About Rustic Volunteers Guatemala

Volunteer in Guatemala

A Life-changing, Rewarding and Affordable Guatemalan Experience!

Volunteer in Guatemala and escape to the heart of Central America for the opportunity of a lifetime! Guatemala is the perfect place to learn Spanish, volunteer and travel. This is one of the few countries in Central America were ancient cultures are still intact, which is apparent by the local's colorful and traditional attire. While Spanish is the official language of Guatemala, thirty-one different ethno-linguistic Mayan groups still speak their ancestral languages. For a magical and unforgettable experience, travelers should look no further than the "Country of Eternal Spring." Guatemala boasts Mayan ruins, mystical volcanoes, colorful traditions, picturesque nature and exquisite cuisine. Travelers are captivated by Guatemala's alluring variety of landscapes, flora and fauna. Rustic Volunteer invites you to volunteer and travel in Guatemala and explore the beautiful country while working to aid deprived Guatemalans. You can choose from a variety of projects such as teaching English, working in an orphanage, improving local healthcare and helping street children/at-risk children.

For a magical and unforgettable experience, travelers should look no further than the "Country of Eternal Spring." Guatemala boasts Mayan ruins, mystical volcanoes, colorful traditions, picturesque nature and exquisite cuisine. Travelers are captivated by Guatemala's alluring variety of landscapes, flora and fauna. Rustic Volunteer invites you to volunteer in Guatemala and explore the beautiful country while working to aid deprived Guatemalans. You can choose from a variety of projects such as teaching English, working in an orphanage, improving local healthcare and helping street children/at-risk children.

Guatemala awaits you. Send us an email now! The sooner you contact us, the sooner you can begin the experience of a lifetime.

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Fees and Dates

Start Dates:

All volunteer programs start on the first and third Monday of each month.

If you are tired of expensive volunteer programs but want to make a positive contribution in the world, look no further! Rustic is dedicated to offering high quality, well-organized and meaningful programs at the most affordable price in the United States. We work hard to keep costs as low as possible, focusing on the effectiveness of our projects, the safety of our volunteers and the quality of participant experiences. We currently offer the most competitive price possible in today's market including an application fee (of $299) AND a small weekly fee as follows:

Weeks All Other Projects Medical project
  1 Week   $110   $135
  2 Weeks   $220   $270
  3 Weeks   $330   $405
  4 Weeks   $440   $540
  5 Weeks   $550   $675
  6 Weeks   $660   $810
  7 Weeks   $770   $945
  8 Weeks   $880   $1,080
  9 Weeks   $990   $1,215
  10 Weeks   $1,100   $1,350
  11 Weeks   $1,210   $1,485
  12 Weeks   $1,320   $1,620

Mandatory Comprehensive Travel Insurance $3.49/day

Airport Pick up and Transfer to Xela from Guatemala City- $40 to $80 (depending on type of accommodation)

Program Fees Cover

  • Group Spanish Lessons (10hrs a week)
  • Accommodation (host family)
  • Food (local food 3 times a day)
  • Program Orientation
  • In-country support
  • Personalized project
  • Pre-departure information
  • Certificate of completion
  • Fundraising ideas and letters
  • Discount for returning volunteers

Program Fees exclude

  • Visas
  • Airfare
  • Personal expenses on soft drinks and foods
  • Daily transportation
  • Airport return transfer

The volunteering programs in Antigua, Guatemala fees will cover expenses that will begin on the first day of the program (usually the first or third Monday of the month) to the last day of the program. If you arrive before the first day of the program or you decide you stay beyond your program’s last day, you will be responsible for the additional expenses, which would typically be around $30 a day for room and meals at a hostel.

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Volunteer Programs in Guatemala

English Teaching in Rural Schools

For endless reasons, Guatemalan tourism has seen annual increases in English-speaking tourists. In order for the youth of Guatemala to be able to compete for jobs within the global economy, they must speak the language spoken more and more by the global market. Rustic Volunteer places volunteers in various schools in Guatemala to assist teachers effectively teach English. As a volunteer teaching English in Guatemala, you can open doors for children and provide them with an abundance of opportunities. Your time with these children will be give hope to Guatemala’s youth and brighten their futures.

School will remain closed in Guatemala from 12 October to 15 January. The project is not available then but volunteers can enroll in street children project.

