Do you want to make a difference for people in need? Have you dreamed of travelling in Guatemala and seeing everything this fascinating part of the world has to offer? Then consider joining one of these life changing volunteer programs in Xela, Guatemala.
Guatemala enjoys a lovely climate, wonderful food, and fascinating architecture. There is amazing scenery filled with volcanoes, lakes and jungles around every corner, and the people here will welcome you with open arms.
Despite all this beauty, Guatemala is a poor country that struggles with many of the societal problems common to developing nations. Rampant poverty has led to a lack of access to adequate education and healthcare, as well as a rising number of orphaned children who need your help.
In Xela, you'll choose from a variety of service projects, such as working in an orphanage, helping at-risk children, teaching English at a rural school, assisting in a health care program, or dedicating time to women's empowerment.
No matter which program you choose, you can rest assured that you’ll be making a huge difference for people in need and allow them to lead happier, healthier and more constructive lives in the future.
Do you want to offer your time, love and passion to people in need while on the adventure of a lifetime? Thencontact IFRE today to learn more about volunteering in Guatemala!
Available Projects in Xela, Guatemala
IFRE knows every volunteer is different, so we have made sure to find a wide range of projects to satisfy everyone. We make sure you can find a program you can get excited about that will help you make the world a better place,no matter what kind of difference you are hoping to make. Browse our selection below and pick out a cause you can’t wait to get involved with!
Due to extreme poverty and other tragic circumstances, thousands of young children in Guatemala are neglected and abandoned. Most of these orphans are frequently malnourished, exploited, and forced into illegal activities. Fortunately, there are several local government bodies and organizations that are trying to rescue these abandoned children and provide care for them in orphanages.
You will be looking after orphans by becoming their caregiver, friend, mentor, and teacher. This is your chance to brighten and enrich the lives of these wonderful and deserving children. While working as a volunteer, you will be creating a safe and nurturing environment for the kids to lead healthy lives without being traumatized or abused. No specific qualifications are required to join this project, but you must be enthusiastic about caring for others, working with kids, and empathetic to those who are less fortunate.
Do you enjoy helping disadvantaged children? As poverty in Guatemala is pervasive, children from impoverished communities are in desperate need of your help. Join this meaningful volunteer experience in Xela, Guatemala and contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of disadvantaged Guatemalan street children.
You will be providing destitute street children with the valuable skills, care, support, and supervision they need in order to improve their living standards and have better futures. You will teach the kids English and other subjects, educate them about personal hygiene, help them with their homework, and fulfill other duties. You are also expected to be open-minded, resourceful, and patient. Your compassion and empathy will help get these kids off the streets and into a secure and positive living environment.
Are you interested in teaching and helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds? There are countless job opportunities in Guatemala for those who are fluent in the English language. However, students from poorer areas are being deprived of an English education due to the lack of sufficient English schools and teachers. Therefore, there is a big demand for English teachers in Guatemala andyou can make a great difference in the lives of many local people by joining this project.
By volunteering to teach English in Guatemala, you will be educating disadvantaged children in rural schools and teach English reading and conversational skills. No specific qualifications are required to join this project other than a solid grasp of the English language, however, native English speakers are preferred. Your humble efforts will allow many young students in Guatemala to build a brighter and more prosperous future. Your contribution will be rewarded with heartwarming smiles from the children and knowing you have helped them learn a valuable skill.
Do you have experience in medicine and would like to help people in desperate need of healthcare? In rural areas of Guatemala, healthcare facilities and conditions of the people working in this field are extremely different from the healthcare system in the urban areas.
Thus, while large cities have up-to-date healthcare technologies and well-trained medical professionals, the health service programs of rural areas are noticeably overwhelmed and stretched beyond their limits. Therefore, they desperately need passionate volunteers like you to help fill the gap.
While participating in IFRE’s public health Guatemala volunteer program, you will have a chance to make a difference in the lives of impoverished Guatemalans and gain firsthand medical experience. You will be placed a local hospital in various urban and rural locations in and around Xela, where your help will be needed in several departments.
It should be noted that no major surgeries or diagnostic work will be performed by volunteers in these facilities. This is an excellent opportunity to explore the field of medicine asyou will be working alongside medical professionals and building meaningful relationships with likeminded volunteers. It is a great opportunity for you to share your medical expertise and make a difference to the people in need.
