Volunteers & Interns
You can change the world - one place, one community and one life at a time. The first life you change will be your own. Paul Heesaker, Rios Fund founder
See "Information" for additional details.
The Volunteer Experience:
Volunteers or interns assist with the development of education, ecotourism, sustainable agriculture and construction. We work in Seacacar, a small Q'eqchí Maya village located in the Sierra Santa Cruz Mountains above Lago Izabal, Guatemala's largest lake. Accommodations in the solar powered Tourism Center are comfortable, but not resort like. Expect good food and service, but also be patient, empathetic and kind. We are building bridges with a culture that has been marginalized for over 500 years and change does not happen overnight or without challenges.
Volunteering is a choice available to our long term visitors. You may also be with us to study Spanish, write your novel or just relax. Whether you're a university student or a retired professional, the eco-volunteer experience fosters community with a different culture, health and wellness, friendships and the inner peace that comes with placing service above self.
Service to the community and in the natural environment may mean two hours per day assisting in the classroom or it can be a full-time internship developing ecotourism, sustainable agriculture, healthcare or construction. Bring your passion, experience and expertise and help bring about positive and lasting change.
We work with the local people to preserve and restore their homeland. Orchards replace deforested hillsides and improve nutrition, while ecotourism provides an alternative income to slash and burn agriculture.
The eco-volunteer experience is affordable and ranges between $20 to $70 per person per day depending on your lodging choice. This rate includes three meals and lodging in dorms or rooms overlooking the stunning Rio Sauce jungle gorge. Meals are paid for on site at $4 to $6 for breakfast and $5 to $7 for lunch or dinner. Filtered spring water is provided free of charge. LONG TERM VOLUNTEERS WHO STAY MORE THAN ONE WEEK RECEIVE A 20% DISCOUNT ON LODGING AND MEALS. Please do not ask lodge employees or other project workers for discounts beyond the 20 percent discount volunteers already receive. Keep in mind that visitor spending provides sustainable funding for all project efforts, including education, reforestation, sustainable agriculture and micro businesses.
One long-term goal is to develop a Spanish language school. Volunteers can help develop this program or just take classes from our teacher trainees. Rates are $5 per hour for individualized instruction and one teacher to one student (tips are sincerely appreciated). Four hours instruction per day allows time to pursue other interests, relax or help with other project initiatives.
No experience is required and we have user-friendly books to help guide your instruction. Each teacher volunteer will work with from one to four or five students and no more than 4 hours daily. Volunteers can also choose to teach an entire classroom of 20 to 30 students.
Renewal, Relaxation, Recreation:
Jungle rivers, hot springs, sailing, hiking, birding, snorkel or dive trips and ancient Mayan cities are among the nearby attractions. We are also near 40-mile long Lake Izabal, the Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Refuge, Caribbean islands and can enjoy weekend getaways to Tikal National Park, Copan Honduras and Semuc Champey.
While substantial efforts have been made to establish a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience, we work in a remote Mayan village. The nearest medical facility is approximately 30 minutes away by four-wheel drive vehicle. The only electricity in the Rio Sauce valley is supplied by solar panels at our lodge and school. The village operates largely outside of any national or local governmental assistance, including law enforcement. Almost all of the local adults lack any formal education beyond the sixth grade. Many have no formal education at all. Most do have a strong work ethic and many have contributed countless hours toward project initiatives. Volunteers must build positive working relationships with the local people. Your patience with a culture making enormous changes is appreciated.
The following guidelines, borrowed from the United States Peace Corps, also apply:
Commit to improving the quality of life of the people with whom you live and work; and, in doing so, share your skills, adapt them, and learn new skills as needed
Serve under conditions of hardship, if necessary, and with the flexibility needed for effective service
Recognize that you are responsible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your personal conduct and professional performance
Engage with the local people in a spirit of cooperation, mutual learning, and respect
Work within the rules and regulations of the local community and with Guatemala law
Exercise judgment and personal responsibility to protect your health, safety, and well-being and that of others
Signing up: By reading this and sending in your reservation request, you have agreed to abide by the guidelines listed above.
For more details, go to our information page or contact Paul Heesaker (Rios Fund founder) at . You can also try my cell number at (719) 314 9036, but keep in mind that I'm often out of the country or in areas without signal. When I'm on site in Guatemala, try Whatsapp: 1 719 314 9036