Volunteer Name: Felix Contreras
Project Location: Xela, Guatemala
Volunteered at: Children's Home, Medical center
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
They did a great job answering our questions. Although I did not communicate with them to much through out the program, simply because most of the answers I was looking for were easy to find. However, both of the Coordinators were really down to earth individuals and very easy y to talk to.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
It took about 4 weeks for me to finally realize “wow I am in Guatemala”. The culture, the food, the animals, and the streets were so different. I’m sure many would read this and think its obvious. But in reality it takes time for you to acknowledge you are living in a world that is no longer what your are use to.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
I think getting use to this bizarre climate was difficult. Its warm in the am, hot by noon, and freezing at night. Then some weeks the rain wouldn’t stop and so on. I think its because I was always walking everywhere thus made the weather a big part of my experience.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
Bring warm clothes, you can bring nice attire (no one will rob you), make friends with the local (they know the best places to go non-tourist),eat vendor food (but be smart about), don’t stick with the same group of people, and always remember why you initially came for.
5.1-Other things volunteers should know:
a. Dogs are cute but not to be pet
b.be open minded about everything
c. remember that many of the people do not know anything else but what they know so do not look down at them
d. plan trips in advance and know how to get there
6- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
I think I learned more about myself entering Guatemala. Going into a new world has taught me to appreciate the things I do have. I believe adventures such as these are life-changing experiences. If you are willing to meet new people, eat new food, blend into a new culture, and leave all your bias of the world: this is for YOU.
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
Portion sizes were small, but not to the point you will starve. Rooms are big, anti break in house (seriously), and my host family was amazing!
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
My favorite memory would have to be the day I went into work with the kids after being sick because of my medications a few days. They all came to me running and asking why I have not been to work, hugging me and jumping all over me. I was like “dang only our for 3 days and they miss me this much.” Great times J
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
They were awesome. Really bubbly and ready to answer any questions you may think of.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?