Volunteering with HELPS in Guatemala was an amazing experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone who gets the opportunity. I had talked with many who had gone before me and kept hearing how it was a life-changing experience. To be honest, I just thought that was a way of saying it was going to be great week. I thought "life-changing" might have been a little dramatic. But that couldn't have been further from the truth. Not only was it life-changing for me, I know we touched and changed a lot of lives while we were there. Much like I couldn't grasp it until I went, I don't think I could explain it here. So I would say go! Sign up, donate and go see for yourself. It was an amazing, humbling experience. I left thinking I was going to help others and came back (almost feeling a little guilty) realizing it was the others that had given me more than I could have ever given.
My wife and I participated in a Helps International Incorporated, Cook Stove Team Mission to Guatemala, https://www.helpsintl.org/communitydevelopment.
A wonderful and well operated mission to share The Good News of Jesus Christ, plus to install welcomed stoves and water filtration systems, planting the seed of eternal, and far-reaching gains for our brothers and sisters in Guatemala.
I have been on four trips to Guatemala with Helps International and describing these trips and the impact they had on me has never gotten easier. However, what is easy is describing the great work that Helps does in the country of Guatemala. The effort and persistence in improving the health of the Guatemalan people through the installation of vented stoves and water filters are equally matched in educating the people on the importance of these new changes in addition to others.
They are taught how to clean their stoves and water filters, the importance of clean water, and the harmful effects of the smoke they breathe in by cooking over open fires. What is inspiring to me is the youth of Guatemala will grow up with this knowledge and will continue to carry these changes forward to pass onto future generations. It is this continued emphasis on the process of education that has made me believe in the organization and is what has drawn me back to Guatemala three times after my first trip at the age of 16.
The efforts of Helps International have caused me to fall in love with the country and the people of Guatemala. The fourth trip I went on was certainly not my last, and I look forward to volunteering for this amazing organization again in the future.
Helps International is wonderful. The people love the stoves and so enjoy using them. They keep the smoke out of the home and also, the stoves are insulated, so children will not burn themselves. Also, they can sit around the stove and enjoy eating on the counter that goes around it. It was a pleasure to help install them.
My experience in Guatemala was incredible. Imagine walking into a dirt floor home, with thin walls made from scrap wood and simple tin roofs, with no air conditioning, television, computer, furniture, appliances or flushing toilets. We seem to think we need so much, yet they have so little and are very happy. Smiles were everywhere. I'm so glad I was honored with the opportunity to be on the Helps International stove team through our church. With the tools on our backs and a heart to give, it felt so good to help others. In just one week, our team transformed nearly one hundred homes from cooking over an indoor open fire, inhaling smoke and getting burned, to concrete block stoves that used far less wood, piped the smoke out the roof and are much safer. What an improvement we made and what a joy we felt. Their grateful smiles translated to every language. I just don't look at my life the same way. Now I have a better understanding of what is actually important in life.
I learned about Help’s International from a friend the was previously on a medical team to Guatemala via Help’s International for a good number of years. He explained how they set up field type hospitals along with dental clinics.
I then learned of the Guatemala Stove and water our team and decided to give it a try. This will be my eighth year serving the Guatemala People that need so much compared to our needs.
HELPS has enabled our Midland Catholic churches to reach the Guatemalan poor with vented stoves and water filters. HELPS care and capability has made our efforts successful for the past six years. What a delightful partnership that has made our lives so much more meaningful.
I worked on a mission trip with a group from our church to Guatemala. We worked with Helps International in installing stoves and water filters in poverty areas in the mountains. Not only the hard work - and the “home owners “ worked with us, but the fellowship shared - and what the stoves and water filters meant to the Guatemalans / was truly probably the most meaningful experience of my life. God works in so many beautiful and special ways.
The impact the Helps Onil stove program has had on the indigenous peoples of the Guatemalan highlands is is immeasurable! Having been on two trips with Helps I have seen first hand what it means to these families. Helps is truly the hand of God for these people!
