Healthcare Volunteering – Jane’s story in tackling malnutrition

Jane, a trained nutritionist, used her skills to help local communities in rural Guatemala. She tells her story: from monitoring and weighing babies to setting up personal hygiene workshops, and making lasting connections.

A Nutrition Placement in Rural Guatemala

Jane decided to volunteer with our partner-charity, Asociación Fatima for 3 months. Her nutritional experience meant that she was able to fit in perfectly with the charity’s needs.

A programme was put into place for Jane to join a group of volunteers in assessing the nutritional levels of children in rural communities. Jane also helped set up cookery and personal hygiene workshops.

Jane had been taking Spanish lessons for 2 years with our teacher, Sandy, who is based in Guatemala so she knew someone very well when she came to Guatemala.

Jane’s Story:

Speech marksMy name is Jane and I am married with two grown up children. My career over the last twenty five years has been as a swimming teacher taking classes ranging from 3 month old babies to adults. I’ve coached in schools and clubs to county level. Lately I studied nutrition and have worked with groups and individuals that were suffering with weight and health problems.

medic abroad

Since having lessons with Spanish Marks for over two years I became more aware and interested in the charity that Spanish Marks support – “Association Fatima”. I decided I wanted to help by volunteering and in turn improve my Spanish.

After much discussion, research and preparation, it became apparent that my experience in health and hygiene, nutrition and fitness would be the most beneficial for the charity.

A programme was put in place, and shortly after my arrival, myself, Lucy, and other volunteers (when necessary) went into rural communities, to assess their nutritional level by weighing and measuring hundreds of children from different communities.

During my stay we also completed a Cookery Workshop -  Sport and Fitness Workshop – Foot and Personal Hygiene Workshop. These were all successful in different ways, and seeing the problems firsthand was humbling and most rewarding.

volunteer abroad

Guatemala is a beautiful country, with dramatic volcanoes, cobblestone streets and traditionally dressed women.

It was important for me to travel whilst volunteering, and Tikal and Lake Atitlan were highlights.

Now, reflecting on my trip to Guatemala, I feel it was a great success; I’ve gained confidence in myself and communicating in Spanish. Working with the charity and traveling to the remote areas from my base “Quetzaltenango” (Xela), in many different forms of transport, and spending many hours with these mothers and children in the rural communities and schools, has helped me to understand the problems and difficulties of this country. Seeing how difficult everyday chores are in these rural communities can at times be upsetting, but, however difficult these people’s lives are, the mothers and children are kind and happy.  I feel now the charity and the people within it have become good friends and will always have a place in my heart.speech marks 2

work abroad


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