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Volunteers provide the educational support necessary to empower the children and families in our community to break free from the cycle of poverty that surrounds them. We have a wide variety of roles available that offer a number of ways for you to contribute your valuable time and skills. The greater your level of Spanish language ability the more you will be able to engage with students and staff.
This is a rewarding opportunity for people with a big heart and a passion to help this unique community. Throughout 2014, we had 90 international volunteers representing 14 different countries working alongside our Guatemalan staff and volunteers! We hope you have the opportunity to join us as a member of our thriving team!
If you have 5 weeks or more to volunteer, have a good command of the Spanish language, and want to work directly with children, you may work as a Classroom Assistant. You will spend time helping our teachers and supporting our learners either in our preschool or in our elementary-high school programs. Classroom Assistant volunteers are essential to our program. Many volunteers enjoy this opportunity because they get to know all of the students in their classes and have a direct impact on their academic success. Classroom Assistants also participate with their classes in Creative Expression, English, Health, and Sports.
In addition to the normal duties of a Classroom Assistant you will be encouraged to utilize your strengths, skills, and interests into the classroom to create new and interesting educational activities for the students. Being a Classroom Assistant will give you real life teaching experience under the supervision of experienced Guatemalan teachers while enhancing your Spanish abilities.
If you do not want to work directly with children, there may be opportunities to work with our Adult Literacy Program, with our Operations Team in the kitchen or garden, or in an administrative capacity with our Volunteer Office or Development Team.
There are a variety of options available for qualified applicants interested in making a commitment of 6 months or more. Some of our long-term volunteers serve as English Teachers, Tutors, Health Educators, or Program Coordinators. Those who have an advanced command of the Spanish language, and who have interest and skills in any of these specific areas are encouraged to contact the Volunteer Office to identify if a particular position is available. These positions often come with housing allowances, dependent upon the responsibilities and time commitment provided.
In addition to the normal duties of a Classroom Assistant you will be encouraged and employed by the Volunteer office to bring your skills backgrounds and interests into the classroom to create new and interesting educational activities for the students of your classroom. Being a Classroom Assistant will give you real life teaching experience under the supervision of experienced Guatemalan Teachers while enhancing your Spanish abilities and providing true, empowering and unique assistance to your students.
Most of our volunteers live in the city of Antigua. Antigua is a beautiful colonial town of approximately 40,000 people with a spectacular backdrop of volcanoes and lush green foothills. Once the capital city of the Kingdom of Guatemala, what is roughly Central America today Antigua is now a well preserved UNESCO World Heritage Site full of spectacular ruins and colonial churches. It attracts visitors from around the world who come to experience its unique Guatemalan culture, study at one of the many Spanish language schools, visit the surrounding areas and attractions, or simply to relax and immerse themselves in the laid back atmosphere of this small town.
Antigua is much more developed and a slightly more expensive place to live than the rest of Guatemala. Yet, it is still quite a bit less expensive than the cost of living in Europe or the United States.
Antigua has a variety of the same “luxuries” that are available in many developed countries. There are several banks/ATM´s to access money, a post office, many internet cafes, a large grocery store, laundromats, beauty salons, and gyms. There are lots of specialty shopping stores and a large market where you can buy virtually anything you may want. You will have the opportunity to experience a taste of Guatemalan cuisine and other favorite international foods in one of the many restaurants. There is also an active nightlife, including a salsa dancing scene, that entertains the locals and tourists that want to unwind and have fun at the end of the day.
Your volunteer experience in Guatemala can be a very rewarding and culturally enriching experience; however, there are also some dangers present due to the high levels of poverty and crime, especially in the area close to the garbage dump. Safe Passage/Camino Seguro takes these risks seriously and remains committed to the safety of its volunteers.
We have established recommendations and procedures that will help each volunteer maintain a level of safety and we ask that these procedures be followed at all times. For more information, see our frequently asked questions.
Many of our volunteers rent rooms in the homes of local families within Antigua. These “home-stays” usually provide 2 meals a day, except for Sundays. The cost for a home-stay generally ranges from approximately $75 to $90 a week for a room with meals. Some charge a little more for additional services such as laundry and WiFi if available. Living in a home-stay provides a good way to practice Spanish and immerse yourself in Guatemalan culture.
Many long-term volunteers, after making friends and getting to know Antigua, opt to leave the home-stay and find an apartment or a room in a house shared with other volunteers.
Please note: Safe Passage does not directly offer volunteer accommodation. The Volunteer Office is happy to make home-stay arrangements with trusted families with whom Safe Passage has worked for a number of years, however, volunteers pay their home-stays directly.
