Guatemala Trip Info

Smokeless Stoves      |      October 12-20, 2019      |      Trip Cost: $1,991 USD      |      GV20846

General Info

  • Team Leaders: Haley Pope & Weston Wise
  • Location: Panajachel, Sololá, Guatemala
  • Project: Women & Weaving (open to all)
  • Trip dates: October 12 – 20, 2019
  • Team Size: 22 people
  • Event code: GV20846
  • Program donation: $1,991 per person (excludes flight costs)
  • Program donation due and recruitment ends: August 28, 2019

Check out the Habitat for Humanity Guatemala website to get a sense of who they are and how they help. READ THE HANDBOOK!

Build Location: Panajachel, Sololá

Today, Habitat Guatemala works to improve the quality of life of Guatemalan families through partial or full funding for the construction, improvement, and repair of homes across the country. With over 85,000 housing solutions to date, Habitat Guatemala has contributed to the reduction of 4.6% of the country’s housing deficit, both qualitative and quantitative.

Panajachel, Sololá resides around Lake Atitlan. The name is a Hispanicized form of its pre-Columbian name, one spelling variant of which is Tz’olojya. The urban center has about 14,000 people, but the municipality also includes four village communities–Los Encuentros, El Tablón, San Jorge La Laguna, and Argueta–as well as 59 smaller rural communities.

Almost all residents of Sololá are Kaqchikel Maya and a large percentage of both men and women continue to wear traditional Mayan clothing.

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This 12-minute video gives a great intro into Guatemalan culture. Pay close attention starting at 4:10 as this is the general area around Lake Atitlan where we will be staying and working!

About Our Build

Our team will be building “healthy home kits,” which includes the construction and installation of smokeless stoves and latrines. Each build day, our group will be split into 3 or 4 teams who will build both a smokeless stove and a latrine for a family. By the end of the week, we will have met and built stoves and latrines for around 12+ families within the community!

Smokeless Stove Projects

Over 90% of rural Guatemalan families use wood as their primary cooking fuel. Most cook using an open fire inside the home or an inefficient stove that consumes vast amounts of firewood. Because of this, 52% of Guatemalans suffer from respiratory disease and Guatemala loses 16 square meters of forest every second. Extreme levels of deforestation have left millions vulnerable to flooding and landslides.

Smokeless Stoves are built from adobe blocks, a metal stovetop, and a metal pipe to ventilate. The multiple-burner metal stovetop allows women to dedicate more time to other tasks and to income generation. These stoves allow for faster cooking times that can reduce firewood use up to 60%, which helps save the forests and families over $700 a year. The stoves cost $100 USD and are subsidized: families only pay 100 quetzales (roughly $12).

In stove construction, volunteer activities include digging, making mud, pouring dirt and laying adobe block in the construction process. Since a typical smokeless stove is built in a single workday we’ll be able to build several stoves for several families in the community!

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Sanitary Latrine Projects Screen Shot 2019-03-18 at 11.00.57 AM

46% of Guatemalans use an inadequate latrine or no services at all. Especially in the countryside, there’s a need for improved sanitation. In rural areas, latrines are often poorly constructed or in a dysfunctional state. Habitat Guatemala has introduced a sanitary latrine model that safely treats waste. Homeowners quickly note that it doesn’t stink like the old one did. It has an exhaust tube to keep the smell – and diseases – at bay.

Water Filter Projects

Most rural areas in Guatemala do not have regular access to potable water and no access to conventional sewage systems. Diseases caused by water contamination are widespread. Guatemala has the highest child mortality rate of the Central American countries, in large part due to the contamination of 95% of Guatemala’s water sources. Habitat Guatemala’s water filter projects use an activated carbon system to purify 5 gallons of water in a 24 hour period.

Dates, Cost & Fundraising

Payment Due Dates

Deposit: $350 to secure your spot on our team (non-refundable, non-transferrable).

Full trip cost: $1,991 is due on August 28, 2019.

