By Tony Prentice, Contributor
Volunteer hours can be gained in many different areas of our society. As someone who has done a fair amount of local volunteering, I thought going abroad would be a great way to diversify my volunteer experience.
After a rather rocky start to my trip, I finally touched down in Quito, Ecuador. The stress of delayed flights and lost luggage didn’t last long once I came to the realization that I was finally in South America! All of the planning and fundraising had finally paid off, and I had FOUR amazing weeks to look forward to!
Since I didn’t know anyone else when I signed up for the trip ,I knew I was going to have the opportunity to meet a great deal of new people. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to meet the incredible friends that I did. Sure I knew there were going to be lots of other people my age with common interests, but that doesn’t always equal a recipe for friendship. When three friendly females came up to me in the hotel and offered me clothes (because I still didn’t have luggage) minutes after meeting them, I knew the remainder of the trip was going to be spectacular. This summer the Help, Learn and Discover organization gave me an experience of a lifetime that I would like to briefly share with everyone!
Help. Using funds that I and the rest of the groups had raised, we were able to build 21 homes for a number of families in the poverty ridden community of Camarones. On 17 August, I was fortunate enough to witness the houses being given away. One by one the families drew numbers from a hat to determine which of these newly constructed houses would be theirs. It became very clear just how much of a difference our hard work was going to make in the lives of these families.
Learn. I was also given the opportunity to expand some of my existing knowledge as a 4th year Biomed student. I was able to stand in and watch surgeries being performed right before my eyes! I was taught how to perform an ECG and even draw blood!
Discover. Because a lot of my time in Quito was dedicated to working in the hospitals, it was great that I was able to explore more of what this beautiful country had to offer once medical rotations were done. I ventured past the city to the Amazon jungle and to the coastal regions of Ecuador . Here I hiked, swam, surfed, and waterfall repelled!
Now, I am fortunate enough to be a leader for this program and introduce ecuaexperience to the students of UNBC! For more information on the program please check out the website and/or Facebook page www.ecuaexperience.com and https://www.facebook.com/Ecuaexperience or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org !