Volunteering with UPAVIM

Our volunteers come from all over the world to offer their services. They go home with with an appreciation of Guatemalan life and culture, a gratifying feeling of accomplishment, and excitement from seeing all Guatemala has to offer. Quite often international living experiences are life changing and our volunteers go home to new career paths as well as to further their studies at University  in something newly inspired from their experience.

Volunteers live in modest rooms and the outdoor living area and garden on the roof of UPAVIM’s building. There is also a fully equipped kitchen. The roof is a place for volunteers to relax and unwind after work, whether by reading, skyping family, or socializing. Over the years volunteers have worked in the tutoring center, English program, the medical center, and crafts depending on our needs. Please continue reading for more information about volunteering with UPAVIM.

During the Coronavirus outbreak of 2020 we are not accepting volunteers. If you would like more information please contact Stephanie McGrath our Volunteer Coordinator at  volunteerupavim@gmail.com

What’s on the roof?

  • 3 bedrooms with bunk beds
  • Wifi
  • A kitchen
  • Pilas (sinks to wash dishes and clothing)
  • A bathroom and shower (with heated water!)
  • A beautiful garden

What are meals like?

  • Lunch is provided by the school kitchen during the week.
  • Breakfast and Dinner are made and shared by the volunteers during the week.

Volunteers buy groceries on the street outside of UPAVIM in small tiendas (corner stores) and at produce stands, or at La Torre, the big grocery store in the mall a short bus ride away.

How much does it cost?

Volunteers living on the roof pay into the communal bank around $15 per month. This money is used to pay for things like toilet paper, gas, wifi, and food for communal dinners. Depending on what you prefer to eat, food for breakfast and weekends costs about $20 per week.

Language skills

Conversational Spanish is necessary to communicate with the women and children of UPAVIM. Volunteers without an adequate background in Spanish are required to attend language school before volunteering.  There are many language schools throughout Guatemala. They cost between $100 to $120 per week for one-on-one lessons and accommodations with a family. We can help you find a language school that fits your needs.

Free Time

Volunteers have weekends off. There are many options for volunteers during their free time, including..
–  Exploring Guatemala City
–  Taking the 2 hour bus ride to tourist-friendly Antigua
–  Sharing meals or partaking in other activities with Upavimas (the women of UPAVIM)
Week-long school vacations in April and June offer volunteers an opportunity to travel more extensively throughout Guatemala and Central America.


Although most volunteers have had few problems, others have been robbed or harassed both in and out of the community. As in any urban environment suffering from many social ills, crime does happen in La Esperanza. UPAVIM’s building is locked and surrounded by a wall and barbed wire. Volunteers are asked to use common sense concerning their safety.

With the rewards of working with children and young people also comes responsibility. The students look to the volunteers as role models, especially since they are often difficult to find in other aspects of their lives. For this reason, volunteers are not permitted to smoke in the community. You have the potential to make a great impact on children’s’ lives. Please keep this in mind, as well as the fact that your actions can have consequences for UPAVIM. Thank you for your interest. We look forward to you joining us as we work toward creating a better life for our families and community.

The children at UPAVIM were so often delighted by the smallest things, but what they needed most was: a hug, a little attention and someone to listen to them. That is what made volunteering for me at UPAVIM so highly rewarding. I planned to stay for half a year, but I stayed for a full year and I keep going back when I can. It was an amazing year, full of intense experiences I never would have missed.

~ Tomoko / Japan

No day was the same, so many highlights as well as the touching, personal and trying stories from the children and women. I learned so much, for me it was like a winning lottery ticket to end up at Upavim. I can recommend volunteering at UPAVIM to anyone who wants to take some time to help a group of very inspiring people.

~ Marly / Holland

One of the greatest gifts I ever received was the opportunity to teach a neighborhood girl who was prevented from attending school to learn to read and write because of her physical disabilities – to be literate was something her parents had wanted to do, but were not able. Receiving letters from her in the following years touched me in ways that words cannot describe. Volunteering at UPAVIM and living in the community is an experience that I will never forget.

~ Brandon/USA