AVIVARA

Rating: 4.98 stars   48 reviews

Issues: Children & Youth, Education, International

Location: 7202 33rd NW Seattle WA 98117 USA

Mission: To improve the quality of and access to education in Guatemala, and to cultivate interconnectedness between the peoples of Guatemala and the United States.

2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Rating: 5 stars  

Avivara has been continuing its track record of commitment to listening to rural Guatemalan communities and providing a desired service - facilitating education for bright and motivated students who are hobbled only by economics. With an exceptionally high donor value per dollar, Avivara has been gradually increasing the number of scholarships that they provide each year, while still operating under the wise and just practice of planning the finances for the entire trajectory of study. Gustavo, Ann, and Gary do a great job. I still exchange remote greetings with one of the very first Avivara students, who was a stand-out in the junior high English class I helped teach, and who now has gone on through high school and university in Accounting, very successfully bridging the difficulty gap between remote farming outpost and professional urban livelihood.

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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

Gary, Ann, and Gustavo's enthusiasm for sharing their passion is evident; they care tremendously about their students, scholarship families, and teacher colleagues. Their strength is in the personal relationships that their small size and deep, patient connections allow. For instance, they have seen Yalu school through a change of director and various upheavals now, providing support throughout to help students' education in various ways. No one said it would be easy, but they do a great job. Social justice takes time.

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If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Help spread the word!

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

When I first traveled to Guatemala to volunteer, I expected to stay for three months. Struck by the natural beauty of the country and the warmth and generosity of the people, as well as the tremendous need, I found that three months was wildly insufficient to grow my understanding of this special place and establish the bonds of relationship that would allow me to function effectively as a volunteer. I called my boss at home and told her I wouldn't be returning within the year. Since that year, I have returned annually for a couple months each time, with plans to continue, renewing relationships forged over that first year, and getting to take advantage of Avivara's permanent presence. Ann and Gustavo's daily travels to the communities with which they work have built a strong a dynamic network of educators and students benefiting from resources to which they would not otherwise have access. I have seen a common pitfall among nonprofits - the imposition of external goals and worldviews on the people being "helped." Avivara's philosophy of service strives to avoid this. I have seen Gustavo and Ann facilitate many meetings with school staff or scholarship students, providing a platform for the interchange of ideas and inspiration among staff members, or the mutual support of high schoolers struggling through the same challenges of long walks and bus rides, homework, and the competing pulls of rural home and the new urban community. Sharing stories that otherwise would have gone unspoken, people gain strength and build community to help them through their challenges. I am proud and pleased to work with an organization that operates in this way. I have gotten to watch four of my shy English students from the town of La Trinidad be chosen for scholarships, begin school in the "big city" with trepidation, mature into well-spoken and confident young adults, and hold their own in conversation in a circle of a dozen parents and Avivara folks over plates of tamales and shared laughter. These are the experiences to treasure in working with Avivara. The small scale and well-considered philosophy of the organization allow personal connections to grow and flourish - the kind that change lives in deeply meaningful ways - both students and teachers in Guatemala, and those of us from abroad who are lucky enough to be involved.

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I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

many layers of involvement both in Guatemala and the US. I have seen elementary students who never pick up a book on their own give up a sunny afternoon of soccer in the weed-fields to cluster around to hear the end of a chapter book be read aloud.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

grow the resources available to Avivara to allow the staff more regular visits to the US for fund-raising and storytelling purposes, while still maintaining a majority involvement in the daily workings in Guatemala.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the friendships with good people I would never have met without Avivara. The enthusiastic teachers of El Yalu, for example, who hike the mountains and share a homemade meal with us on a day off, and make tornadoes in a bottle with their students...

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

committed and passionate, graceful and sensitive in their cross-cultural dealings, flexible with the inevitable challenges of the dynamic nature of the work.

Ways to make it better...

I could somehow live in Guatemala for more of every year. The connections and opportunities for involvement just compound with time; at every departure I leave more English students, more workshop possibilities, more friends.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

balancing the sharing of stories and experiences with us from the US who can contribute, while maintaining the personal connections with people that enable the work, and the trusting relationships with the communities that they have established.

