Iva Ursano moved to Guatemala, she knew she had to make a difference. Helping people and animals alike, Ursano has made a huge impact on communities that really need it.
Blogger, content creator, and midlife mindset coach Iva Ursano also happens to be a charitable philanthropist in Guatemala, a developing country that used to be unfamiliar grounds for her. Originally from Sudbury Ontario, Canada, Ursano now flourishes in Guatemala, helping families and animals in need. It all began when she went on a mission trip to Costa Rica.
“When I returned to my hometown in Canada, I knew I wanted to do more of that but for longer periods of time,” Ursano said. While she enjoyed her time in Costa Rica, she wanted to try something different for her next mission. She was unsure, however, as to where she should venture off to next. Ursano decided she would seek the advice of a Tea Leaf Reader in her area, who would perform a tasseography (the art of identifying symbols and interpreting messages found in the shapes and configurations of tea leaves,) to help navigate the next step of her journey. Funnily enough, the Tea Leaf Reader told Ursano to “choose the country with the funkiest name.” Ursano believed that country to be Guatemala.
And so, it began. She prepared for her departure to a foreign place. “It was extremely scary and I basically was a nervous wreck the days leading up to my departure,” she said. “I had already sold/donated/trashed 95% of my belongings so it was do or die.” She was terrified for a plethora of reasons. This was all new to her. She didn’t even know Spanish at the time of moving to a primarily Spanish-speaking country. So overwhelmed by the massive change, Ursano had many moments following her arrival where she thought, “What am I doing here?” Little did she know, this would be her forever home, and the place where she would change many lives.
After the experience of volunteering in her hometown of Sudbury at a homeless shelter, she took that passion with her to Guatemala. In 2015, she began working with a non-governmental organization in her new home, sponsoring families in need. After a year or two of helping in this way, she wanted to expand even further and put a more personal touch on her work. She went out on her own to aid less fortunate families, “Which isn’t hard to do as there are so many families who need help.” Ursano told us, “I take families to the market or to get groceries, I help them buy medicine if they’re sick, I’ve paid rent for many so they don’t get evicted, things like that.”
More recently, Ursano’s works of charity have taken a slight turn. While she still works with many families, “I’m focusing more of my efforts on the street dogs here as there are so many in dire need,” she said while currently raising money to buy a piece of land in Guatemala to build a dog sanctuary. “The organizations here do as much as they possibly can for the street dogs but there is really only so much that can be done with such limited resources.” She explained, “A sanctuary will help alleviate some of the problem.”
During her time in Guatemala, Ursano has helped countless families and animals that have no place to call home. Since helping others is her true passion, she is also a midlife mindset coach, aiding others in their self-help journeys. “I do encourage others, as part of their healing work, to find an organization that calls to their heart and go volunteer,” she said. “Volunteering truly is the best therapy you can find. It not only opens your heart but it opens doors for you that you didn’t even know existed. It’s life changing.”
Being in Guatemala has shown Ursano what’s important in life. She never even watches the news anymore, and endures little to no stress. She alleviates pressure by giving back to her community. A beautiful way to live. Ursano has traveled to numerous places and has participated in expansive volunteer work, but Guatemala is her happy place. “The people here are the warmest and nicest I have ever met in my travels. While it’s not perfect here, it’s perfect for me.” She tries to make it more perfect for others every single day.