Changing the World Though Service: A Step by Step Guide Draft

Harmful to Helpful

If you are on this page it means you have finished reading my research article, Who are We to Help People and now have some basic knowledge on how service work in another country can be harmful. Changing the World Through Service: a Step by Step Guide has one main goal, and that is to inform the reader on how humanitarian aid is also helpful. Readers will learn a multitude of information through this page. This includes the importance of humanitarians,  in depth steps to planning your own service trip abroad, how to respect someone’s “dignity”, what is the meaning of privilege, what it means to be human & how they are affected by resources. In addition the reader will come across guidelines on how to be a “conscientious humanitarian”, and interviews with local NH humanitarians. This applied project was constructed based off of my passion in Global Health and past experiences with service work abroad. Each bit of information in this page has been from my own personal encounters. My ultimate goal in life is to improve the lives of others through my career path in Global Health, and what better way to promote this goal then to teach others through my past experiences!  


Plan Your Own Service Trip!

A step by step guide to planning a trip


We all need to stick together, no one can go anywhere without Graciela and Arianna approving it. We will all be traveling as a group at all times…no one will go anywhere as just a pair of 2 or 3.

We are not to speak of the gangs (pandillas), to ensure our safety and that of those around us.

If someone feels unsafe at any time let Arianna, Graciela or our security gaurds know.

No cell phones or expensive items (i.e. wallets, camera’s) can be out and noticeable. You may take a photo and then put the camera or phone back right away, we cannot be flashing expensive items due to robbery. If you are going to be getting money out of your bag to purchase something, do it discretely and put the small bills into your pocket.

We are representing Epilogos so let’s be respectful and mindful of that.

Once we land in the El Salvador airport, do NOT drink any water or eat any food that is not packaged and sealed for the whole trip!!! We will buy waters for the group as soon as we arrive and there will always be clean available water for us. If you choose to wash your hands in any sinks or pila’s, use hand sanitizer right afterwards, even at the retreat center.

We need to all watch out for ourselves, but at the same time each other. To ensure our safety everyone needs to abide by the dress code and there can not be any flirtatious behaviors. I will go over the dress code when we get to packing. Please keep make-up to a minimum, it is not needed on this trip it is not a fashion show and we do not want to draw attention to ourselves, especially as a large group of mostly women.

Within the next week I will send everyone an emergency contact list with names, addresses and phone numbers for the people we will be with in El Salvador that way you can leave it with your families

Itinerary and Projects

(Thank you for raising money!!)

Adopt a classroom update (5 classrooms)

Giving out supplies

Mural update

Health clinic

Has anyone been able to get donations the health clinic asked for?

Volunteering in classes

Have a project and a plan (i.e. kate prepping the weaving project ahead of time and doing it with a class, or make a lesson plan for an english class, or just providing assistance to the teachers and learn their styles)

If you want to do a project bring all the supplies you need, there are about 30 kids per class. If you have to buy items keep the receipts for tax deductible in kind donations

Tonya is doing a workshop for teachers that you can join in on

Meeting students with learning disabilities and special needs along with the teacher of students with learning disabilities

Teacher appreciation painting class

Big friend little friend program launch

Training the scholarships students on how to be a big friend one day

Launching the first big friend little friend meeting

Visit COAR (orphanage), the beach and market

Does anyone have any of the donations COAR asked for?

Hearing from families in the village about their lives and hardships, visiting with previous friends


Get there on time, wearing your t-shirt if you have it and with your passport!! People flying with the group ticket I will go over times at the end of the meeting.

At our layover we all have to reclaim our checked bags and go through customs… this can sometimes take a long time so we have to move fast and as a group.

On the plane ride to El Salvador we have to fill out a immigrations form, have this ready for when we land and your $10 or $20 ready. (I don’t remember exactly how much it is)

Once we all land in El Salvador we must then not drink the water, not eat unpackaged foods, not flush toilet paper in any toilets, and not go anywhere alone or without Arianna or Graciela knowing for the rest of the trip! No one from the time we step foot of the airport is to go anywhere without the group.

Remember we are there to work with the people of El Salvador, not for them. They are not Disney characters, if you want to take a picture of someone you must ask for permission first.

Before we collect our bags in El Salvador we must go through immigrations, this is where you give your form and pay. Once through we collect our bags as a group so we know we have them all, then go through “security”. We will meet up with Sammie before we go through immigrations.

Once cleared, we will all meet outside and wait for our transportation. Do not move from the sidewalk once outside, we have to stay as a group.



