EcuaExperience: Pre-Medical and Volunteer Programs

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Help, Learn and Discover is a student-driven volunteer organization that offers four week Pre-medical and Volunteer programs in Ecuador. These programs provide students with three main opportunities: to Help those less fortunate, to Learn first-hand knowledge about the medical field, and to Discover the amazing diversity of Ecuador. In the Help component, students use fundraised money to participate in a specific large-scale volunteer project. For example, in 2012 we built 21 homes for underprivileged families in a rural community called Pallatanga.

Students work alongside local families and are able to see the homes develop while integrating themselves into the community. In the optional Learn component, students shadow leading doctors and health professionals through eight different wards in a hospital setting.

We conclude the program with the Discover component, where students embark on an 11-day tour through the jungles, rainforests, highlands and beaches of Ecuador.


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Questions & Answers

Most of our students are 18+. However, we have had students under 18 that need their parents to co-sign their contract.


based on 220 reviews
  • Impact 9.7
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 16 - 30 of 220
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HLD in Pujili - Trip of a Lifetime!

I'm reading some of the previous reviews and I honestly don't understand how some people didn't like the trip - it was incredible. I've partaken in other volunteer programs before and this was by far the best one I've been to. I participated in the Bio-Med program through HLD, the program had three main components: Medical rotations, Volunteer program, and a week in the Galapagos.

The trip began in Quito with medical rotations. The rotations lasted one week. We had 4-hour medical rotation in the mornings. In the afternoons we toured Quito and came back after supper for either a lecture or practical training (such as stitching, making casts, or drawing blood). Our days were incredibly packed! We would wake up at 6:30 am to get ready for rotations and go to bed sometimes as late as 11 (as after our lectures our group would stay up playing card games). The rotations were amazing! We were able to see 7 different surgeries in 2 days and spent the other days in the ER and Radiology. The tutors were very helpful and would ask you questions to make sure you understood what was going on in surgery. I learned way more than I expected to. The practical skills we participated in was definitely a highlight - learning how to stitch was amazing, and I had so much fun drawing blood from a patient for the first time. I wasn't a huge fan of the lectures - If I could change one thing I would replace the lectures with more hands-on activities. I also wish we could have spent more time doing rotations. However, that being said - I honestly do not know where HLD would have fit that in without adding on an extra week. Every activity we did was so much fun and all the leaders were super accommodating! They weren't happy if you weren't happy. They also weren't overly happy if your group was late to any of the activities - but considering how packed our schedule was it was easy to understand why.

The next portion of the trip was the volunteer program. The volunteer portion spanned over 2 weeks; however, we didn't spend every day at the volunteer site. Every weekend we participated in touristic activities throughout Ecuador - as we made our way to the volunteer site. This consisted of spending time in the Rainforest, visiting the coast, or going to hot springs. It was really nice to break up the trip with these fun activities. However, it wasn't overly clear how much time we actually spent working on the site - for our group we spent a total of 6 days in the community (it would have been 5 if our group didn't ask to stay an extra day). That being said - we accomplished a lot in this time period and I felt it was enough time in the community. Jose (the volunteer coordinator and one of the founders of HLD) was fantastic. He was very clear how the selection for housing went. He also made sure that the way our fundraised money was spent was completely transparent and that the volunteers were able to buy the material directly to ensure there was no ambiguity in money spending. I was very glad I chose to go on the trip in May - the weather was very nice and clear (only rained heavily 3 times while I was there which was a lot less than I expected for the rainy season). I also felt I was more helpful to the community as the work required heavy lifting, moving materials, and digging trenches. It was nice to see how appreciative the community was of our work at the good-bye dinner they made for us. I loved that we were fortunate to see other communities HLD helped build in the area. It demonstrated how these homes will provide not just a short term impact - but will continue to impact their lives long term. It was incredibly touching and an experience I won't forget.

The third and final portion of our program was a trip to the Galapagos. In my program, only 8 people participated in this portion of the tour. I really liked how small our group was - as it enabled us to be more flexible when it came to activities and meals. The Galapagos itself was amazing - by far the most beautiful place I've ever been to in my life. We were fortunate to see sea lions, marine iguanas, flamingos, penguins, sea turtles, reef sharks, sting rays, sea horses, and a huge variety of fish and coral. We snorkeled every day, and at one location I was surrounded by 5 sea turtles - I was speechless! Our leader who came with us (Olivia) lived in the Galapagos for a while, so she knew the best places to go to eat, snorkel, and relax were. This definitely made the experience way better! I would go back to the Galapagos in a heart beat.

