Pa’nibal’s Newest Volunteer

My name is Ella, and I have been working with Pa’nibal in Sacatepéquez, Guatemala for the last month and a half. My decision to take a year off from school was a shockingly easy one. I have always been invested in social justice, and writing professionally is a long time goal of mine. I wanted to get involved, and soon. School just didn’t seem like the best option.

I contacted my uncle, Eric, asking about what sort of role I could take on at Pa’nibal. After sorting out living situations, cost, and other technical details, we ended on a minimum three month stay to help with communications. Along with social media, blog writing, and research, this includes translations and transcriptions of interviews with the residents. For the last 5-6 weeks, those translations have been a large part of my work. The stories these women are telling and living are incredibly impactful. I am here to help those stories get heard. Stories like Alexandra’s, which you can read here.

Pa'nibal volunteer apartment

Originally a storage space, this is now a fully furnished apartment. Photo by Christine Hewitt

Before coming here I had never traveled alone. From Denver, Colorado, there’s about eight/nine hours of flight time depending on what airline you take. The most expensive part of the trip is certainly getting here and back. Guatemalan cost of living, by USA standards, is incredibly low. I’ve been living at Pa’nibal for a few weeks now in their volunteer apartment. It’s a neat little space on top of the shelter, and because I’m volunteering I don’t pay rent. Apartments in and around Antigua are pretty affordable as well, and hostels are a great cheap option to spend some weekends exploring the town.

Interested in hearing more? I will be posting regularly about my personal experiences, Pa’nibal itself, and Guatemala in general. Check it all out on Medium and here on the Pa’nibal website.

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