My Nonprofit Reviews

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catherine12

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5 reviews

Review for Avivara, Seattle, WA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Avivara has been dedicated, thoughtful, transparent, and quietly radical since its inception. The Avivara team of three builds relationships over time with rural schools and scholarship students, serving as mentors, sounding boards, and resource conduits without imposing an external vision on the already capable and motivated people of Guatemala. It is thrilling to see freshly minted university graduates, confident high school students, and improving schools as a result of their hard work.

Role:  Volunteer
 

Review for Avivara, Seattle, WA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Avivara adheres to the highest philosophical principles of social justice - asking what students and teaching staff in rural schools want, rather than imposing an outside vision. And the work is effective and meaningful. And it is performed gracefully by merely a three person staff. This is a rare combination.

Role:  Donor
 

Review for Avivara, Seattle, WA, USA

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.

Role:  Volunteer
 

Review for Avivara, Seattle, WA, USA

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.

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

Role:  Volunteer
 

Review for Avivara, Seattle, WA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

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.

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.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

Role:  Volunteer & I taught English, Agroecology, and helped tutor students in the Avivara San Pedro after school program; I coordinate a pertnership between an elementary school in Washington State and a community library supported by Avivara.