Volunteer Review Mirofora Paridis in Guatemala Xela Premed Program Bridgeport University (Group leader)
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
She was amazing. She was always available to be reached with any concerns we had. I always felt like I had an accessible point of contact here who spoke fluent English and Spanish. She even helped us organize some excursions during our free time!
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
The most surprising thing I experienced here was that despite some people having difficult times financially or with their health, they are always super friendly and polite. It really showed me that you don´t need material things to be happy. The people of Xela cultivate their own happiness in light of difficult times.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
What was most difficult for me was seeing such poverty and hardship all around me in Xela. I want to be able to help all these people but could only focus on the task I came here to do, which was to provide medical relief. It is hard knowing that I will be going back to my comfortable home and car while some people won´t even have a meal tonight or a roof over their head.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
Don´t overpack, it isn´t necessary. You can get laundry done here (dried and folded) for the equivalent of $3. Do bring layers – warm during the day and cold at night! As far as donations go, anything is really appreciated – gloves, sterile syringes, general medications. Please keep track of your belongings, especially if you have a smart phone!
5.1-Other things volunteers should know:
a. Don´t throw toilet paper in the toilet! Throw it in the trash bins or else it WILL clog.
b. Be alert while walking the streets!
c. Always keep an open mind
d. RESPECT your host families
6- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
This trip has certainly opened my eyes to the fact that I am so lucky to have been born into a financially comfortable and healthy family – other people are not so lucky. Because of this I want to continue giving back! This was my second time in Xela with Abroaderview and I have fallen even more in love with this city. From the culture to the friendly people, I will certainly miss it. I came here to help them, but they really ended up helping me to be a better person!
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
Our host family kept us very comfortable. I was always warm enough, fed and rested. It was great that they only spoke Spanish because it really helped me improve my own. I will forever be amazed by the warmth and hospitality of these wonderful people.
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
My favorite memory of this trip was being thanked by the director of the clinic we worked with. She expressed that they do their best to provide the best healthcare with limited resources and was truly grateful to have us here helping distribute flu vaccines this week! They would have otherwise expired because they had no one to distribute them as they are understaffed.
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
Fantastic, I knew exactly what I needed to do and when.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers? Yes!