Volunteer Name: Eleanore Jehung
Project Location: Xela, Guatemala
Program Dates: Jan. 13th to Jan 31st 2015
Volunteered at: Girl's Temporal Shelter
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
The local coordinator was very resourceful. She was my point of contact and go-to person for any questions or concerns I had. She not only gave me information on the volunteer project, but also provided me with in-depth guidance on everything in Xela, such as where to go for shopping, entertainment, laundry, medical support, etc etc.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
I was surprised that I was given individualized attention through my host family. I was under the impression that there would be other volunteers sharing the home, but I was the only one. Also, my host family´s home was rather “upscale” for Guatemala´s standards, and I had my own bedroom, so that was a pleasant surprise.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
I suffered from allergies walking back and forth to the shelter and my Spanish class every day.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
Bring a gift for the host families. If you are traveling/volunteering in winter seasons (Dec, Jan, Feb) make sure to bring warm clothes… and allergy medications (if you have allergies).
5.1-Other things volunteers should know: a. Guatemala is a “gem” in Central America. During the weekends, take advantage of tours recommended by ABV and immerse yourself in the natural beauty that Guatemala has to offer! b. You can get Spanish lessons, having basic skills will make your stay that much easier! c. It is important to come to Guatemala (or any other country) with an open mind and open heart. Be prepared to give up some of the modern “comforts” that you have in your home country (example: hot showers with strong water pressures)
6- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
I definitely recommend ABV for anyone who wants to have an authentic overseas experience. Volunteering and making a difference in another country has broaden my views about realities of other parts of the world as well as put my own life in perspective. Through ABV, you will actually get to assist, live with, and mingle with locals. You will get to immerse yourself in a way that is vastly different from a tourist´s experience.
Overall, this program is extremely well-organized. You will be paired up with a local coordinator who has in-depth knowledge of the area and who will act as your point-of-contact for any questions/needs/concerns you have about the area. The two weeks that I spent in Xela is one of the most memorable overseas experiences I have ever had, and I will definitely consider volunteering with ABV again.
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
My accommodation was excellent. The host family took care of me as I was one of their own. I had individualized attention, and was provided 3 meals a day, on time. I was pleasantly surprised that I had my own room and privacy. The meals were simple but tasty. I felt at ease staying in my host family´s house, and from my experience, I can tell she is used to hosting a lot of foreign volunteers in her place.
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
There is no single “favorite memory” but if I had to choose, it would be mingling with the girls in the shelter and going on nature tours. The former gave me a chance to interact with “disadvantaged” Guatemalans and opened my eyes to the realities that these girls are going through. The latter gave me a chance to immerse myself in natural beauties not found in my home countries!
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
Excellent. It provided me comprehensive information before I left, so that I have all necessary info. There was always someone available to answer my questions.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?