DATES: Saturday May 25- Saturday June 1, 2024

What we are planning: We will spend a week in partnership with indigenous women, midwives, nurses & community leaders, learning about traditional Maya medicine and exploring the history of health care and healing in Guatemala. The itinerary includes cultural, educational, service, and exchange aspects.  Together we will explore traditional Maya midwifery practices, medicinal herbs, healing and mindfulness practices, and initiatives exploring urban wellness centers and support for community-based doulas. Utilizing the transformational approach employed by the Highland Support Project, the VCU team will have an opportunity to meet with women in the Highlands of Guatemala to address women’s health issues, including maternal health, childbirth, indigenous practices, healing, leadership, and change. The experience explores “the interconnectedness of people, problems, and solutions.” Together this service-learning opportunity will encourage the sharing of Western and local knowledge to empower women in the development of holistic place-based wellness care.  


A $250 nonrefundable deposit will be due when you submit an application  

The total program fee payment for the 8-day trip is $1300.00. Your program fee covers in-country lodging, transportation, meals, interpretation, meeting facilitation, and a guide within Guatemala. This fee also covers the cost of the HSP emergency medical, evacuation, and liability insurance policy that covers every traveler on the trip. 

Airfare is additional. (up to $750 round trip)

Note: a few minimal additional expenses include a few optional activities/excursions ie, Fuentes Georginas’ hot springs (about $6 ) and a tour of the Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican archaeological site of Iximche (about $6) and salsa lessons, tips (for driver/cooks- about $10 total for each team member) and any personal spending. 

Apply early ~ Space is limited. 
Application deadline: March 1, 2024 with a $250 non-refundable deposit 

Interested? We encourage you to submit an interest form to let us know you are considering the trip for Summer 2024. 

Click Here to Access the Interest Form 

Information Sessions: Two pre-trip Information sessions (via Zoom) will be held on January 23 @ 12 noon & January 25 @ 6:00 pm. We will send you a link for information sessions when we receive your form. 

Request a link to participate in an information session from Heather Ashton: 

Applications: Once you have decided to apply, we can assist you with your application and the VCU-required International Travel Advisory Committee (ITAC) travel petition.

We encourage only participants seriously interested in being part of the 2024 Women’s Health & Healing Trip and ready to commit to submitting an application with a $250 deposit (We will send information on how to submit your deposit to HSP when we get an application). 

You will receive an acceptance response soon after and then will need to be prepared to submit the total cost of the roundtrip flight to Guatemala City. (At this time, we estimate costs between $600 - $750. The sooner we can secure the exact cost and purchase all the tickets - the less they cost - we plan to purchase tickets for the team (flying together) by early March 2024. (Make sure you have a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining before it expires)  

Note: This year, we will ask for an IWH application, and you must also complete the VCU-required International Travel Advisory Committee (ITAC) petition for international travel because Guatemala is designated a Level 3 country. 

1. Click here for the IWH Women’s Health & Healing Trip online application 

2. International Travel Advisory Committee (ITAC) Petition to travel to a level 3 country:

The VCU International Travel Advisory Committee (ITAC) was established in May 2021 during the COVID-19 global pandemic as an ad hoc committee coordinated by VCU’s Incident Coordination Team International Subcommittee with assistance from the VCU Global Education Office (GEO). ITAC was established for the purpose of reviewing petitions for an exception to current restrictions on university-sanctioned travel.

For questions or more information, contact:  
Heather Ashton:
Andrea Reed: 

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Our community partner information: 

Highland Support Project 

Asociación de Mujeres del Altiplano (AMA) 

Alternatives Boutique in Richmond, VA 

Women’s Health & Healing in Guatemala – 2023 Trip Summary

This was the 10th,” Women’s Health and Healing” trip to Guatemala after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. As in previous years, this Institute for Women’s Health trip was in partnership with the Highland Support Project (HSP) and the Association of Highland Women (AMA). Janett Forte and Heather Ashton co-led this year's trip, consisting of sixteen women from VCU and the surrounding community. These participants brought a great deal of enthusiasm and personal or professional experience in the field of women’s health. This interdisciplinary and intergenerational team encompassing VCU students, faculty, and staff from various departments of social work, psychology, neurology, neuroscience, nursing, and sonography.