Volunteer Review Carley Padgett in Guatemala Quetzaltenango Helath Care & Woman Shelter program
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
The coordinators and support were wonderful! They were very attentive to everything I might need! They did everything from show me around the city to organize wonderful weekend trips! There were even willing to come pick me up an hour away (on a Sunday) when my transfer bus did not arrive!
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
The most surprising thing was the differences in the healthcare system between the US and Guatemala. The clinic relied so heavily on the status of the government to receive any sort of medications or vaccinations. Also, the clinic relied heavily on nonpaid workers such as students and volunteers.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
The most difficult thing for me was experiencing the shelter. The moms were all 17 years old or younger. They were all so young and already had enormous responsibilities. It was very hard to not just buy them everything they wanted! The shelter was doing amazing things, though, they did so many amazing activities!
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
Clothing – bring good shoes for walking, maybe 2 pairs!
Items – space bags were very convenient. Also a laundry bag with a strap was very convenient for the laundry mat. A small back pack to take to and from volunteering.
Donations – For the clinic, I would recommend bringing money and ascertaining what they need down here. For the shelter, maybe ask ahead of time if they need socks, diapers, bottles, etc.
5.1-Other things volunteers should know:
a. Split your time between traveling and spending time with your host family and in your city. Both are important!
b. If you´re not strong in the language, try to focus on vocab before coming, so that you can get right into grammar.
c. The laundry mat is convenient and well-priced so a lot of clothes are not necessary, but bring layers!
d. Maybe bring your host family a gift from your home! Since for the most part they can buy everything here for themselves!
6- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
I had one of the best experiences of my life in Xela. I loved helping the people here but more importantly I loved the people. As a nurse, it is so intriguing to see how other healthcare systems operate! It was wonderful to have a skill set to be able to share with them! They were so welcoming of me and let me practice immediately!
My Spanish teacher was incredible and it was so encouraging to be able to communicate more and more.
The shelter was the best of all! It was so wonderful to love on girls who have been wronged! It was amazing to establish real relationships with them. Also, it was great to get to see them open Christmas presents!
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
My homestay was absolutely wonderful! They were described as wonderful, but I don´t think that does them justice. They were incredibly attentive to any need I had, and genuinely cared about my safety! I felt safe in almost every place in Xela because my coordinators and homestay family advised me where to go!
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
I have two! The first was meeting other volunteers and traveling to Semuc Champey! It was such an adventure and really beautiful.
The second was being loved by the babies at the shelter! I was able to rock a sick toddler to sleep so his mom could participate in an activity, because the baby had come to know me!
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
It was great! All my questions were answered! They were very clear and thorough with all the necessary paperwork! They made traveling very easy and almost stress-free!
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Yes! Whatever ABV needs!