Volunteer Name: Anna Tasso
Project Location: Xela, Guatemala
Program Dates: From 25/7/2014 to 8/8/2014
Volunteered at: Orphanage / shelter
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
It was great! Petra coordinated everything and more, and helped me feel safe, at home and in very good hands. I always felt like things were in control and that details were always taken care of. Even when things didn’t go as planned they were taken care of quickly and I felt again like I was in good hands and that things would go smoothly. The support was awesome and I loved my coordinators! They helped me focus on the volunteer work while they took there of the details.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
Some of the more blunt parts of life – little things like how the girls at the shelter acted sometimes, or things the kids did or things that happened that were very out of my “norm”. Some of these things I had been prepared for, but the ones that really surprised me were generally small and accepted by everyone here – just details that are opposite from what I´m used to. One would be a girl at the school rolling around a bit outside and literally be caked with dirt, in her hair, clothes, face, and continue with everything that was going on in that way. Another would be a fight between some older girls – really shocking how valuable little things that I take for granted can be here. It was vicious and a little scary for me.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
Similar to the above. Different things, generally small, that happened around me. But I would add to this the difficulty with the language – one specific example:
There was a boy at the shelter who bawled for about 2 days straight. Every time that I saw him he was sobbing – I talked to him, distracted him for a little bit, and learned a bit about why he was crying so much. It was really hard to see this boy (maybe 10 years old?) literally bawl and cry against the wall for so long. But also hard was my limited language – I could understand a little of the why, but not enough to really understand enough to help him.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
Tips for Xela It´s colder than I thought, but the weather goes back and forth from really hot to cold and rainy in a matter of hours. Dress for everything. For everyone: Bring donations. If working with kids, bring things for them to play with, things that you can teach them. I´ve been working with kids the whole time here and I like to draw, so I brought a lot of sketchbook paper, pencils, and I drew them pictures and they drew all the time! They loved crayons, coloring books, erasers, paper, pencils….
Bring something that you can do with the kids. ☺
5.1-Other things volunteers should know:
a. Bring more money than you think – it´s hard to plan or budget everything ahead of time.
b. If you have a host family: Talk with your host family a lot! Get to know them, they´re awesome. c. People love to see people do what they love, and like to see talents, skills, passion… If possible, share the things that you love to do with the people wherever you are. Show them, maybe teach them? They´ll love it.
d. Time flies – you´ll be gone before you know it, so make the most of the time that you have!
6- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
I loved my trip and I´ve loved working with A Broader View! The program was perfect – well organized, prepared, and with great people. My coordinators were great, as was my host family, my experiences here were amazing. Thanks to A Broader View for making it all possible!
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
I loved my host family and the location. The home was clean and comfortable, the food was good, and I loved the area. I was the only volunteer with my family but I felt welcomed and enjoyed the experience of getting to know this new family and this new town. I was very pleased with both my personal accommodations and the location in the city.
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
The kids and the girls that I´ve made friends with. Playing with them, exchanging notes, teaching them, doing group activities… It´s hard to choose one. Just all of the girls and kids I´ve come to love.
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
It was great – I had a ton of questions, as did my parents, and the support was awesome! My emails were always answered quickly, my questions were answered no matter how many I had, and again, everything seemed very well organized and coordinated. I felt like I was a priority for the people on the other end, and was well taken care of.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?