Mayan Indigenous Communities Immersion
Outskirts of Antigua, Guatemala
Volunteering with indigenous communities
Indigenous communities in Guatemala are comprised of a large number of ethnic groups that have been inhabiting the country for thousands of years and even since before the arrival of the Spaniards. However, and despite their long history, there is often intense pressure for indigenous communities to join the global economic system, which may in fact offer some benefits, but also threatens their culture, land, and way of life.
The best answer to this issue is to actually understand these communities, their way of life and promote a real cultural exchange experience!
And that’s exactly what our volunteers on this project go through since they live and work with a farming indigenous Mayan community in the outskirts of Antigua, expanding their horizons! If interested in anthropology, gender roles and indigenous cultures this is certainly the project for you!
I had such an incredible time with this program. All of the staff are so welcoming and helpful from the minute you meet them and keep your safety and overall experience a priority. I look forward to future adventures with this program and will cherish the memories I have already made. Everyone was so helpful and kind. It also was an incredible way to practice my Spanish
Antigua Community Volunteering
Guatemala is one of the countries in Latin America with the highest number of indigenous communities after Peru and Bolivia, and it has an extremely rich history and culture that can be traced up to the year 12,000 BC! Most of them are Mayan people, descendants of the great Mesoamerican civilization that occupied lots of territories in Mexico and Central America and are well recognized for their highly developed writing system in pre-Columbian Americas—as well as for its art, architecture, mathematics, calendar and astronomical system.
Having said this, the indigenous people in Guatemala face a lot of discrimination and exclusion in their society and are deeply affected by poverty. In fact, 79 % of them live in poverty while 40 per cent live in extreme poverty. It’s also considered that 8 in 10 children suffer from chronic malnutrition.
We believe that one of the best ways to tackle misconceptions and discrimination, while at the same time working to solve issues such as poverty or lack of education is cross-cultural understanding and exchange!
We offer a unique Mayan immersion project that brings volunteers up-close to an ancient way of life in a traditional farming community, approximately 30 minutes outside of Antigua, where they live and work with a Mayan Kaqchikel-speaking family. Our volunteers get to participate in everyday life including working in the fields, cooking traditional Guatemalan dishes, and making handwoven textiles and crafts.
We offer a rural off-the-grid unique experience to our volunteers where they get to live and work with an indigenous community to understand their history, culture, social issues they are facing and expand their horizons that way.
Living in a rural village offers a complete immersion into a longstanding, native, traditional way of life.
A Day In Your Life
Working hours vary according to the needs of the project, but you can expect to work up to 8hours per day, Monday to Friday. That said, the goal of this project is to participate in the everyday life of your host family and their community. This means that schedules can vary greatly.
For instance, some days may require 8 hours of work split between morning and afternoon while others require only 1-2 hours. We encourage you to keep working on the basic tasks over the weekend.
- You will have the unique once in a lifetime opportunity to actually live and work alongside a Guatemalan indigenous Mayan community in a rural farming community about half an hour away from Antigua.
- You will get to expand your horizons and go through real immersion and understanding a great deal from holistic cultures that promote high-quality, low impact ways of living. You will get to understand the complexities of history and tradition when they merge with modern-day life
- The best way to promote this cultural exchange is to actually support and work side by side with the locals. You will get the chance to help the families by caring for farm animals such as chickens, planting, harvesting, and cleaning fruits and vegetables, collecting weaving materials and learning to make different types of cloth. You will be weaving items such as belts, tablecloths, napkins and bags.
- You will also have the chance of assisting with cooking and cleaning at your host family accommodation while learning traditional homemade Guatemalan dishes.
- Our volunteers also play a huge role in providing some small English lessons to children, family, or community members.
- Make the most of your time in Guatemala and take on additional Spanish lessons so to go back home with a new language on your CV! Ask about additional costs for the lessons!
- Enjoy your free time in this UNESCO World Heritage Site and enjoy the multiple arrays of activities that can be done in an around the city. Historical monuments, colourful markets, Mayan ruins, coffee farms, active volcanoes, hiking trails, and local festivities are waiting for you! You can even travel further and enjoy the beautiful Pacific Coastline and beaches, Lake Atitlan and Tikal Archaeological Site.
→ Prices start from $875 or £720 for 2 weeks
Our start dates for 2019 are:
This project starts every Monday throughout the year.
We generally ask for volunteers to arrive at this project the day before on the Sunday and you can volunteer from 2 weeks up to 12 weeks. Projects last day is on the Saturday.
(This project remains open over the Christmas period)