The majority of women in poor communities in Guatemala are often trapped in an endless cycle of poverty and abuse. As a result, they are unable to support themselves or their children and have no assistance in legal matters. The government of Guatemala is trying to take care of poor rural women by providing support and education for them.
Unfortunately, there are not enough resources and manpower to drastically improve their situation. Moreover, even though there are many local NGO’s and international non-profit organizations that support women in cases of discrimination and abuse, they cannot do much without the help of dedicated volunteers.
By joining IFRE’s women empowerment volunteer project in Guatemala, you will be helping underprivileged women get back on their feet and giving them hope for a better life by providing them with education and support in a wide variety of areas.
This program allows dedicated volunteers to change the present and future lives of helpless women who have been victimized and suppressed by the society for many years. As a volunteer, you will be assisting women from communities across Guatemala in becoming more self-reliant and giving them the much-needed support, confidence, and strength.
In addition to the projects listed above, IFRE also offers group programs for high school and college students, family volunteering, alternative spring breaks, and many other unique programs. Contact us today to learn more!
Volunteer Guatemala: Fees & Start Dates
IFRE programs begin every Monday year-round. If you have travel constraints, you can still start your chosen program on any day of the year.
Since 2006, IFRE has been the most trusted and respected volunteer abroad organization in the world, and also the most affordable. We’re dedicated to providing the highest quality volunteer programs at the lowest fees, which make it possible for everyone, especially students, to volunteer internationally and make a positive impact in the lives of others.
We believe in 100% transparency. Rest assured, we never use middlemen. Your one-time registration fee of $299 covers our administrative costs. The low weekly fee is paid in the host country directly to your host family and project (via country coordinator), and includes housing, food, and minor expenses. IFRE is a non-profit organization, so your program fees are tax deductible.
Volunteer Program Fee (US$)
|Weeks||All Other Projects (includes 10 hours per week group Spanish)||Medical project (Includes 10 hours per week group Spanish)|
Airport Pick up and Transfer to Xela from Guatemala City- $40 to $80 (depending on type of accommodation)
Program Fees Cover:
- Accommodation (host family)
- Food (local food 3 times a day)
- Program Orientation
- In-country support
- Personalized project
- Pre-departure information
- Certificate of completion
- Fundraising ideas and letters
- Discount for returning volunteers
Program Fees Exclude:
- Personal expenses on soft drinks and foods
- Daily transportation
- Airport return transfer
Pitching in to help impoverished communities that need your help is a great way to spend your vacation, but it might leave you worrying what kind of conditions you’ll be living in while you make a difference. IFRE has carefully planned and vetted every single aspect of your trip, giving you peace of mind knowing you will be safe, comfortable, and well looked after during your entire time abroad. You’ll have secure and clean housing, three healthy local meals a day, and the supervision of our knowledgeable and passionate in-country staff.
In all of our Guatemala volunteer work projects, you will have the opportunity to stay with well-screened host families. Our host families are socially respected and experienced in hosting international volunteers. The host families offer safe homes with private rooms (occasionally rooms will be shared with other volunteers of the same gender) and shared bathroom facilities with running water and “western” style toilets. You can do laundry at the house, or the host family may offer to do it for you for a nominal extra fee.
You will be served three meals per day, andif you will be out of the house during the lunch hours, you can request a lunch "to go" that you can take with you or eat out on your own. The host families provide typical Guatemalan meals, which will further enhance your cultural experience and give you a true taste of your host country.
Throughout the volunteer in Xela, Guatemala project, our local staff stays in contact with you either with face-to-face visits or via email/telephone. With longer placements, we visit you every two weeks (when possible) and you are always welcome at the local office. If the project placement is nearby, we request that you stop by the office once a week to keep us posted on how you are doing with your home stay and project.
If the project placement is further away, our local staff members maintain communication by either email and/or phone. If you ever need help, they are available and happy to assist.
For more readings:
12 tips to enhance cultural experience in host families
You are probably eager to explore Guatemala and make the most of your time in this exciting destination. You might be worried that you won’t have ample opportunity to do this with all the hard work you’ll be putting in at your Guatemala volunteer service project. IFRE wants you to have a great time during your volunteer trip abroad, and we make sure you have your evenings and your weekends free to get out and have fun!
While IFRE does not arrange activities during this time off, our local staff members and coordinators can provide priceless assistance in making appropriate arrangements for travel in Xela, Guatemala. You will have plenty of time to explore this foreign culture and exotic land.
