Volunteer

Opportunities in education, farming, medical and more

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There is a year round need for Volunteers at Opal House

All Volunteers stay on the Opal House farm, a safe refuge in the Guatemalan highlands above beautiful Lake Atitlan, about half hour outside of Panajachel. We personally can pick up most groups from the airport in Guatemala City. We have single, double and dormitory style rooms with hot water and American style toilets. We can accommodate up to 22 people per night. Safe and pure, high quality spring water is on the farm in all of the buildings. All three meals per day are provided. Wi Fi is available and there is excellent cellular reception. Please contact Dr William Boegel at will@opalhouse.org to plan dates for individuals or groups.


 

Volunteer Opportunities

Education

Education

Religious education- Diane teaches three types of religious classes each week, with Dr William Boegel assisting. A Sunday school bible class is held each Tuesday for 4-9 year old’s and a 10-14 year old class is also held Fridays, both occurring in the Peace Chapel. Diane is also developing an Atrium allowing for Montessori presentation of the Good shepherd religious education program. Both Diane and Dr William Boegel are Guatemalan local diocese certified First communion catechists and prep the 10-20 students from February into October every year, also in the Peace chapel.

Montessori education – Montessori for the impoverished and often disabled children’s community is now offered free of charge for preschoolers, kindergartners and first graders in the Harriet Shrontz Montessori school built and opened in 2013. A full kitchen is built into the school for a special nutrition program of a high protein breakfast/lunch every day. We do receive interns and guests interested in assisting Diane and the school director, Jackeline in daily classes.

Farming

Farming

Coffee picking in Jan/Feb – Individuals or groups can pick together or with our workers here at Opal House.  It is best done in the morning before the heat of the day. Volunteers can also see the coffee factory that processes the coffee from cherry to bagged, roasted coffee How can you go wrong with organic, shade grown Lake Atitlan region premium coffee!

Planting and Reforestation every April/May/June – The rain season begins in early to mid May and generally ends in early October. The time of the year is ideal to help with reforestation planting(so far 10,000 trees and bushes in ground). Fruit trees, berries, wood bearing trees, coffee and avocado are planted every year. Come make Opal House even greener with organic soil and new plants and trees and help protect Lake Atitlan!

Organic farm soil production – Opal House has created a biocycle of animal excrement mixed with oak leaves and coffee cherry fruit to provide an ideal organic compound mix for California red worm bins. The worms then create worm cast black earth as well as liquid elixir fertilizer that feeds our organic vegetables, fruits and berry and aids in reforestation. All erosion has ceased on our farmland since organic techniques were introduced 5 years ago.

Year round Gardening, We have worm cast organic soil, greenhouses, organic vegetables and compost, and since there is no dormancy or winter season, we always needs help with gardening (weeding, pruning, transplanting, seed and starter plants).

Projects

Projects

Year round building maintenance/construction – We have continuing road work, and smaller construction projects often available. We also perform building projects at the poorer homes in our community(efficient wood stoves, concrete bathroom and kitchen floors, roofing projects, education center renovation.)

Irrigation projects – A professional, John Deere engineered gravity assisted drip irrigation system and cistern has been designed and installed in 2013 for 1100 avocado trees near our school and phase two is currently being developed, planned and funded with the help of a Washington state Rotary club and the YES program of high school student leadership. All such water professional systems go to grow the farm so it can reach self sufficiency in the future and support all of its children’s programs. Water is a special resource at Opal House and its special stewardship is critical to farm health and Mission goals.

Ozonated clean water project-Pure volcanic filtered spring water is stored in a large cistern and then ozonated to allow for very long shelf life for the emergency needs of our town of Hidden Water (Agua Escondida). A roadside water delivery and storage building was constructed for rapid and professional pure water delivery to our neighbors. We share this precious resource of water and delivered many thousands of gallons of clean water to our town during the natural disaster of Agatha a tropical storm that left our town without water for 15 days in May of 2011. Help cleaning and loading 5 gallon bottles in the water building is needed at times.

Medical

Medical

Orthopedic surgical team late Feb/early March – Dr Steve Miller of Anacortes coordinates the team cosponsored by Fidalgo Island Rotary and Opal House.  Read this blog article about Dr’s Week.  http://opalhouseguatemala.com/surgery-week/

Bone clinic shadowing-for 5 years Dr William Boegel has performed a free, 2 morning a week “podiatry and general bone clinic” at the nearby San Lucas Parroquia Mission hospital(now called Hospital Obras Sociales de Monsignor Gregorio Shaffer). For part of the year he also serves as a volunteer in Panajachel in the same capacity. ALL office visits, meds and casts/orthotics are free to all patients. Surgical patients are scheduled and followed postoperatively in this clinic.


 

Learn Spanish while You Volunteer

Opal House employs Diego Diaz, a professional Spanish school teacher(he taught Diane and myself for two years) and he teaches beginner, intermediate and advanced Spanish lessons to anyone who is interested in advancing their Spanish while visiting here at Opal House. He is bilingual and has all the necessary materials for the classes. This is a perfect place to improve your Spanish at below market costs. Everyone also has the opportunity to practice their Spanish while immersed here at Opal House. Please make arrangements ahead for this service.


 

Have Fun while You Volunteer

Large visiting groups work hard while volunteering but also can play hard on this beautiful lake. Boat and shopping trips are arranged, local zip lining is a highlight and we always have fun on the farm with ATV’s and local hiking. With some planning it is possible to hike a volcano.  Dr William Boegel hosts these activities and any others that are requested. Tuc-Tuc rides to pick up the children both for school and afternoon classes is also a highlight for visitors.  Once again we would love to have you come visit Opal House Guatemala and volunteer in any of the above capacities.  Please Email will@opalhouse.org with any questions and to sort out volunteer dates.