Please pay this fee or the remaining cost using any of the following methods:

  • Online with a credit card on the secure GV website
  • Online with a credit card on your fundraising page by clicking the donate button in the top right corner
  • By phone with a credit card: call 1-800-HABITAT, ext 7530

*NOTEInclude the GV event code (GV20846) and your Habitat ID on any payment.

Your GV trip cost includes a donation to Habitat for Humanity Guatemala and Habitat for Humanity International, meals, accommodations, transport (excluding airfare), cultural activities, health, accident, and emergency evacuation insurance, and team coordination from HFHI and the host program.

The trip cost does not include airfare, R&R activities before or after the build, and visa and exit fees (where applicable). All R&R arrangements should be made independently by the team and directly with tour operators.

Read Habitat’s cancellation policy.


For those of you who have already set up your Share.Habitat page, keep up the great work fundraising! Please don’t forget to thank your supporters! You may even want to consider ways to draw them further into the experience, like sending them a photo of you at the build site. 

For those who haven’t created a page yet, there’s still time. Create your account and share it on social media, through email, and word of mouth to encourage your friends and family to support your trip. This is not only a great way to help fund your way to Guatemala, but also allows others not physically participating in the trip to know they’re playing an important role in supporting the build. Let me know if you need any help!

Learn how to be a great fundraiser for Habitat!

Travel Arrangements

Arrival & Departure

Arrive at La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in Guatemala City on Sat, Oct 12. Book your return flight anytime on Sun, Oct 20 from the same airport. 

A Habitat staff member will pick you up if you arrive on Saturday. Look for them after baggage claim as you leave the airport. They’ll be on the right wearing a Habitat Guatemala T-shirt. Either Sandra, Courtney, Alex or Peter will meet you.

  • Habitat recommends purchasing trip cancellation insurance, in case unforeseen circumstances prevent you from taking this trip.
  • Once you book, send us a copy of your full flight itinerary.

*NOTE: If you are traveling on your own before or after our build, you are responsible for your own transport, hotel arrangements, insurance, and payments.

Passport Requirements

You need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after our dates of travel in order to leave home and enter Guatemala. Ensure your passport is current and valid.

Visa Requirements

Upon arrival, you will be given a tourist visa that is valid for 90 days when you pass through immigration. You don’t need to apply in advance. Easy!

Health & Medical

Habitat for Humanity provides health insurance for every volunteer on the Global Village trip during the trip. If your travels extend beyond the Global Village trip dates, you will need your own health insurance.


Please consult your doctor or travel clinic to find out what is specifically recommended for you. Here’s a link to the CDC website for Guatemala if you want a preview of what your health care professional might recommend.

Dietary Restrictions & Medical Concerns

IMPORTANT: If you have serious dietary or medical concerns, please think carefully before joining a GV trip. We will do our best to accommodate you, but please be aware of limitations while in foreign countries. 

Let us know if you have any dietary restrictions or preferences, food allergies, medical conditions, or anything else that might impact your health and safety while we’re in Guatemala. We’ll share the food-related information with the local affiliate to make sure everyone is able to enjoy our meals while we’re away. We’ll also be carrying a fairly extensive first aid kit, but please remember to bring any critical prescription medications (and a copy of the prescription) with you.


Please remember that Guatemala is a developing country in a tropical climate. While the hotels and our staff will do everything possible to make your stay comfortable and relaxing, it is best to arrive with realistic expectations. Each volunteer will have a roommate unless you request otherwise. Single rooms will incur an extra cost to be covered as part of your overall trip cost.

  • Hotel in Guatemala City, Oct 12: Hyatt Centric Guatemala City (fitness center & pool)

    12 Calle 2-25 Zona 10, Guatemala T: (502) 2217-6000

  • Hotel in Panajachel, Oct 13-19: Hotel Dos Mundos (pool).

    Calle Santander 4-72, Panajachel T: (502) 7937-8300 

  • Hotel in Antigua, Oct 20: Hotel Panchoy (pool & sauna).

