VOLUNTEER HEALTHCARE & MEDICINE PROJECT IN GUATEMALA
INTRODUCTION GUATEMALA HEALTHCARE AND MEDICINE
When you work with The KIVOLEX Global Health Project in Guatemala City, you’ll support a team of dedicated medical professionals as they offer valuable services to members of the community. As a healthcare volunteer, you’ll assist with the social aspects of healthcare, primarily by supporting nurses, doctors, and caregivers. Your presence offers members of the community and healthcare professionals an opportunity for cultural exchange and a fresh new attitude that will increase morale.
children in Tecpán are in need of a number of public health services to improve their overall well being. KIVOLEX focuses on vision, dental and sanitation projects in primary schools to improve child outcomes. Vision clinics are conducted to provide much-needed eye assessments and to distribute glasses to children who would not be able to afford them otherwise. Dental care and dental hygiene campaigns are implemented as children often lose teeth at early ages due to improper care and diet. In schools lacking adequate hygiene facilities, KIVOLEX volunteers construct hand washing stations and deliver workshops to prevent the spread of disease. Overall, volunteer support to our child health program in Guatemala creates tangible, long-lasting positive impact in the health and success of children.
HEALTHCARE AND MEDICINE VOLUNTEERING IN GUATEMALA
Unlike many other countries in Latin America, Guatemala is only at the beginning of the demographic and epidemiological transition. The population is young, is growing rapidly, and is still primarily rural. Life expectancy in Guatemala (at 65 years) is the lowest in Central America, 12 years less than in Costa Rica. Infant mortality (45 per thousand) is the highest in Central America. Guatemala has the highest prevalence of chronically malnourished children in Latin America (44 percent). The prevalence of contraceptive use (27 percent) is the second lowest in Latin America. The total fertility rate (five children per woman) is the highest in Latin America. In December 2000, 4,000 cases of AIDS were officially recognized in Guatemala, with possible under-estimation [check] of 50 percent. Over time, the proportion of women infected by the virus has increased significantly, and the increase in infected women of reproductive age implies that there is also a higher probability of mother’s transmitting the virus to their children. In addition, a closer look at demographic and health indicators reveals the existence of large inequalities in health performance across geographic areas and socioeconomic groups. The poor, people who live in rural areas, and the indigenous population have worse health outcomes than do the non-poor, people who live in urban areas, and the nonindigenous population. While not complete in terms of coverage of health outcomes issues, the Guatemalan Living Standard Measurement Survey (ENCOVI) is unique in terms of its representative sample and its data on other themes (as it is a multi-topic survey) and on poverty variables. The Health Supply. As in most of Latin American countries, the major actors in Guatemala’s health sector are the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance (MPSAS), the Guatemalan Social Security Institute (IGSS), the private for-profit sector, and private voluntary organizations. Neither the public nor the private sector is providing adequate health services to the population, which has limited contact with both the public and private delivery system. Overall, only 11 percent of the Guatemalan population have access to health services, based on the World Health Organization’s definition of distance to a health facility measured in terms of traveling time.
VOICE FROM GUATEMALA COMMUNITY
“By teaching English to our children, volunteers have helped us reach our educational goals for our students. They always have fun new ideas to share.”
“Since the volunteers have become the center of attention in the local community, they also draw positive attention to our center and have helped our community to become more aware of the work that we do with local children.”
“Being taught by English speaking volunteers has helped our students easily absorb proper pronunciation. This increases their chances of moving on to a good primary school to continue their education.”
CULTURAL ACTIVITIES IN GUATEMALA
SAY “I DO” TO MAYA TRADITIONS
Maya weddings are full of tradition and superstition, from the gifts of wooden hair barrettes and a sleeveless dress to an elaborate choreography of steps to seal the bonds of marriage. Try your hand in traditional Maya clothing. You just might fall in love with the Maya people!
CREATE POTTERY IN SANTA APOLONIA
Maya pottery tells the story of a civilization, marking important events, telling the history of cooking traditions, and sharing stories of cultural exchange. In the town of Santa Apolonia, the traditions of creating pottery continues. Join a woman in her home to learn about her craft as you create your own Maya artifact.
GO STRAWBERRY FARMING
An important crop in the Tecpan area, strawberry farming sustains many families in the area. With a local farmer, learn how to plant strawberries about the lifestyle of farming families in rural Guatemala.
VISIT A LOCAL DAIRY FARM
If you’re an animal lover, here’s your chance to visit the dairy cows who are a key in the whole economy of Tecpan! Visit the baby calves, the maternity ward, learn how milking is really done, as you also visit the factories of production. Make new animal friends along the way.
PRACTICE YOUR SPANISH
In Guatemala, KIVOLEX Spanish lessons are divided into levels based on your ability, and tailored to your needs. The first lesson is held in a typical classroom style, but then you’ll have a chance to put your knowledge to the test. Your teacher will take you out into the community and challenge you to bargain for fruits, vegetables, and clothing in Spanish at a nearby market. Just another awesome adventure to add to your list!
