My Life as a Volunteer

by Kerrie Haulden

When I flew in to Guatemala on my 3 week mini-vacation, I was pretty much a free spirit. All I wanted to do was learn Spanish, solve the country’s complex political, economic and social problems, pick up some college credits, get some hot latino sex, spice up an otherwise unimpressive patch on my résumé and show up my stupid cousin Rachel who thinks she’s so cool because she went on safari to Africa for two weeks.

My mom was really worried and said that I should go to the south of France again, but I told her I felt a real spiritual bond with our housekeeper Rosalita, who’s from Guatemala (or maybe Nicaragua) and plus anyway I didn’t have enough frequent flyer miles to make it to Europe again and anyway I really wanted to get some nice fabrics for that sofa in my study.

Like I said, I really wanted to do some volunteer work while I was here, and there are lots of organizations doing things, but I really wanted to work with kids. After a few minutes of really intense Googling, I found the perfect project. I can’t remember their full name, but it’s called OFROHEMOSOCOLIBSAB for short and they work with amputee street kids whose mothers died of AIDS because they got raped in the civil war.

Cool, I thought. There was a small registration fee (which is like, totally tax deductible, BTW) and I was in!!!

When I got here, everyone was like, totally friendly and the Director of the project, Luis, let me stay in his house for only $150 per week, which included two authentic Guatemalan meals per day, except on Sundays when the cook, Luis’ grandmother, went to church.

I started working straight away. I told Luis that I had worked in my dad’s office last summer (saving up for that Baja road trip) so he made me Administrative Director. I never actually got to meet any of the kids (Luis said they were all off at the hospital getting treated or something), but there were plenty of photos on the office walls and the sight of their brown, slightly snotty, smiling faces was an inspiration to me every day!!!

Apart from checking my email and drinking coffee, my main job was trimming the edges of Luis’ business cards, which had come back from the printer slightly off-center. It was hard work, but these are the kinds of challenges that NGOs face in the developing world!!!

In short, I think I totally achieved my goals in coming here and would recommend it to anyone who’s thinking about it (although if you’re looking for the hot sex bit, I wouldn’t recommend Luis – he was kind of lukewarm). I think next year I’ll go to Cambodia, where I hear there are some totally needy kids and good cheap ceramics.

That ought to show that stupid Rachel.

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