    1a Avenida Nte #5, Antigua Guatemala 03001, (502) 7832 0937

All hotels that volunteers use will have an internet connection. Additionally, there will be several ways that volunteers will be able to use a phone to make local or international calls (either at the hotel or through Skype). All field coordinators that accompany GV teams in Guatemala have phones to make local calls, and in certain situations, international calls. 

Meal Time


We’re meeting at 6:15 pm on Saturday evening for our first team dinner. Please gather in the hotel lobby at this time. If you are arriving after this time, you’ll have the option of eating at the restaurant at our hotel upon arrival.

We will eat breakfast at the hotels,  delicious homemade lunches will be delivered to our build site daily, and dinner will be enjoyed at local restaurants. All meals we eat as a team in hotels and restaurants have been vetted and are safe and healthy to eat. The hotels and restaurants that we go to have worked with us on many occasions and they take the proper precautions to prepare the food and drinks in a safe and healthy manner.

While you are here in Guatemala, you will have the opportunity to try some of the local cuisines. Breakfasts will generally be eggs, beans, plantains, coffee, and juice. Lunches and dinners will be different dishes of chicken, beef, vegetables, and as always, tortillas!

That said, it’s always good to keep in mind some general guidelines for safe eating and drinking when traveling abroad: you should avoid food prepared by street vendors; wash your hands whenever possible, especially before eating; if soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Drink only bottled or boiled water or carbonated drinks in cans or bottles (please make sure to bring a reusable water bottle). Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. Use bottled water for brushing teeth as well. Make sure food is fully cooked. Avoid dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.

*NOTE: If you have specific dietary needs or allergies that you haven’t mentioned, please let us know ASAP so we can make the appropriate arrangements.

Dress Code & Packing List

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The temperature, while we are in Guatemala, will be in the 60s and 70s during the daytime and cooler at night since we’ll be in the highlands. Guatemala can also be very humid, so it’s good to have clothes for any type of weather. Make sure to follow the packing list below. 

When packing clothing for the trip, keep in mind our daily activities: we will be working during the day (bring old clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty) and afterward, eating dinner and socializing in the evenings (bring clothes other than working clothes). At the worksite, loose, comfortable clothing is best. There will be an opportunity to do laundry at the hotel. Each volunteer will need to pay for these services separately.

For the worksite:

  • Long and short-sleeved t-shirts (no spaghetti straps or tank tops)
  • Long pants, such as jeans or hiking pants
  • Knee-length shorts or longer are allowed on the worksite
  • Closed-toe shoes with a hard sole (work boots if you already have them, otherwise, gym shoes are perfectly fine)
  • Lightweight rain jacket
  • Hat and bandana
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick with sunscreen
  • Work gloves (you can find these at any Ace, Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc.)
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Camera (not an expensive one!)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Insect repellent
  • Supplemental snacks, especially if you have dietary restrictions
  • Gatorade/Powerade powder to add to your water
  • Small backpack or bag to carry your things to the worksite

Here’s a picture of a recent volunteer group – this is what you should wear – look at all of that great sun protection!


Off the worksite:

  • Casual clothes (shorts, dresses, tank tops, etc. are fine)
  • Personal toiletries
  • Baby wipes or make-up wipes
  • First aid items (there will be a first aid kit on-site, but it’s nice to have Band-Aids, Tylenol, Advil, Pepto Bismol, etc. for yourself!)
  • Any personal medications (bring your prescription as well)
  • Earplugs (you will be sharing a room)
  • Small flashlight or headlamp with batteries
  • Electrical adaptor (same voltage as the US, but typically have two-prong plugs).
  • A good book or two
  • ATM card
  • Personal spending money
  • Journal and pen and pencils
  • Snacks – granola bars, nuts, etc.
  • Passport and a photocopy
  • Swimsuit, just in case
  • Shower shoes
  • Zip-lock or plastic bags for soiled clothing/shoes
  • Photos of your family (avoid photos depicting wealth)
  • Spanish/English pocket dictionary, if you’ll be attempting some Spanish
  • And of course, don’t forget your passport, ID, and money!

