EcuaExperience: Pre-Medical and Volunteer Programs

Video and Photos

paint
paint
ecuador
ecuador
friends for life
friends for life
Medical Rotation
Medical Rotation
Pujili community
Pujili community
OR Rotation in PAS hospital in Quito
OR Rotation in PAS hospital in Quito
Volunteer site in Pujili
Volunteer site in Pujili
Giant Tortoise that is native to the Galapagos
Giant Tortoise that is native to the Galapagos

About

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.

Questions & Answers

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

Reviews

97%
based on 231 reviews
  • Impact 9.7
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.2
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 196 - 210 of 231
Default avatar
Angela
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Once In a Lifetime

I highly recommend this program. From the founders to the leaders, the staff is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. You will stay in touch with them for the rest of your life.

The Help portion changes your life. You see things and learn things that you would never get out of a classroom. Working side by side with the families who you are helping is an amazing experience. The impact that the people of Ecuador had on me was more than I could ever give to them. Their way of life and culture is something we should reconsider in our Westernized society.

In the Learn component you really get a feel of what life as a doctor would be like. You have access to many professionals who are more than willing to answer any and all of your questions. They do not hold anything back or sugar coat their lives. It was interesting to see the differences between the Canadian health care system and the Ecuadorian health care system. If you are considering a career in the medical field, this trip is the one for you as it is extremely enlightening.

The Discover portion is also an unforgettable experience. The founders of this program have researched a great deal to find the best places to take the students. Every city and hotel we stayed at was incredible. From repelling down water falls in the rain forest to surfing in the beautiful surf town of Canoa to visiting old Inca ruins, the travel component has everything a student could want.

I can not say enough great things about Help, Learn, and Discover. It has seriously changed me and my outlook on life in the best way possible. If you have the opportunity to go on this trip, there is no other decision than yes.

What would you improve about this program?
I would decrease the cost of this program as most students do not have the finances to be able to go on the trip.
Default avatar
T.
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A life changing opportunity

I knew I wanted to volunteer abroad, and when I heard that I could do that, and get medical experience, and go to the Galapagos Islands, I was sold. Then, the program blew away all of my expectations.

First, I had no idea of the impact that the volunteer portion of the trip would have on me. Spending long days, working hard alongside the people we were helping build houses for was incredibly rewarding. Even though I didn't speak a lick of Spanish, I created relationships with families and especially with the children that I will always remember. Leaving Colta was hard to do, but it did lead to the rest of the trip.

On the 'Discover' portion of the trip, we did just that. We discovered Ecuador and its amazing landscape and culture. We also discovered how quickly close, lasting relationships can form with other like-minded adventure enthusiasts.

The Medical rounds were more than I could ask for. The doctors leading our rounds were sensitive, caring, and genuine people who always made sure everyone was content, safe, and learning lots. The experience in the hospital solidified my interest in the health care profession.

At the end of it all I went on the extra trip to the Galapagos Islands and found my favourite place on Earth.

I can't say enough good things about this program and I would recommend it to any undergraduate student interested in a career in health care, or to any person who wants to truly make a difference.

Default avatar
Iamnotmajid
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This program will probably change you for the better

I heard about this program through a friend and I signed up for it without doing a lot of personal research. Well, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. I cannot really explain the effect this trip had on me without sounding like an overtly enthusiastic advertisement. Let's just say that I enjoyed the program so much that I went again the year after and I'm hoping to go again this summer. It's just such a great mixture of volunteering, exploring, socializing, learning, and exposure to other cultures. There was something there that made me feel passionate about everything I was doing. It's difficult to effectively explain all this but I just feel happy and energized every time I look back on my time in Ecuador. It's an experience that will be a part of who I am and what I do for the rest of my life.

The relationships that I developed there, the early mornings at the work site, the songs and games on the long bus rides, the goodbye party thrown by the locals at the volunteer site, the wild life and scenery at the Galapagos, the cool operations at the hospitals, and all the other small details that made my experience unforgettable. These will be with me for the rest of my life and have helped make me into the person I am today. I would not have been able to experience all this without the amazing staff involved in the HLD program and all those awesome people who fundraised with me. So thank you all for creating such an amazing program and for providing this opportunity for cynical students like me.

You may be like me and be skeptical about the program at first. You may think that you wouldn't get along with people there. You may think that it may suck to have to "work" during your summer vacation. But if you're anything like the students I spent the past two summers with, none of these will be the case. I grew past my inhibitions during this trip and learned that life is about taking risks and new adventures, and I am a better person for it.

What would you improve about this program?
Do not go on this trip if you want to go out and explore things by your self. Go backpacking if you want to do that. It's unrealistic to expect the staff to put up with you when your safety is their responsibility. Sit back and enjoy the amazing experience that is HLD. that's what you're paying for. This isn't really a criticism of the program but rather just an important note for those who are interested.

