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48 Reviews
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October 27, 2014

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2 previous reviews - show all
May 16, 2013

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 r... more

October 27, 2014

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.
May 16, 2013

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.

Ways to make it better...

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

Help spread the word!

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?

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

August 1, 2010
1 person 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.

The Great!

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.

Ways to make it better...

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.

More feedback...

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.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

October 24, 2014

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October 24, 2014

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 .
October 23, 2014

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October 23, 2014

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.
October 19, 2014

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1 previous review
March 10, 2012

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 a... more

October 19, 2014

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!
March 10, 2012

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!

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

October 8, 2013

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October 8, 2013

I have worked as a volunteer for Avivara since its inception in 2008. During that time I have watched it grow from a very small organization working with only one school in rural Guatemala and providing scholarships to two students, to now working with over a dozen rural schools and providing scholarships to over 120 students attending school from junior high to university. With the leadership and support of a dedicated Board of Directors, Avivara has been able in its six years of existence to raise and distribute over $350,000 to its Guatemalan programs. I have seen firsthand how this support has given hope to teachers in the rural underfunded schools, and allowed rural children complete their studies and gain employment as teachers, bookkeepers, nurses, hotel managers and soon, doctors. With its administrative and fundraising expenses at less than 8% of its total expenditures, Avivara uses its donations very effectively. I believe deeply in the mission of Avivara and its way of addressing poverty in Guatemala that empowers and gives dignity to its peoples.

Ways to make it better...

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

Simply find more donors and volunteers to expand the reach of its programs.

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?

2013

October 7, 2013

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October 7, 2013

My husband and I had the opportunity to work with one of the schools Avivara sponsors. The administration, teachers and students could not have been more open, caring and appreciative of our teaching efforts. This organization does a tremendous amount of good for schools in indigenous areas of Guatemala. Avivara works with the schools to provide resources that the schools themselves have determined that they need. Their overhead is amazingly low with only one paid employee. The founders do not take a salary and donate so much time and their personal resources to the organization. They are inspirational!

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

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?

2013

October 6, 2013

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October 6, 2013

I spent about a week volunteering with Avivara in one of their many schools. The more time I spent talking to the children and teachers, the more I realized what an amazing job they really do. From providing school supplies and books to building libraries and bathrooms, Avivara is an extremely important non-profit in the highlands of Guatemala. Apart from funding schools, they also provide scholarships for high school and university students. Avivara manages to give all of tees services while working on a pretty tight budget. Very little money goes to the administration. However, the positive changes that they have made are unmeasurable.

Ways to make it better...

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

I only wish that they had a larger budget to work with.

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?

2013

October 5, 2013

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October 5, 2013

I am an adult who co-led a group of teenagers to Guatemala this last summer and we spent a few days volunteering with Avivara. I was incredibly impressed with this organization. Gary, Ann and Gustavo have a deep passion for promoting education among the youth of Guatemala which is evident in every action they do. Their priority of working with individual schools and youth to promote each ones' goals, instead of imposing their own ideas demonstrates clearly the love and respect that they have for those they serve. Additionally, their emphasis on not just volunteering but on educating the visiting youth on the systemic causes of injustice, especially as they pertain to the education system in Guatemala, gives context to the service they are providing. Trips and volunteer opportunities were well-organized and run and very safe and efficient. Working with them was an incredible 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?

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?

2013

March 17, 2013

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March 17, 2013

I learned of Avivara through my sister and brother-in-law, who have been working with and supporting this group fo more than 7 years. My wife and I met Gary, Ann and Gustavo in 2013 when we visited Guatemala and had the opportunity to visit a couple of schools that Avivara works with. Avivara is committed to partnering with and supporting local rural schools, as opposed to coming in and telling them what they need to do. This truly is a committed group.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

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

A little

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

February 11, 2013

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February 11, 2013

I found Avivara while searching for an internship in which to conduct field research for my masters' research/thesis. My research is on teacher perceptions of bilingual intercultural education in Guatemala, cultural identity of indigenous children and language as influential to cultural and academic development. When I read through Avivara's website and saw their mission, I knew instantly that I wanted to work with the organization. Their mission to improve access to and quality of education for rural communities in Guatemala couldn't have aligned more perfectly to my passion and future career as an international development practitioner in the field of education. After initial contact with Gary and Ann, the rest was history and I worked with them for two months last summer (2012).

I worked as a teacher's assistant in San Jose El Yalu, and although challenging, the experience was fulfilling, fun and life-altering. I worked extensively with one first grade teacher, learned every student by name and where they were academically, and spent more time with the children who needed extra attention. Although I was only in the school for a little over a month, the progress made by one little girl in particular was so rewarding. She was an introvert and did not speak, read or write much, but after working with her a little each day, she eventually could pronounce and write a few letters!

What I love the most about Avivara, is Gary, Ann, and Gustavo's true dedication and commitment to improving the quality of education for every school, teacher and child with whom they work. Their love for what they do is infectious and evident in how well they know every family and teacher. The schools aren't just numbers or projects, they are individuals, families, communities. Quality is more important than quantity. Additionally, Gary and Ann were extremely supportive in helping me become acclimated to Antigua and the surrounding communities, and were always available for any questions or concerns. I would without a doubt recommend working with Avivara, and hope for the opportunity to work with the organization in the near future!

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?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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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.