Graciela has all transportation arranged for the week, we will either be traveling by a private bus, van or car. We have wonderful drivers, take time to get to know them they are an important part of Epilogos.

Daily Routine

Breakfast will probably be around 7 or 7:30, here we will go over the plan for the day.

Our ride to the village will be around 7:30 or 8, depending on the day. We will have half an hour for breakfast then get right on the van to go into the village so wake up with enough time to do everything you need to for the day before breakfast. (Fill up your water bottles for they day at the volunteer house so we don’t use all the water up at the Aygualo)

We will have lunch at Graciela’s mothers papusaria each day. She is going to cook other foods also so it won’t just be papusa’s. Some days we will help her cook.

We will start the morning and end the day at the volunteer house where you can fill your waters, use the restroom, put anything in the fridge or freezer.

Graciela and Keily will be very busy when we are there, feel free to talk and spend time with them they are wonderful people! Please don’t ask them questions about the day or schedule however, ask Arianna these questions and she will then ask Graciela or Keily. It works much smoother with one go to person that way not everyone is bombarding Graciela and Keily.

We will head back to the Aygualo around 4 or 5 and have dinner around 6. Each night we will meet up after dinner for a short reflection to see how everyones day went! After that everyone is free to relax the rest of the night within the Agyualo grounds.

Group Cell Phones and International Plans

We will have group cell phones, mainly for security within the village but also so people can call home at night.

If you wish, you can get an international plan for your own cell phone but please know you can not be using your cell phone when we are anywhere besides the Aygualo for safety purposes.

We have a very busy trip with lots of fun things happening! When we all arrive I will go over in more detail how the week will go

Packing, Donations and Luggage


Do not forget your passport, hand sanitizer, bug spray with as much deet in it as possible, permethrin and sun screen!! Let me know if you need another copy of the packing list.


You are allowed one checked bag with donations in it and anything over 3oz (please weigh it ahead of time to make sure it does not exceed 50 pounds). You can have one carry on, which you can roll up your clothes in large zip lock bags to compress them and make them all fit (please check the size dimensions of your carry on and what is allowed). You can also have one personal item (it is a good idea to use the backpack you are bringing for the trip as your personal item).


The currency in El Salvador is the US dollar. Please bring small bills only, nothing over a 20 and be mindful of how much money you wish to bring. Everything is paid for except for your meals while traveling at the airport and to and from the airport, the fee to enter El Salvador (I believe it is $20), any snacks or soda’s you may want throughout the days, beverages on the day at the beach, and whatever you wish to purchase at the market or Fernando Llort. You should bring little in your wallet in case it gets lost or stolen and have a sealed envelope set aside with some cash in it as a safety net.

Dress Code

Please remember we do not want to track undue attention to our group. Therefore, no tight fitting bottoms or shorts when in the village. You must have on baggy pants that at least go past your knees. All shirts need to cover your shoulders and show no cleavage. Closed toes shoes in the village also please.

At the Aygualo you are welcome to wear shorts and tanks top, just not in the village. You may wear flip flops or sandals around the Aygualo also and for the day at the beach.

For the day at the beach, bring a bathing suit if you wish and a nice outfit for dinner.


If you have food allergies or restrictions we will do the best we can to accommodate them but know that it may not always happen. Please bring some of your own food to make up for this.

Bring protein bars and snacks with you for throughout the days to have in your backpack and at the Aygualo.

If you wish to bring snacks or cartons of wine for night time to share you are welcome to. We will buy beverages in the village to have at night at the Aygualo for those that wish.

It is good to bring gum and candy to share with the kids in the village also.


Thank you to everyone who put in effort to sell t-shirts and tiles, it is greatly appreciated! We have a couple more weeks before the trip so let’s all push to sell more and raise as much money for Epilogos as we can! It is important to have the money for our trip but also to keep Epilogos sustained for as long as possible since all of our money comes from donations.

Via Facebook it is really easy to sell names for the mural, t-shirts and tiles. Please try to do this or even just selling to people in person that you know. We can distribute some shirts and tiles at the end of the meeting if you wish to sell in person, otherwise contact me when you have made a sale and I will get you the shirt or tile.


This trip is going to be more relaxed since we will be there for a longer period of time and not building a house. However timeliness is still a factor. Please don’t be late for meals at the Aygualo or late for our transportation as it will hold the whole group back. We will try not to have to rush at all but some things exact times are needed so we will have to watch the clock.

What Are People Excited About!?

We will be doing so many wonderful and new activities on this trip, it will be different for those of us who have gone before (especially because of restricted movement) but also in a good way with new ways to help!

A live look at some local NH humanitarians!