Some of the highlights you can experience during your time off from your Xela, Guatemala volunteer project are architectural tours, parks, and vistas. Espiritu Santo Cathedral consists of two structures: the "Espiritu Santo" parish's ancient facade (1535/1896) and the "Diócesis de los Altos" (1899).
The Municipal Theatre is a very important Neoclassical structure. The city’s main park (known as "Parque Central”) located in the center of the town is also the center for cultural activities and entertainment. A beautiful vista is found at the Cerro del Baúl, where one can see the sights of Quetzaltenango's valley during the day and night (accessible by foot, car, or taxi).
Safety and In-country Support
Your safety is IFRE’s number one priority at all times, and you can have peace of mind knowing we will do everything possible to ensure you have a safe and secure experience volunteering in Xela, Guatemala. We offer pre-trip support, reliable and comprehensive travel insurance, airport pick-up, and availability to 24/7 guidance and support by an experienced in-country staff that is right there on the ground to help you every step of the way.
As soon as you arrive in Xela, Guatemala, you will have the support of an experienced team of in-country field staff. The team is comprised of mature, educated, socially respected individuals who are dedicated humanitarians highly experienced in working with international volunteers.
Your main point of contact will be the in-country coordinator. They will select your Guatemala volunteering project placement, make all the arrangements for your airport transfer, accommodations, and food, give you an orientation which covers culture, safety, and your service work, introduce you to your host family and project staff, and make periodic visits and calls to check up on your progress. You can reach out to the coordinator at any time with any questions, issues, or to ask for advice and they will be happy to assist you.
Volunteer in Antigua, Guatemala: FAQs
Which airport do I need to fly to for my volunteer project in Guatemala?
You should fly to the Quetzaltenango Airport.
Do you organize airport pick-up services?
Yes, we organize airport pick-up services. You just need to provide our staff with your flight details ahead of time and then meet with them at the airport.
What happens if I miss my flight or arrive late?
It is vital for you to notify us about missed flights or late arrivals in case of such circumstances. You will be provided with the local representative’s contact information prior to your travel, so simply contact them and let them know about the change in plans so they can adjust your pick-up time.
Who will come to pick me up? How will I recognize this person at the airport?
Our local representative will be waiting for you at the airport arrival terminal. He/she will be responsible for picking you up from the airport on time and accompanying you to your accommodations before the start of your volunteer work in Guatemala. You can recognize our local representative by looking out for a person who is carrying a white signboard with your name on it. If you cannot locate them, you can call them to determine their location.
If my volunteer placement begins on Monday, when should I arrive? If I would like to arrive earlier than the starting date of my assignment, where will I stay and who will organize the accommodations? Will it cost me extra?
It will be much more convenient for you to arrive on Sunday if the program begins on Monday. Arriving earlier is always beneficial for you if you cannot wait to travel and see new places, or just to rest and get your bearings before jumping into your service work. You have to keep in mind that you will need arrange your accommodations for extra days on your own, as they are not included in your fees, so budget accordingly. Let our in-country coordinator know about your plans.
Who will bring me to the airport for my departure after completing my volunteer work in Guatemala?
After the completion of your volunteer work, it will be your own personal responsibility to arrange for your transportation to the airport, as IFRE does not offer this service. The local field staff can help you in finding a taxi to take you back to the airport, if you need our assistance regarding this matter. Make sure you budget for this extra expense.
What do I need to do before my departure from my home country?
Do some research ahead of time regarding your destination to prepare yourself for your experience abroad, paying close attention to the culture and customs you should respect. Buy your flight tickets and be sure to turn in your itinerary to our in-country coordinator so they can arrange your airport pick-up for your Guatemala volunteer trip.
You will need to research the requirements for your visa based on your home country and apply for this well in advance as the process can take a few weeks. Vaccinations can also take some time, so be sure to make an appointment with your doctor and get these started ASAP. IFRE requires travel insurance, so you’ll need to obtain this, and IFRE can help provide a comprehensive and affordable policy for you.
Where are the Xela, Guatemala volunteer projects located?
Our projects are located in Xela, the second largest city in Guatemala and the best place to explore the western highlands of this country. Staying in Xela will let you experience Guatemala’s social and political realities like nowhere else. You could spend months exploring Xela and still barely scratch the surface of what it has to offer.
