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Volunteer at Casa Guatemala Mayan Children's Village in the Jungles of Rio Dulce
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Volunteer at Casa Guatemala Mayan Children's Village in the Jungles of Rio Dulce

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

No words to describe it

It's no hard to explain the experience you will live at CG, it is just impossible. I was sure it was going to be an amazing time, but in the end it became the most important, memorable, grateful and awesome experience I have ever had.
I went there for 6 months and I stayed 8, and coming back for another 2 pretty soon.
The kids are just that, kids. So wild at many times but so, so, sooooo sweet, it can be hard at the very beginning but after a while it becomes just incredible. They love you as much as you will love them, just think about they are away from home most part of the year so you are not only a volunteer, you are their big brother /sister, that involves everything, take care of them, love them, play with them, punish them and mostly laugh with them. Some of them are just the most crazy and funny kids in the world.
Once you get there, you will disagree with so many things, but you should be open minded and realize that you are in a different country and culture. There is only one important thing there, and that's not you or me, that's the kids. You will get bored of the food (basically rice and beans), you will be annoyed of your life conditions (no electricity, no hot water, sometimes not even water, f*****g animals everywhere (spiders, scorpions, snakes, super high voice noisy monkeys...) you will be pissed off by the kids, you won't like the education level, and you will complain about THAT thinking that everything could be better, but the problem is always the same, there are no resources. But thinking about it coldly, you realize that those families are paying just 20Q and a chicken (so much for them at many cases) to get their kids there, this way, they are at a place where someone takes care of them, with medical access, learning Spanish, NOT WORKING, having 3 meals a day (plus 2 snacks) and living happy. So, once again KIDS are the important thing.
You will meet people from all around the world, and have a lot of fun with other volunteers. And you will discover an amazing country, crowded of humble and grateful people, with places your eyes will never forget.
I can write pages and pages about my experience, but you need to live your own, so just one more thing: DO IT!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Unforgettable experience!

Casa Guatemala was one of the best experiences of my life. Sharing, that closely, the daily basis routines with such a lovely kids, was amazing. You really get to know them and love them a lot. Is literally a house. Since day one I felt like in mine.
Also the interaction with the teachers and all employees who are supporting "la casa" is awesome, really like a big family! I will definitely come back, part of my heart is there... :)

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

An absolutely unforgettable experience!

Casa Guatemala is all heart and soul, finding ways to make do with what little may be available as it relies completely on donation. It is impossible to describe just how amazing the children are, and just how much they go through in order to study for a better future which is truly inspiring! Volunteering is a an eye opening and life changing experience beyond anything you can imagine! It can be very hard work at times but the most rewarding thing I can personally say I have ever gotten the pleasure to do! Highly recommend getting in touch and seeing if this volunteer experience is right for you! But be forewarned... it is nearly impossible not to fall in love with this place and can be very hard to leave! <3

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    7

  • Day to Day Life

    10

One of the best experiences of my life

Casa guatemala, as the name implies, is a house. A house where children and adults share the best feelings of a home. I encourage you to be part of this great family. I have spent three times since 2015 as volunteer in this organization and for sure I'm going to come back. 100% recommendable

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    5

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    5

  • Day to Day Life

    7

Casa Guatemala :)