Safe Passage volunteers must:
Be 18 years or older
Commit to at least 5 weeks of volunteering, working Monday-Friday
Have at least a basic level of Spanish language ability prior to volunteering (intermediate or advanced level for the majority of roles)
Submit to a background check at the time of application and successfully complete this screening (this is undertaken for the safety of our students, staff, and volunteers)
Have medical or travel insurance that includes emergency evacuation coverage
Agree to the waivers, pledges, and fees as reflected in the Volunteer Application Form
Safe Passage truly values the work and time volunteers bring to the organization; however, some fees are asked of the volunteer to help cover costs that are directly associated with the Volunteer Office and the coordination of volunteers.
$50 Application Fee
This fee, paid online at the time of your application, goes towards processing the application, processing the required background check we do on all applicants, and providing you with services such as arranging airport pick-up, home-stay, or Spanish courses, as well as covers all assistance and guidance provided during the application process.
$50 Administrative Fee
This fee, paid for on your first day of volunteering, goes towards the Volunteer Orientation and two tours you will receive. The first tour is a project tour, where you will get to know every aspect of Safe Passage, visit each of our buildings, and the see the Guatemala City garbage dump to further your understanding of the community within which we work. The second is a walking tour of Antigua during which you will be oriented to the city and some of its services and attractions. The Administrative fee also helps us cover the costs of providing you with the Safe Passage uniform; you will receive 2 t-shirts and a name-tag.
$13/week Volunteer Bus Fee
We ask our volunteers to contribute to the cost of our private Volunteer Bus to and from Antigua to the project in Guatemala City. The Volunteer bus is used to insure the safety of our volunteers; only Safe Passage volunteers and staff are allowed to ride the bus and the bus is registered and insured.
Step 3: Please pay the non-refundable $50 Volunteer Application Fee online here. Please ensure you select “Volunteer Application Fee” from the “Designation” dropdown list.
To pay by check, please make your check payable to "Safe Passage", indicate on the memo line “Volunteer Application Fee”, and mail to our US Office at 81 Bridge Street, Suite 104, Yarmouth, ME 04096.
Step 4: Once we receive your application, resume, two completed reference forms, and your application fee, you’ll receive an email asking for you to provide information for background screening. For the safety of our students, staff, and volunteers, we ask that all volunteers successfully complete this screening.
We are keen to have you on board and will process your application as fast as possible. Note, however, that we cannot start processing until we have received all the requirements above and it may take up to 1-2 weeks from that time.
Step 5: Upon the approval of your application, we will send you an Arrival Confirmation Form. In this form, you have the opportunity to request reservation of transportation from the airport, home-stay lodging, and Spanish language instruction. We ask that you complete and email this form to the Volunteer Office once your travel arrangements have been secured.
Step 6: Print and travel with the personalized itinerary we will send to you within 2-weeks of your arrival; this document will include your start date, tour date, and the details of any bookings we have made on your behalf.
What should I do to prepare for my arrival?
Read the Volunteer Handbook and become familiar with its contents!
Plan your start date to allow for maximum volunteering time! Please note that all volunteers must participate in Volunteer Orientation before starting at the project. Volunteer Orientations are only offered on the first and third Monday of each month.
Improve and practice your Spanish! We really recommend taking some time to develop your Spanish language skills before beginning with us at the project. We promise, you’ll be able to have an even bigger impact and build more effective relationships with students and staff si puedes hablar español!
Get yourself a good guide book on Guatemala before coming so that you can make the most of your stay before, during, and after your volunteering period!
My name is Shannon Moyle and I am 30 years old. I have been a volunteer for 8 years and I help in the Escuelita. Some of my hobbies include: dance, hip hop, dance, hip hop, dance, hip hop, dance, dance, dance, and more dance! I am a volunteer because I was born into certain opportunities and I want to help create those same opportunities for these children.
My best memory from Safe Passage is watching the 2nd graders perform at the 4 vs. 4 Breakdance Battle alongside the best breakers in the country. Safe Passage is a hopeful place because it provides a safe environment for the children to learn, grow, and become strong, confident adults capable of making decisions and determining their own future.
I would encourage other people to become volunteers in my area because as volunteers, we learn just as much as we teach. Not only are we creating more opportunities for the families and community but one as a volunteer gains so much insight into their own future and themselves as a person.
My name is Irma Corado and I am 23 years old. I have been a volunteer for 1 year, helping in the area of social entrepreneurship. Some of my hobbies are: turtle watching, playing pranks, and hula hooping. I am a volunteer because I love it too much to leave!
My best memory from Safe Passage is the mothers’ graduation and them being so incredibly proud. The people here are what make Safe Passage a special place, and the mothers really take advantage of the opportunities the project offers. I would encourage other people to become volunteers in my area because the mothers have crazy stories and will literally take you as one of their own children and take care of you forever.