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Volunteers and Visitors Returning To The School Of Hope

02/11/2021

Over the last 16 years visitors and volunteers have brought their unique skills and experiences to enrich The School of Hope. Since March 2020, with the school closed, we have been unable to welcome volunteers. As we reorganize to start a hybrid program, we are ensuring opportunities to participate, in line with Guatemalan government regulations and the Foundation’s safety protocols.

Volunteers are critical to the vibrancy and community of the Foundation and participation must be balanced with your safety and that of our students and staff. Therefore, we have developed a new volunteer program, which, whilst significantly changed from pre-Covid, will still allow a meaningful, fun, contributory experience in Guatemala.

A major change, due to enforced Covid social distancing, is that volunteers will be unable to be in close proximity to students in the classroom. However, we have developed a number of positions which will facilitate the smooth running of our hybrid school and be vital to its success. You might be verbally assisting students with instructions using simple Spanish phrases, working in the office with our education admin team, delivering lunches to classroom bubbles or guiding students to and from classes.

For those volunteers planning a longer stay and who speak an advanced level of Spanish, there will be the opportunity to be a Teacher’s Assistant. If you have English as a Second Language (ESL) qualification or experience, we’d love to hear from you, as we will have some tutoring opportunities with our Further Education students.

We are hoping to start the new volunteer program from July, as long as current regulations remain as they are, and the School of Hope is allowed to begin a hybrid teaching program by the Ministry of Education. As the situation in Jocotenango is very volatile, we strongly encourage you talk through with us your specific plans and circumstances. We will be regularly reviewing the hybrid school as the year progresses and will update supporters as and when regulations change.

We will assist you with your volunteer placement to make sure that your experience is meaningful but please be aware that travelling to Guatemala and working at The School of Hope is at your own health and financial risk. If you are planning a short stay, consider that three or more cases of Covid at the school would close it down for 14 days, so there is a risk that you could start a placement only to have the school close for the duration of your stay.

Prospective volunteers interested in a placement in 2021:

1. Register your interest with Kellen Buckley by emailing visitors@eftcfoundation.org

2. You’ll receive details of specific position(s) which will be tailored to your length of stay, skills, preferences and experience. You’ll be able to read and agree to detailed information about new Covid volunteer protocols before your visit. Each volunteer will be required to sign an updated version of the ‘EFTC Visitor and Volunteer Agreement’ and pay the volunteer fee of £50/€70/$75 (diff figure depending on what website on - eshot out on etc)

3. You’ll have the opportunity for discussion with Kellen with any questions and then agree to sign-up to a specific position before you travel

4. Please be aware that current regulations state that upon arrival in Guatemala volunteers will be required to self isolate at their own expense for 5 days. Regulations are constantly changing and we advise you check with your country’s travel regulations to Guatemala before you book. Then, you’ll need to present a negative antigen test result to Kellen (available at Laboratorio La Merced in Antigua for a cost of approx £40 / $50) before the volunteer position starts. (Please note that a Covid negative certificate received in the volunteer’s home country as a permit to travel will not count as relevant Covid-safe documentation.)

From July we will also start to welcome visitors to the school. If you are in Guatemala as part of an organized trip or vacation and would be interested in finding more about the Foundation, please get in touch:

Prospective Visitors could experience:
1. An in-depth tour of the school, including participating in a social distanced student ‘Brain Break’. (This will be our new recess as our student bubbles cannot mix.) Maximum of 9 per tour.

2. Delivering lunches to classroom bubbles

3. If you are a Student Sponsor, we are able to welcome you as follows:
a. Visits will be held from 3pm-4pm, outdoors, due to space restrictions under the new hybrid program.
b. Sponsors will be able to verbally interact with students under Covid protocols.
Sponsors with multiple students will be able to interact 1 student at a time, unless the students are siblings.
c. Scheduling will revolve around the students’ schedule (as under hybrid school, 2 or 3 days a week they will be learning from home).

4. Self isolation and testing applies as for volunteers: Current regulations state that upon arrival in Guatemala visitors will be required to self isolate at their own expense for 5 days. Regulations are constantly changing and we advise you check with your country’s travel regulations to Guatemala before you book. Then, you’ll need to present a negative antigen test result to Kellen (available at Laboratorio La Merced in Antigua for a cost of approx £40 / $50) before your visit. (Please note that a Covid negative certificate received in the volunteer’s home country as a permit to travel will not count as relevant Covid-safe documentation.)