Overall the trip was amazing - the founders were incredibly accommodating. If you have any complaint they will do as much as they can to fix whatever problem you have. Our group needed to do laundry one day and the all-inclusive we stayed at was expensive. So Jose spent an entire day looking for a laundry place for us that was reliable and affordable. He then spent the next day making sure it was all done on time and sorted out how much everything cost - we literally had to worry about nothing. Juan was just as accommodating and would be the first person there to support you if you were having trouble. I would recommend this program to anyone - even if you've never planned on going to Ecuador, you'll be pleasantly surprised what the country has to offer.

How can this program be improved?
I wish it would have been more clear why we needed the duffle bags for our tour. I was under the impression it was for our stay in the Galapagos. It turned out it was for the volunteer portion of the trip - so I ended up packing 16 days worth of clothing into a small duffle bag. It was manageable, but if I had known that before I left, I would have thought differently about some of the things I packed for the trip and brought a larger bag. Other than that I have no complaints and would recommend the experience to everyone!!
Yes, I recommend
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Life Changing

I just returned from Canada after spending 28 days in Ecuador with the EcuaExperience Bio-Med program. I can not say enough good things about this trip. The trip was comprised of four main components which are medical rotations, volunteering, travel and finally a visit to the Galapagos islands.

The medical rotations were very well done. The tutors were very knowledgable and challenged students to think critically. We learned a tremendous about of valuable information about medical issues and shadowed physicians in specialities such as surgery, emergency and radiology. If you are aspiring to be a doctor, I would 100% recommend this program as it gives insight into the true lives of professionals in a hospital setting.

Our volunteer project was in a community in Pujili. With the money fundraised by the volunteers, it is estimated that 20 houses will be built for the community members by the end of the summer. The people of the community welcomed us with open arms and we were given the opportunity to work along side them at the construction site. Their work ethic was truly inspiring and their gratitude for this project was so obvious. The work was challenging but it was made easy knowing that we were improving the lives of so many people.

As for the travel portion, we travelled all over the country of Ecuador to different cities such as Mindo, Banos and Canoa. At each stop, we had many activities planned for us that were unique to Ecuador and helped immerse the volunteers in the culture. For example, we were given the opportunity to hike through the Amazon rainforest and learn to surf. Travel from location to location could be quite long (upwards of 12 hours) so I would definitely recommend bringing personal entertainment, however the bus is equipped with a TV so there is always movies to watch on the long drives.

We then took a plane to the Galapagos islands. It should be noted that the Galapagos is a national park with a delicate ecosystem and they are therefore very strict about the item that can enter the island. For example, I brought my same sneakers from the Ecuador portion of the trip and I was made to wash them before I could go through security. Once in the island, it was truly amazing. You are guaranteed to see so much wildlife. All of the naturalist guides who accompanied us on our day tours had extensive knowledge about the islands and the animals and plants that inhabited them. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and if you are looking into EcuaExperience and are debating whether or not to go to the Galapagos, definitely GO.

Overall I would say that Help, Learn & Discover is a truly unique company. They take wonderful care of their students and ensure that we are always safe, happy and healthy. By the end of the 28 days, I felt like I was apart of a new little family!

How can this program be improved?
At one point in the trip, we left Quito (and our luggage) and travelled for over 2 weeks without the opportunity to exchange any clothing and we needed to pack a bag with every thing we needed for those 2 weeks. I think it should be more clear that you may be without your luggage for an extended period. I personally only had one small (30L) backpack to pack everything and struggled to bring everything I needed.
Yes, I recommend
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One month of unforgettable experiences!

I went to Ecuador with HLD for the 28 day Pre-med program. It has 3 components: the medical rotations, the volunteering, and the tourism.

The medical rotations were so much fun, we learned so much and saw many things that we otherwise would not have been able to see back home, such as surgeries and doctor/patient relationships.

The tourism was spread out between the days, and everything we saw was very beautiful, full of Ecuadorian history and fun.

The volunteering part was also great, we got to meet the people of the Communities and we got to spend time with their children. Our group did the foundation of the houses, very hard work, but we did it alongside Community women who carried children on their backs as the mixed ciment. Their work and living conditions taught us another reality, so different from my own, and this made me appreciate life greatly.

