Available Dates: July 6-17, 2013, and looking at a winter trip for December 2014
Length of Placement: 10 days on the ground, 2 travel days, flexibility to extend
- Day 1- arrive in country, met at airport and transfer to your hotel, local exploring if arrival in the morning
- Day 2- explore Antigua, tour options
- Day 3- transfer to the project, settle in, orientation and get to work!
- Day 4-7- continue volunteer work, visit local Mayan ruins, and run a Kids’ Day
- Day 8- depart for Lake Atitlan, relax
- Day 9- day trip to Chichicastenango for their famous market day
- Day 10- open day at the lake
- Day 11- relax in the morning, depart for hotel near the airport
- Day 12- fly home
Overview of the Project: You will work alongside the full time local construction staff and foreman to help build and prepare a Village for orphaned and abandoned children. This is a physical volunteer experience that involves basic construction work, gardening, and preparation of buildings and special rooms. The work changes depending on what the Village needs at the time. Last year students built a massive perimeter wall out of adobe bricks. This year they completed the playground space and worked on the 2 current homes. And we have library plans in the future!
Note: There may be opportunities for people with physical limitations. Please let us know before registering for the program what these limitations are so we can accommodate them.
Overview of our Partner Organization: Stratosphere works with Project Somos, a Vancouver and Guatemala based charity. Project Somos is starting a Village for orphaned and displaced children in Guatemala. There are around 370,000 orphaned and displaced children in Guatemala (a country of only 14 million people) mostly as a result of the displacement of people that happened during the country’s 35 year civil war.
Project Somos has a large piece of land 1 hour from Antigua. They are in the early stages of developing the property. Two homes and the community hall are almost complete. The children will live in homes with foster moms (all Guatemalan). Their private homes will have 4 shared bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a shared space. They will eat all their meals with their family in their home. The children will go to the local community school. They will also have access to additional community focused facilities on the property that will include a library, a music centre, a computer lab, an arts room, a playground, and of course a soccer field! There will also be emotional support for the mothers and children to help them adjust to their new life. And there will be community outreach programs to work with the local community and integrate the children with the local community. The village director will be Guatemalan.
Volunteer Work: Volunteers will help prepare the property for the families of long term foster mothers and the children. The first priority will be building homes. Somos uses a simple earth bag construction technique that all volunteers can easily participate in. Stratosphere groups will also focus on projects related to education for the children and community members. Some examples include: bringing in solar electricity, a library, a music room, an arts room, a computer lab, a playground, and a soccer/ sports field (and supplies). We can also help raise funds for and set up other community needs such as fencing, landscaping, kitchen supplies, the organic agriculture project, the foster homes, and other needed supplies.
Fundraising: Fundraising is an integral part of the volunteer experience. We have separated fundraising from the program costs to ensure all off your fundraising dollars go directly to project work and not to support volunteers or the volunteer program. We would like to challenge each family to raise $2000. But please remember that a big part of fundraising is raising awareness for the project. So keep your fundraising activities simple and fun! We are happy to give you some training and guidance.
Flexibility of Program:
- Families can adjust the accommodation in Antigua or at the lake.
- Spanish study: there is the option to include Spanish study.
- Families can arrive early or choose to stay on for personal travel. However, only the existing itinerary includes a tour leader on arrival.
- Some visitors wouldnʼt think of missing a side trip to Tikal, considered by some to be the best Mayan ruins.
Expectation of Ability: Participants should be healthy. Please let us know before signing up if you have any physical limitations to take into consideration for volunteer activities. Some Spanish ability is recommended if you plan to travel independently.
Accommodation and Meals: Volunteers will stay in large safari style family tents on on the property for 1 week. There will be a wall around the compound which is typical in Guatemala and will provide increased security. There is an option to stay in the local community at a b&b but additional transportation costs must be considered. Meals on site are included. Breakfast ranges from homemade granola to eggs. And lunch and dinner generally consists of typical Guatemalan food such as tortillas, rice, beans and vegetables or food you can expect back home like pasta. We will arrange meal options while on side trips. These are optional and not included in the pricing.
Side Trips: Volunteers will visit Antigua, a former Spanish colonial capital and UNESCO world heritage site when they first arrive. After the volunteer week you will visit Lake Atitlan, a stunning inland lake surrounded by volcanoes and Chichicastenango where you can explore the famous market. There is a beautiful Mayan ruin near the property.
Why Stratosphere: Stratosphereʼs Guatemala program goes above and beyond the experience of your average voluntour program. We provide pre trip training. The in country volunteer experience combined with the groupʼs fundraising efforts, guarantees the group will see a meaningful impact and true change by implementing sustainable resource development projects that they help plan and prepare for. We work very closely with Project Somos and they are committed long term to the local community and will be there long after we are gone. As well, in the country we include amazing side trips to ensure you donʼt miss out on opportunities to see world famous sites, and learn first hand about the countryʼs culture, history, and nature. We are able to keep prices competitive because we work with local expertise in Guatemala and at a local level in British Columbia.
Please download our Guatemala Family Trip brochure here.
The program costs $950 per person (not including flights and insurance) for local transportation, sightseeing side trips, most meals, all accommodation, tips, a full time tour leader, project support and predeparture training. Flights average $850 per person. Lunch and dinners while off the project are not included giving you the flexibility to dine with the group or independently. Optional accommodation upgrades are not included and may or may not include breakfast in the price. Please request the price sheet for more details.