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Reflections from Guatemala {local volunteering}

I know… Guatemala isn’t exactly “local,” so you’re probably wondering what it’s doing on this blog post.

I just returned from 3 weeks in Guatemala and Belize with my husband and my dad (yes, my dad is cool enough to travel with!), 2 weeks of which were spent in a Spanish-language immersion program.

We’re talking: living with a Guatemalan family, eating 3 meals a day with them, having 5 hours per day of one-on-one conversational Spanish instruction, followed by two hours of homework, all while living in a city where we were pretty much the only English speakers within a 100-mile radius.


Yeah, it was exhausting.

You have probably been hearing a lot about Guatemala in the news lately (and if you haven’t, try turning on NPR during your morning commute — it’s a big world out there, people).

Children are coming across the U.S. border in droves, fleeing their corrupt and often violent government, in treacherous and deadly conditions.  Farmers are having their land taken away from them by their own government — the money from produce trade is rarely, if ever, invested back into the land in order to benefit the good of the people.  People don’t even trust most doctors, for fear that their “kidney failure” is actually a ploy to harvest and sell their organs on the black market.


Now, I’m not about to get all political on here, but I’ve just gotta say: we live in a pretty amazing place.

Let’s step back and take a look at the “first world problems” that we (myself included) complain about on a daily basis: traffic, co-workers, parking, work schedules, vacation hours, a long line at Starbucks.


Now, let’s compare it to some real problems that the people of Guatemala (and many, many other developing countries) face every. single. day. :

Water that will make you sick (unlike in Mexico, the people of Guatemala can’t even consume their own water — it’s that bad).

Showers that have electric wires running through them, and having to make the constant choice between water pressure and temperature.


The government setting off explosives in the mountains near your house in order to mine natural resources — meanwhile, your house is falling apart.

Police forces that do harm to those that they are supposed to protect.

Earning a daily wage of less than $5 per day.  And having to feed your extended family of more than 20 people, on a daily basis.

Educational systems that do not encourage women to receive an education past the 8th grade level.



Sorry for the downer, but it’s true.  Poverty isn’t the absence of money, it’s the absence of opportunity.  We have so much opportunity in this beautiful country, state, community — and even though we can’t all donate money, we can donate our time, our talents.

Giving back to your own community is one of the many ways that we can continue to ensure that the 805 remains an amazing place to live.  We rely daily on the efforts of many volunteers in our Conejo Valley.  Will you take some time to find out how you can help?

Check out these great links to seek out a volunteering opportunity that fits your abilities.  Whether it’s helping our children, senior citizens, animals, or families in need, you can make a huge difference in the 805 simply by carving out a moment of your time to serve others.

Search for volunteering opportunities on these sites:

Or, for more specific opportunities: — works to build homes for families in need, with a focus on sustainable living and using the resources from surrounding communities

Meals On Wheels — deliver meals to residents of Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, or Oak Park, to people who are home-bound or temporarily/permanently incapacitated

Food Pantries — donate food to a local food bank, help re-stock shelves, or assist in driving donated food to families in need

Boys and Girls Club Conejo Valley — teaching, coaching, administrative, and clerical opportunities are available!


Supporting our local businesses is one way to foster our economy and love where we live, yes.  But, supporting the ones that live here is an even greater endeavor.  Investing in, serving, and loving others is one of the greatest things you will ever do.  Give it a try, why don’t ya?


#spreadthelove #forrealsthough

xx, Nicole {LL805}


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1 Comment

  1. Jim Altizer
    4 years ago

    Great words!


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