Volunteering Abroad: An Experience in Guatemala

Have you ever thought about volunteering abroad? Give back to the community? Teach at a school? Perhaps help rebuild a town in necessity? Then keep on reading and get a glimpse of what is volunteering abroad.

José is a spanish 23 year old Medecin Student in his last year of college. He´s passionate about helping others and wanted to contribute to society even before having finished his degree. Two years ago he volunteered all summer at a small clinic near Monterrico, in rural Guatemala. He agreed to share his experience with us.

 

  • Why did you decide to volunteer in Guatemala?

I knew I wanted to volunteer in Latinamerica, mainly because of the language. I knew that if my patients and I shared the same language I could be more useful for the community. After volunteering in Ghana, Africa, I realised that communication was often difficult and that I could be more independent and efficient in my job If I am working in my mother tongue. Besides, I´ve always wanted to go to Latinamerica and Guatemala sounded as a perfect start.

  • What was your first thought when you arrived?

The first things I noticed were the colours; of the sky, of the nature, of the cities, of the people; the warmest and nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I remember thinking; I don´t ever want to leave.

  • Where were you staying?

I was staying at a small village near Monterrey, with a local family; the father was a fisherman (I even got to help him at the boat some days!), the mother who made the most amazing food I´ve tasted, and two lovely kids.

  • What were your duties at the clinic?

Most of the days was routinary work, old people that were aching and kids with some stomach pain. Though every once in a while, I would receive at the clinic a farmer who had cut themselves with a machete while recollecting and they needed stiches.

  • Did you travel around?

As much as I could! I was working most of the time, but I managed to visit some lovely places like the city of Antigua and the pyramids at Tikal.

  • Do you miss being there?

Of course I do!! I made very good friends there, I miss my “other” family, the town and my little brother and sister there.

  • Would you volunteer again?

For sure. I am positive. Furthermore,I wish to join  Médecins Sans Frontières International, to keep on helping those in need.

  • How did you find this Volunteer Service?

There is a volunteer programme at my college.

  • Could you share a fun anecdote or memory?

Sure! Living closet to the jungle in Guatemala you can bet that you will encounter all kinds of bugs, spiders and more. The first week I entered my room at night and started screaming as if I was possesed by demon, because there was a huge spider in my bed. After hearing my screams, the little girl of the House (5 years old), came to my room to see what had happened. I told her to be careful there was a huge spider and that I will try to get it out of the room. The she looked at me in disbelief got to the spider, smashed it with her shoes and left the room without saying anything else.

 

Thank you José! We can wait to hear about your next adventures!

This article is part of “Cro – EU – Planet Earth” project which is funded by the European Union. Objective of our project is to inform Croatian youth and involve them in various educational, work related, volunteering and traveling opportunities. If you want to be updated on various opportunities “Cro – EU – Planet Earth”, please subscribe to our mailing list by sending us email on urbanamladez@gmail.com with title “Subscribe” and put in your name and surname and year of birth.