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-2-01

Rating: 5 stars  

Avivara is one organization that is spreading development for several families and communities .
has been a very important for the education of children and youth in Guatemala. is providing financial support and capable students who wish to continue their education on to the secondary level.
All donors , thank you very much for your support, because investing in education is to change lives .
I am one of the scholarship students, I thank everyone for your support and I'm almost to finish my degree in Business Administration .
AVIVARA is very important for my personal development.
Thank you so much Gary, Ann and Gustavo for everything. You are awesome people. AVIVARA is part of my life.

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The person making this comment was one of Avivara's first university scholarship recipients. We first met her when she was a waitress at a hotel in Santiago, Atitlan, where she told us of her desire to attend university. She is now in the last semester of her studies in Hotel and Business Administration. In addition, she is now the manager of the Bambu Hotel in Santiago, Atitlan, and was recently named to the Board of Directors of Hospital Atitlan, also there in Santiago. Congratulations to her for continuing her education and becoming such a contributing member of her community.

Rating: 5 stars  

My wife & I have been happy to help Avivara & there wonderful staff for years. The help they bring to the Guatemalan community & how it effects there future is fantastic. It is truly a blessing when you have such a positive effect on a child's life as Avivara does. The entire Avivara staff are truly a blessing & we are happyto help when we can. Keep up the great work.

Keep The Blessings Coming

Frank & Perla Whitson

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 people found this review helpful

Avivara is a very hands on, high impact organization doing some incredible work in rural areas of Guatemala. For over 7 years Avivara has provided funding and educational opportunities for promising students who otherwise would likely not have been able to continue their education. Today almost 90 students are able to continue their studies because of Avivara support, ranging from grade school to university levels. In addition, Avivara funding supports rural schools directly with teachng materials and training by the mostly volunteer Avivara staff, who are all trained educators. Avivara is exremely efficient, with about 94% of funds going directly to programs in 2014. If you believe that education is a key element to improving lives, I urge you to support Avivara.

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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

Avivara is an organization dedicated to improving the educational opportunities for poor Guatemalan children who likely would otherwise not be able to attend school. I have known the founders, Gary Teale and Ann Austin, for over 25 years, and can say from firsthand knowledge they are very qualified educators and dedicated to improving the lives of less fortunate individuals. In Guatemala, they have teamed up with a local Guatemalan educator, Gustavo Valle, who works with Avivara to identify schools that have critical needs and students who have shown interest and potential, but who's families cannot afford to have them attend school. For almost 3 years now Avivara has been providing financial asistance to those schools and children in rural villages of Guatemala. As a board member, I know that Avivara adheres to the Better Business Bureau's Standards for Charitable Accountability, has very low administration and fund-raising expenses compared to the program expenditures (89% to programs, 11% to admin and fund-raising), and has a strong commitment to keeping donors informed through the newsletter.

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I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my ongoing involvement as a volunteer board member.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

seeing improved lives for the children of Guatemala.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

exremely dedicated and qualified for the task at hand.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

help educate 20,000+ Guatemalan children who could eventually help to bring their familes out of poverty

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-9-01

Rating: 5 stars  

I want to thank Gary, Ann and Gustavo for the noble work being done in the rural schools of Guatemala is impressive work, have the attitude that we should all , attitude change , to be better. Since two thousand eight, SCHOOL VILLAGE THE TUNINO , Sumpango , it has benefited the entire community, for the support of school supplies for students , teaching materials for teachers, we now have a technology room , in which prepare students for giving them the computer course . Everything has changed thanks to quicken and his big board GARY , ANN AND GUSTAVO . Publicly I hereby want to thank all the support they have given us , they are people who generate peace , warmth and humility. GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS .

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Jorge Luis is the director of Escuela Oficial Rural Mixta in Tunino. If his English seems a little stilted, it is because he only speaks Spanish, and used a translating program to express his thoughts in English. Also, he would probably be better classified as a client, rather than as a volunteer. We very much appreciate his kind words and the effort he made to post this review.

Jorge Luis es el director de la escuela en Tunino, Sumpango. Gracias a el por sus palabras amables. El ha hecho mucho para adelantar la escuela y los maestros en Tunino. Gracias, Jorge.

