FAQ Category: After you’re accepted

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What is the relationship of the Hospitalito, Asociación K’aslimaal and AMIGOS Hospitalito Atitlán?

Asociación K’aslimaal (Tz’utujiil for life or rebirth) is the Hospitalito’s founding organization and its members are the hospital’s board of directors. The organization has partnered with the community to ensure that the Hospitalito is a stable institution committed to the improved health of the people of Santiago Atitlán and its environs. AMIGOS Hospitalito Atitlán is a US nonprofit organization that has partnered with K’aslimaal to raise funds for the hospital in North America. It is the Hospitalito’s principal international fundraising arm.

Can I bring my family?

Many of our volunteers have brought their families. Guatemala is a great place for children, exposing them to a different culture and giving them the opportunity to learn Spanish. Long-term volunteers with children can take advantage of several bilingual English/Spanish primary and high schools in Panajachel, which is across the lake. A number of children of Hospitalito staff travel there daily.

How much money will I need?

Guatemala can be very inexpensive. However, there are good restaurants and tempting items to buy that can upset even the best-planned budget. Restaurant meals run between $3 and $5 for breakfast and lunch and more for dinner. The trip across the lake to Panajachel or San Pedro costs around $5 round-trip. If you watch your spending, prepare food at home, walk or take the Q3-5 transportation around town, you can get by on about $50 per week (excluding housing). However, you should budget more if you are bringing a family.

What else do I need?

Other things you should consider bringing: • Good walking shoes • Daypack • Hat • Good small flashlight • Sunscreen • Swimsuit • Towel • Insect repellant (if you plan to travel to the lowlands) • Motion sickness cuffs or medication • Sleeping bag/pillow (depending on where you are staying)

What’s appropriate dress for work?

Appropriate dress is essential for those who interact with patients. The dress code is business casual, but without a coat and tie. Doctors generally wear slacks and a shirt with a collar or a longer skirt and blouse and closed toed shoes. When seeing patients, physicians should wear white coats.

What should/shouldn’t I wear?

It is best to bring layers, so you can be comfortable during the day and warm at night. April to November is the rainy season with rain most afternoons. The high temperature reaches about 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and there are few cold and rainy days. Bring fast drying pants. Jeans don’t dry during rainy season and are difficult to hand wash. A poncho and/or umbrella are essential. The rest of the year, the temperature gets up to around 75 degrees during the day, and it is cool at night. Note: The Tz’tujil people in the area are very conservative, so it is important to respect local standards. Please do not bring old military-style and camouflage clothing as this type of dress can mentally trigger the tragedies that the community experienced during the civil war.

Are there things I shouldn’t bring?

Yes. Here are some examples. Please do not bring: • Expired medications — Guatemalan law forbids the Hospitalito from accepting expired medications. Preferred expiration dates are one to two years after your expected arrival. At minimum, the dates should be six months after your expected arrival. Legal and social obligations prevent us from giving expired medications to our patients even if their effectiveness may still be valid. Note: If you do bring expired medicines, the Hospitalito will be forced to pay for their destruction by a medical waste company in Guatemala City • Used clothing — Please only bring donations of small children’s clothing in good condition. • Medical equipment that cannot be serviced in Guatemala — If you have medical equipment you want to donate, please contact us in advance with the specific item and model number, so we can determine if it can be repaired in Guatemala. We have received some wonderful machinery that we have been unable to maintain and repair. Note: The best approach is to check the medical equipment wish list to find out exactly what is needed.

What does the hospital need?

Check out our medical and nonmedical wish lists. Please print out copies and share with co-workers, religious congregations, civic groups and friends. These lists are updated regularly and reflect the items we definitely need. If you are interested in bringing something not on the list, please check first with Executive Director Jacinto Garcia Chipir before doing so.

What shots do I need?

No shots are required. However, all medical volunteers should be current on the following vaccinations: • Hepatitis A • Hepatitis B • Tetanus • Typhoid In addition, it is recommended that volunteers have a recent TB skin test (within the past year). Those volunteering for a long period of time should consider a prophylactic rabies vaccination Malaria is not an issue due to Atitlán’s altitude. Check the CDC website for more information on recommended vaccines and preventive medicines.

How can volunteers support the Hospitalito?

In addition to working in the hospital, you may be doing community outreach and traveling to rural areas — Cerro de Oro and Chacaya — where the need is great. You will be part of a team of doctors and nurses that speak the Maya language. The group will take lab tests, medical supplies and medicine. You can help to fund free care for these low-income rural patients by reaching out to friends, co-workers and family members, telling them about your volunteer work, and asking them to donate towards this critical medical care.