Thank you for your interest in Casa Shalom. The following information is intended to help you as you prepare for your trip to Guatemala. It is imperative that every member of your short-term missions team read the packet in its entirety, as it will help team members come to Guatemala as prepared as possible!
Basic information about Casa Shalom:
Casa Shalom is located outside the town of San Lucas, Guatemala. The orphanage was started in 1986 during the Guatemalan civil war, to house children orphaned during the conflict. The orphanage is currently home to 100 children ranging from newborns to 20 years of age. The children live in houses that are divided based on age and gender. The orphanage has an infant house, toddler house, 6-9 year old boy house, 10-12 year old boy house, and a teenage boy house. Our girls are divided into a 4-10 year old house and house for girls 10 and up.
Basic information about your stay:
Short-term missions teams from the United States are a great blessing to Casa Shalom. In order to offset the costs of teams staying at the orphanage, there is fee of $450 per week per person to stay at the orphanage. This helps offset the cost of transportation to and from the airport, all meals eaten at Casa Shalom, a trip to Antigua (a local tourist destination). That cost includes a meal out on the day that we go to Antigua and all of your work projects at Casa Shalom and ministry projects outside the orphanage for the week. This is a set fee and is not dependent on how many meals you eat at the orphanage or activities you do outside the orphanage. The orphanage has two dormitory-style rooms for teams to stay in, housing a total of 34 people divided up by gender. Casa Shalom has all of the bedding and towels needed for a team’s stay. Teams should bring their own personal items for showering.
All teams that visit Casa Shalom must work on some type of project. All funds for projects are included in the $450 per person fee. There is always something to be done at Shalom, and projects of all different skill levels are available. However, no matter how large or small the project, the materials need to be purchased by the team wishing to do the project. Once we have finalized the dates for your team’s trip, we would be happy to provide you with a list of potential projects for you to choose from, along with estimated costs. Projects ranging from painting, roofing, electrical and plumbing work, and are available for all skill levels and abilities!
It is also required that all teams purchase traveler’s health insurance before coming to Guatemala. You are free to find your own or you can use an agent that several of our groups in the past have used. His name is Max Biggerstaffand his contact information is: 913-491-6385 or .
While at Casa Shalom, you will be served a balanced diet of grains, meats, fruits and vegetables. The orphanage’s kitchen, however, is unable to accommodate special dietary needs such as gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, severe food allergy, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please bring enough snacks to last you the duration of your trip as we cannot provide special meals to accommodate special dietary needs. Short-term missions teams will at no time have access to the orphanage’s kitchen to prepare their own meals. If your dietary needs are such that you cannot live on the diet mentioned above or any supplemental snacks you wish to bring for the duration of the trip, this is not the missions trip for you!
Casa Shalom has filters for team drinking water. Water from the tap should never be used for drinking or brushing your teeth, as all tap water in Guatemala is contaminated with parasites and bacteria. Casa Shalom has indoor plumbing, however flushing toilet paper will cause the pipes to clog. Because of this, toilet paper should never be placed in the toilet at Casa Shalom. Bathrooms at the orphanage have waste baskets in all of the stalls to throw the toilet paper into. The water at Casa Shalom is turned off and on during certain parts of the day and runs on a schedule all year. Missions teams can expect to have water during the following hours: 6 a.m. – 9 a.m., 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., and 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Also, in extreme conditions, the water has gone out completely for a couple days. There is always drinking water and water to cook with, just not water for showers. This is a rare occurrence, but it can happen.
Casa Shalom is located on a very large hill. The orphanage is built up the hill and so a fair amount of physical activity is needed for basic day- to- day activities. Also, the orphanage sits at nearly 6,500 feet above sea level, and this also adds to the difficulty of moving around the orphanage’s property. While you don’t need to be a marathon runner, we recommend that all team members have a basic level of fitness so they are not uncomfortable with the rigors of moving around the property.
Rules and recommendations:
Due to the rigors of a missions trip in a third-world country and the emotional nature of working at an orphanage, team members under 12-years-old will not be accepted without prior permission from the directors. Any team members between the ages of 12 and 18 must bring with them a signed, notarized document giving permission to one of the accompanying chaperones regarding all medical issues that may arise.
Please leave all valuable items at home. This includes expensive jewelry (no diamond rings, please), expensive cell phones, mp3 players, tablets, laptop computers, etc. You may bring a camera to take photos with the children, but please guard it closely. Unattended items have a tendency to disappear! Many of our children come to us from the streets, where they stole to survive, and if presented with the opportunity to take a valuable item, it is very tempting for them. We also ask that all teams please dress modestly, in keeping with Guatemalan cultural norms. Please no tank tops or shorts above the knee for either men or women. We ask that teams avoid wearing any type of facial piercing (nose, lip, etc). Earrings are ok for ladies. Please note that while at Casa Shalom, you will not have use of laundry facilities and you should bring enough clothes to last your entire trip without doing laundry.
Plan on bringing dollars to spend at the tourist market. There won't be an opportunity to exchange them for local currency. Everywhere that we go will accept dollars. The dollars need to be crisp, unmarked bills with no tears. Vendors will automatically reject any bill that has any markings whatsoever or any tears and you will be unable to spend it while here. This is because Guatemalan banks will reject the money from the vendor when they try to deposit it.
Requirements to book a trip date:
At Casa Shalom, we only host one team at a time so that we can focus on accomplishing the team’s specific goals and so that team members have as much time with the children as possible. In order to reserve a date for a short-term missions trip, your group must send in a $500.00 non-refundable deposit. No team’s dates will be reserved until the $500.00 has been received, and dates are booked on a first deposit received basis. This amount will be applied toward the total cost of your stay. Please make deposit checks payable to (Please put “Casa Shalom trip deposit” in the memo line, along with the name of your church/group):
International Orphan Support
1677 Southside Blvd
Jacksonville, FL 32216
In order to reserve your team’s date, we will also need a scanned copy of the last page of this document, acknowledging that each team member has read this informational packet in its entirety. The scan can be emailed to us at:
In addition, the balance of the $450 per person, per week stay fee is due two weeks prior to the scheduled trip. Checks may be sent to the address above.
At Casa Shalom, there are many items that we are constantly in need of! Many short-term missions teams like to plan a “drive” with their church or family group to bring some of these needed items to donate to the orphanage. Some items that the children always need are:
1. Little Girls underwear sizes 4 - 8
2. Flip flops or Crocs for teen boys (men's sizes 5 - 9)
3. Athletic pants for boys and girls, children's sizes 8 - 14.
4. Girls clothes 6-8
5. Women's tennis shoes sizes 4 - 6
6. Sweatshirts for boys and girls, children's sizes 10 - 16.
7. Winter coats for boys and girls, children's sizes 8 - 16.
8. Twin sheets
9. Backpacks for boys and girls
10. Toiletries like shampoo, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, etc.
If you would like more information on items that are needed at the orphanage, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Thanks again for your interest in Casa Shalom. We hope the previous information has been helpful as your plan your trip. If you have any questions or need more information please feel free to email us, as it’s our job to serve you.
Josh and Jess Hanson
561-537-6893 (cell number)
I have read the Casa Shalom short term missions team informational packet in its entirety and agree to terms and conditions specified in the document. (The signature of each team member is required below.)