A message from friend of BASE Antje Duvekot about an upcoming delegation to Guatemala for Project Somos:
Sorry for the mass mailing. Just wanted to invite you on a volunteer trip I'm leading this winter.
I think this will be a beautiful week and would love for you to join us. Also please feel free to pass this along to any of your friends that might be interested. So far we have 11 signups. 9 more slots free. Thanks!! And I hope you're all well, Antje
I will be taking a group of 20 volunteers to Project Somos in the beautiful highlands of Tecpán, Guatemala where we will live, work and learn for a week in late February. Let me just get to your questions one by one:
WHEN: February 17-25, 2018 (we will be at the project from the 18th to the 24th. The nights of the 17th and 24th will be spend convening at the Hotel Barcelo in Guatemala City as we arrive and depart on our various flights into Guatemala City. The Barcelo is a gorgeous hotel right by the airport and myself or our chaperone Marla will be at the airport to greet you when you arrive. The next day we all travel together by private shuttle from the Barcelo hotel to Project Somos (approx. 2 hour ride).
WHAT: What exactly is it, you ask. So Project Somos Children’s Village is an incredible project and place (I have been 3 times now). Located on one of the more gorgeous spots on this planet, it was founded by a Canadian couple, Heather and Greg, and is essentially an orphan prevention program that supports widowed and single mothers that are at risk of loosing their children due to poverty and difficult living situations. The point is to keep mothers together with their children and help them gain the strength, support and skills to live independently again. The project also focuses on sustainability and green technologies. You can check them out at projectsomos.org and https://www.facebook.com/projectsomos/ for more information!
THE ITINERARY: Our group will live in dormitory style volunteer housing. It is a really beautiful and cozy property and, save sharing a room with 3 - 6 other volunteers, it’s pretty comfortable living! Delicious fresh organic cuisine made for us every day, evening programs and free time in the cozy community space after dinner. Every morning, we congregate and the various jobs for the day are announced. To keep it interesting you can volunteer for a different task in the morning and afternoon. We split up into small groups. Tasks vary from planting, to painting, to playing with the kids and spending time with the mamas, construction, harvesting, really whatever needs done. No need to be in amazing physical shape; there are plenty of low key tasks too! Most days we will work during the day and relax at night; There will be evening concerts and music sessions :) We will receive a presentation from a Mayan elder about Mayan culture one evening and a documentary night and discussion about Guatemala with Greg and Heather. On one or two of the days, we’ll visit the local market (think gorgeous handcrafted textiles) and Iximche, the impressive ruins of a Maya kingdom abandoned in 1525. In an effort to keep this trip affordable, I have not added any extra travel days, but if you’d like to arrive a couple days early or stay afterwards, the colonial city of Antigua and Lake Atitlan are two very worthwhile visits and not too far from the Project and Guatemala City. The most famous Mayan ruins of Tikal are pretty far north so a bit harder to get to. So that’s the trip in a nutshell.
COST: Everyone is responsible for their flights. Roundtrip from Boston to Guatemala City is currently about $780 (less if you stay an extra day or two). Room and board at Somos is $245 per person for the week (Includes lodging and 3 meals a day. Beer, wine and candy available for purchase). We’ll also spend 2 nights at the Hotel Barcelo coming in and out of the country. Rooms are $75/night including breakfast (you will have the ability to opt for a single or be paired up with another volunteer for economical advantage). Travel insurance runs about $100. Shuttle transport fee, cooking staff, trip to the ruins, and the salary for our personal trip guide Marla (who will be with us the whole time) comes to $130 per person for the entire week. Lastly, every volunteer is asked to raise a $500 donation. This is for materials and as a way to keep the project running!! In sum, the total cost of the trip per person comes to $1125 plus flight ($1050 if you split the hotel rooms). I realize this is a good chunk of change for many. Consider launching a GoFundMe page or some type of fundraising outreach and let your friends and relatives help you. People love to be part of something charitable, so don’t be afraid to ask! :)
MISCELLANEOUS: No shots are required for this trip, however typical recommendations for Guatemala include Hepatitis A&B, Typhoid fever, MMR and Tetanus-Diptheria. There is no malaria in this area (no mosquitos!). The weather in February is usually gorgeous (sunny, dry, low 70’s) but nights can get cold; I will send a pack list as we get closer. There is a one hour time difference from EST so no jet lag :)
There is room for 20 on the trip. I shall fill the trip on a first come first serve basis and subsequently start a waiting list. I realize that it might take people a bit of time to decide. All I ask is that you submit your name only once you are relatively certain that you will be able to come. I realize things happen, but bare in mind that you are holding up someone’s spot and keeping those on the waiting list in limbo. Think you want to come along on this adventure? Send me an email with your name (and that of anyone you plan to bring) confirming you're in. For now this reserves your spot!! My email is: email@example.com. Also please feel free to inquire with any further questions! Please note that this is not the trip for bringing small children since the point is to accomplish work at the project, but if you have a teen that is interested in volunteerism we would love to have him or her. Also, no Spanish necessary for this trip. So then what?
First deadline: On December 1st we will need hard commitments and a first deposit of $355 will be due. This is also the point at which I should be able to inform those on the wait list whether anyone pulled out and get them in the loop if so. A second deposit will be due January 1st and the final one February 1st (at which time I will also ask for everyone’s flight details and proof of travel insurance and there will be some paper work to fill out). Further emails and details will be continually sent out as we have our group together!!
I am really excited to show you in person what amazing things project SOMOS is doing! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions whatsoever. firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking forward to seeing you in Guatemala!