How can this program be improved?
I was told we would do more volunteering than we actually did. The volunteering should be 1/3 of the time in, Ecuador, I understand that it is hard to find work for teenagers who dont speak the language, but I had signed up for the program thinking I would spend 10 days volunteering.

Other than that, everything else was great!
Yes, I recommend
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Experience of a lifetime

I just returned from one of the best months of my life down in Ecuador with Help learn Discover! :) HLD is an amazing volunteer program offered to students. It allows students to shadow doctors in various departments at three different hospitals (pre-med program), help build 21 homes for a community in need (this year in Pujilí) and travel all around Ecuador.

First we completed the learn aspect of the trip where we got to watch surgeries in the OR, study cases in the ER, spend a day in the Gastrology and Sports Medicine units, draw blood, learn to do stitches, put on casts and more. Each day we would start our rotations at 8am and go until 12pm at the hospital. We were put in groups of two or three and paired with a tutor who would translate and teach us throughout the rotation. Then in the afternoons we would do class room sessions on various topics such as fractures, headaches, abdominal pain, etc. to learn more about general topics.

Next was the help component where we travelled to the town of Pujilí to start building 20 new homes for a community there. We did various tasks such as digging trenches for the foundation, mixing cement, getting water from the river, moving cinder blocks, transporting rocks and tying rebar. Every morning when we arrived at the work site, all the members of the community would be there to welcome us and say good morning. Every single person would shake your hand and then we would all work together on the various tasks for the day. In the evening when we were done for the day, we would do a cheer and say good bye. We had the opportunity to play with the kids often and even got to play a game of soccer with everyone.

Last but not least was the discover part of the trip. This part of the trip allowed us to travel to many different cities and towns in Ecuador including Quito, Banos, Canoa, Cotopaxi, Manta, Barcelo and Mishualli. We participate in activities such as surfing, horseback riding, tubing, canyoning, hiking, swimming and relaxing.

All in all, this was an experience of a lifetime and I'm proud to say I will be going back next year to spend another month with this amazing program!

How can this program be improved?
I can't think of anything I would change about this trip. There was not one thing that didn't contribute to the experience and make it so amazing. :)
Yes, I recommend
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Best Trip of my life

Over the month of May we went to Ecuador and stayed for two weeks in the town of Quito to do medical rotations. During those two weeks we got to do medical rotations everyday and it was the most amazing experience of my life. We got to see a knee replacement surgery, a C-section, a gall bladder removal surgery and various others while being inside the operating room. Our tutors could answer any questions we had and the doctors would also explain their process which was fantastic. At the hotel, we would eat great breakfast everyday and I felt very safe all the time. During the two weeks we rotated through the ER, OR, the sports medicine department, gastro, and internal medicine. Although the program was very focused academically, we were also able to do fun things like visit the old town, go to the Otavalo market and also to apply what we learned to hands on experiences such as learning how to do stitches, how to make a cast, and how to draw blood. The lectures were usually 3 hours long but very interesting and interactive. I learned a great deal. More than I expected.

After the two weeks when we started to go around the other parts of Ecuador I had the best time in the world as we went to amazing places. Juan and Jose always made sure that we were safe and that we had fun. It was great because the schedule was always flexible and they wanted to hear our input as to how everyone felt about doing a certain activity. So everyone was always happy. We went to the Amazon rainforest, swing at the end of the world, and other unique locations. The volunteer portion was amazing as we got to lay the foundation for houses in the community along side the people who were going to live there with their families and we became their friends. It was great to have the opportunity to communicate with those people and their children and I could feel the impact of our work there everyday.

Overall, this was the best month of my life and I would recommend this program to anyone who wants to have a life changing experience over the summer. I already miss my friends and all the people who work with HLD and I am thankful to have been a part of this experience.

How can this program be improved?
Some hotels did not have hot water, such as the hotel we stayed in at Pujili to do volunteer work. However, I still found it manageable as we always went to new locations. Also, it did not matter if we needed anything or forgot to bring anything from home as they always took us to a mall to get the things we needed. So I was always happy and comfortable during the trip.
Yes, I recommend
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Fun But I Expected More

After reading online reviews for HLD, I was super excited to go on this trip. However, in the end I was somewhat disappointed with my experience.

