Interested in volunteering? There are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions
Welcome and thank you for your interest in volunteering with the Integrative Health Project (IHP)! The following will outline the most commonly asked for information regarding volunteering on one of out medical missions to Guatemala. Please also feel free to reach out to us for more info.
What do you do and what would I do?
IHP's goal has been to provide access to East Asian Medicine in underserved areas. We have done this since 2012 through medical missions (known locally in Guatemala as "jornadas") and through training of local providers. We have from the start worked closely with NGO's and governmental agencies to respond to local interests and needs. We are at our core community driven.
Individual volunteer roles can be varied and may change at various times during a mission depending on need and the volunteers skills. Generally licensed professionals will be responsible for direct patient care, students in acupuncture programs will assist within the scope of their training. Other healthcare professionals (RN's MD's, DC's LMT's etc.) will participate within the scope of their practice. We also have need of logistics assistants and we translators.
Flexibility is key here, though. It may be that a busload of 30 patients arrives and we need to move people to registration and vitals. It could also be that we have trainees learning NADA or other techniques and need supervision from licensed practitioners.
In spite of the large numbers of people attending our clinics we always work individually from a differential diagnosis. We don't endorse any particular style of treatment, though we emphasize patient education and try to facilitate follow up with existing local resources.
Volunteers must be willing to help transport supplies to the clinic location in their luggage and be able to help set up and break down the clinic at the beginning and end of the mission. Volunteers need to be team players and be available for the entire length of the mission.
Where will be staying? Do I have to bring a sleeping bag? Accommodations:
As we have in past Guatemala jornadas, team members all stay in one location, Jenna's River Bed and Breakfast in Panajachel http://jennasriverbedandbreakfast.com/. It is clean, comfortable and conveniently located at a reasonable price. Jenna provides an amazing breakfast each day which also gives team members a chance to relax and coordinate for the day ahead. Jenna has recently moved her location and all facilities are brand new with many upgrades. Accommodations are set up individual yurt shaped structures. Due to space restrictions most yurts have two beds and are double occupancy. A few yurts have one queen size bed. Fees are charged per yurt (see below) All rooms have private bath and linens. We will make reservations for the group, but volunteers can also make arrangements independently to arrive early and or stay later.
Where do I fly to and how do I get to the clinic site?
The nearest airport is Aurora International airport in Guatemala City. A number of carriers fly there and generally volunteers make their own reservations there and back. It is possible that we might look into a group flight if enough people are traveling from the same city on the same day. Panajachel is 3 1/2-4 hours from the airport so incoming flights need to arrive before 1:30 in the afternoon while departing flights need to be after 6pm on the Saturday at the end of the program. We recommend staying overnight in Antigua, which is about an hour from the airport and leaving the next day. If schedules permit, IHP arranges for shuttles to and from the airport for group arrival and departure.
What about meals?
Jenna's provides a substantial breakfast each morning and can accommodate gluten free diets. Vegan options are possible with advanced notice. Vegetarian lunches are provided on site on clinic days. Dinner is on your own. Filtered water is provided at the clinic and at Jenna's.
Do I need to get vaccinations? Are there any health risks?
Panajachel, in the western highlands, is a major tourist area and adjacent Lake Atitlan, is a UNESCO world heritage site. The is a large ex-pat community and most conveniences of modern life. Sti,ll there are a few precautions to consider. We advise you consult you physician for any specific health issues. There are no required immunizations for entry into Guatemala from the US but we do recommend that you are current in the standard immunizations. Tetanus boosters are recommended every 10 years. We also ask you consider hepatitis A and B and typhoid. The CDC recommends hepatitis and typhoid prophylaxis for travel to Guatemala, Malaria prophylaxis is also recommended if you will be traveling to the area of Tikal before or after the trip. There is no malaria risk in Antigua or near the lake. There is an oral vaccine for typhoid, but you have to take it in advance of the trip. Again talk to your doctor and see what is recommended. We have never had anyone get seriously sick on a Guatemala trip, but you never know. We know a volunteer with a different organization who died from malaria she contracted in Africa, so we are sensitive to the possibility that something can go wrong.
How much will it cost?
These costs are approximate and can change depending upon changes in charges we are assessed. IHP runs our volunteer missions on a cost share basis. Please understand that fees are not refundable as we have to prepay expenses for the group well in advance. Each volunteer is responsible for funding their own trip. For the next Guatemala jornada in March 2019 we estimate the following:
Application Fee *(if applicable): $35
Hotel: Double occupancy yurts, includes breakfasts $270
Single occupancy yurt ( 1 queen sized bed) $540
Airport Transfers: $50
Includes clinic lunches, welcome dinner, Mayan $190
ceremony fees, local clinic costs
*An application fee is required every two years. Airfare, personal expenses, dinners and lunches on non clinic days are not included.