“Experiences like this can turn a grown man into a ball of mush. I know, I saw it happen.”
— Carol Morehouse, volunteer
The Land of the Eternal Spring
Volunteer in Guatemala
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Guatemala has been one of the strongest economic performers in Latin America in recent years, yet it has the highest economic inequality in the region with some of the worst poverty, malnutrition, and maternal-child mortality rates, particularly in rural and indigenous areas. In nearly half of the country’s rural municipalities, 8 out of 10 people are living below the poverty line.
On average children attend school for fewer than 6 years in Guatemala, and 26% of children between the ages of 5 and 14 work instead of attending school. Maternal mortality is high in part due to hesitation to give birth in clinics or hospitals with the cost of private health services. Adolescent pregnancies in both rural and urban areas are common and increasing, often impacting women already vulnerable due to poverty and lack of education.
Join CCS to volunteer in Guatemala as we work to end the perpetual cycle of poverty in Guatemala by supporting the education of vulnerable children and girls and delivering public health campaigns to those who lack adequate health care.
CCS in Guatemala has been working for the past 15 years as a leader in childhood education with the support of our international volunteer base.
Population Below Poverty Line
14% under $1.25
Human Development Index Ranking
128 / 188 countries
Primary School Dropout Rate
Maternal Mortality Rate
190 deaths / 100,000 live births
Change Their World. Change Yours.
During its 36 year-long civil war, many Guatemalans migrated to Guatemala City seeking employment. Through the years, this unexpected migration has resulted in the unsustainable expansion of Guatemala City. Since the end of its civil war in 1995, Guatemala has made incredible strides as a nation, however, the continuous influx of new residents combined with a high birth-rate has depleted resources, and city planning cannot keep pace. As a volunteer in Guatemala, you will work alongside an incredibly diverse population struggling to cope with the effects of urban migration.
Once enrolled, you will have the chance to select the volunteer opportunity that's most interesting to you. Volunteers will always receive their first preference. The only exception to this will be when there are national or school holidays, or there are exceptional circumstances.
Child Development CCS volunteers in Guatemala greatly contribute to improving the quality of education that every child deserves. Primary schools and organizations that support vulnerable children are under resourced and understaffed. CCS volunteers assist teachers, conduct educational and recreational programming, teach English language skills and provide children with much needed one-on-one attention.
Global Health Guatemala’s health care system is struggling and the country still ranks low on critical health indicators such as malnutrition and maternal-infant mortality. Through outreach, education, and care, you will provide much-needed support to vulnerable children and adults in low-income communities. In addition CCS will be spearheading multiple public health projects in Guatemala including vision screening for children, oral health campaigns and the promotion of hygiene in schools.
Girls' & Women's Empowerment After 36 years of civil conflict the Guatemalan health care system is a struggling. Supporting girls, new mothers and women’s health is an essential part of creating a strong and resilient future for women and their families in the community.
Voices from the Community
"You don’t have to have money to be happy. This is one of the greatest lessons that Sydney took away from her time in Tecpán, Guatemala." -CCS Parent
"CCS volunteers bring a sense of cooperation and much needed support to our classroom and our community. The impact of their work can be seen inside the classroom, and out in the community as well." -School Director
Tour Guatemala City
The CCS staff will show you useful points of interest as well as examples of the city's staggering economic disparities. Beginning at the “city dump,” which serves as a home for over 200 families who support themselves by scrap picking, you'll travel about 10 minutes to take in a completely different kind of neighborhood filled with towering mansions and gated communities. This powerful lesson lends some serious perspective to your volunteer service, and introduces you to the complex history of your new home away from home.
Practice Your Spanish
In Guatemala, CCS 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 underground market. Just another awesome adventure to add to your list!
Cook Guatemalan Cuisine
Our CCS cooks will provide all of your meals for you, with one fun exception: each week, you'll have a chance to prepare a veritable Guatemalan feast with your fellow volunteers, under the expert guidance of our cooks. Learn how to prepare a traditional Guatemalan “fusion” meal, combining elements of both Spanish and Mayan cuisine, and don’t forget to take the recipe home to replicate for your friends and family.
Mayan History Lesson
Learn about the traditional beliefs and culture of indigenous Mayan people in Guatemala, including the oft-referenced Mayan Calendar, from a local professor specializing in Mayan culture and cosmology. After a discussion of the history and incredible accuracy of the calendar, the professor will identify your unique energy animal, the Mayan equivalent of a horoscope.
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.
Time to Unwind
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?!
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 CCS! 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. No matter what you get into, we promise you'll sleep well that night!
SCALE RUINS AT TIKAL
Journey to the northern part of the country to marvel at one of the greatest surviving Mayan cities at the Tikal ruins. Arrive early in the morning to avoid the tourist rush and take in the towering temples and intricate pathways in all their serene splendor. It's an epic spot that's nothing short of magical, especially when you catch it shrouded in the morning mist. Climb 196 steps to the top of Tikal's iconic Temple of the Great Jaguar, and explore the Mayan city's sprawling ruins.
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.
STAMP YOUR PASSPORT
As the one-time capital of ancient Central America, Guatemala is a gateway to the rest of the subcontinent. Journey north to explore southeast Mexico’s budding sustainable tourism industry. Go snorkeling and diving in Belize’s Barrier Reef, the longest reef in the Western Hemisphere. Chase the break at one of El Salvador’s many coastal retreats. Continue further east to Honduras' stunning Celaque Mountain National Park and tackle its nearly 10,000-foot peak, or relax in natural hot springs.
Located on a quiet and safe block, the CCS Home-Base in Guatemala puts you right next door to Virginia, our Guatemala Country Director. Get to know Virginia and her family as you become a part of the neighborhood.
From the courtyard bursting with tropical flowers and squawking parrots, to the outdoor covered seating area -- a perfect front row seat for a rainstorm -- there's no shortage of reminders that you're in beautiful Central America. Common areas are stocked with games, novels, and even a guitar. Living areas are communal and you'll have more than enough space to keep your belongings.
The cuisine in Guatemala will include some old favorites like homemade guacamole and corn tortillas, and some new dishes that are sure to please, like hearty stews, fresh tropical fruits, and frijoles volteados, another local dish.
Your Guatemala City Staff
VIRGINIA BURMESTER, COUNTRY PRESIDENT
My international exposure began as an exchange student during the time of the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Through the lens of another culture, I was able to see more clearly than ever, that my own home country faced the same social issues involving dignity and inequality for every person. Guatemala, Central America´s largest economy, has the highest level of economic inequality in Central America. It also has some of the highest rates of chronic malnutrition, maternal and infant mortality. I returned to Guatemala with its natural beauty and deep cultural richness, with a greater determination to do all I can for greater dignity and equality for everyone in the world.
When Can I Go?
COSTS & DATES
Reserve your spot today with a deposit of $350! Fees and start dates vary by destination and duration. Make selections below to get started. Did you know your out-of-pocket trip costs might be just a fraction of the below? Click here to find out how.