Volunteer Guatemala: ABV is a great way to get out and make a difference while knowing you are with a reputable organization that will look out for you, prepare you and ensure a great learning experience.
1. How was the local ABV coordinator and the support provided in-country?
The local support was very thorough and responsive to any questions or help I needed. They stopped by the shelter a few days to check in with me, helped connect me with other ABV volunteers from the program, and organized side travel and tours.
2. What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
I was surprised at the comforts at the homestay. The “know before you go” literature made it seem as if it would be rough accommodations and this was not the case.
ABV: we lower expectations as not all houses are the same, but most houses will be middle high class accommodations.
3. What was most difficult to experience?
The most difficult experience for me was attempting to bond with the girls of the shelter without speaking much Spanish. I know that had I been here longer, my Spanish would improve and it would be easier to communicate with them and gain their friendship. At times I felt a bit of an outsider with the girls and staff. However, I suppose that is to be expected.
4. Any tips for future volunteers? (clothing, travel, personal items, donations, etc. ?
Clothing – closed toe shoes, hair ties, rain jacket, high necked shirts, comfy jeans (no leggings to the shelter).
5. Other things volunteers should know?
a. Bring tissue / toilet paper, it´s hard to come by. Carry in your bag during your travels.
b. Some of the girls/children at the shelter have lice so wear your hair in a braid or bun when holding the children. (bring lice shampoo to give to the shelter)
c. Listen to your host family and ABV directors, travel in pairs, take taxi´s etc.
6. Personal paragraph (ABV program testimonial):
ABV is a great way to get out and make a difference while knowing you are with a reputable organization that will look out for you, prepare you and ensure a great learning experience.
7. How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security
My host family was so welcoming and I loved hanging out with them. I had my own room but I hear some volunteers have shared accommodations. There were plenty of blankets on my bed but if you get cold easily bring sweats to hang out in at night.
8. What was your favorite memory of this trip?
Teaching dance to the girls at the shelter to their favorite song and everyone got involved including the staff. It was a really great, lively experience.
9. How was the ABV USA support prior to traveling?
Great! I didn´t give them a ton of notice I was coming (not recommended), and they answered all of my questions and set everything up for me with short turn around.
10. Are you willing to speak to potential ABV volunteers?
Yes via email.