I volunteered for the Helps International Onil Stove Project In Guatemala for 6 years Working through our local Venice Presbyterian church under the leadership of Jim and Lois Weeks.
The organization efficiency, and dedication to the cause is without parallel and the impact it had on the recipients and the volunteers is life changing.
I cannot speak highly enough of Helps International and the work they do through programs such as this plus the medical, educational, and agricultural programs which have helped to bring people out of poverty and transforming not only lives but the country.
I have volunteered with HELPs International in Guatemala for 8 years installing stoves and water filters as part of community development efforts for some of the poorest - albeit happiest - people in the Western hemisphere. As a team leader I can say with confidence that HELPs always insures the safety of the team, and that every aspect of the mission is extremely well organized. Billy, Mauricio and Wendy are always available and flexible to deal with any situation that may arise. They listen carefully to ideas for improvements and it is such a good feeling to see first hand that every dollar goes to help the people. That said, I can also say that the Ixil people, the experience, and the Ixil region are beautiful and hard to ever forget. Very Positive experience! I highly recommend HELPs as a first rate GREAT NonProfit! Charlie Goff
HELPS International is a well run third world relief coordinating organization that shepards several US based medical and community development teams into Guatemala each year. They do a fabulous job of organizing in-country assets so our medical team (Cascade Medical Team) can do a great deal in little over a week each year. With a team of over 100 volunteers their efforts are key to our success.
Helps International serves the the very poor indigenous peoples of Guatemala. We provide free medical care including surgeries and outpatient care. We participate in community development by building energy efficient, clean burning stoves that improve the lives of women and safety of families throughout the highlands of Guatemala. Our team provides education to local midwives for improving birthing care. We bring up to 120 north Americans per team to experience delivering care for the poor in Guatemala while providing a safe and meaningful mission experience.
An excellent non-profit which works to support many people in Guatemala, including a school doing amazing work in Santa Avelina.
I have volunteered, as a dentist, on the Helps team 6 different times. Each year is a wonderfull experience working with amazing healthcare providers as they provide care for people in need. I come home each year, a better person, because of the volunteers I get to work with and the beautiful people we serve.
I have been involved with numerous medical teams since our first team in 1988. Since the original 7 of us there are now 9 medical/surgical/dental teams all around the US with several teams having 100 or more volunteers.
HELPS is a well organized accountable
organization providing quality medical care to the indigent Mayan people. Community development also is a priority with stove teams, education and corn programs. HELPS offers volunteers to be a blessing and to be blessed with the experience
I have volunteered for medical teams and organized a stove for over 30 years.
They say that the indigent Mayan people that we help are blessed but we are the ones that return from the trips blessed. The trips remind us of the priorities of life. HELPS is first class!
Volunteering with HELPS in Guatemala was an amazing experience. The vast beauty of this country with its lakes, mountains and rolling terrain was a revelation.
The Mayan people greeted us with huge smiles, friendliness, interest and a gracious appreciation for the stove installations in their rustic, dirt floor homes.
HELPS and it's volunteers are saving the lives of these people by ending the caustic smoke of unvented fires. I am so thankful to have been a part of a mission to raise their standard of living and enrich my own life through association with these Mayan people.
I have been a Helps volunteer for 7 years now. It's always been an amazing experience. The thing I like about Helps is that they go in on the ground level into the homes and attack the cycle of poverty through the women. If you can free the women, some amazing things can happen for a family. The Helps Staff is always organized, considerate, patient, and flexible. Working with Helps puts life into perspective, and it's so rewarding to install a stove in a house and see lives changed immediately. Each experience is new and exciting, never a dull moment. You won't regret working with Helps!
Rather than reiterating the excellent and accurate five star reviews that I have read on this site, I would like to add my voice in support of Helps International as an effective instrument of positive change for the indigenous people of Guatemala. They initiate and support programs and missions which positively impact the following: health, the environment, improvement in agricultural practices, and educational initiatives for youth, including the Ixil book project where over fifty books have been created in the local language for emerging readers.