Project/Volunteer's Life

Volunteers/travelers will teach or work as a teacher's aid during classes at kindergarten, primary or secondary schools. The academic year is approximately 10 months, from January to October of each year. Classes are usually scheduled from 7:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Examples of daily activities may include:

  • Teaching basic English to the children
  • Teaching other subjects such as math or science
  • Playing with the children
  • Organizing extracurricular activities such as music, dancing, sports, art, games, etc.
  • Teaching life skills such as painting, sewing, cooking, etc
  • Promoting nutrition and health
  • Helping to fundraise for schools
  • Working on curriculum development
  • Assisting school administrations with daily tasks
  • Helping with basic maintenance of schools
  • Aiding local school staff in any way possible
Skills and Qualification

No specific qualifications are required to volunteer in the English-teaching project in Guatemala. However, interested individuals should have a passion and desire to teach younger children (and occasionally teenagers) and be comfortable fulfilling the role of English-instructors and/or teachers' assistants. While Spanish is preferred, it is not required. If your Spanish skills are poor we suggest enrolling in our Spanish Language Program. All volunteers are encouraged to be flexible, patient and adaptive.

Guatemala Health/Medical Project

Volunteer in Guatemala in the healthcare/medical project and improve Guatemalan quality of life. Few healthcare facilities exist in rural Guatemala and even fewer people are aware of health issues and basic healthcare solutions. As a result, poverty hinders Guatemalans in their pursuit of healthy lifestyles and adversely affects their social well-being. Rustic Volunteer placescaring and responsible volunteers/travelers on the front lines of Guatemala’s healthcare problems. This is the perfect project for those interested in a healthcare/medical career to grow professionally and personally.Volunteers have the opportunity to spread health education and directly help people. Not only can volunteers improve the lives of others, they can travel throughout Guatemala, learn about Mayan culture and leave the country with a great sense of accomplishment.

Project/Volunteer's Life

As a volunteer in the healthcare/medical project in Guatemala, your role can range from observational to basic assistance, depending on your level of prior experience. Volunteer responsibilities vary greatly depending on the clinic, Spanish level of the volunteers and the number of volunteers. Short-term volunteers work on simple projects such organizing medical supplies, taking vital signs and observing doctors, especially if they do not speak Spanish. Longer term volunteers tend to form relationships with the doctors/nurses and are trusted with more responsibility. If you have the specific skills, you can help care for a group of mentally and physically disabled people living in the hospital. They also need volunteers to organize cultural activities with patients, orphans and elderly. Examples of possible daily tasks include:

  • Providing basic first aid
  • Treating minor wounds
  • Taking blood pressure and patient details such as height, weight and temperature
  • Contributing to education about basic health and disease prevention
  • Teaching locals about nutrition
  • Promoting personal hygiene and sanitation
  • Learning about healthcare practices in different cultures
  • Assisting doctors and nurses in local hospitals
  • Helping the hospital/clinic administrations with record keeping and daily office tasks
  • Working alongside doctors and nurses in various departments like gynecology, neurology, orthopedics, obstetrics, pediatrics
Skills and Qualification

Volunteers interested in joining the volunteer health program in Guatemala must possess some proof of healthcare certification, such as an ID as a medical student, EMT/paramedic certification, or nursing or physician's credentials. Rustic Volunteer’s partnering hospitals/healthcare clinics require a copy of your resume clearly stating credentials and education before your arrival at your assigned project.

Street Children Project

About 2000 families live in or around the garbage dumps of Guatemala. Sadly, children here are thrown into exploitive calamities such as starvation, inhuman labor and the sex industry. As a volunteer in Guatemala working with disadvantaged street children,you provide children with the education, care, support and supervision they need in order to lift themselves and their families from grinding poverty. Volunteers can serve as a positive and a motivating factor in these children's lives and are often the driving force for the possibility of a brighter future.The extra attention and care you give these children opens doors for them as they gain back their pride and self-confidence to continue school. In reward for going to school, children earn points and receive a bag with clothes and food once a month.

Project/Volunteer's Life

As a volunteer in Guatemala working with at-risk and street children, there are a wide variety of activities to participate in. Projects will depend on individual skills and interests as well as the needs of local children projects. Daily tasks may include:

  • Teaching basic English to the children
  • Playing with the children
  • Organizing extracurricular activities such as music, dancing, sports, art, games, etc.
  • Keeping children company and provide friendship
  • Teaching life skills such as painting, sewing, cooking, etc
  • Helping with basic care for the children
  • Promoting healthy eating and nutrition with the children
  • Helping children with personal hygiene
  • Helping fundraise
  • Work with local organizations
  • Help project staff with administrative tasks
  • Help local staff with tasks such as organization and cleaning
Skills and Qualification

No specific qualifications are required to join the street children's project in Guatemala. However, interested individuals should have a passion and eagerness to help less fortunate children as well as a strong personality to deal with these children's often unfortunate situations and demeanors. While Spanish is preferred it is not required. If your Spanish skills are poor, we recommend enrolling in our Spanish Language Program to make your experience more beneficial both for you and for the children you help.

