Oops! You must enter a search term greater than 3 characters.

Invite reviews

Invite friends and colleagues to share their experiences with this nonprofit
35 Reviews
1234.971435
| 1 2 3 4 |
Write A Review
March 6, 2012

more

March 6, 2012

In February, I helped lead a group of 10 high school students from the Seattle area on a service learning experience in Guatemala through Avivara. From the initial contact to the follow-up after the trip, Avivara has been nothing less than excellent. I was initially nervous about starting this type of trip at our school, but became confident through Avivara's guidance. Gary, Ann, Catherine, and Gustavo were outstanding guides, organizing and helping us with all the details throughout the experience. I would highly recommend Avivara for anyone looking for a solid group service learning experience.

More feedback...

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?

A lot

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

February 21, 2012

more

February 21, 2012

Earlier this month (February 2012) I returned from a three-week stay in Antigua, Guatemala, a trip I initiated with Avivara at the suggestion of a friend. I had very little mission experience, had never been to Guatemala, knew very little about the country and had never studied Spanish. I explored the Avivara web site, wanting to know more about their mission, and discovered all kinds of information - their focus, of course, and the programs they offer. But I was delighted to learn about the country, its problems and its beauty. The "Visiting Guagemala-FAQ's" convinced me that Guatemala was a place I could visit and Avivara was the organization that could help me make the journey. My emails were promptly answered and I even received a phone call after my first piece of paperwork was submitted. Gary Teale walked me through each step and had even sent along an itinerary for my first few days. My plan was to learn more about Avivara, to which I had been donating, and the children and schools it supported. In addition I wanted to volunteer at the local hospital. Gary arranged a contact with the volunteer coordinator there and I spent several afternoons there. Gary's itinerary covered the first several days of the trip, arranging our homestay, introducing me and my companion to Antigua and to his community. He was quite the tour guide, even assisting us at the bank and on our first ride on the "chicken bus." Once he and we felt we'd gotten comfortable, he said we were on our own to the extent we wanted. If we needed help, he and his wife were available, but if we wanted to be on our own, we could do it. With his help and with the selection of a school for Spanish classes, we were on our own and delighting in our independence. We actually spent more time with the escuelita that Avivara runs (the afterschool program in one of the villages) and venturing out to see the other schools with which Avivara has affiliated. To meet the teachers in the various villages, to hear the stories and needs, to learn about the impact of education on the lives of these students, to meet scholarship students and hear their plans - all speak to the importance of the work of Avivara. I'm so excited to have had a chance to see and participate in their work. And I'm hoping that our experiences will lead others to take a chance. That web site is clear, easy to navigate, chock full of information; but the best source of information and support lies in the people of Avivara. It was a great trip and if I could add stars to the rating, I would.

The Great!

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

the relationships developed with the students of San Pedro but also in observing the interaction with the staff at the various schools.

More feedback...

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

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

I felt it was a great experience and cannot suggest improvements.

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

I learned some Spanish and felt quite successful in making my way around a foreign country. I developed an appreciation for the desire for education that these students must have to overcome obstacles. I never want to hear how peope from this part of the world are so lazy; the effort expended to get to work, to build a house, to make their way to school.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

Very humble.

October 13, 2011

more

October 13, 2011

My fiance and I spent four months in Guatemala between May and August 2011. I was working as an education policy intern with USAID during that time, and Avivira helped my fiance locate a physical therapy internship in a hospital in Antigua. Neither of us had been to Guatemala before, so we were understandably nervous before we left. Avivira greatly helped us with information and specific answers to our questions before we left. The project staff was incredibly responsive to our concerns and always responded promptly to any emails we sent. Upon arriving in Guatemala City, Avivira staff met us at the airport and took care of everything to ensure an easy transition. They were very informative, especially regarding safety concerns and locating essential shops and services in Antigua. They dropped us off directly at our homestay, which they had arranged in advance. The homestay turned out to be fantastic, and we honestly did not have a single complaint about Avivira the entire time we were in Guatemala. The organization was there to assist us whenever we had questions or concerns. Their local expertise was especially helpful during the first few weeks in the country. I can't say enough great things about this organization. Their work in supporting primary schools in rural villages around Antigua is incredibly important, and their support of volunteers who come to Guatemala to make a difference is impressive.

The Great!

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

rural villages near Antigua, Guatemala

Ways to make it better...

