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
Giant Tortoise that is native to the Galapagos
Giant Tortoise that is native to the Galapagos
Volunteer site in Pujili
Volunteer site in Pujili

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 211 - 225 of 231
Default avatar
olé,
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

HLD is the place to be

This trip has honestly been one of the most amazing experiences in my entire life. I learned so much! I learned a lot about the culture in Ecuador and South America in general. I learned about how to make a lasting impact in a community. I learned so much about myself.

This was such a great trip because there was so much balance! We worked hard but we also had tons of fun :) I'm so grateful for the fact that I can look back fondly at building homes from scratch and knowing that its made a positive change for so many families. Best of all, some of my best friends today are from this wonderful experience.

Going through all the medical rotations definitely helped me narrow down my career choice and helped me establish what I want to do and what I really don't want to do. This opportunity really wouldn't have been possible at home. If you're not sure which aspect of medicine/health care you want to be involved with, this program will definitely be an eye opener.

What would you improve about this program?
Those long bus rides! Although, it was really great bonding time...
Default avatar
Skinner.
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best trip of my life!

Going on this trip was definitely the best and most rewarding thing I have ever done. I had considered doing other volunteer trips before but Help, Learn, Discover stood out from the rest and I'm so glad I chose them.

I felt like I was really able to make a difference in the lives of others. The interaction with the community you're helping is remarkable. These people have barely anything, but they welcome you with open arms and treat you like family. I will never forget seeing one of the homes we were replacing, no one should ever have to live like that. This program is truly making a difference!

They take you to crazy places and have these amazing activities for you to do. You get to experience Ecuador like a local would experience it. Going to the Galapagos Islands was a dream come true for me, without HLD I may have never been able to experience it.

If you are looking for something meaningful, life changing and so so so much fun, look no further than Help, Learn, Discover!

What would you improve about this program?
To be able to go back on the trip over and over and over again.
Default avatar
Wilson
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Ecuaexperience knows what's up

This program is one amazingly unique program, it is meticulously planned. From the medical rotations, tours, construction of the houses, and everything in between. It all starts with Juan and Jose, these guys are unbelievable and will make an everlasting impression on you. They construct a team full of wonderful students to lead you through an astounding journey. Beginning with the fundraisers until you arrive safely back home.

Building houses for Pallatanga was one of the most rewarding experiences in life. After touring their town, you'll feel vibe of something special going on. Being able to touch so many lives by donating your time is just remarkable. As far as the medical rotations go, you'll learn much more than what you were expecting. For someone looking into the medical field, these rotations will help you gain a different perspective. The tutors can answer any kind of question you may come across. They're very knowledgeable and advice they give is definitely worth jotting down.

The tours are breathtaking experiences. Being at the top of Machu Picchu made me feel like I was king of the world. Sharing the entire experience with a diverse group of people is phenomenal. Also, these are the same people who are on the same path as you. By surrounding yourself with motivated individuals similar to yourself, will only help you succeed in life.

After participating in this program, you'll honestly learn more than just helping others, you'll gain valuable life lessons as well. Hands down, the best 5 weeks of my life! You'll definitely come back with more than a handful of stories, I know I did.

What would you improve about this program?
I would suggest start fundraising as a collective group earlier in the year. Perhaps think about changing to Delta Airlines instead of American Airlines.
Default avatar
frkyfrsh
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience

Overall the most amazing experience I have had to date, a very memorable trip with amazing people. Building houses in Pallatanga was a very special week and I would never have gotten an experience like it without going on this trip. Seeing how happy and grateful the community was for our presence was a truly life altering experience and knowing that our group has made an impact in their lives is a great feeling, because they have made a huge impact on my life. Of course the traveling was fun also, hard to believe all the cool things we got to do, in such a short period of time, but it was all worth it. Be prepared to be 100% all the time, this is an experience of a lifetime I would recommend to anyone looking for an experience to get them out of their comfort zone, to meet amazing people and to do things they might never do again.

What would you improve about this program?
Pack lots and lots of snacks! Ecuador time is very very different from North American time, and if you're like me and get Hangry, you will appreciate having some granola bars with you. Otherwise if you're thinking about this trip - WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR
Default avatar
traveller
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The true Ecuaexperience

Help, Learn and Discover was an amazing experience. I decided to go on this trip, despite the high price, because it seemed to be the perfect combination of my interests. After my experience I can say that it was everything I expected and more and it was worth every penny. In short, it was the perfect mix of helping others, a unique educational experience, amazing sites, fun activities and topping it off with a group of the most unbelievable people I have ever met.
The staff bend over backwards to accommodate the students. I would wholeheartedly recommend this trip to anyone.

Default avatar
AT
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Ecuador 2012!

As corny as it sounds, this trip truly changed my life and my outlook on life. I'll break it down into the three sections

1. HELP: This was amazing. While we were there, we had great accommodations in Pallatanga (we had a good place to sleep in and had hot water). What I really liked about this was that we had a lot of chances to interact with the community. They were there with us while we were building, they had a welcome and farewell party for us and we had chances to play soccer with them too. This was the part that changed my outlook on life because these people were so generous and loving even with what little they had in material things. I wish we could have spent more time in the community!