Volunteering at Casa Guatemala is really hard to write about, it is something you just have to go and experience. I was there for three months at the end of 2014, looking after the varones pequenos as an orientadora and teaching English during summer school. The kids are the most amazing, funny, loving, (and just to inject a bit of Kiwi slang) - hard case characters you will ever meet. They are beyond loveable and totally stole my heart in ways I never expected. Some aspects of life at Casa Guatemala are challenging and frustrating, but I felt this amazing sense of purpose during my time there that is pretty hard to explain or compare with anything else. I never expected to get so attached to the children, to learn so much from them, or to leave the place with such a focus on going back. For me this was much more than something to just tick off a bucket list of travels/experiences. Casa Guatemala taught me so much and put the whole way we live in the western world in perspective. Seeing the amount of joy that can be had from so little (who thought the remnants of a plastic water bottle could be turned into multiple super hero accessories ...?!) - sounds cliche - but honestly, it changes you and makes you realise what is really important. Living and working with amazing people from all over the world in itself was incredible - (you will have so much fun!) I will never forget the friends I made there. While the living conditions are basic, and there are aspects that will be hard (for me, it was the constant rain and mould getting into my clothes!! - consider this if you go in the rainy season - for others it was the bugs, or the lack of electricity, or the limited food) it will teach you so much about yourself and push you outside of your comfort zone, in the best of ways. The hard things are balanced out by experiences that again are so hard to describe here - for me it was waking up to the sound of the monkeys, the sunrise boat trip to Fronteras, reading by candlelight at night, the awesome crazy nightly cumbia prayers coming from the Brisas church, the night sky in the jungle, hammock bed time stories and lullabies with the little boys... to name a few. There are different roles and responsibilities at Casa depending on how many other volunteers are there at the time and depending on your strengths - if you have skills in a certain area or a particular project idea there is a lot of freedom to be creative. Everyone brings different things to the table and planning and organising activities with the other volunteers was heaps of fun, even if you're like me and don't consider yourself particularly creative, you realise everyone has something to offer and the dynamic of different cultures and backgrounds all putting heads together to come up with crazy ideas is great :) It was also a great experience to work with Guatemalan teachers who are there year round and learn about their culture and day to day way of life. Go there with sensitivity and an open mind and realise that some things will be very different to what you know/think is best. Volunteers come and go and these kids need stability and consistency.. again another great exercise in realising that you are part of the bigger picture and it isn't all about you, but how you fit in to that community and how can make things just a little bit better for these kids that need so, so much. It is constant teamwork and compromise but extremely rewarding. Go there with an open mind, positivity, lots of flexibility, and you will have an awesome time. It is hard work and not for the faint hearted, but likely the most incredible job you will ever have. I am going back in a few months and can't wait...honestly, if you're thinking about it, just pack your bags and go :) !!!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Day to Day Life

    10

A life-changing experience

I came to Casa Guatemala in August of 2013. I had read every review, every blog and every mention of it I could find. I had studied Spanish and researched the area around Rio Dulce. But nothing can truly prepare you for life at Casa Guatemala.

This remote "Children's Village" is a truly special place. Not only do they care for abandoned, abused and orphaned children, but also many children from the surrounding communities who do not have access to quality education. Roughly 100 children call the project home during the school year and many others from nearby villages will walk through the jungle or arrive by hand-made wooden canoe each morning and depart in the same manner each afternoon. The project provides a free medical clinic that is open to all, and for many surrounding communities it is the only way they can have access to medicine.

Life at Casa Guatemala is not for everyone. For starters, forget about electricity in the volunteer house because there is none. For another, there's no hot water for showers. The food served by the project (included with your donation) is almost exclusively rice, black beans and corn tortillas. The kids have access to vegetables and fruits during the day and will also supplement that with wild berries or other fruits that grow in the area. Volunteers have access to the nearby town of Fronteras once a week to buy their own food and supplies as well as take advantage of computers with internet access.

But instead of modern comforts, a Casa Guatemala volunteer will find nights spent around a cramped wooden table and candle-lit conversations taking place in several languages ranging from English and Spanish (the two most common) to Italian, French, German, Hungarian and others. Instead of everyone on their cell phones, everyone is talking and laughing and meeting people they will never forget. We talk about crazy things the kids did or said that day, the plans for the weekend activities, ideas to solve problems and a million other things.

The kids will amaze you. They will be challenging but once you get to know them, you will see how smart, capable, hilarious and fun they are. There are times when you want to pull your hair out, but in the end the experience is extremely rewarding. It is not a perfect place, and money is always a concern for the project, but for 30 years they have gotten through each and every day, morning to night, and provided the children of Casa Guatemala with an education and the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty that has plagued the region for centuries. It is a safe place where the often neglected children of Guatemala are free to have a childhood that so many are denied.