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

multiply their efforts. Avivira is a very small organization that manages to make a large impact in the few dozen rural villages where they work. Their grassroots educational reform approach is excellent, as their close ties with the communities and families they serve helps maximize their impact and support the sustainability of their efforts. Guatemala is a country desperately in need of educational reform, and Avivira is helping to achieve that goal one village at a time.

More feedback...

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

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

Honestly, I there isn't a single change that I can recommend. The staff and Avivira took great care to ensure that all of our needs were met before, during and after our trip to Guatemala. Their professionalism, generosity, and attention to detail helped make our volunteer trip go smoothly. Perhaps the single piece of constructive advice I would have is for Avivira to market their organization more online or through university study abroad offices so more people can take advantage of the amazing and life-changing opportunities they help facilitate.

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

Yes, both my fiance and I had life-changing experiences in Guatemala. We improved our Spanish language skills, had the opportunity to work on important social projects aimed at the most marginalized members of society, and made many great friends while there.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

July 19, 2011

more

July 19, 2011

My friend and I are both part of our school's Engineers Without Borders student chapter, and developed a proposal that was funded by scholarships and private donations. Our goal was to see how our collective experience in developing country engineering might be of use in Guatemala.
As we
worked on our proposed project goals, we were able to use Gary and Ann as excellent resources for every aspect of our trip, and because we were able to visit communities that Avivara had an established presence, we were quickly able to develop a trusting relationship and get a very honest and candid perspective from the community leaders. This process would have taken us weeks, perhaps months, to develop and we would never have been able to gather the information and data in our two weeks that we were able to obtain.
Because Avivara is primarily involved in improving education and related projects, our engineering-related goals were a new experience for them as well. I was amazed at how resourceful and flexible everyone was that we interacted with, and I am still processing all of the experiences that we were able to have. Needless to say, our project would NEVER been as overwhelmingly successful at what we were trying to accomplish without the help of Avivara.
Our goal is to develop an ongoing project and sufficient funding to collaborate with Avivara in future endeavors in the Antigua region, and when we return, we definitely look forward to working with them again!

Photos

The Great!

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

Guatemala

Ways to make it better...

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

multiply their current efforts by 1,000!! With our experience with aid organizations both locally, and abroad, if all organizations could tailor their efforts to their specific communities like Avivara does, I think many would be much more successful. Obviously their model of assistance wouldn't work for every scenario, but the impact they are making is large and obvious, and perhaps most importantly, it is a very personal impact judging by the way they are greeted when they arrive at the schools.

More feedback...

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

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

Perhaps giving a better description or review of the local home-stay options they typically use. Not that there was anything wrong with where we stayed, but other than talking with Gary, we really had no idea what type of situation to expect.

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

While it made me very aware of so much that we take for granted here in the U.S. (and somewhat guilty for that fact), it is an incredible feeling to see face-to-face what impact your presence and interest generates.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

As an individual, oftentimes I feel like "What impact can I make?", but when you get in these situations where even by listening and showing you care, you are making a positive impact - it is an incredibly powerful experiences!!

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

June 4, 2011

more

June 4, 2011

Soy un maestro de educación primaria que ha trabajado en la Escuela de El Yalú, del municipio de Sumpango, en el país de Guatemala, en esta escuela trabajé durante siete años, una aldea en la que la población es de escasos recursos, donde los niños en la mayoría de días llega a la escuela sin una tortilla o pan en el estomago, ahora trabajo en la Aldea Rancho Alegre, siempre de Sumpango, en esta aldea la situación no es muy diferente, pero cada día debo luchar por darle lo mejor a mis alumnos. Pero esta labor ahora es fácil gracias a la ayuda que me brinda Avivará, quienes me ha dado material didáctico que utilizo con mis alumnos y cada día ellos están en la disponibilidad de ayudarme y ayudar a mis niños con cuadernos, lapices, borradores y muchas cosas mas, por todo esto y muchas ayudas mas que me han brindado mis niños llegan mas motivados a estudiar.

The Great!

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

Mi esperiencia con avivará ha sido muy buena, son una organización que viene a la escuela y escuchan cuales son las necesidades y en que nos pueden ayudar, estan dispuestos a colaborar y dar material didáctico y de infraestructura en cualquier momento, no son como muchas organizaciones que solo ayudan una vez y desaparecen, una organización muy bien estructurada y siempre dispuestos ha colaborar con la educación de Guatemala. Matiox por eso y mucho más.

Ways to make it better...

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

Todo en la organización lo he visto muy bien siempre van renovando y creo que no hay que mejorar nada por que todo está excelente. Sigan adelante en esta labor tan importante para nuestro país.