Help - The volunteering portion of the trip was an overall good experience. Due to the earthquake we could not get to Jama to build the houses, so we built them in Manta instead. It was really hot in Manta, and the location we built the houses was a fish factory, so it was pretty smelly. Due to being in Manta, we didn't have much opportunity to interact with the families much like groups in past years did, so that was a little disappointing. I felt like that would add to the experience, however there wasn't much we could do about it. We did get to visit some of the victims of the earthquake in a nearby refugee camp. We played with the children and played soccer. Some portions of the construction of the houses was sketchy. We had to stand on rusty barrels to reach higher areas when working, which personally made me uncomfortable. We definitely lost a lot of productivity because we were constantly drilling through the metal on the shipping containers and breaking drill bits. During this week we ended up sleeping in tents and we only had one shower and toilet for the group. We got very dirty and sweaty at the construction site, so this was obviously a bit of an issue. They also hire some workers to do a lot of the work. We got to go to the beach twice during this week which was nice.

Learn - I completed the physiotherapy program, which was new for this year. There were definitely a lot of kinks to be worked out. I was the only pre-physiotherapy student, so I was often left alone to find my way through the hospital and to buy my food for supper, which was difficult because I know zero Spanish. The physiotherapist I worked with was great, he taught me a lot. However he only came into work in the afternoons, so I only got to complete approximately 4 hours per day. I lost one day to the sports medicine rotation and one day to traveling on the Friday afternoon, so I only completed 3 days with the physio for a total of ~12 hours. I was expecting something more like a 40 hour work week to gain experience for when I apply to physiotherapy school, but I was wrong. I was thrown in with the pre-med students for the rest of the time, which some of the stuff like surgeries were cool, however most of it was boring to me (I don't want to be a doctor) and/or didn't apply to me. I would have preferred more physio experience. I had to write the test for the pre-med students on a case study about headaches, which I didn't enjoy at all. I didn't want to come here to study and google headaches, I wanted to go to learn hands-on skills and gain experience to help me get into physio school. No alcohol was permitted during the med rotation week, just an FYI.

Discover - This was my favourite portion of the trip. We got to hike in the amazon, go tubing in rapids, hike to a waterfall, go on the swing at the end of the world, rappel down a waterfall, among other things. Some of the stops were less exciting than others; two of them we basically went and sat in hot tubs. Most of the other participants wanted to stay up late and drink while on the discover portion of the trip. I wasn't into that as much because we had long and early bus rides (hangover? no thanks...), and some days with physically exerting hikes. The owners of HLD encourage drinking and drinking games to some degree. I was more interested in enjoying my time and seeing the country.

Other points:
-You'll spend some time playing and/or watching soccer. Soccer and volleyball are both really popular in Ecuador.
-Be prepared for long bus rides. Make sure to have music playlists ready and any other ideas to pass time.
-We got a HLD hoodie and t-shirt given to us part way through the trip. Bring lots of clothes! The only place to do laundry was at the hostel in Quito. You had to give your bag of laundry to the people to wash it, it took a day or two, and was a bit expensive (like $10 or $15 I think?).
-Although speaking Spanish is not required, I found it difficult during the med rotations when I wanted to communicate with the patients. All of the tutors speak English.
-Make sure you have lots of room in your bag going back. Alpaca wool blankets are inexpensive and popular at the markets there. I bought two blankets and a hammock to bring back.
-Bring lots of sunscreen and bug spray!!!!!!

Overall I enjoyed my experience, but I wanted to be truthful about the components I didn't enjoy about the trip.

How can this program be improved?
-Like others said, the lack of communication before the trip could be improved. I found they also started the fundraising meetings pretty last minute, although they weren't helpful in my opinion anyway.
-I was also a little concerned about where all of my money was going. We were originally supposed to stay in a hostel during the volunteer week, but we ended up sleeping in tents as a described above. We had to pay for our own dinners, as well as some other optional activities. We took a long bus ride to Manta, while the owners of HLD flew in from Quito for a few days. They wanted to get back in time for a birthday party or something, so they flew back the night before we bussed back to Quito. I hope we weren't paying for them to fly there. Some transparency would have been nice.
-There were a few times during a morning or afternoon, or even a whole day on one occasion where they basically said to hang out at the hostel and watch TV. I would have liked to do more things instead. Bernie, our trip leader, fought to get us to do more fun things but the owners didn't want us to. During the med rotations week they were worried about us not having enough time to study.
-I personally found one of the owners of HLD to be overly egotistical and it really got on my nerves.
-The itinerary that is shown on their website before the trip was way off. We got a more accurate one when we got there, however, it would have been nice to have an accurate itinerary before we got to Ecuador.
-There were other guests at the hostel that were quite noisy and there were no staff there at night to do anything about it.
Yes, I recommend
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H-H-H-L-D, H-L-D in Manabi

