Volunteer opportunity in Río Dulce: Casa Guatemala

published apr 26th, 2015

Eric Toupin, blogger & web developer

At Casa Guatemala boys and girls from poverty stricken, rural households are given a hand up: free primary education, meals, healthcare and support. You can help.

Casa Guatemala: three boys pose for a picture

Three Casa Guatemala residents pose for a picture.

What it is

Casa Guatemala provides free primary education, healthcare, meals and extracurricular development to some 250 underprivileged kids outside of Río Dulce, Izabal. The community, generally referred to as the Children’s Village, is made up of a full-time teaching staff and a volunteer corps of educators, medical personnel, activity coordinators and others.

Casa Guatemala: to girls relax during lunch

Leysi & Lillian play with a balloon during lunch recess.

The kids at Casa Guatemala range from prekindergarten to the sixth grade, and come from families who cannot afford education through more traditional channels. About half of the students are full-time boarders, the others attend the grounds daily while living at home. Kids are taught standard curricula such as math, sciences and language studies.

Casa Guatemala: volunteer and kids

A volunteer spends time with the younger girls before school.

The Children’s Village is made of up several classrooms, a clinic, a dining hall, some administrative space, boarding houses, volunteer quarters and a small sports stadium and soccer field.

The property is large and comparatively well-developed considering its location among impoverished rural communities in the tropical jungle. Contrasted with western expectations, however, the Children’s Village is extremely modest: wooden buildings, part-time electricity via gasoline generator and solar power, and extremely basic boarding and housing accommodations.

Volunteer opportunities

Short versus longterm
Casa Guatemala accepts both short term volunteer vacations, and longterm positions with a minimum commitment of three months. The volunteer vacation program costs $250 per week and includes accommodations and meals at the nearby Hotel Backpackers.

Casa Guatemala: volunteer and kid resting

A volunteer rests with a tired student during the heat of the day.

Long term volunteers live onsite at the Children’s Village for three weeks out of every month, with the fourth week allocated as descanso or a rest week. Volunteers can travel or relax in neighboring towns during their descanos. Longterm volunteers pay a one time fee of $300, and may work and live at Casa Guatemala for as long as they wish.

Volunteering: day to day
Volunteers with specific skill-sets or work experience are considered for specialized positions in the clinic or as educators. Most volunteers, however, help to supervise boarding students before and after school hours, as well as during meal periods. This generally includes helping children to prepare for school in the mornings, organizing and conducting extracurricular activities or recreational outings after school, and supervising children in the evenings.

Casa Guatemala: boy smiles for camera

One of the younger students of Casa Guatemala smiles for the camera.

Students at Casa Guatemala come to rely on volunteers for help with day-to-day tasks, supervision and general support. The tight knit, live-in atmosphere tends to integrate new volunteers into the community very quickly.

Interested in volunteering? Casa Guatemala would love to have you. Get in touch via the Casa Guatemala website for more information.

Other ways to get involved

Casa Guatemala is a registered NGO that is supported by affiliate non-profit organizations in the United States, Canada and Spain. The Children’s Village is able to provide education, healthcare and a supportive community to ~250 disadvantaged kids annually only with the support of generous private donors from around the world.

Casa Guatemala: girl makes heart symbol

Wendy, one of the fifth & six grade girls at Casa Guatemala.

In addition to volunteers, Casa Guatemala is always seeking donor partners to help keep the community thriving, and to help kids gain access to lifestyles above and beyond rural poverty. If you’re interested in sponsoring a child, a class or a special project, you can learn more about donation opportunities on the Casa Guatemala website.

Like this article? A full list of Eric Toupin's contributions to Guatemala Hostels can be seen on his author page.

Area Lodging

Tortugal in Rio Dulce, Izabal, reception

Tortugal is a full service hotel, restaurant and marina located on the west shore of the tropical Río Dulce, just a five minute boat ride from the embarcadero principal. From Q 100.00.

Kangaroo's in Rio Dulce, Izabal, main building

Kangaroo’s is a large, comfortable and full service hotel just a five minute boat ride from the bustle and noise of Río Dulce. From Q 60.00.

Casa Perico, Rio Dulce: Bungalow

Casa Perico is a quiet, secluded hostel and restaurant located in the riverside jungle of Rio Dulce. From Q 55.00.

Hotel Backpackers in Rio Dulce, Izabal: Hotel front

Hotel Backpackers is a large and unique hotel, restaurant and bar just a five minute’s tuk-tuk ride from Rio Dulce’s major bus terminals. From Q 45.00.

Hotel Paraiso Tropical, Rio Dulce: Hotel grounds

Hotel Paraiso Tropical is a well managed and conveniently located hotel and restaurant just a short walk from the bridge that leads into Rio Dulce. From Q 100.00.

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