The Healthcare Program
Guatemala has reopened to international arrivals. See the 'Additional Info.' section for procedures in place during the pandemic.
This life-changing project was created with the goal of supplying essential medical treatment to the most vulnerable in society. Based in the highlands of the Sacatepéquez region, volunteers will be working with the indigenous populations of the area, people who have been marginalised from society and are among some of the poorest people in the world. Unable to afford healthcare otherwise, and without an adequate state system, these communities are in urgent need of assistance. Volunteers will find that their help is greatly needed and appreciated by all. The level of volunteer responsibility and involvement will vary depending on the volunteer’s experience in a medical and healthcare related field. Volunteers enrolling in this program can however expect to work in a hands-on environment in a rural medical post alongside other doctors and/or nurses. They will assist local staff to treat patients and also conduct field research where required.
Goals of this Project:
- Provide free, quality and compassionate healthcare to the people of the Sacatepéquez region
- Improve the health and long term wellbeing of some of the most impoverished people in the world
- Improve the future prospects of entire indigenous communities
- Provide a cross-cultural experience for both volunteers and local populations
How You Can Help
Volunteers are crucial to the health and wellbeing of the indigenous communities these projects serve. The healthcare program would be unsustainable with the volunteer assistance of international medical personnel who willingly give their time, enthusiasm and knowledge. This program is suitable for doctors, medical students, volunteers with an interest in the health field, physiotherapists, dentists, and volunteers with proven experience in nutrition. Due to government regulations, all volunteers must have medical certification. The healthcare posts are located in different towns across the Guatemala highlands where the majority of residents are from Mayan descent. It is also very important that volunteers are able to fluently communicate with their medical supervisor and patients, therefore a high intermediate level of Spanish is required. Spanish lessons can be arranged; however, it is advised that participants already have an existing understanding of the language.
Volunteers will contribute in a number of ways and can expect to assist local doctors and nurses with the following:
- Taking vital signs and recording patient data
- Assist with minor, non-emergency medical procedures
- Assist with daily clinical tasks such as vaccinations and walk-in consultations
- Help in the clinic pharmacy where appropriate
- Participating in medical outreach campaigns if one coincides with service time
- Cleaning and prepping medical equipment
- Assist with educational campaigns on topics such as nutrition, hygiene and vaccinations.
This program offers an amazing opportunity for suitable applicants who are 18 years and over to work alongside qualified medical professionals and gain first-hand insight into the Guatemalan healthcare system. It is open to those with experience and/or education in the field of medicine, as well as med-school and pre-med students. Volunteers on this project will need at least an intermediate understanding of Spanish in order to communicate effectively with patients and staff. Naturally, all applicants must also have a genuine willingness to help, show drive and initiative, and bring a positive 'can-do' attitude. If this sounds like you, we want you on the team!
Additionally, volunteers applying to join this program will be required to supply to following documentation:
- Emergency contact
- Medical Qualification
- Police check
Antigua Guatemala is a city in the central highlands of Guatemala famous for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque influenced architecture as well as a number of spectacular ruins of colonial churches. Antigua Guatemala means "Ancient Guatemala" and was the third capital of Guatemala. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Antigua is a growing tourist destination in Guatemala as it is close to Guatemala City but is much calmer and safer, with more tourist oriented activities. Central Park (Parque Central) is the heart of the city and is a popular gathering spot for locals and visitors alike. It is also possible to take buses from Antigua to many parts of Guatemala, many travel agencies offer shuttles to the main touristic places: Monterrico beach, Atitlan Lake, Coban, Lanquin (Semuc Champey), Tikal or even Copan in Honduras.
Start Dates & Duration
This project is available year-round and programs typically start every 1st and 3rd SUNDAY of each month. Volunteers can choose to participate for periods ranging from 4 weeks to 12 weeks. Longer stays can be arranged directly with the local team, but will be subject to availability and individual visa conditions.
Spaces on this project are limited and therefore subject to availability. Early booking is recommended.
For current available start dates please check the calendar on the right.
Arrival & Orientation
Upon your arrival in Guatemala, you will collected at the airport (or bus station) by a member of the local project team and taken to your accommodation. Here you will be welcomed by your host family and settled into your new surroundings.
On Monday morning you will be collected and taken to the local team offices where you will receive a full project and safety orientation. A representative from the local team will fill you in on local and regional customs, traveling, rules and recommendations, and of course, what to expect from your volunteering experience. This is a great opportunity to get to know your hosts, meet your fellow volunteers, and ask any last questions you may have. You will then be taken to your projects site where you will be introduced to the onsite project team, ready to start work. Easy!
- Project Arrival Day: SUNDAY, 8AM TO 10PM
- Project Departure Day: SATURDAY
- Arrival Airport: La Aurora International Airport, Guatemala City, Guatemala (Code: GUA)
Accommodation & Meals
Volunteers in Guatemala will stay with a local Guatemalan family which is a great way to be immersed in the culture. All families have been fully vetted by our local team and have experience hosting international volunteers. The home-stays are in safe neighborhoods, and are within a 15 to 25-minute walk or 5 to 10-minute bus ride from the project sites. All families have been fully vetted by our local team and have extensive experience hosting international volunteers. Depending on the time of year it may be necessary to share a room with other volunteers, but private rooms are often available upon request (additional fees may apply). Volunteers will be provided access to a shared bathroom. Host families are often happy to wash clothes for volunteers for a small fee to cover the additional electricity, though mostly volunteers will use a local laundromat. Wifi is available at most host family houses, however we ask volunteers to remember access to this service is a privilege and may be limited at times. A multitude of internet cafes are available throughout Antigua.
Breakfast and dinner will be provided throughout the placement, including weekends. Guatemalan food typically centers on the key ingredients of corn, chillies and beans. A traditional dish is tamale which consists of a starchy corn-based dough wrapped in a leaf and steamed. The sweets made in Guatemala are well known, containing condensed milk, nuts, fruit and honey, they are considered a delicacy. Volunteers in Guatemala have the opportunity to savor these and other delights in the homes of ordinary local people famed for their friendly dispositions.
*In addition to the program fees listed above a Registration Fee is payable to secure your place. The registration fee is USD 299 for those volunteering with Love Volunteers for the first time or USD 149 for any subsequent volunteer placements. The registration fee includes: lifetime LV Alumni Membership, fundraising support & advice, dedicated pre-departure support, certificate of completion (on request), and exclusive access to the LV Trip Planner.
Some things are not included in the program fees listed above, such as flights, visas, vaccinations, travel insurance, additional foods and snacks, spending money, local transport, in-country trips and excursions, return airport transfer (unless mentioned above).
Please note that prices are subject to change without notice. Please ensure you have read the Love Volunteers Terms and Conditions & Refund Policy.
Changes due to COVID-19
Effective September 18th Guatemala is open to international arrivals with the following requirements:
- Passengers must provide a medical certificate showing a negative COVID-19 test result issued no more than 72 hours prior to arrival.
- Passengers must complete a Health Pass form at https://servicios.igm.gob.gt/pasedesalud/en/
- Facemasks must be worn at all times on the medical placements
Medical Internships are limited due to the pandemic. Please enquire about the possibilities for your background and interests by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keen to learn Spanish?
Spanish lessons can be arranged in conjunction with volunteering. A block of 20 hours (ie 4 hours per day Monday - Friday) is US$129. This can be paid directly to the local team when you arrive.