Guyana

Living and volunteering in Guyana gives you a unique insight into the challenges of teaching in this relatively unknown South American Country.

Although Guyana is a former British colony and the only English speaking country in South America, very few people are familiar with this fascinating and diverse country. Guyana means “land of Many waters” in Amerindian and it justifies its name with over 965 miles of navigable river. The capital, Georgetown is positioned at the mouth of the famous Demerara River at the heart of a tropical coastal strip, which is rich with coconut palms, sugar and banana plantations and has a definite Caribbean atmosphere.

The interior feels like a different country, sparsely populated and made up of virgin rain forest, mountain ranges and dry open savannah. It feels far more South American, than the coast and is populated mainly by native Amerindians, living in traditional rural communities. The interior is a challenging place to travel during your holidays. One of the exciting things about Guyana is that there is little or no tourism, indeed it’s hard to find any up to date guidebooks.

Despite its many natural resources Guyana is very under developed with poor infrastructure and high unemployment. The AIDS rate is the highest in the Caribbean and it periodically suffers from ethnic unrest. The majority of the population in the country are either Indo Guyanese or Afro Guyanese but the interior is predominantly populated by Amerindians. This diversity of ethnicity makes for a rich cultural experience for anybody lucky enough to be spending a year here. It is a beautiful country full of welcoming, friendly people.

As a Volunteer in Guyana, you will be living in relatively remote rural locations where infrastructure is limited. Some of the communities where we have projects are not easily accessed by public transport, you may need to get a small plane over the savanna or a river boat through the jungle to reach your Village. You will be hosted by a school and most likely live in accommodation on the school site, or close to the school. The accommodation is simple but you will have your own bathroom and kitchen, and most Volunteers cook from themselves. Access to electricity, mobile signal and running water varies from project to project.

Amerindian communities are warm and open but are struggling with the challenges of development whilst retaining their cultural identity. The experience and the people you meet will give you a unique insight into this fascinating country.

As a Volunteer in Guyana you will be responsible for teaching a variety of subjects in either a primary or secondary school. The schools in rural Guyana really struggle to recruit teachers, and the work you do is essential.

The level of responsibility is high with some significant challenges; engaging your students, covering the curriculum content whilst maintaining discipline to name but a few. However the rewards of the job are great.

Although resources are limited and you will need to be imaginative in how you cover the curriculum, but you will have text books and a staff team that will support you. You have the opportunity to bring new and exciting teaching methods to the classroom. As young enthusiastic teachers, you have the opportunity to inspire your pupils to the benefits of education.

You will have to be responsible in the classroom, and as a teacher and will need to be a role model for the young people you work with. For Volunteers with drive and determination there are opportunities to set up afterschool clubs, or extracurricular activities.

Your time spent living in rural Guyana, and travelling in the wider region will inevitably have a long lasting impact on you. The skills you will learn from teaching, the friends you will make and the attitude of the people you live with make Guyana a unique Country to volunteer in.

Projects available in Guyana

Primary Teaching
Secondary Teaching
Peter Wilson
Peter WilsonCountry Coordinator for Guyana
Peter is not a Returned Volunteer but gained his experience from working with young people for the past 25 years in a wide range of settings, qualifying in Youth and Community Work in 2002. Peter’s overseas experience came as a result of two expeditions with another Gap Year Charity to Namibia in 1998 and Belize in 1999. Having the opportunity himself has given him the experience and desire to enable other young people to volunteer overseas. Peter has visited Volunteers in both the rainforest and savannah in Guyana over the last two years.

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