The only critique I can think of is not knowing what the next destination or activity was until the day of.

Default avatar
Dirrty
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Ecua Experience 2012

Not to sound like a broken record, but this was one of the best experience an undergraduate student could have. It's a great balance of hard, rewarding work, and adventure, with the occasional opportunity to relax. All with great people sharing similar interests.

The 4 weeks is a perfect amount of time to really bond with the group and any added excursion (to Galapagos, Macchu Piccu, Iguazu Falls, etc.) is just icing on the cake (or popcorn in the soup)!

Would recommend this trip to absolutely anyone willing to meet new people, go on an adventure of a lifetime, and above all, make a difference.

Default avatar
Carlie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

EcuaExperience 2012

I wouldn't want to spoil this for anyone who wants to go, because one of the best things about this trip is all the incredible surprises along the way - but from snorkelling with sea lions to rappelling down waterfalls, every day is jam packed with an adventure. I took a travel journal, and every day was so filled it was tough to keep up!

The people of Ecuador are so amazing - I knew zero Spanish when I left for this trip, but communication wasn't a problem at all. The guides are fantastic, and the people of the community are warm, friendly, and so much fun to be with. I will admit to a few tears when leaving the community of Pallatanga.

I loved that this trip included EVERYTHING I wanted in a holiday: medical experience, a completely new country, adventure, and incredible people to do it with.

I'd highly recommend this for anyone!

What would you improve about this program?
Eh.. anything I'd want to change is just a first-world problem. And having first-world problems only adds to your phenomenal experience.
Default avatar
LD
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

One of the most amazing experiences in my whole life!

This experience had everything I was looking for in a volunteer trip! The ability to help out a community build houses for their families was such a rewarding experience, unlike any other I have had. Touring the country was another great experience. We had the opportunity to visit cities and towns all over the country including a night stay in the middle of the jungle. The third aspect of the trip was the medical rotations, which were unbelievable. Being able to view real life surgeries and visit patients with the medical tutors was a fantastic experience. Overall the entire trip was amazing. The staff really had your best interest in mind at all times and were extremely helpful and lots of fun!

What would you improve about this program?
The only criticism I can think of, were that the bus rides may have been a little long at times, but the staff always managed to make our bus rides very entertaining! I would highly recommend this trip to anyone looking for a volunteer program abroad.
Default avatar
Jackie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Best Time of My Life

This was such a great time. You get there and feel welcomed right away by the amazing staff. You never need to fear for your safety or feel like you aren't taken care of. The staff really work hard to give you as full and complete and experience as you can get. You feel like your experience really matters to them, they are not just in it to make a buck. You get to see some amazing views and have some incredible experiences. This program offers a pretty broad experience of the vast diversity in the country and the additional trips are well worth it. You get to spend time with amazing young people that are like-minded and driven and interested in the world and its welfare. The accommodations were often better than expected. I would recommend this to anyone.

What would you improve about this program?
At some of the locations a hot shower with consistent pressure was not a guarantee but it won't kill you.
Default avatar
Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Trip of a Lifetime

HLD is an amazing program that I has impacted my life for the better. Not only did I meet some great people who have become lifelong friends but it also helped me decide on my future plans. The experience that I had with this organization will stay with me for the rest of my life and there was not a moment in the entire trip that I was not having so much fun!
I highly recommend this program to everyone who has even the slightest interest in medicine or volunteering abroad. It was a perfect mixture of learning, helping, and touring the country.

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Simon
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Ecuaexperience...

The day to day schedule for the volunteer portion consisted of early mornings where as a group we would all have breakfast together than while making our way to the site we were all given our tasks and put into our groups.
Our lunches were all provided for while we were at the work site.
The people that lived in the community were all amazing! And all helped us with the workload making it an unforgettable experience.

All in all, whether we were on the work sight , or out discovering the BEAUTIFUL!! Country...The memories I have with HLD are some of my best!!

What would you improve about this program?
Wish I could stay longer!!!! :)
Default avatar
Sonny
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience of a lifetime!

Being someone who hasn't been a big volunteering kinda guy in the past prior to this program, I have to say it had to take one heck of a program for me to want to commit my time to it. HLD exceeded each and every one of my expectations and provided me with not one, but two trips of a lifetime! The pre-medical rotations were unforgettable, and being able to not only help raise money for the construction of the homes, but also be a part of the actual building of the homes was beyond rewarding. Not only that, I was able to meet amazing people on both trips and have a blast with them!
I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone and everyone!

What would you improve about this program?
I wouldn't change a thing (although another extra couple days in Canoa wouldn't hurt!)
Default avatar
Smith
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

HLD - The Ultimate Experience

It is hard to put into words this experience and how it has impacted me except that it met and surpassed my every expectation.

HLD is everything I was looking to accomplish in a summer!