September 27, 2010

more

September 27, 2010

I went to Guatemala earlier this year to see for myself the work that Avivara is doing to help students and parents and teachers in poor, small villages. I was very impressed with the approach the organization takes to its mission. It is analytical and amounts to a wholistic rather than band-aid approach. That is to say, Ann, Gary and Gustavo have put a lot of thought into how to get the best results in reducing poverty and misery of poor villagers and stem the tide of famlies that give up and move to the horrid slums of Guatemala City to try to eke out a living. They concluded that by giving the type of support that will help keep children in school, so they can go on to highschool and even beyond, where they can learn a skill or profession that, in turn, will help support and sustain their families in their home villages. I was also impressed with their bottom-up approach to giving aid -- which is to asking (rather than deciding themselves) what the teachers, parents and children need to assist in school development and increase the changes of students staying in school, then letting the locals do their job. I have rarely seen such dedication and thought put into a charitable organization. There is no waste and no b.s.-- these people are serious, love their work and know how to do it.

Photos

The Great!

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

in attending meetings with villagers where Avivara gets the parents involved in the school and seeing the excitement that the parents feel in being part of the process.

More feedback...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

September 10, 2010

more

September 10, 2010

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!

The Great!

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.

More feedback...

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

September 10, 2010

more

September 10, 2010

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.

The Great!

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

my ongoing involvement as a volunteer board member.

More feedback...

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

July 30, 2010

more

July 30, 2010

I first visited Guatemala in 2006 and saw firsthand that the situation in the indigenous areas was a wake up call to what REAL poverty looks like. After researching Avivara's goals for education, especially for young indigenous women, I determined that they handled their finances very judiciously. They carefully use their donor's contributions to award scholarships to highly motivated students and provide school supplies and equipment to needy schools while keeping their administrative costs to an absolute minimum. I wish them the best and will continue to support them financially in the future.

The Great!

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

working on their behalf in fund-raising efforts in my local and church community.

Ways to make it better...

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

recommend that they train additional staff to maintain their sustainability into the future.

More feedback...

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

its deep commitment to education for the children of Guatemala.

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

extremely dedicated, highly proficient in teaching and administrative skills and passionate about their mission.

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

KICK BUTT!

Ways to make it better...

I could visit Guatemala more often.

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

the difficulty in raising funds during the current recession and health and security risks encountered by the Avivara staff.

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

it is important to get across to Americans that there is more to life than just stuff, and that people in the world are starving and simply need an opportunity to better themselves with dignity and self-respect.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

July 15, 2010

more

July 15, 2010

I have known Ann and Gary Teale for years. I have taught in elementary, middle school and high school. I taught with Gary for many years in a K-8 school in Seattle. I had the pleasure of teaching Ann's daughter (Gary's step-daughter twice) in middle school (7th and 8th grade math) and in high school math at Holy Names Academy in Seattle. As a teacher with a modest income, I research carefully where I donate my hard earned income. Loving education as I do and after reading "Three Cups of Tea" and the following "Stones Into Schools" both by Greg Mortenson I am convinced the way to benefit the world is through education, especially for girls. When you educate a boy, you educate an individual. When you educate a girl, you educate a whole family, and a community. I believe this to be true and the last best hope for the middle east, Pakistan and Afghanistan along with Central America, along with any other depressed populations of the world. I donate to Avivara because I know that every dollar is handled with respect and integrity with the focus on the ones who need the money the most. There is no question that Ann and Gary are good stewards of the money and the students in their care. I feel very excited that the little that I can donate is making a big difference to a female student in Guatemala and that this will enhance the rest of her life and also everyone her life touches, her children and her future students. Hurray! Life is good when you can give. I feel blessed, Judy Hall

The Great!

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

that the donations are used for the benefit of the population in need.

More feedback...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

Filter by reviewer role:

Support This Nonprofit

Help this nonprofit get more reviews

5 tips for getting reviews

5 tips for getting reviews...

  1. Sending an email to clients, volunteers, donors, board members, and other partners with a link to your profile page.
  2. Putting a link on your Web site
  3. Including a link in your email newsletter
  4. Putting a link in the signature of your email
    Putting a link on your facebook page and status updates
  5. Tweeting out a link to your twitter followers

3 hours of volunteer time for this nonprofit will...

Develop a community based fund-raising activity such as a car-wash, bake sale, or make a presentation regarding our programs to a local school, church or community group.