Volunteer Name: Andrew Rauch (WCUCOM)
Project Location: Xela, Guatemala
Program Dates: From 7/3/2015 to 14/3/2015
Volunteered at: Centro de Salud, Hogar Temporal, hogar de ancianas
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
The in-country support was great. We were told where was safe and where was not. We were given clear and precise directions to the places we were working. We were given assistance when we needed it. I could not ask for a better coordinator.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
The amount of babies/children at the clinic was incredible. The pace of the clinic was very fast. We saw over 100 babies/children every day. You have to be on your toes to work there.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
Getting Spanish. It took me several days to pick up what people were saying, but once I did understand them, it made the experience better. Having a basic understanding of Spanish is a must. I´m not saying be fluent, but have basic knowledge.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
Don´t overpack. Make sure you have plenty of medicine in case you get sick. Be prepared to take short showers. It gets very cold at night sometimes, so a jacket or sweatshirt is a must. Earplugs if your roommate snores.
5.1-Other things volunteers should know:
a. High altitude may cause altitude sickness. (7.600 ft)
b. Know the exchange rate before you come.
c. Be prepared to take “Navy showers”
d. Be open-minded and try something new, it makes the trip enjoyable.
6- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
I had a great time in the program. I had never been to Guatemala and did not know what to expect. I went in with an open mind and grew to love the country. Our host family was great and fed us very tasty and delicious meals. I got hands on experience in the medical field that I never could get back in the United States. This trip was both informative and fun. I found myself wishing the week wouldn´t end. I highly recommend this program to med students and pre-meds.
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
The host family was great! We were well fed and the meals were delicious! We were kept safe and did not have any security concerns. The beds were comfortable and the bathroom was clean.
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
Working with the babies at the central clinic. The work is fast pace, but enjoyable. Giving liquid vitamins to babies was lots of fun. The best memory was holding a 16-day old baby while I measured his older brothers weight.
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
I was not directly involved in the planning of the trip. But the info I was given prior to the trip was helpful.
10– Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Yes, via email only (easiest way).