That is the chant that will never go away, the one I will always go to and think about when times get tough or I just need to think of Ecuador, it's people and the dream that was implemented, chased and accomplished by one individual years ago.
First, I owe an apology to Jose, Sum and all of those at H-L-D for taking so long to write this... you have been in my thoughts, wifi access has denied me though.
The trip overall took my breath away. Ecuador is a beautiful country with beautiful, kind people- that have little but are willing to give everything.
I had dreamed about an opportunity like this since I was little- the chance to go somewhere and help. H-L-D made my dream come true. You work hard and you play hard. All the while you meet new people from around the world- or some that could almost live next door. EcuaExperience brings those with similar beliefs and motives together, making it easy to blend and have the time of your life.
If you can do this trip- do it! Regardless of the cost- which is reasonable- an unforgettable experience is priceless and memories are forever.
Thank you for H-L-D, Jose, leaders- and one last note.... CONGRATS FOR TEACHING THE MILLION!!!!!! Wooooo hoooo :)

How can this program be improved?
Wouldn't change a thing!
Yes, I recommend
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HLD- best time of my life!!

When I was looking to volunteer abroad I wanted a program that encompasses many different aspects, and HLD has just what I was looking for. The first component was the volunteer where we got to Jama and build 20 new homes for the community there. This was one of the most special and life changing experiences that i’ll never forget. The community worked along side us and we really got to build those connections with the people were building houses for. Although technically we’re the ones helping them get better access to education, sanitation, work, and healthcare, they have affected my life just as much as I have affected theirs.

HLD also has the learn component which is probably what differentiates it from most volunteer programs. We had the opportunity to shadow doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists in different wards of the hospital- something I know I would never be able to do in Canada. Getting to enter the operating room and watching surgeries was an unreal experience! We also did rotations in the ER, radiology, ICU, gynaecology, sports med, and even learned hands-on clinical skills like stitching.

For the discover portion we toured different parts of Ecuador and got to do really cool activities like waterfall rappelling, horseback riding, swinging at the end of the world, tubing down the mouth of the Amazon river, and hiking in the amazon jungle. I never thought we would do SO much everyday and even though its really busy sometimes, I wouldn't have wanted it any other day.

I also decided to add on an extra week to the Galapagos, and I can say this was hands down the best place I’ve travelled to in my life. The amount of biodiversity here is unbelievable and amazing to see how humans and animals just coexist- so we were able to see and get up close to so many different animals like giant tortoises, marine iguanas, sea lions, sharks, sea turtles, penguins, flamingos, sea horses, manta rays, and so on! The activities here were really amazing as well; other than chill at beautiful white sand beaches, we visited Darwin’s Research Centre, went snorkelling, kayaking, hiked a volcano with a huge crater under us. This was probably one of the best parts of the trip and I would highly recommend going!

The memories I’ve made because of this trip are ones I’ll never forget, and Juan and Jose will make sure you’re having the best time at all times!

Yes, I recommend
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The time of my life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Prior to this trip, I had so many doubts if this trip would be worth it. I couldn't have been proved more wrong after spending the best month of my life with Help, Learn & Discover!! I don't even know where to begin.....from working with the community of Jama, or watching the most insane surgeries, or spending the morning trekking through the Amazon Rainforest, swimming in a natural waterfall pool at the end of a beautiful hike, then having dinner in the gorgeous city of Banos all in the same day!!!!!!! The thing is with this trip, you're doing at least 3 new things you've never done every single day!! All of these experiences are what I could have hoped for but to top it all of, the part I never saw coming was the people you meet on this trip! To this day, now some of my best friends are because I met them through HLD. Everyone was bawling their eyes out when it was time to say goodbye!!

