OG & Niagara College present…

Healthcare in Guatemala

Rights and Resistance

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Scholarships are available. Apply before March 15 to secure your spot!

Program Description

For an action packed 8-days, we’ll step out of the classroom and into the complex world of healthcare in Guatemala’s western highlands. We’ll travel from the streets of Guatemala’s capital where thousands of peaceful protesters forced the resignation (and arrest) of the country’s President to more remote corners of Alta and Baja Verapaz where previously war-torn communities are working to reclaim their rights and rebuild their livelihoods. We’ll play in the field with ambitious youth, hike with courageous land defenders, talk shop with local officials, and break bread with determined human rights activists. We’ll examine the enduring effects of colonialism, racism, poverty and inequality and see how communities across Guatemala are responding in their pursuit for justice.

So, get ready to challenge yourself with service learning, cultural immersion and adventure. This is our chance to explore healthcare in a new and different landscape while reflecting on the challenges facing practitioners in Guatemala and back home in Canada.

Program Basics

Program Sponsor

2020 Program Dates

February 22-29, 2020

2019 Program Fees + Community Contribution

$1,750 CAD*

$1,650 CAD*

*Includes $95 Community Contribution

Program Highlights

  • Join HIJOS and explore the connections between peace, reconciliation and justice with a tour of Guatemala’s City and its street art.

  • Talk justice with local police, human rights defenders, community leaders and youth activists.

  • Get your hands dirty with youth in Pacux and see how they’re using outdoor education and agroecology to generate income and tackle delinquency.

  • Hike to the beautiful shores of the Rio Negro and learn how, in the shadow of the Chixoy Dam, communities are reclaiming their rights.

Not the program for you?

Check out Guatemala: It Takes a Village


*This itinerary is based on our previous experiences with the region. Programs change every year based on the needs of our partners. This should give you a sense of what our program may look like.

Orientation & Healthcare 101 in Guatemala City

We will begin our adventure in Guatemala’s big and bustling capital of Guatemala City. Following arrivals at the La Aurora International Airport, we’ll get acclimatized to the sights, smells, sounds, and smiles of the region. We’ll explore the city’s historical centre on foot, visiting the National Palace where thousands of peaceful protesters recently forced the resignation (and arrest) of the President. We’ll also connect with the Human rights Commission and join Paulo from the organization HIJOS (Children of the Disappeared) to tour some of Guatemala’s politically charged street art while learning about the enduring trauma of Guatemala’s 36-year armed conflict and its implications for the country.

A Model Village, Pacux

From the capital, we’ll drive north into the region of Baja Verapaz and on to the city of Rabinal. There the edge of town, we’ll join ACHI in the “model village” of Pacux for a couple of days of hands-on learning. We’ll learn about the effects of conflict from a community of refugees who are working to reclaim their rights and rebuild their livelihoods. We’ll play games and roll up our sleeves with local youth who use outdoor education and agroecology to plant the seeds for a better future.

A Life of Resistance in Rio Negro

In the morning, we’ll say farewell and leave Rio Negro by boat, passing by the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam, a massive feat of engineering that serves as gatekeeper for the community and was a catalyst for some of their most tragic confrontations with the military and police. Then it’s on to San Cristobal in Alto Verapaz we’re connect with our friends at the Community Education Center of Pokomchí (CECEP), and visit a museum highlighting the history and culture of the Pokomchí Maya. We’ll also have the option of breaking bread and staying with local families.




A comprehensive program itinerary and educational curriculum focused on the issues facing your specific region

Experienced and caring program leaders with you 24 hours a day

All lodging and accommodations throughout the program

Three local meals a day

All group tours, entrance fees, and excursions

All group transportation on the ground

Regular discussions and workshops to help you internalize and reflect on your experience

Support from OGHQ whenever you need it


Whether it’s a hostel in downtown Xela or a bamboo bungalow on the shores of Lago Atitlan, we will be sleeping and eating as a team in ways that reflect a backpacker’s ethos. Grassroots travel and homestays will allow us to immerse in the local culture but living with local folks may sometimes means living without some of the comforts we’re accustomed to. Cold bucket showers are standard and continuous electricity can’t always be guaranteed – so come prepared! Wherever we are our friends will help us feel right at home.


Ana was born in San Jose, Costa Rica and has since travelled whenever possible in pursuit of her passion for education, development, and nature! She has worked as an English teacher in public and private schools in Costa Rica, and volunteered in Quijingue, Bahia (Brazil) on community development projects. After completing her Masters in Translation, she worked with Peace Corps, Costa Rica until returning to the world of NGOs as a Program Coordinator in Riobamba, Ecuador. Now, she’s super excited to be part of the OG family and looking forward to establishing new partnerships, working with and training awesome program leaders, and designing more amazing programs in South America!

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