DISCOVER YOUR INNER ARCHAEOLOGIST
Fleeing problems with a neighboring tribe, the Maya Kaqchikels created Iximche as a safe haven and as a new city for daily life, including Maya ceremonies, rituals, and activities. As you explore these little-known ruins, where excavations continue to this day, you can feel the power of the Maya rituals that took place here in the late 1400s. Learn about the history of the Maya people, and the significance of the world-known Maya calendar, and engage in a traditional Maya fire ceremony.
SIP HOT COCOA
Connect with a local family over cups of steaming, frothy hot chocolate and learn their millennia-old family recipe for the traditional Mayan drink. You’ll even have the opportunity to help them roast the cacao beans, peel and clean the seeds, cook the chocolate, and then — and here’s the best part — enjoy the fruits of your labors over conversation with the family.
COOK GUATEMALAN CUISINE
Spend some time with Esperanza in the kitchen learning to make one of our Guatemalan favorites – anything from pounding your own tortillas to making your own Pepian (the national dish of Guatemala) or wrapping the Saturday tamales in banana leaves – you never know what delicious item is on the menu!
FREE TIME IN GUATEMALA
VISIT A VOLCANO
Journey just outside of Guatemala City to experience some of the most impressive of Guatemala’s 37 volcanoes, including Pacaya and Volcán de Fuego. These are also two of Central America’s most active volcanoes, so trade in your flip flops for a pair of sturdy shoes and climb each volcano to snap some photos in front of the slow-flowing lava. You’ll want to remember to pack a stick or two, because where’s the fun in an active volcano if you haven’t got marshmallows to roast?!
DISCOVER ANCIENT TEMPLES IN THE RAINFOREST
Deep in the rainforests of Guatemala, discover the ancient Maya civilization of Tikal. As you climb up ancient temples, you’ll be in awe of the hieroglyphs and structures that have stood since the 4th century BC. Wake up early to watch the sun rise over the temples, or head out to the forest to greet the spider and howler monkeys hanging in the treetops.
RELAX AT LAKE ATITLAN
Formed nearly 2 million years ago, Lake Atitlan has been referred to as one of the world’s most beautiful lakes — and not just by the folks here at KIVOLEX! Once you’ve shopped your little heart out in one of the region’s many markets, check out all of the outdoor options. Get your adrenaline pumping on a zipline adventure, trek the forests, or climb some waterfalls. And, spend time with unique Maya communities living throughout the islands and on the shores of this picturesque lake.
WALK THE COBBLESTONE STREETS OF ANTIGUA
In the colonial town of Antigua, discover authentic Guatemalan restaurants, stunning cathedrals, and plenty of unique shops. Head to the outskirts of the city to check out avocado and macadamia farms, or visit a coffee plantation. Whether a day trip of an afternoon, Antigua provides a unique and alternative perspective to Guatemalan culture.
ENJOY THE CARIBBEAN
Perched at the very edge of Guatemala’s northeastern coast along the Amatique Bay and surrounded by jungle to the south and west, Livingston is unlike any other place in Guatemala. Sail down the city’s namesake river to a 19th century settlement for emancipated West Indian slaves and take in the rich Caribbean influenced culture of the Garifuna. Nibble fresh shrimp along the waterfront and let the sounds of local musicians’ bongos and turtle shell drums ease you into a Caribbean state of mind.
CANDLELIT CAVES IN SEMUC CHAMPEY
Hidden in the beautiful jungle of the Alta Verapaz department, Semuc Champey is the perfect mix of beauty and adventure! After taking a bumpy ride in the back of a pickup, followed by a hike through the forest, you’ll have a breath-taking view of this natural, limestone bridge forming crystal clear, turquoise pools, and then hike back down to relax in the cool water. You’ll also have the opportunity to tour Las Grutas de Lanquin, caves lit only by candles or headlamps. Semuc is definitely a wonder worth seeing as it showcases all of Guatemala’s natural beauty.
HOME BASE ACCOMMODATIONIN GUATEMALA
Within the beautiful tree-lined landscape of the Maya Highlands, our Guatemala Home-Base is a retreat tucked away in the bustling colonial mountain town of Tecpan. Rest and relax in comfortable rooms, each with a private bathroom, while soaking in the colorful fabrics and unique cultural systems reflecting Maya culture. As you explore the orange and avocado trees on the property, admire the colorful hummingbirds that visit the property or take a stroll down country roads to visit nearby strawberry farms. If you want to get away to the bustling city center of Tecpan, it’s just a 10 minute walk down scenic rural roads, with access to cafes, shops, and restaurants.
Our team, includes community experts like Andrea who will help you practice your Kaqchikel, Don Pablo and Don Quique who are eager to practice Spanish with you, a driver, Walter, who is always ready to greet you with a smile, and Esperanza who volunteers love making home-made tortillas with.
WORDS FROM OUR REPRESENTATIVE IN GUATEMALA
Juan Carlos Buonafina is known for his kind personality and for his dedication to the people of his home country of Guatemala. Juan Carlos is an educator, an intercultural exchange professional, and an expert at guiding international volunteer experiences. After receiving his degree, Juan Carlos started his career with KIVOLEX, specifically leading the KIVOLEX teen program in the Maya Highlands of Tecpan. Join Juan Carlos on your Guatemala journey to gain a unique and unparalleled insight into life in the mountainside towns of Guatemala.