During the volunteer week, the most heartwarming thing was to work with the community of Jama. These families have lost so much during the earthquake that happened in April but for them to wake up every day and work their butts off for the new homes that we were helping them build was simple admirable. The craziest part about interacting with them was seeing their spirit despite all the terrible things that have happened! They were always laughing and joking around, played soccer and other games with us in the evening and when it came time to say goodbye, they cooked us dinner and crafted us small souvenirs from wood and stone..! Words won't do the justice of telling how satisfying and heartwarming it was to bring hope to people who are way less fortunate than us. It also was a good reminder to be appreciative of our standard of living back in Canada!

The med rotations were unreal..! We shadowed almost every ward possible with the coolest med tutors who were in their final year of med school and were just a few years older than us! I saw the craziest vascular surgeries, live birth, a C-section, rhinoplasty, just to scratch the surface! The med tutors would also teach us some clinical skills like stitching and CPR. Every day was a blast learning the most amazing things that only further inspire me to become a physician.

The discover part was beyond unreal! Ecuador is one of the most beautiful countries ever!! Day to day, we did so many new things I can't even keep track of! I remember one day, the morning we spent in natural hot springs in the mountains, in the afternoon we tubed down the Napo River to get to our hotel located in the middle of the Amazon and at night we slept in cabins hearing the sounds of various animals and insects everywhere!!! Every day is action packed with the coolest adventures!

Simply put, this is one the best experiences out there! It wouldn't be right if I didn't give a shout out to Juan and Jose, the owners of HLD, who will go out of their way and move mountains for you to have the best experience possible!! The energy that they bring to the group really makes the trip special and they ensure everyone is having a blast!! We had people with dietary restrictions, allergies, medical conditions and they were all provided for..!! Ultimately this trip is totally worth what you're paying for and I can guarantee you that you will not regret it whatsoever!!!!!!

Yes, I recommend
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My Month with HLD

Hi guys, I know that most reviews here are extremely positive and I don't want to be a bummer here but my month with HLD wasn't at all what I expected or paid for. This trip comes out to about 7 thousand dollars at the end of it and there are other programs that have the same experience for way cheaper. Also, the owners of the program are very unsupportive of you if you do not have a specific type of personality. The volunteer week was great however for a great amount of time, we didn't have running water to wash our hands or flush our toilets. It was frustrating. The medical rotations part was decent because the med tutors were great, however they also felt terrified of their boss all the time because he was so vile and cruel. He has a god like complex and he has an ego bigger than the country itself. I spent so much money and had so much hope for this trip and it turned out to be a disappointment. I would look into other programs before I look into HLD.

No, I don't recommend
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The Most Rewarding Vacation

This trip is the perfect balance between hard, rewarding volunteer work, the excitement of touring a new country and carefree relaxing fun- my trip hadn't even ended before I started planning next year's return! This year I did the volunteer trip, and I will never forget the names or faces of those who we had the chance to build houses both for and with- the community of Jama will forever have a special place in my heart! I have so much respect for the way that this project approaches their volunteer work- we work side by side with those recieving the houses. It gave us a chance to immerse ourself in a new culture, make new friends, but most importantly to really gain an appreciation for why we travelled so many miles and spent so many hours fundraising to complete this project. We weren't simply gifting the community, but rather planting a seed for future sustainability.
As if that wasn't life changing enough, we travelled all throughout Ecuador, from volcanoes to beaches through the amazon and between some of the most unique cities and town I have ever seen. Everyday was filled with new activities and the chance to experience Ecuador's fantastic culture (not to mention great food!) Te amo Ecuador, and thank you forever to Ecuaexperience! .

Yes, I recommend
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Incredible, life-changing experience!!

I had the most unbelievable experience participating on an HLD ecuaexperience program and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to travel, make a difference, learn about healthcare, or all of the above!

The 'help' aspect of the program was such an incredible opportunity. To be able to build houses for those in need and really make a difference in the lives of the people of Ecuador was such a rewarding experience and so much fun as well!

The 'learn' part of the program where we got to observe and learn different skills in the hospitals was so cool! I got to observe so many interesting surgeries, interact with patients in the emergency room, learn different skills and procedures, and so much more! I gained so much from this and it was such a unique opportunity that is hard to find anywhere else.

Then, there's the 'discover' portion, which was so incredible as well! Ecuador is such an amazing, beautiful, country with so much to offer. To be able to explore this country, learn about the culture, and participate in so many amazing activities like canyoning through waterfalls, staying in the jungle, and visiting volcanoes, was really amazing.