What not to bring:

  • Anything expensive you’d be devastated to lose (watch, laptop, camera, jewelry)
  • Large amounts of cash
  • Gifts (as discussed above in the gift-giving policy)


Day 1: Travel
Saturday, October 12
  • Arrival in Guatemala City (GUA)
  • Pick up from the airport by a Habitat for Humanity Guatemala staff
  • Check-in at hotel in Guatemala City
  • Dinner with GV Host coordinators
  • Spend the night in Guatemala City
 Day 2: Travel to Solola
Sunday, October 13
  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • 8:30 a.m. – Travel to the affiliate
  • Visit Mayan ruins of Iximché
  • Lunch on the road
  • 4:30 p.m. – Welcome ceremony with Habitat affiliate members, partner families, and local committee members
  • Dinner out in Panajachel
  • Worksite safety orientation led by GV coordinators
  • Dinner and overnight at accommodations
Day 3-4, 6: Build
Monday, October 14
Tuesday, October 15
Thursday, October 17
  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Shuttle from the hotel to the project site (45 mins)
  • Team will build from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, with scheduled breaks in morning and afternoon
  • Lunch at worksite
  • Shuttle to hotel
  • Time for team meeting and reflection
  • Dinner at the hotel
  • Presentation about history, housing and health issues (Thursday)
Days 5: Cultural Activity
Wednesday, October 16
  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Boat ride to San Juan
  • Learn about weaving from Mayan women from San Juan
  • Lunch at one of the weavers’ house
  • Boat ride back to Panajachel
  • Team meeting and dinner at the hotel
Day 7: Celebrate
Friday, October 18
  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Shuttle from the hotel to the project site (45 mins)
  • Team will build from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm, with scheduled breaks in the morning
  • Lunch at worksite
  • Goodbye ceremony with Habitat affiliate members, partner families, masons, and local volunteers.
  • Time for team meeting and reflection
  • Team dinner out at a local restaurant
Day 8: Explore
Saturday, October 19
  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Shuttle to Antigua
  • Lunch in Antigua
  • Free afternoon in Antigua. GV coordinators will assist volunteers in arranging optional activities in Antigua including historical walking tours, cooking classes, coffee tours, volcano hikes, etc.
  • Final team dinner in Antigua restaurant
Day 9: Explore
Sunday, October 20
  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Shuttles to the airport
  • Volunteers may depart for home or begin independent travel

Cultural Activities & Evenings


During our build, we’ll have some built-in free time to make sure we have opportunities to get to know the community and country. Some of the cultural activities for our “women and weaving” build involve activities at weaving coops and organizations that provide women opportunities to support their families through weaving projects.

  • On Sunday, we’ll leave early in the morning departing from Guatemala City. On the way to Panajachel, Solola, we will stop at a Mayan archaeological site called Iximche (pronounced, Ishimche) for a tour of the ruins and history.
  • On Wednesday, we’ll take a boat ride across Lake Atitlan to the town of San Juan to visit a weaving coop. There, we’ll meet local Mayan women weavers (some of whom are single moms). We’ll learn all about each stage of the weaving process, from selecting the raw material, dying, spinning, and weaving the fabric into intricate patterns. After, we’ll have lunch at a local lady’s home. In the afternoon, we’ll have additional free time to explore San Juan, shop, and maybe visit a coffee coop.
  • On Saturday, we will leave Panajachel and head to Antigua where we’ll spend the night. In Antigua, we’ll have some optional group activities, which may include historical walking tours, cooking classes, coffee tours, or volcano hikes.

Each night we will eat dinner and talk about the events of the day as a group, but after dinner is free time for everyone. Although this region is considered safe, we will adhere to common-sense safety practices like traveling in pairs or groups. Some nights we may choose to stay in and I encourage you to bring your favorite card or board game and challenge your teammates!