Is there any minimum and maximum period of stay?
All of IFRE’s volunteer programs run from a minimum of 1 week to a maximum of 12 weeks.
Can I extend my stay if I choose to do so?
Yes, you can extend your stay if you choose to. Our volunteer programs in Guatemala are designed flexibly, so that the programs can be extended for those who would like to volunteer for a longer period of time than they initially planned. All you need for that is to inform our in-country coordinator about your intention to extend your stay, and he/she will take care of that. You may need to apply for a visa extension depending on the length of time involved.
Will I have enough time to travel after work and on weekends?
You will have enough free time to travel and explore Xela, Guatemala after work and on weekends.
Who will guide or support me at my project?
Our in-country coordinator will be responsible for guiding and supervising you throughout your volunteer work. Our local field staff will also support you to make sure that everything goes smoothly during your time volunteering in Guatemala.
Can I change my project if I do not like the one I chose?
Yes, you can change your volunteer program if you have an issue with your first choice. Simply contact your in-country coordinator to discuss finding another available project that will better suit you.
Can I work in more than one volunteer program in Guatemala at a time?
Yes, you can choose to work in more than one volunteer project at a time. If you ever get interested in more than one program, you can get in touch with our in-country coordinator to begin the application process for participating in two different volunteer programs. But please keep in mind that each of our programs requires you to work for at least 5 hours a day, so it can be physically and mentally challenging to complete more than one volunteer project at the same time. A more manageable option might be to split your time in half and complete each project one at a time.
How old should I be to take part in these projects?
You must be at least 18 years old in order to be eligible. If you are below the recommended age of 18 but still would like to participate, in some cases you may still be able to with the written consent of a parent or guardian. Minors can also volunteer alongside their parents.
Who manages the volunteer projects in Guatemala?
All of our programs are completely managed by our highly experienced and diligent in-country coordinator. You will receive support and assistance from our in-country coordinator during your trip, and you can rely on them to take care of all of your issues during the project.
Will I receive any training before the start of my project?
Yes, you will receive proper guidance during the orientation class run by our in-country coordinator and local staff after reaching Guatemala. They will make sure to help you get through all the hurdles, and to prepare you for what you will be doing while volunteering abroad. They will go over schedule, along with the customs and culture of your host country, and any safety measures you should be aware of.
Is there a dress code to volunteer in Guatemala?
There is no strict dress code, but you should dress conservatively and avoid revealing too much skin. Guatemala is a conservative country, and you should be respectful of their culture while visiting.
Why should I pay to volunteer abroad?
Volunteering abroad in Guatemala requires you to pay the program and application fee. Without these fees, it would not be possible for a non-profit organization like IFRE to run its volunteer programs. The money gained from the application fee helps IFRE to cover its rent, advertisement, utility costs, taxes, and salaries of its staff members. The program fees are paid directly to the host families and your project, so your money is going to directly support the cause which has inspired you to volunteer abroad in the first place.
Why are IFRE’s fees so much more affordable than the fees of other volunteer organizations?
IFRE’s fees have always been more affordable and cheaper compared to other organizations, as it serves as a fully transparent non-profit volunteer organization that does not have any middlemen which can drive up the cost of volunteering abroad. Also, the volunteer program fees charged by IFRE are only just enough to keep the projects running, as the company itself does not focus on earning any profits, but only to support humanitarian organizations worldwide and to provide meaningful travel opportunities to international volunteers.
Can I get a tax deduction for my volunteer program in Guatemala?
Yes, anyone who wishes to take part in our projects can get a tax deduction from IFRE as we are registered in the United States as a non-profit organization.
Can I get help to raise funds?
Yes, we would be happy to help you raise funds if you do not have the required amount of money to participate in our life changing programs. For that, you simply need to get in touch with our representatives or office staff via telephone or email and ask them for assistance regarding this matter.
Is it safe to travel and volunteer in Guatemala?
Yes, it is completely safe to travel to Guatemala for volunteer work. In addition, we will always monitor your activities for any potential dangers, while our staff members will be available for support throughout your volunteering period. However, we always advise and request all the participating volunteers research safety information for their destinations prior to travel.
What safety measures should I take?
While Guatemala is a safe country for volunteering activities, it is always necessary to exercise some degree of caution. That is why we make sure to engage our international volunteers in an orientation class designed to teach them to avoid dangerous confrontations. We advise you to do proper research before flying off to Guatemala, and to take normal precautions such as not traveling alone, not carrying large amounts of cash, etc.
