Answer: The team is comprised of volunteers, both professionals and non-professional who pay their own expenses to participate.
There’s both the medical component and the Community Development entity. The majority of our volunteers are from the Pacific Northwest but approximately 30% of our team is from across the United States and sometimes Europe or other countries. Please see the volunteer tab for more details regarding specific team needs.
Why go to Guatemala?
Answer: This is where our affiliate, HELPS International is based and dispatches all teams. Statistics show that Guatemala is the poorest in Central America. The large population of indigenous Mayans has been oppressed for centuries. The Guatemala government does not have the resources to meet the medical needs of this people group but is willing to allow organizations such as HELPS International to provide medical aid.
Are there any age limits?
Answer: Volunteers must be at least 16 years old to participate.
Where does the Cascade Medical Team go in Guatemala?
Answer: We go where the needs are which is mainly in the Highlands. Currently we are going to the region of Quiché. The town is called Santa Cruz del Quiché.
Is Guatemala really safe?
Answer: Yes because HELPS International only operates in “safe” regions. We also obtain military escorts while on our missions to ensure safety and security. HELPS International considers SAFETY a number one concern for every volunteer.
Do volunteers need to be in excellent physical condition?
Answer: We are usually in areas of high altitude, around 7000 to 8000 ft. Those with heart or lung conditions may find it difficult to function at these altitudes. Also, due to the amount of uneven terrain and the long workdays, it is recommended that anyone with any profound physical handicaps may find it difficult to navigate and thus need to reconsider their involvement.
What immunizations are recommended?
Answer: For all volunteers, the immunizations recommended are Hepatitis A, Flu, Tetanus and Typhoid. We are currently not working in a malaria zone. You can consult the CDC website for current recommendations. CDC Recommendations
What if I don’t speak Spanish?
Answer: Although communication is more rewarding when you can speak the common language, it is not required. We do provide translators. Often times, since we are dealing with the indigenous population, we need “3-way” translations beginning with their Mayan dialect to Spanish to English and visa versa.
What does it cost?
Answer: The cost varies from year to year. You will need to contact the team leaders for the current rates.
The costs for a volunteer to participate cover: airfare and travel insurance (but you can opt to do your own, then the costs are reduced) along with hotels and on-site lodging, most meals, ground transportation, HELPS support staff, and 3 days of R&R in Antigua at an excellent hotel.