I have been a volunteer on four stove teams and continue to sponsor indigenous students enrolled at the Santa Avelina Kindergarten through Sixth Grade School, another Helps International initiative. It has been my experience that most everything Helps does as an organization is effective on the local and personal level, while adding immeasurably to one's own view of what is really important in life.
My wife and I were privileged to join a team of volunteers who traveled from Florida to Uspantan, Guatemala, where we joined local HELPS International staff in installing clean-burning cook stoves for needy families. The HELPS team not only arranged for housing, food, and local transportation, they worked with servant hearts while fulfilling their mission. We are grateful for the opportunity to volunteer and support HELPS!
I was blessed with the lifelong memorable experience of helping to install Helps stoves in the very poor homes in the mountains of Guatemala. I was able to see with my own eyes the dangerous health conditions these helpless people had to endure. I personally extend my thanks to Helps International Inc. for their efforts in enabling these people to enjoy a better, safer life for their families.
The adventure began in March of 2018. I had the opportunity to join a group from Venice Presbyterian church on a mission to Guatemala to build stoves for the Myan Indians in the mountains.
About 18 of us in total build 96 stoves over a week or so, the experience was amazing, exhausting, fulfilling, humbling and overwhelming. The people were great! The smiles said it all , their world is so much different then we Westerners are accustomed to, the children were happy, outgoing, and thankful for our help. Lessons were learned by all, life need not be filled by “things” every waking moment. Simplicity is a good thing.
I will never forget that mission and the Guatemalan people, always smiling, helping one another with out hesitation.
I am a better person for the experience thanks to Helps International.
My trip with helps to Guatemala last year was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Everyone involved were dedicated to the mission to bring healthcare to the underserved population. On the trip all of our needs were met so we could concentrate on providing care to the people. The trip was truely life changing and I can’t wait to go again this year.
Went on my first trip in 2009 with HELPS because of a challenge from my 16 year old daughter. During my military career, she had seen poverty in Egypt and India. This mission gave her a chance not only to see but to do something about it. She decided then she wanted to do something in healthcare for a career. In a couple of years I will go back with her. I will be filling the prescriptions she writes as a Physician Assistant.
We go, do our thing and come home. We don't get a chance to see the outcome of your work on many of our patients. But when we look at our team mates (and hopefully ourselves), we can see the major changes that come about because of our efforts. We see someone who is more caring, compassionate and tolerant. For in many cases, "the life we change is our own".
My faith calls me to servant hood. I see my annual trip as a chance to recharge my batteries, center my perspective, and is one of the way I answer that call. Mission #2208 will be be my eleventh trip.
I participated on a Stove Team our church Venice Presbyterian Church sponsored in March 2018. I felt we were able to make a difference in helping improve the life of the Guatemala people we installed their stove and water systems. In return the Guatemala people lifted us up with prayer and hospitality while we were in their country. What a truly worth while program to see that our efforts and finances went to such wonderful and grateful people.
Some of the best days of my life have been during those weeks over the past 27 years as a Helps volunteer as a doctor, a teacher, and stove team leader - enjoying what Helps has made it possible for us to do with the Guatemalan people and savoring the immeasurable blessing on us as volunteers.
Wow, where to start. Our Guatemala Stove/Water purification system building team traveled to Nebaj and Santa Avelina, one of the poorest part of the country. It's quite an experiance (positive) to go to G, drive 6/7hrs to the work location, long work hrs, no mater what the weather, sometimes have hot water and sometimes not at the hotel, peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches , self made, every day for lunch.
