On behalf of all the staff at Peace Corps Guatemala: ¡Bienvenido!
More than 5,200 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in villages and communities in Guatemala since 1963. Peace Corps Volunteers live and work in small towns and villages throughout six departments (equivalent to U.S. states) in the Western Highlands: Chimaltenango, El Quiché, Quetzaltenango, Sacatepéquez, Sololá, and Totonicapán.
Our work is focused on Guatemalan community members and Volunteers collaborating on locally-defined priorities and, together, achieving measurable impact. This includes investing in the capacity building of local people and supporting their vision for their community’s future. You will be assigned to one of four programs as a way to legitimately live and work productively in that community. Although you will receive extensive training and collaborate with a vetted work partner, your success will depend on your own efforts, professionalism and commitment to service.
Here’s a brief summary of each program:
Community Economic Development: Working with the Municipal Women’s Offices, the Women’s Secretariat, and the Ministry of Economy, Volunteers collaborate with community actors to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and connection of resources between national, departmental and local levels while promoting gender equity and empowering prioritized populations in rural communities to support the improvement of economic and social conditions of the Western Highlands.
Maternal and Child Health: Volunteers work through the Ministry of Health and are assigned to health centers, clinics, hospitals, or NGOs focusing on improving health education and promotion to improve child nutrition and women’s and family health. The MCH Program promotes interactive health education for mothers and household members by training health workers on experiential learning based methodology as a means to effectively promote healthy practices for mothers and children. Volunteers also engage with community leaders to support them to enhance their actions to address health issues, enable behavioral change and improve health outcomes for mothers and children.
Rural Extension: Volunteers are assigned to the National Rural Extension System (SNER in Spanish), a branch of the Ministry of Agriculture. They work with and support a team of three technical specialists, known as extension agents, and community promoters through capacity building on methodologies for inclusive (in relation to gender, socio-economic status and culture) planning, organization, management, and effective delivery of rural extension services. Volunteer efforts at collaboration and coordination with community and municipal extension agents make them active partners in the process of development. The primary goal is to increase food security among rural households in Guatemala through the strengthening of the delivery of national rural extension services.
Youth in Development: This program is dedicated to empowering youth to lead healthy lives and to assume positive roles in their communities. Volunteers facilitate topics such as: life skills; healthy decisions on substance abuse prevention; healthy decisions on sex and reproductive education; positive communication and positive youth development with service providers. Volunteers are assigned mainly to middle schools, but may also collaborate with Municipal Youth offices and other local organizations working with youth in the community.
You will find there are limitless opportunities for Volunteers to work collaboratively with their communities, both as community development workers and as engaged members of their communities. We ask you to approach this work with curiosity, with a willingness to learn from others’ life experiences and with cultural humility. You will be challenged to integrate into a culture that is quite different than your own. It will require you to be open, to leave assumptions behind and to allow yourself to adapt and be changed by this new cultural experience.
We look forward to welcoming you to Peace Corps Guatemala.
Country Director, Peace Corps Guatemala