indigenous food including making tortillas and BoxBol (the local Maya favorite meal)
  • Ixil language lessons
  • Hiking into a remote, roadless village to learn about how the Maya live now and in the far past in a world where technology still has not penetrated
  • Learning about current Maya life and the challenges of living in an impoverished society
Mundo Exchange Volunteer Stephanie learning Mayan Guatemalan ways

Volunteer Stephanie with Guatemalan friends

For independent projects, volunteers must be able to:

*speak Spanish fluently

*be flexible and independent

*have a never ending good sense of humor

*and enjoy adventure.

We ask that you commit at least two months to the independent projects as it takes time to adjust to the cultural differences.  It is almost guaranteed that a volunteer will go through a cycle of “Oh-my-goodness, what have I gotten myself into?” to “This is an amazing experience!” to “This is a lot of hard work and I would really like a hot shower and a meal without tortillas!” To “Wow, I stuck it out.  I have new friends and a different world view.  I will remember this experience forever.” For most two months is the minimum to allow you to go through this amazing wave-like cycle.

Mundo volunteers and friends helping Mayans

Mundo volunteers and friends helping Mayans

It may be necessary to walk for hours to get to the villages where water and electricity may be something of a dream. For past volunteers, physicians, families, high school and college students who have completed this volunteer project in Guatemala it has had a positive impact on their relationship to the world and self.  For our Team Volunteer program volunteers must have at least rudimentary Spanish skills. In this way your experience will be enriched by your ability to interact with community members.

Andy and friends volunteered to provide medical care

Andy helping Guatemalan people and friends

For more information please contact Mundo Exchange director, Joan Williams.