What will happen if I get sick?
On this volunteer trip to Guatemala, your health will be closely assessed and monitored. If you get sick, our in-country coordinator and the local support staff will do everything possible to take care of you. You will also be taken to a clinic or hospital for treatment right away. Be sure to bring along your passport and a copy of your insurance policy to present to the doctor.
Why must I get travel insurance before volunteering?
You are required to purchase and provide proof of reliable travel insurance before participating in our programs. This will help protect you in the event of illness, injury, or emergency. If you need help obtaining a policy, IFRE can provide you with affordable and comprehensive coverage.
What vaccinations do I need to take before my volunteer trip in Guatemala?
The main recommended vaccinations for Guatemala are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, rabies, yellow fever, and malaria. For your personal health precautions and extra safety, you should consider consulting your doctor for further recommendations before the start of your trip to Guatemala. Learn more about vaccinations for traveling to Guatemala here:
What are the principle health risks in Guatemala?
Besides becoming fully vaccinated prior to travel, there are several health risks you can guard yourself against while traveling in Guatemala. Health standards in this country are quite low, so take precautions against water and food-borne illnesses by drinking and cooking with bottled water, and only eating from sanitary sources. Carry hand sanitizer and wash your hands frequently. Guatemala has malaria, dengue and Zika virus, so take anti-malarial medications, use insect repellant, and consider bringing along a mosquito net for your sleeping area.
Do I need a visa to volunteer and travel in Guatemala?
Yes, you need a valid Guatemalan tourist visa. However, if you are a citizen of the US, Canada, or the EU countries, then you are eligible for a 90-day stay upon entry without a visa. If you wish to stay for longer than that, you must apply for a visa extension that will cost you extra.
How do I apply for my visa?
The procedure and requirements for this will vary based on what your home country is. You can learn more detailed information about Guatemalan tourist visa by following this link:
Can I extend my visa while I am in the country? Can you help me with this?
Yes, you can extend your visa for volunteering in Guatemala while you are in the country. You simply need to visit the General Directorate of Migration in Guatemala and apply for visa extension. You can find more information regarding the extension of your tourist visa here: and you are welcome to consult with the in-country coordinator should this come up while you are traveling abroad.
How can I contact IFRE’s local coordinator while I am in Guatemala?
You can contact IFRE’s local coordinator via your mobile phone or email. We will provide you with the contact details before you depart from your home country, so if there is an emergency or you feel like you need help, you can get in touch with them immediately.
How can I communicate with my family from Guatemala?
You will not have any trouble communicating with your family while you are volunteering in Guatemala. You will get access to telephone and Internet, so you can either call your parents and friends or go online and chat with them on Facebook or Skype.
Can I use my phone?
Yes, but to avoid high fees it is best for you to purchase a local SIM card. Check with your current provider before leaving home to ensure your phone will work abroad.
Can I buy a SIM card in Guatemala?
Yes, you can buy a SIM card while volunteering in Guatemala. For that, you will need to bring your original passport along with a recent passport size photo for documentation. You will have to fill out a form with your personal information. Again, reach out to your current phone provider before travel to find out if your phone is unlocked and available for us with a foreign SIM.
How can international volunteers get/purchase Internet services?
You will need to buy a local SIM card and then an Internet data package that is valid for a certain period of time in order to access and use Internet.
Is there internet available everywhere?
Yes, Internet services are available in the location where you will be doing all of your volunteer work in Guatemala.
What should I bring to Guatemala?
You need to bring Pepto-bismol tablets (for food poisoning), dry shampoo, camera, bug repellant, sunscreen, quick-dry towel, books, LifeStraw water purifier, water bottle, backpack, hygiene wipes, portable charger and adapter, tissues, lightweight rain jacket, first-aid kit, anti-bacterial gel, deodorant, toothbrush, modest clothing, and flip flops. Don’t forget to bring important items such as your passport, flight tickets, and travel insurance. Bedding will be provided by IFRE, but if you would like to bring along a sleeping bag you are welcome to do so. A mosquito net might also help you to be more comfortable.
We hope we have answered all your burning questions regarding volunteering abroad and have lit a fire under you to get you started and on your way with this big adventure you’re planning! Contact IFRE today to learn more about volunteering in Xela, Guatemala!