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Voluntary Work in Guatemala

Caras Alegres, Quetzaltenango

Caras Alegres, which is Spanish for "happy faces" is an organization that supports women and children who are living their lives in poverty while attempting to give them a positive outlook on the future.

This Netherlands based foundation was established on July 5, 2004. Its projects in Guatemala are currently being run by Marcel and Judith van der Geest.

The foundation has some small dynamic projects in which people may independently take part.

  • Realise support.
    With your support you will give children and teenagers the possibility to develop themselves and have a chance at a better future. This will be done through meetings and activities.
  • Realise a women's program
    With your support you will ensure that women will have a voice concerning their future. This will be done through organizing and supervising support meetings.
  • MImproving the social position of women in general
    Many women live in oppression and are victims of ill-treatment and abuse. With your support they will learn to think and stand up for themselves.
  • Realize family support
    Because of living conditions, for many parents it is not easy to raise their children themselves. With your support we will have the possibility to bring families closer in a pleasant way.
  • Motivating a child and their family to stay off the streets
    A lot of the children have to beg, do (heavy) labour or are exposed to drug use and criminality. With your support we can support children and their families to counter and fight this exposure.
  • Required Spanish Level is intermediate.


Animal Aware, outside Antigua

Animal Shelter

The animal shelter has approximately 250 animals and they all need attention. The work starts at 6 am and depending on medications and personal attention to individual animals, it finishes by 6 in the evening.

"We charge US $5.00 per day per person to stay in the AWARE volunteer facilities. This helps us cover the costs of electricity, water, and gas. Food is not included. The quarters include shower, bed, drinking water, TV/VCR with a wide selection of movies, cooking facilities and refrigerator. A computer is available (no internet). We ask a minimum two week stay in order for the animals to get to know you."

Possible duties include:

  • Dogs: bathing, brushing, obedience training, medicating, cleaning cages, walking, and socialising.
  • Cats: brushing, medicating, cleaning the cages, and socialising.
  • Helping in spay/neuter clinics by going to villages and helping with the rabies programs.
  • Any knowledge of carpentry, electricity, plumbing, computers, horticulture would be a big help. We are always making new living areas for the animals or improving or repairing the exisiting ones. There are also improvements to be made to the volunteer facilities. 
  • Minimum duration is 2 weeks.
  • Required Spanish Level is intermediate.


Los Niños Foundation, nearby Antigua

The Los Niños foundation exists since 2003 in a different way from other developing organisations. Most organisations operate simply and solely from the Netherlands and donate money to projects which exist somewhere in the world. In this way direct contact with the project is minimal and the chance of being successful is not as high. An enormous involvement is one of the factors in which Los Niños differentiates itself.

The Los Niños foundation has a board which is situated in the Netherlands. It keeps the promotion of the organisation running and is furthermore concerned with obtaining donations. The board exists of a team of successful entrepreneurs who are very interested in the welfare of people in other countries.

Besides, the development aid in and near Antigua Guatemala is being practised by two Dutch ladies. Both women have a lot of energy and positive mentalities. They’ve said their farewell to Holland to be able to support projects in Guatemala fulltime; with the help of a lot of volunteers and with the dedication of a lot of other people. Those projects are focussed on the development and education of children without chances in the society, because education and development is a necessary basis for a better future.

  • Type of work: Help serving meals and talk to them. This is ‘harder’ work than the two projects above because these youngsters are very under privileged.
  • Minimum duration is 1 month
  • Required Spanish Level is Advanced, you should be able to have a meaningful conversation.


Nursery at Jocotenango, just outside of Antigua

Marie Elena, an elderly, Guatemaltecan lady, is in charge of the nursery of 10 children from 2 to 4 years. The single parents work during the day and bring their children to  Marie Elena. There is very little money for toys and learning material for the kids. Marie Elena cooks the meals too for the children (mostly rice and beans because the parents can't afford o pay a lot for the child care) and at that time there is no one to sit and play with the children. The room where the children stay is no more than 12 square meters and outside there is a little fenced cement terrain of 20 meters where the children can play.

  • Type of work; Help Marie Elena out with cooking or play with the children at that time, feed the children; most of them are not able to eat by them selves, washing up, playing with the children where a lot of creativity is required since there is little space and hardly
  • Independent people with lots of energy and ideas to improve conditions around here. Being able to invent games whit little supplies.
  • Minimum duration is 1 month;
  • Required Spanish Level is intermediate.

Do you have special whishes concerning voluntary work, just ask us or the Spanish Language Schools in Guatemala!

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