Volunteer Name: Ben Levine-Drizin
Project Location: Xela, Guatemala
Program Dates: June 8th to August 31st 2014
Volunteered at: Rehabilitation, health clinic
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
The support was great. The coordinators were always there for me if I needed help with anything or had any questions about volunteering, Xela or Guatemala in general. They also helped to get me switched to volunteering at the health clinic, which I appreciated very much.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
I was surprised by how much I got to witness/participate in at the health clinic. Whether it was taking out stitches, putting in a form of birth control, or just recording what went on in appointments, I definitely got to experience a lot of things that I had never done before.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
I think the most difficult thing for me was walking around after it got dark. Everyone knows I¨m a foreigner, which attracts some unwanted attention. However, despite my somewhat reasonable paranoia, I never ended up in a situation where I felt unsafe.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
In terms of clothing; I would advise to pack some warmer clothes. Most foreigners think of Guatemala as a hot, tropical climate, but because Xela is in the mountains, it can actually get quite cold, especially at night. The only other advice I have would be to keep an open mind. The culture is a lot different than that of the US.
5- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
The host family was great. The treated me like a member of the family and were always great about making meals for me (even Sundays, which they don´t have to do). I was also pleasantly surprised to have internet at the house.
6- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
My favorite memory was probably a 5-day trip I went on where I went to Rio Dulce, Livingston, Flores and Tikal. I had a great time bonding with some of the other ABV volunteers and seeing some of the most beautiful places in Guatemala in the process.
7- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
I didn´t talk to the support much before traveling, but as far as I could tell they were good at support. They answered any question I had quickly and efficiently.
8 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers? Yes, I would be happy to.