Guatemalan Cultural

Beyond the Horizon 2014: Guatemala

Guatemala is a rich and diverse land that varies in geography, culture, languages, and land. There are 24 languages in the country, with Spanish being the most common language spoken, followed by Xinca, Garifuna, and 21 different Mayan dialects.

Guatemalan families are typically large and a focal point of Guatemalan life. Making visitors feel welcome and comfortable in their home and homeland are important values for most Guatemalans.

In 1960 – 1996, over 200,000 Guatemalans were killed or forcibly disappeared in a civil war. Of those victims identified in the U.N. – sponsored Historical Clarification Commission, 83% were indigenous Maya. 93% of these human rights violations were carried out by government forces.

Habitat Policies

Gift Giving Policy & Donations

Habitat for Humanity takes a very strict stance on avoiding paternalism and fostering any sense of dependency or inequality among our partnering communities. Essentially, giving gifts are not allowed. It can create jealousy, competition, and enmity within the community. In some cultures, people feel if they receive a gift they are obligated to reciprocate. If they are unable to do so, your generosity may lead to unhappiness or disappointment on the part of the recipient. It also undermines the ideal that Habitat is trying to promote – a hand up not a handout.

If you would like to donate anything in addition, which is certainly not necessary, the team leaders will collect the items and give them to the host program who will distribute it appropriately and fairly without names attached. Read the Habitat Guatemala gift policy.

That said, there are a couple exceptions. Here are some guidelines:

  • Never give money, or promise to give money, to anyone. Although rare, you may be approached and asked to sponsor a child, make a mortgage payment, or give money for daily items. Under no circumstances should you agree! Habitat strives to promote independence and personal capacity, not create dependence on others— especially those outside of their own community. Let us know if this happens during the build and we will address the situation.
  • If you have gifts to give, they must be shared anonymously by the host affiliate. We will collect any items you wish to donate and at the end of our trip and pass them along to the host affiliate who can then distribute to those most in need in the community. Some examples of appropriate gifts are below:
    • Work clothing and shoes
    • Tools for building (tools will be provided on the work site. You are not required to bring your own tools).
  • Bring toys to play with the children, but then take them back home. Some ideas include bubbles, Frisbees, balls (with pump) etc. The only guideline here is that at the end of each day, we take back the items to comply with the gift-giving policy. Remember if you share something with one child others will expect something as well. This can cause problems in the community, including violence between children who didn’t receive a toy and those who did.

Photography & Photo Sharing

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Taking pictures is a great way to capture special memories and keep them with you – and you are highly encouraged to take lots of photos on the build! But please remember Habitat works to promote dignity in the families and communities. Here are some guidelines:

  • Please ask permission from any local people prior to taking their photo.
  • Avoid photos depicting people in “destitute” situations. The families and communities we are serving are working hard to better their lives and we should strive to document that hope.

To keep our funders and supporters in the loop, it’s nice to share photos of the work we’re doing at the build site while we’re there. Please include the hashtag #GVGuatemala2019 to any photo you share on social media.

After the trip is over, I’ll set up a Flickr album for the trip with everyone’s photos so we all will have copies of the build. 

Alcohol Policy

As a reminder, Habitat’s policy regarding alcohol is that you’re permitted to drink moderately after work, but should do so with discretion and remember to act as a representative of Habitat for Humanity at all times. You will be responsible for purchasing any alcohol you consume – it is not a covered expense by Habitat.

Action Items:

  • Mark your calendar for August 28, 2019, when final trip payments are due.
  • Make sure you have scheduled an appointment with your health care professional to discuss any immunizations.
  • Purchase your flight reservations to and from Guatemala by August 30, 2019.
  • A complete copy of your flight itinerary.
  • A short bio about yourself with a photo, so we can start to get to know each other before we depart. 
  • Do you have a roommate preference? Do you want a single room? Let us know!
  • Do you have any dietary restrictions/preferences/allergies and any medical conditions that may impact your safety on this trip? Let us know!
  • Begin to think about packing – assume you won’t be able to buy anything you’ve forgotten, so make a list and check it twice.

with my buddies Daili and Gerardo