Volunteer Placement Information
ARCAS is a non-profit Guatemalan NGO formed in 1989 by a group of Guatemalan citizens who became concerned as they saw their precious natural heritage - especially their wildlife - rapidly disappearing before their eyes. It was originally created for a very specific and urgent purpose: to build a rescue center to care for and rehabilitate wild animals that were being confiscated on the black market by the Guatemalan Government. Since its establishment, the ARCAS Rescue Center has grown into one of the largest and most complex rescue centers in the world, receiving between 300 to 600 of more than 35 species per year.
- To strive for the conservation, preservation, protection and research of wildlife
- To rescue, rehabilitate and reintroduce into their natural habitat wild animals seized from illegal traffickers
- To promote and assist in the creation and management of protected habitat areas for wild animals
- To support tropical wild animal veterinary medicine and research
- To reproduce and re-introduce endangered wildlife
- To raise awareness among Guatemalans about the need to conserve natural resources through a program of education and information dissemination
- To develop and promote economic alternatives in rural communities to the unsustainable consumption of natural resources
Since the establishment of the Rescue Center, ARCAS has branched out into other very necessary activities including environmental education, information-dissemination, marine turtle conservation, reforestation. At its Pacific coast site of Hawaii, it is working with the Guatemalan government to establish a 3500 hectare protected area of mangrove wetlands. Its Environmental Education Department reaches out to over 8000 children per year throughout the country.
AWARE (Animal Welfare Association - Rescue/Education) is a non-profit, non-governmental charitable organization, founded in Guatemala in 1998. AWARE is financed solely through membership subscriptions and private donations - either financial, or in-kind - such as building materials or medicines - e.g. flea treatment. They desperately need help in the food department! A variable proportion of monthly needs is generously donated by Nestle Pet Care, Guatemala, and they have always been very supportive and helpful, but more is needed - the dogs currently consume more than 100 lbs of food per day.
The principal activity of AWARE is, at the moment, rescue and rehabilitation of domestic animals. A permanent on-site spay/neuter clinic is in place now, and also an education centre to provide free environmental education to local children, with the intention of expanding this facility to include training in basic literacy and numeracy skills - and perhaps English language teaching - also.
One of the basic principles of AWARE's philosophy has always been the improvement of the plight of animals through the education of children to become caring and responsible animal owners. To this end, AWARE runs visits in schools and colleges - and even, on occasion, private homes - in and around Antigua and Guatemala City. With their highly entertaining and informative educational materials, staff and a regular crew of very child-friendly dogs raise awareness of the problems of animals in Guatemala, and answer the children's questions on pet-care and animal matters in general.
AWARE operates a No-Kill animal shelter. This means that we do not euthanize any animal brought to us, as long as we feel that it is still able to live a reasonably normal and enjoyable life.
Home of faith and love
The Casa Hogar Fe Y Amor, translated "the home of faith and love", is privately owned and houses anywhere from 20 to 30 children at any given time. Currently, ages range from 2 weeks to 16 years. The children were removed from their families because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Some were abandoned by their birth families because of physical anomalies, a cleft palate or deformed leg. Others were removed from their families due to abuse or insufficient care. The orphanage operates 24/7 with three shifts of primarily Guatemalan employees that include nurses, nannies, and cooks.
Obras Sociales del Hermano Pedro, Antigua´s community hospital, spare medicine and clothing can be donated. The Association of "Las Obras Sociales del Hermano Pedro" is administrated by the Fransciscan monks, an NGO that provides a home to over 500 needy and mostly abandoned children, adults and elderly, who suffer from physical and psychological problems. They also have a centre taking care of babies suffering from malnutrition and children suffering from e.g. harelip. Two doctors perform external consultations during the morning and the surgery room is frequently used by foreign medical volunteer teams, coming over to Guatemala to offer free medical care and operations. Throughout the year the hospital receives many volunteers, mainly in the field of childcare, nursing, and occupational therapy.
Breaking the bitter chains of poverty through education and formation, Nuestros Ahijados sponsors 2600 children in their education, the poorest of them taking classes in the onsite elementary school. Offering breakfast, lunch, and snack to the children, in the afternoon they offer home work assistance, extra classes, sports activities in the reinforcement program. The Atkinson clinic offers free medical care for the children and their families, many of which suffer from respiratory problems, due to inhaling smoke from the fire used for cooking in their one room houses, where often whole families live in bare conditions. Further many suffer from diarrhea, all kinds of infections, there are cases of child pregnancies, child abuse and incest. The fulltime psychologist assists the often traumatized and abused children and there is a fully equipped dental clinic as well. Volunteers assist in the project in various fields, like construction and maintenance, education, sports activities and health.
Don Filiberto Salazar, a campesino from San Miguel Escobar, and his family. This project was initiated and sponsored by Familias de Esperanza or Common Hope, an organization dedicated to giving help and hope to desperately poor Guatemalan families by empowering them to permanently lift themselves out of poverty. We take the local Chicken bus to get there. The family's living situation reflects perfectly the typical life outside Antigua - dirt floor, open fire, poor bedrooms for the whole family. Then we hike to Don Filiberto's fields on Agua volcano, passing coffee plants and exotic fruit trees. Don Filiberto explains about local agriculture and how their crops are sold on the market. Afterwards we return for a cup of hot chocolate and a typical snack. You can also receive your first lesson in how to make tortillas.
Camino Seguro is a non-profit organization founded by Hanley Denning in 1999. Hanley joined with other volunteers to provide hope and assistance to the children of families working in the Guatemala City Garbage Dump. Camino Seguro represents an effort to help the poorest of Guatemala's children break out of poverty in a dignifying way through education. For the many children who come to us each day, the program represents a safe alternative to being in the streets or work in the Guatemala's City Dump. As a part of this intensive program the children receive: assistance with enrollment fees, school supplies, books and uniforms, educational reinforcement and tutoring, daily program of sports and recreational activities, a healthy lunch and snack, support to stay in school, reimbursement of medical expenses, assistance in the form of clothes, shoes and food supplies that they earn attending the program, vacation program consisting of educational reinforcement and recreational activities. Another important component of the school support program is our work with the children's families and schools. Volunteers and local staff make frequent visits to the children's home or school in an effort to further support the children in their education. Camino Seguro has turned the dream of an education into a reality for over 300 children living near the Guatemala City Garbage Dump. Recently a donation made it possible to move into a new building where a clinic has been constructed.
Asociación Nuestros Derechos provides free elementary education to children who are too poor to attend the public school system. The 95 children receive the elementary education, and further receive a snack, a drink and lunch, which is an important part in convincing the parents to accept their children to attend school. Many of the children are partly working, either as shoe shine boys in the central park, selling newspapers, selling fruit on the markets, washing clothes, or collecting wood for the stove-fire. Most of them suffer from malnutrition. In the morning the general school program is taught, by a limited amount of teachers, or interns, and in the afternoon, special activities, learning special crafts and art classes are given. Class space is limited and especially the first grade is very crowded, with children between 6 and 12 years of age, all just starting their education. Preschool age children receive classes from foreign volunteers.