Volunteer in Women's Project

Life in the poor rural areas of Guatemala is rough and difficult, and women who have children are often trapped in a cycle of poverty and abuse. They have to depend on others for food and basic needs with no hope in sight. The cold reality is that these women have little to no options, as they did not receive a proper education and most lack any type of income-earning skills. Our volunteers work with them in a variety of ways to educate and empower them so that they can finally become financially independent. We provide education and support in legal matters, translation services and health, as well as teach them handicraft skills so they can make their own living. The Women’s Project is a wonderful way to give back to these women so that are able to raise their quality of life for themselves and their children. You will find the women to be very appreciative and eager to learn.

Project/Volunteer's Life

Women’s Projects in Guatemala volunteers will work in the rural areas and communities surrounding the second largest city in Guatemala, Quetzaltenango. The women there are very poor and would benefit greatly from having assistance during divorce and custody trials, help with Spanish-English translation, education about their rights and reproductive health, and learning a handicraft that will enable them to earn an income. You can provide support to local women and the community in a wide variety of ways. In the mornings, you will accompany women to court trials, help the local staff office with planning, assist with Spanish-English translations and participate in educational workshops and lectures. In the afternoons, you will teach handicrafts like cooking, sewing and baking, help prepare learning materials about health and legal matters, and help plan radio and television programs run by the assistance organization.

Skills and Qualification

This project accepts only women volunteers. You must have Intermediate Spanish skills, as well. As a volunteer, you must also show patience, be resourceful and always respect the local culture and customs. These are traits of a very good volunteer.


Rustic Volunteer arranges volunteer meals, accommodations and strong field support for the duration of projects and optional travel packages. In Guatemala, volunteers generally stay with host families and accommodations are simple and clean homes in safe neighborhoods. Volunteers usually have a private bedroom, but occasionally rooms will be shared with a same-gender volunteer. Our host families are well screened and are respected members of their communities who live in affluent neighborhoods. Most of our host families have experience with hosting international volunteers. A host family stay is a great chance for cultural immersion and exchange.

Volunteers receive three local meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). We can provide vegetarian meal options, but needs must be detailed in a volunteer's application. Snacks and beverages outside of mealtimes are not provided; however, there are local restaurants and grocery stores near the residences in which we place volunteers.

Rustic offers unparalleled field support to volunteers to ensure a safe and rewarding experience. Once in Guatemala, there are many layers of support for you. The most important support comes from our country coordinator/field staff. The secondary support comes from the host project staff and members of host families. Volunteers will have access to our country coordinator's mobile number and they are available 24/7. Throughout the volunteer project, our local staff stays in contact with volunteers either with face-to-face visits or via email/telephone. Our field staff will visit regularly (every 2-4 weeks) to make sure things are going well and as planned. However, if placement is far from our local offices, staff members will stay in touch via email/ phone. Volunteers are also welcome to stop in the offices at any time.

Specific details regarding accommodations, food, and contact details for our local coordinator will be provided in a personalized volunteer placement documentation prior to arrival.

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Project Locations:

Projects in GuatemalaProjects in Guatemala are available in Quetzaltenango (Xela). Touted for great tasting coffee, Guatemala has a distinctive culture arising from a mix of Spanish and Mayan elements. This diverse history and the natural beauty of the land have created a destination rich in astonishing and picturesque sites. While Guatemalais full of traditional culture and history, it also offers tourists the services and commodities expected from modern cities. Volunteers can organize a variety of excursions during and after their project to understand the vast beauty of the country. For example, volunteers can enjoy local architecture, volcanoes, mystical ruins, national parks, colorful markets, museums, hiking, restaurants, lakes and much more.