The experiences I had and the people I met on this program had such an incredible impact on me, and it really was life-changing!

Yes, I recommend
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The Full Package

I found HLD by randomly researching different abroad, premed, volunteer programs online and I am so incredibly grateful that I decided to go with this one. The program's three components, helping, learning and discovering are really everything you could ever want in a trip. The traveling week was truly amazing. From the relaxing hot springs to the exciting hike through the Amazon jungle, there was never a dull moment. I made some very close friends on this trip who I am grateful to share these memories with. The volunteer week was very rewarding. It was hard work, but knowing the significant impact these new houses will have on the families in Jama makes every second worth it. We had the opportunity to go to a community where hundreds of families were living in tents because their homes were destroyed in the earthquake. Playing with the kids and seeing the pure joy on their faces despite all the hardships they are going through, truly put my life into perspective. Although the discover and help weeks were amazing, my favorite portion of the trip was the medical rotations. I have never had the opportunity to observe surgeries, take vitals on patients, go to a cadaver lab and learn hands-on skills like drawing blood and performing sutures before this trip. I learned so much from the amazing medical student tutors who were very friendly and informative. At school, sometimes I find myself doubting my career path while I am drowning in work, but this experience opened my eyes that all this hard work will be worth it in the end. I learned so much about the medical field on this trip, but also about myself. I would recommend this program to anyone!!

Yes, I recommend
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Trip of a Lifetime

I went on a program with help learn and discover in the summer of 2016. I can honestly say it is the most amazing experience I have had while travelling abroad. Each aspect of my trip was in incredible the guides were exceptional and so helpful. Something I found special about this trip was that all the leaders and guides were so passionate about the program which was really inspiring and made it so much more fun for everyone else. On my volunteer portion of my trip we stayed in Jama, Ecuador and helped a community build homes after an earthquake had impacted their city. Volunteering with this program is so rewarding because you become so involved in the community but at no point in the entire program did I feel unsafe. My favourite part of the trip was how close you become with the people you travel with. You make such great friends and it is definitely an experience I will never forget.

Yes, I recommend
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One of the Best Things I Have Done for Myself

I will always consider myself incredibly lucky to have stumbled upon Help, Learn & Discover. I was looking for a medical, volunteer experience in a Spanish-speaking country, so when a spontaneous Google search introduced me to HLD, it felt meant to be. I took part in the pre-medical program and each component of my 21 days spent in Ecuador was amazing. I can sincerely say that the only part of the trip I disliked was having to say goodbye to the incredible people, culture, and adventures I fell in love with.

The Help component was one of the most rewarding parts of the trip. We spent a week in Jama, Ecuador working with the community to prepare concrete blocks for their new homes to sit upon. Although the recent earthquake made our living conditions less than ideal, I always felt taken care of and appreciated. Surprise “bun” breaks at the work site and evening trips to Canoa Beach were the perfect breaks from the hard, but rewarding, work. Lots of tears were shed on our last day in Jama when the families blessed us with gifts and lots of hugs. I am so happy to have played a part in giving twenty deserving families a new home.

The Learn component of the program allowed me to gain a unique perspective into the exciting world of healthcare. The medical students and physicians we shadowed were not only very informative, they were funny and very easy to get along with. I especially enjoyed the evening activities, which allowed us to learn how to draw blood, do sutures, give a physical examination, and take vitals.

Thinking about the Discover component of the trip still brings a smile to my face. I made a point of not researching any of the cities listed on the itinerary beforehand, and I am SO happy with that decision. Each day of the travel week was packed with a new and exciting adventure. From dancing on the bus, to fireworks around a campfire, to cruising around in a party bus, HLD incorporated a thoughtful surprise into each destination.

My only regret is not having signed up for a longer trip. If you have any doubts about signing up for next summer, please DON’T! It will be one of the best things you do for yourself! Everyone I met through HLD was so kind and helpful, especially the staff at 593 Hostel Boutique and our charming bus driver, Rubén. Lastly, I would like to give a big shout out to the two men responsible for HLD, Juan and José. I will always be grateful to them for reminding me that helping others is one of the best ways to live our lives.

Yes, I recommend

About EcuaExperience

Help, Learn and Discover is an innovative organization offering educational programs in Ecuador, South America. We strive to offer a fulfilling life experience which combines helping those less fortunate with learning about a specific academic area...