What do we do. We work as a team either 3 or 4 team members plus 1 or two interpreters depending on which language we need interpret, Spanish and or IxiI. After the first day of leveling the ground, carrying cinder blocks, drilling the chimmy in to place, staring the fire, teaching the Mayans how to use the stove and ending with a prayer we are "a well oiled machine". Each team member knows what their speciality is, knows how to step in when a member needs a break, and all team members work together. Almost instantly the team, and all the teams on the trip, form a bond, a friendship and an understanding of each other. You work on a common " good for the Myans, good for you good for everyone "and share a prayer several times a day, what else is there? Five work days is the right amount of time for the Senior Citizens in the group.(me). Looking forward to my 5 year with Helps Int. Douglas W Chase
I volunteered with Helps International on two trips as part of the stove building team. The lady of the house would greet us and watch as we assembled the stove. The neighborhood children would follow to see what we were doing as we moved from house to house. Chicks too wandered into the one room dirt floor home because it had no door. When all was complete, we prayed our thanks together. Then it was time to light the stove. The lady stepped up and skillfully handled the flame. The look on these women’s faces haunts me in the best way. It was a look of utter bliss.
I have participated or helped lead seven stove teams. On the plane returning home after my first trip, one of my teammates, who was also returning from his first trip, said to me, "As a result of this trip, I will now measure my life by a different yardstick." I wholeheartedly agree and would add that stove team members will return home feeling you were served just as much, if not more, than they served.......Truly a new , different and meaningful way to serve.
I have volunteered with Helps International for about 25 years, first as a nurse on medical teams, and in retirement with stove teams. Over and over I have seen the gratitude and excitement over either medical care or new stoves and water filters. (Which we consider preventive medicine.) The Guatemala staff always prepares well for us which is not easy in a third world country. Working side by side with Guatemalans for healthier lives has been a blessing to me and those who have been on our teams. The original stoves are still in use, which speaks to the quality of the products. Don O’Neal (the inventor) would say we do no service to the poor if we give them junk. He was a scientist who did extensive testing to make a well designed, durable stove. Every year there have been improvements in response to the woman who use the stoves. I am very impressed with the dedication of all of the Helps staff and family of volunteers. Our great joy is that last year our son was able to return to GU with his son, making it a three generation trip Now the third generation is hooked!
I was able to go to Guatemala this summer with a team from my company, Tri-Win Direct.
Over the course of the trip, I was impressed by the Helps Team that were there to assist us with interpretation as well as instructions on how build the new stoves and how to interact with the families we were there to assist. It's hard to describe the feeling of accomplishment when you know that you're there to improve the quality of life of entire families.
The Helps Team always went the extra mile to make sure everything went smoothly for us!
HELPS International is not only providing necessities to those in need but they're also bringing positivity and hope to communities. Through my experience with HELPS Intl. my life was forever changed. As a volunteer I was impressed with how well the program was organized and the dedication to enhancing lives of the volunteers through team work and participation. HELPS is truly a blessing to all those who are touched by their actions.
I have now made over 50 trips to Guatemala through HELPS International, and have had the privilege of being part of a medical team, a stove team and many education teams. As a retired teacher, I have zeroed in on the HELPS education division, because that's where my life experience and passion for literacy can have the most benefit for the teachers with whom we work. Teams of American teachers go as consultants to introduce effective practices and encourage the Guatemalan teachers at an elementary school in the highlands. It has been rewarding over the past 15 years to see them stretch themselves and take on new challenges, such as offering a Young Fives class, that has been extremely popular and is not offered in the public school. When asked what I do in Guatemala, the simple answer is that we teach teachers, but our influence is really on the students' lives. Several have gone on to universities; two are now nurses. To help them live meaningful lives in their own beautiful country is all the reward I need. Helping to make this a reality are the behind-the-scenes folks in the HELPS office who provide essential services for all the teams, such as safe and reliable transportation to outlying areas. The HELPS tag line is "the life you change may be your own" and that is so true.
We have worked with HELPS for 20+ years taking the Michigan Medical team to locations around Guatemala. They work very hard to assist us in bringing medical care to the poorest areas. It is hard work but we always come away feeling like we received more than we gave. The HELPS staff always works to give us the best support possible both before and during the trip which is no small feat since our team is large (85-90 people). The logistics for moving and housing that many people and equipment has to be a challenge and yet it happens and smoothly too. We also have in-bedded within that team a group which installs stoves and water filters in local homes.
