I had always wanted to volunteer abroad but there were so many different programs and countries to choose from I didn't know which ones were worth it/ which were safe. I wanted to volunteer to help others but I also wanted the travelling aspect without breaking the bank. I wanted to meet new people and make new memories. That is EXACTLY what I got with HLD!
Volunteering in Pujili was an amazing experience. We built houses alongside the families who will get to live in them once they are completed. The connection that was made alongside these locals was breathtaking. For people who have so little they were easily the happiest, most grateful and welcoming people I had ever met. They gave me a new perspective on how I live my life that I took back with me once I got back to Canada. The goodbyes at the end of my trip was one of the hardest things I had to do because of the bond that formed between the volunteers and locals. But I would do it all over to see them again.
My trip was only 18 days but I felt like I saw so many amazing places while I was there. From hotsprings to waterfall rappelling to the Amazon rainforest hike and everything in between the travels took my breath away every time. Each resort was safe and comfortable plus delicious food.
Lastly, I just want to say the one thing that surprised me the most was the AMAZING friendships you create between the other volunteers and leaders of HLD. We all come from different areas of North America yet even months later many of us are still best friends. It is so easy to connect with the people you are travelling with. You go horseback riding together, sing on the bus, dance at the bar, stay up for hours in the hostel talking and listening to music, digging holes and moving bricks. These are people I will be friends with my whole life and that is thanks to this phenomenal program.
I highly recommend doing your research on HLD! I would go again in a heartbeat.
Here are two videos one of my friend's did from our trip in June! (one is of volunteer sights and the other is some travels we did). If you have any questions feel free to reach out on my Facebook (Madison Chalmers)!