An Overview of Our Program
Room and Board
As a volunteer you have some options concerning your food and accomodations while working with UPAVIM. Three rooms with bunk beds, a communal kitchen, and a bathroom are located in the UPAVIM “Penthouse” specifically for volunteers, and are available free of charge (as available). Lunch is provided on weekdays. Volunteers living in the building are responsible for their own morning and evening food, obtained from the many small stores in the community or a larger grocery store a short bus-ride away. Depending on what you prefer to eat, food costs around $20 per week. Living at UPAVIM requires that each volunteer clean the communal bathroom, kitchen, and their personal room. Another housing option is to live with a family in the community, which often includes morning and evening meals and costs around $100 a month. The quality of accommodations, in regards to construction, space, privacy, plumbing, and hot water, of course, vary.
A conversational level of Spanish is necessary to be effective in communicating with the women at UPAVIM and the students in Reforzamiento. Volunteers who do not have an adequate background in Spanish are required to attend language school before volunteering with UPAVIM. There are many language schools throughout Guatemala costing between $100 to $120 per week, which usually includes one-on-one instruction, accomodations with families, and sometimes extra activities (conferences, movies, etc.). We can help you find a language school that fits your needs.
Volunteers have Sunday off, usually every other weekend, and the occasional holiday. Since we are on the outskirts of Guatemala City, it is only a matter of a short bus ride to reach good restaurants, museums, the zoo, and movie theaters. Past volunteers have also assembled information about places to travel around the country. Friendships with community members provide opportunities for meals or other leisure time activities.
Although many volunteers have had few problems, others have been robbed or harassed both in and out of the community. As an urban environment suffering from many social ills, crime does happen in La Esperanza. UPAVIM’s building is locked and surrounded by a wall and barbed wire. Volunteers are asked to use common sense concerning their safety and are required to defer to the judgement of UPAVIM’s governing board in regards to specific issues. If common sense is used you can expect few problems.
With the rewards of working with children and young people also comes responsibility. The students look to the volunteers as role models, especially since they are often difficult to find in other aspects of their lives. For this reason, volunteers are not permitted to smoke in the community. You have the potential to make a great impact on childrens’ lives. Please keep this in mind, as well as the fact that your actions can have consequences for UPAVIM. Thank you for your interest. We look forward to you joining us as we work toward creating a better life for our families and community.
Detailed Volunteer Information Guide