I have volunteered for 4 trips to Guatemala to work as a surgical nurse. To see the team work together to set up the operating room is awesome. It's a great feeling to concentrate on the patient, with a minimum of paperwork and no computer charting. How wonderful to feel like a real nurse again. The patients wait without a word of complaint for their surgery.
I have volunteered with Helps for 14 years, working at the school that Helps sponsors in a rural village in the highlands. The teachers at the school serve as models of innovative instruction and best practices in literacy development for the entire region. The philosophy of the educational program is based on transitional bilingual education, providing instruction and high quality literature in the language of the community on the early grades transitioning to Spanish in the later grades. The teachers at the school publish books in the home language for early readers that are used throughout the community. Every year, two teams of teachers from the US visit the school and collaborate with the local teachers in workshops designed to enhance reading and math instruction in the village. The experience is truly a "knowledge exchange," as the US teachers learn so much about another culture, another way of life, and another way of teaching/reaching children.
HELPS, Int. runs a well organized medical and surgical mission. I worked as an RN in April, 2018 in the recovery room/inpatient unit. Everyone involved was professional, hard working, and extremely caring. The Guatemalan people were so appreciative. Planning on returning again next year.
I had the opportunity to go on a trip with my students from Cornerstone Crossroads Academy with HELPS International in April. Bill McMillan, the executive director, and Laura Berlin, the communications director, went with us. Bill and Laura as well as the other staff we worked with to make the trip happen were amazing!! They engaged with the students, were extremely patient with us, and loving and encouraging for every step along the way! The lives of our students were hugely impacted by this trip!! CCA loves HELPS International!!!
Helps International makes magic happen. I have been to Guatemala twice to help install Onil stoves. Both times during my experience i felt greatly supported by this organization; and am honest to admit that my take-away from the experience was greater than the help I was able to provide. The Guatemalan people are so gracious and grateful. I particularly support the idea that the project managers and supplies are local; and that the investment is an investment in the people of Guatemala to take care of their own. We were just there to provide some manpower to the effort.
HELPS is a great organization. The impact HELPS makes on the lives of the indigenous populations (e.g., Mayan) in the highlands of Guatemala is immense and immediate. I’ve gone on 5 “stoving” trips with HELPS to install a wood-burning stove into a “house” that has been using a three-stone fire in the middle of the room to cook. The house reeks of wood smoke, the walls are covered in soot. The population there suffers from respiratory illnesses; there are children with severe burns on their hands and arms because they fell into the fire. So, we traipse up into the mountains, we unpack our tools and we get to work. It’s hot, dirty, sweaty work; tools help but it’s mostly “grunt work”. Yet, 45 minutes later we’re done, having built the stove from the piece-parts, having installed a gravity-fed water filter, and having taught the family how to use and care for their new “technology”. (They have no electricity, no natural gas, no running water; they use outhouses, not bathrooms.) To them stoves are wonderful new devices. We say a prayer of thanks and we start the hike to the next house. We family we leave behind no longer must spend 40% of income buying firewood (or 2 days a week foraging for wood in the forest while the children are home, alone) and no longer must drink filthy water. We leave behind children who now have a chance at a good life, a mother who can cook while standing up and without sucking in smoke, and a grandmother crying with joy because she never thought it was possible that her family could escape the brutal life that she’s been living for decades.
HELPS makes a huge improvement in people’s lives, immediately, by providing the tools, infrastructure, and opportunity for its volunteers to change the course of an entire family in under an hour.
Those trips forever changed my life. I can’t wait to go back.
I have volunteered as an anesthesiologist on several medical missions trips that Helps International has sent to the highlands of Guatemala. This wonderful organization helps the needy of Guatemala not only in the medical arena, but helps build and distribute high efficiency cooking stoves that reduce the amount of fuel (fire wood) used, reduces harmful smoke within the homes that occurs with traditional open pit fires for cooking, educates farmers in increasing corn yield, and maintains schools to further improve the lives of the indigenous people of Guatemala.