Major FAQs - country

  • Application Process
  • Please read Rustic Volunteer's 5-step application

    • There are two options for applying to volunteer in Guatemala through our program. You can apply online or you can download an application, fill it out and mail it in to us. You will need to submit your application with a $200 application fee. This fee is required to make an application valid.
    • Once we get your application, we will immediately send it to Guatemala for processing. They go over your application carefully and find the best project possible for you. The decisions for room and food are made at this time. Arrangement for room and food depends on the location of the project. The vast majority of our volunteers stay in full immersion home stays, though some orphanage projects are residential.
    • Once we get the details of your placements, we pass it on to you with a final invoice. Your final payment is due six weeks before your start date and in expedited cases, as soon as possible. The placement details have local contact information to use for contacts on your visa application or to get in touch with the local staff and host family.
    • Preparation for trips should include reading about Guatemala, immunization, travel visa (entry permit) and booking airfare. If you face any problems, our Program Manager is always available for assistance.
    • Once you purchase your ticket, send your flight information to our US office by fax or by email. Your flight information will be forwarded to the Guatemala staff who will arrange an airport pickup.
  • Arrival Information
  • Arrival Point:

    Aurora International Airport , Guatemala City

    Airport Pick-up

    Upon the receipt of your flight information, we will arrange an airport pickup, accommodation in a hotel in Guatemala City (if necessary) and a bus ride to Quetzaltenango. Rustic Volunteer has partnered with a hotel in Guatemala for a long time. Someone from the hotel will meet you up from the airport, take you to the hotel and help you catch a bus to Quetzaltenango. The in-country coordinator or local staffs will then meet you at the bus station in Quetzaltenango and take you to Rustic's office from there. The address and telephone number of your local contact will be given before departure just in case volunteers miss our representative in the airport. Please make sure to e-mail your flight information to both the USA office and the local in-country coordinator's office.

    Departure Point:

    Aurora International Airport , Guatemala City

    Airport Drop:

    Airport drop-off is not included and is the volunteer's responsibility. Volunteers must take a 4 hour bus ride to the airport. If flights are early in the morning, volunteers will have to spend the night at a hotel in Guatemala City.

    Internal Transportation:

    Rustic Volunteer manages one-way transportation to project. Volunteers will be responsible for their own personal and return travel. We do not cover daily transportation from host family/hotel to the project. Our program is designed to save you the volunteer as much as possible.

    Start Dates:

    1st and 3rd Monday of each month

    Arrival Before Start Date:

    Rustic Volunteers/Travelers coming to Guatemala are advised to arrive one day before their program start date. If you arrive more than one day early or stay after the program, you will be responsible for your room and food expenses.

    Working Hours:

    15-20 hours per week

  • Visa
  • Rustic strongly suggest that all volunteers apply for a tourist visa in a timely manner before departing for Costa Rica. Please call our office or contact the local Costa Rica embassy to learn more about visa, visa fees and visa extensions. Getting your tourist visa is your responsibility.

  • Health & Safety
  • Being informed is your first defense against disease and safety risks. We recommend visiting some of the following websites for health and safety information:

    WHO website for international travelers ( http://www.who.int/csr/ihr/en/ )

    General Health Tips for Volunteers in Guatemala

    • Publicly available water is not considered safe to drink in most of Guatemala. When traveling to the beaches or very rural areas, drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Tap water should not be considered safe at the beaches nor fountain drinks and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by both filtering through an "absolute 1 micron or less" filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. "Absolute 1 micron filters" are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
    • Buy bottled water from respectable outlets/vendors to guard against an upset stomach. Make sure that the seal of the bottle is intact as it is not uncommon for local street merchants to sell tap water in resealed bottles.
    • The most common health complaint in any developing nation is upset stomach/diarrhea/vomiting. In many cases, the illness may be attributed merely to a change in diet, but occasional cases of food poisoning can occur, whereby the symptoms occur very quickly, severely and explosively. These are seldom serious or extended illnesses, but medical treatment should be sought if it occurs.
    • Avoid eating food from road side stalls/vendors. Don't eat unpeeled fruits or fruits that have already been cut by unknown handlers on the street. If you are forced to eat food at a place that you have doubts about, make sure the food is served hot.
    • If you require any prescription drugs, bring enough for the duration of your stay in Guatemala. They will need to be carried in their original prescription bottle and the prescription must be in your name.

    It is advisable that you carry a small health kit which should include remedy for upset stomachs, some antiseptic cream, hydration powder, mosquito repellant, sun block, band aids, etc.

  • Vaccination
  • We recommend all volunteer/participants visit the Center for Disease Control's website (www.cdc.gov ) for traveler's health recommendations. Your travel doctor will be knowledgeable about current epidemics and should be consulted.

    Recommended Vaccinations and Preventive Medications

    The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to Guatemala. Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.

    • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.
    • Hepatitis B , especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who did not receive the series as infants.
    • Malaria: if you are traveling to a malaria-risk area in this region, see your health care provider for a prescription anti-malarial drug. For details concerning risk and preventive medications, see Malaria Information for Travelers to South America and Mexico.
    • Rabies if you experience extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas, such as might occur during camping, hiking, or bicycling, or engaging in certain occupational activities.
    • Typhoid  vaccine. Typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food, or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. Large outbreaks are most often related to fecal contamination of water supplies or foods sold by street vendors
    • Yellow fever: for travelers to endemic areas in Guatemala
    • As needed, booster doses fortetanus-diphtheria  and measles.
    • Precaution again Malaria
    • Required Vaccinations
    • None

    The best prevention of mosquito born diseases is long-sleeves and pants (especially in the early evening), in addition to using insect repellants. This area of Costa Rica has no malaria, but there are other mosquito-carried/transmitted diseases, such as dengue, that are just as bad and there is no vaccine, just prevention through clothing and repellent.

  • Money Matter
  • What is the exchange rate? Where should I change my dollars? Can I use a debit card or credit card? Should I bring travelers checks?

    Dollars can be changed at the exchange houses in the airport. Many businesses accept dollars at the current exchange rate. ATM machines are widely available and they usually offer the option of dispensing dollars or colones.

    Do not come without any cash as ATM machines can be down or not accept your card. It is wise to check with your bank ahead of time to confirm that your card will work overseas. Debit cards and credit cards are becoming more acceptable at major stores; however, they are still not accepted as widely as in the States. Credit card fraud is a big issue in Costa Rica. Do not use your cards at any smaller or non-reputable locations. Travelers' checks will have to be exchanged in the banks as most locations will not accept them directly. Debit card is the best way of getting money. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted in some of the large stores and hotels in larger cities, but may not be widely accepted in smaller cities and not at all in the villages.

    Find the Exchange Rate for Costa Rican Colones (CRC) at http://www.xe.com/ucc/

    How much money you bring depends on your personal spending habits. Thrifty people can get by on less than $10/day. Your budget should also include money to explore Costa Rica in free time as well as for your personal use.

  • Field Support and Supervision
  • How does Rustic Volunteer help me when I am in the field? How can I maintain communication? Does Rustic Volunteer visit volunteers?

    Once the volunteer program starts, our local staff members stay in touch with volunteers. We visit our volunteers every 2 weeks (if possible) and you are always welcome at the office. We recommend that the volunteers stop by the office once a week if they are in the local area just to let us know how they are doing with their home stay and project. Many minor issues can be overcome through a little communication long before they become major issues - ensuring that your trip is exactly what you had hoped for. Your project will have local staff members as well, though not our own. If your project is very far, then our local staff maintains communication by either email and/or phone. We are available to you at the office, by email, and by phone for your entire trip. It is our job to make sure that you are safe and healthy.

  • Communication
  • How do I communicate with my family? Rustic Volunteer staff? Is there internet?

    There are many internet cafes in town which run around $1/hour. There are also international phone cards available to make international calls. Also, please use local phone cards for local calls, as every minute of local or international use is billed to the families. If you need to contact the Rustic Volunteer staff locally, the families will generally allow you to use the phone for short periods.

  • Climate
  • Guatemala has a lovely climate year-round. The rainy season generally occurs from May to November. Variations in climate are usually due to escalating altitudes but warm temperatures can usually be found throughout the country. Northern Guatemala features a hot, tropical climate with the majority of the rainfall occurring between May and September.

    Both the coastal and northeast regions are hot with the drier period occurring from November to April, with average temperatures of 68°F (20°C). Guatemala City has a pleasant climate with less rainfall (as compared to the coastal regions); experiencing colder temperatures in the evenings.

    Quetzaltenango (Xela) is a little bit cooler than the rest of the country due to the altitude - we are at about 7400 feet. The rainy season is from May until September and the dry season being from October until April. The warmest months are March and April. The evenings can get quite cold, although it is normally hot and sunny during the day. The rainy season usually will be noticed by the presence of thunderstorms in the evening with mostly clear mornings, although sometimes it does rain all day.

  • Gift for Host Family and Project
  • What gifts should I bring for my project and/or host family?

    It is a common courtesy to bring a small gift for the staff that will be hosting you. You are not required to do so, but if you choose to bring something it can be pretty simple. We suggest a box of chocolates, a t-shirt with a hometown/country logo, or pictures of your family and local post cards.

    If you want to bring gifts for your project and if you are working for an orphanage or a school, please bring pencils, pens and paper, art supplies like markers and construction paper pads, as well as games for the children to enjoy. Remember that every child will need these items so you may wish to bring enough for a number of children.

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