I went to Curitiba as part of the ELI program ins summer of 2015. I wanted to experience a culture I hadn't encountered before but I also wanted something to do while I was there. I wasn't interested in seeing sites; I wanted to work and learn. ELI Abroad's program was the perfect match!
The staff made the application process easy and answered questions about the visa process. They arranged everything for me. I was picked up at the airport and driven to the wildlife sanctuary The housing was very comfortable and just as described. It was an apartment on the wildlife sanctuary's grounds, which was shared by a few of the volunteers (some stayed off site). My roommates varied over the first week but all were very nice, and I had the place to myself for the last half of my trip (which I loved!).
Every day, I helped the wildlife staff prepare food and clean enclosures. It was fun! The morning hours were spent chopping all kind of food in different sizes to fit all the different mouths and nutritional requirements of the animals. I was paired up with a different member of the staff each day so, by the end, I had gotten to know everyone and gotten to work with all the animals.
Most days, they got a delivery of produce from grocery stores - the overstock that was about to (or had already begun to) go bad. The entire group of us would plow through and divide up the food into what was fresh and what had to be tossed (the pigs got that). I admit, the smell was pretty overpowering.
I used Duolingo to get conversational in Portuguese before I left on my trip, so I was able to speak with the staff. Not well, but enough to joke and talk. There were also some English speakers who helped, too.
I am vegetarian and they were able to accommodate my eating preferences. I simply sent a text to the Director of the sanctuary when I was low on groceries and they dropped whatever I needed off the next day.
The people were fantastic - they clearly care a lot for the animals and work very hard, 7 days a week for them. They were a fun group and I loved it - even though it left me wiped at the end of most days.
I would highly recommend ELI Abroad. In fact, I am hoping to go on another trip with them soon!