1. Make a difference
2. Travel somewhere exotic and get my adventure on
3. Gain work experience

Juan, Jose, and the other leaders create an experience that is more than just a group of like-minded people sharing the vacation of a lifetime. They have create the atmosphere of a family with the goal of helping others and having a blast every step of the way.

The volunteer project stands out to me the most because it is personal and oh so rewarding as you work hard along side the families receiving the houses you're building together.

Thank you HLD for the ecuaexperience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life!

What would you improve about this program?
I would not change a sinlgle thing!
Default avatar
Davis
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

HLD...a truly lifechanging experience

I first went to Ecuador with HLD in 2008 and it was truly a life changing experience. The opportunity to fundraise money in my hometown of Vancouver and take every cent of that money down to Ecuador to allocate towards a building project is something I will never forget. The sense of pride that comes from accomplishing such a goal is second to none. The best part is, it’s your goals, HLD provides the tools and direction but it is really the students who take it on and accomplish it. And that definitely makes a difference when you are over in Ecuador, working side-by-side with the families that will be receiving the homes.

As amazing as the volunteering experience was, HLD is so much more than that. I went in the pre-medical program, which meant I got to shadow doctors through different wards of hospitals in Ecuador. Not only did this allow me to directly talk to doctors and ask them about their profession but it also gave me a taste of the lifestyle. This was vital to my decisions making process when considering med-school.

HLD is the perfect balance of volunteering, learning and fun. In the tour around Ecuador you travel from the rainforest to the jungle to the mountains to the coast. You stay in some amazing locations and get to try out so awesome adventure sports. I also added an extra week trip to the Galapagos…a place like nowhere else in the world…my favourite travel destination I have ever been to.

As you can tell I can’t speak highly enough of HLD. Juan and Jose, the owners, are truly passionate about making a difference and they are there to make sure you have the best time possible. I made so many lasting friendships and wish I could go back every summer!

Default avatar
trm
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

HLD for life

Where do you start a review when you have so many positive things to say?

I'll begin by sharing my initial thoughts on the program. Was it really offering medical rotations, volunteering abroad, and travel? Galapagos Islands?! Machu Picchu?! You've got to be kidding me. It sounded too good to be true. Well let me inform you... it was even better than it sounded. Little did I know how much of an impact the entirety of the trip would have on my life.

Throughout the hospital rotations, Ecuadorian Medical students were there to mentor us which was exciting, fun, insightful, and rewarding. The kindness that these students showed toward patients, doctors, each other, and us, was inspiring. They translated the Spanish for us and were constantly looking out for our well-being. I was amazed at the amount of things I saw throughout our rotations.

As for rural villages, everyone is aware of the poor conditions that some people live in. Maybe you've seen it on TV, or heard details. But nothing compares to seeing it with your own eyes. Nothing compares to connecting with families and playing with children who are constantly happy, yet being aware of their living conditions. Helping build these families better homes and giving them the opportunity to learn and grow is the best feeling I've ever felt. To work alongside these families and to experience their appreciation is beyond humbling. Out of the entire Ecuador trip, Pallatanga is the place I miss most.

There is something to be said for travelling with like-minded, kind-hearted people. The leaders and especially Jose and Juan made this trip beyond enjoyable. So many times I was brought out of comfort zone and from that I learned new things. There was never a dull moment. Jose and Juan always put the students first and were constantly ensuring everyone was happy and having fun. I had the opportunity of going to the Galapagos Islands where we swam with sea lions, turtles and penguins, as well as parasailing over the city of Lima, and hiking up to Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu. I couldn't have asked for better company along the way. This trip wouldn't have been the same without the people in charge of it.

What would you improve about this program?
The only downfall was that because our health was always being looked out for, there was a lack of fruit and vegetables that we could consume. Being a vegetarian, it was a bit tough but I was always accommodated at meals. I would suggest bringing some snacks from home!
Default avatar
Kilee
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

HLD!

One of the best decisions of my life was to decide to travel to Ecuador with HLD. It opened my eyes to so many new things and different cultures. It not only made a difference in people's lives, but gave me a greater sense of the medical field, and allowed me to have a ridiculous amount of fun at the same time. I met some people that I can confidently say I will be friends with forever! If anyone is contemplating taking this trip, there's nothing to contemplate! You won't only change other people's lives but it will also change yours.

Default avatar
SSY
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

One of the most amazing opportunities given to me.

This was a trip I went on about two years ago, just randomly, after being referred to the program by a friend. I had little to no expectation on the program when I went into the program, however, the program taught me so much more and exposed me to so many great experiences with the community and the medical field. I personally grew so much and learned more about myself than anything. I think I realized how sheltered I was, but experiencing and putting myself out there with a completely foreign culture, it allowed me to realize more things. The staff was great, helpful and always made me feel safe throughout the whole trip. The medical rotations allowed me to really get a feel for what doctors and nurses go through. The different rotations allowed me to open my options for what I would like to do in the future. It has also helped me broaden my vision in my goals.