Rating: 5 stars  

Avivara is a shining non-profit; clear, contextual, and impactful in its mission to to improve education in rural Guatemala and the communities in which they serve. Gary, Ann, Gustavo and the team are truly collaborative in their work with schools, local governments and other Guatemalan NGO’s to accomplish major projects (new classrooms, computer labs, school libraries, etc.) and improve children's lives through scholarships for education for over 90 students in the coming year. I am impressed by Avivara's strong management of resources, where impressively 94% of expenditures go towards programs and only 6% to administration and fundraising expenses. Avivara does a great job of regularly sharing updates, current events and historical education about Guatemala, the US, and our countries' interconnectedness. As a Boardmember, stakeholder and professional with experience in the field of International Development, it is a delight to steadily be enriched by the stories, inspiration and connection to the commitment of this NGO to improve education in Guatemala and the world.

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Rating: 5 stars  

Avivara has an incredibly effective program for schools and students in Guatemala. They have very low overhead costs and use their funds wisely. Gary, Ann and Gustavo have an excellent understanding of education in Guatemala. They make good partnership arrangements with schools and chose their scholarship students well.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I have been involved with Avivara since its founding. On a trip to Guatemala in 2007, just before Avivara was born, I met a young man at a school in a remote village. At that point he was about 14 years. As one child of many in a large family, he was expected to leave school at this age (or even sooner) to work in the fields to provide income for the family. But his obvious talent and love of learning had kept him in school longer than his siblings. This young man was one of Avivara's first scholarship recipients. Avivara supported him throughout his high school education, and then continued its support on into his university years. Soon to graduate with a degree in accounting, the astonishing success of this young man was only possible with the support of Avivara. Not only did Avivara provide the monetary support that allowed him to continue his education, but the organization met with him and his parents on a regular basis to ensure that he had the kind of global support needed for this radical departure from the life of field workers in Guatemala.
It is this actualization of possibility that gives Avivara a unique level of effectiveness. Lives are changed. With continued educational and personal transformations as these, the future of Guatemala will eventually be changed.

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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

I've been involved with Avivara since its inception. I've known Ann and Gary for many years, and met Gustavo during a visit to Guatemala in 2007. It seemed entirely natural that the three of them, with their combination of skills and ideals, would come up with the germ of the idea that would become Avivara. These three individuals are all remarkable educators. Their unique ability to work within the cultural context of the Guatemalan highlands makes Avivara effective to an extraordinary degree. Potential donors should know how efficiently donated funds are used; only 11% of donated monies go to administrative and fund raising expenses. The remaining 89% goes directly to programs. A careful review of the Avivara website will reveal, for an interested individual, the nature of the well crafted programs. Suffice it to say that the programs provide meaningful opportunities for a wide age range of students. Donors are kept well informed by monthly newsletters. Indeed, this is a remarkable organization!

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I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Knowing how many schools receive support, how many students receive scholarships, how education can change lives.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The consistent hard work, very hard work, on the part of the three people "on the ground" in Guatemala.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

All deeply committed, and always thoughtfully looking for ways to advance education in the highlands of central Guatemala.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Change the course of Guatemalan history.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-9-01

Rating: 5 stars  

Creating happiness, empowering children, families, teachers. No one could ask or expect more from an NGO. I know the village where Ann and Gary live, and have seen first hand the results of their efforts and the true love and esteem in which they are held by their friends and neighbours.

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Rating: 5 stars   Featured Review

Ann, Gary, and Gustavo are dedicated to the people of Guatemala. They create a relationship with the entire community - students, teachers, and families. They empower the community to determine the needs, set the priorities, and then assist where those needs are. Awesome organization dedicated to education and justice for all!

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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

My first trip to Guatemala was 3 wonderful weeks in Jan/Feb of 2012. Recommended by a friend of my traveling companion Avivara was our choice. The website is full of all kinds of vital information and Gary was always available to answer questions and make suggestions. They arranged our homestay, travel to and from the airport, walking tour of Antigua, accompanied us on our first chicken bus ride, and supplied us with cell phones with their contact & emergency numbers. Based on our limited spanish (none for me) Gary suggested that the hospital may be the best volunteer place for us. As it turns out we were also welcomed with open arms at the Escuelita in San Pedro that Avivara operates and were touched by the 20 elementary aged kids that attend 3 days a week. The last 3 days of our trip were dedicated to visiting some of the villages and schools that Avivara serves. I'm happy to report that our Parish and Parish school is now entering into a partnership with one of these schools. We look forward to many years of partnering with Gary, Ann, and Gustavo on their journey of Avivara's mission. Please explore their website which details their mission and approach to their success!

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Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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