As I continue my discussions with the National Representatives to learn more about their engagement in the volunteer field and promoting IAVE in their countries, this month’s featured National Representative is Carmen Chavarria. Carmen is the National Representative for Guatemala and is currently a board member of Centro de Voluntariado Guatemalteco (CVG), Guatemala’s National VolunteerCenter.

CVG was created in 2006 as an effort to support the coordination, development and promotion of a grass-roots volunteer movement in this Central American country. The GVC includes 45 Guatemalan organizations that are committed to volunteerism, as a means of support to the development of specific communities, respectful of their identities and resources” says Carmen, explaining the work the organization she is involved with does. During our discussion, Carmen talked about some of the activities which CVG is doing, such as celebrating International Volunteer Day and Global Youth Service Day in Guatemala, organizing a certificate course for non profit leader on volunteer management or providing consultancy to public institutions that wish to set up their own volunteer programs.

Carmen was appointed a National Representative in December 2012 and will serve a 2 year mandate. “It is an honor for me to act as the National Representative for Guatemala because I believe volunteering can change the world and it also allows me and all the people who are involved in volunteer activities to put into practice the things we want to see done for our country”, says Carmen of her role within the IAVE network. “As a National Representative, I mostly promote the work of IAVE here in Guatemala. I meet with people from the member organizations of CVG and discuss with them the IAVE membership opportunities. Also, we are also collaborating with a number of companies which do business in Guatemala to promote corporate volunteering” she adds detailing her involvement as a National Representative. In addition to this, Carmen offers her skills as a translator in helping IAVE translate our monthly newsletter in Spanish.

“One of the challenges when promoting volunteering is that organizations are used to having an informal approach to involving volunteers, they don’t plan or understand how important it is to have a system set up.  Sometimes it becomes very difficult to convince people and organizations to join as members of IAVE because they see IAVE as being very expensive and prefer to use the money for other activities”, Carmen confesses about her actions of promoting volunteering and IAVE. “An attractive way to get new members for IAVE would be to do online training sessions so that the organizations feel they are getting some help for their projects.”

Despite this, Carmen remains positive and dedicate to the non-profit sector, being committed to the field of volunteering. She started getting involved in social activities when she was 14 years old, as part of a program for school – she liked it has been dedicated to improving the life of others ever since. I believe, from my owe experience, that volunteering has changed my life. It has shown me a different reality of my country and also the people living here and made me a better and happier person; I feel like I have grown so much, both personally and professionally, through the volunteer activities I have been a part of.”

Make sure to visit Centro de Voluntariado Guatemalteco website (www.guatevoluntaria.org) to keep up with her work!

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