2. LEARN: The med rotations were cool because it's an experience you're unlikely to have anywhere else. You don't have to have any previous training or medical experience/knowledge at all. Some cool things my group saw included a surgery and a birth. It was also cool to spend time with the med student mentors, learn CPR and stitching.

3. DISCOVER: Touring Ecuador was great! We saw lots of waterfalls and different towns. We had a chance to surf too which was a lot of fun.

If you have the chance, do an extra week trip. I really regret not going to Peru!

What would you improve about this program?
My critiques:
1. I wish we had 1 day for doing historical sight-seeing (ie. churches etc.)
2. Like other reviews have said, there were issues with our airlines. We had lost baggage and our travel itinerary was almost completely different from our actual travel routes.
3. More organization/communication with the company regarding clothing orders
Default avatar
jregnault
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best five weeks of my life.

I had an incredible time in Ecuador. The experience was a fantastic blend of home-building as volunteers, exposure to the medical field and to the system in a developing country, and of course plenty of recreation. I was able to lead and to follow, to share my skills and to make an immediate, visible, and lasting difference in the lives of the people I met. The medical component was engaging and educational and it reaffirmed my passion for medicine. We toured from hot springs and farmland to mountains and beaches and jungle and cloud forests, sometimes in the same day. As a group you move from urban to rural areas and experience the culture gaps. The hikes to waterfalls were exhausting and invigorating and I went hang-gliding and learned to surf with one-on-one instruction from a pro! If you can, don't hesitate to take an extra week in Peru or the Gallapagos, or try the new one in Argentina. The food ranged from incredible to not so hot, but it never mattered and I was never sick. I met lots of incredible people and never for a second regretted my decision to go. I would definitely go back.

What would you improve about this program?
I didn't know what to expect until I was on the ground doing it. Make sure you talk to your leaders and fundraising group at home to figure out what to put in your pack. Don't worry about buying gifts until you find the perfect one, there're tons. and don't buy "Alpaca wool" until you tour the farm in Peru, the other stuff is acrylic.
Default avatar
pastHLDstudent
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

OH MY DOG!

To all the amazing people at HLD, and all the volunteers that made my month in Ecuador the best, I give you my most sincere and appreciative slow clap. Thank you so much!
To everyone and anyone considering this trip, it is definitely worth it! It truly is the whole ecuaexperience!

My experiences working with the community, sharing the excitement and hope for better days with them, and being able to feel like i really made a difference were life changing.
The insight into the different aspects of medicine was more than I expected. The medical students were fantastic at providing information, getting us into surgeries ect, and translating what was going on, or asking our questions in spanish. What I was able to see and learn was truly amazing and eyeopening.

The adventure tour was some of the most fun a person could have with a group of friends in Ecuador. From the trips and activities in the Amazon jungle, to the beaches and surfing in the ocean, it was an action packed 11 days of awesomeness.

This program does it right! They make it their goal for you to have the best time possible, and trust me it's not hard to have the time of your life. The people you meet on this trip become instant lifetime friends and make the trip that much better. Would recommend this trip to anyone I know, and I will never forget my time in Ecuador.

PS: Ruban, keep ridin dirty my friend!

What would you improve about this program?
Bus rides can be long, but thats just how it is.
Default avatar
TRUMPETMASTER4900
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great People, Great Trip

This was truly the most unique experience of my lifetime. Imagine touring in a foreign country. How would you travel? What would you do? Most likely you'll visit a fraction of the major attraction sites without getting the first hand experience of what LIFE is like in that country. You will just be a tourist. HLD gave me an in-depth view of the common life of Ecuadorians and their struggles. It allowed me to actually see first hand the culture and how it has structured the people of this nation. I can say that during this trip, I was part Ecuadorian and to be able to leave the tourist's shoes and participate in community building gave me the feeling of being appreciated.

What would you improve about this program?
The food. Sorry but it was very dull. But that's not in your hands.
Default avatar
bhandal
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

First taste of Global Health

As someone who now works in the realm of global health, I would attribute this program with planting the first seed. Although I had reservations about participating due to the ethical issues associated with 'volun-tourism' in the South, I went anyways, and was happily surprised. This program is different from others since the program co-ordinators are Ecuadorian locals who seem to really understand how the country/culture functions. I would definitely suggest this program for students wishing to get a taste of what it feels like to work abroad, since there is such a good balance of work and play.

What would you improve about this program?
I wish that we were given some language training prior to the program. I wish that I had been able to communicate more effectively with the people and patients, especially when we were in a rural and public hospital setting.
Default avatar
Jay
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Experience! Would do it again in a heartbeat!

The medical rotations were super rewarding. Really made me realize that i want to study medicine in the future.

Great sightseeing and tour component - really get to see every side of Ecuador.

The bonding experience with everyone in your month is incomparable. Made friends to last a lifetime :)

What would you improve about this program?
DO NOT fly with American Airlines. Ever.
Default avatar
Jessica
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The True _Ecuaexperience_

During my time in Ecuador, I kept a journal (something I highly suggest if you go by the way), and every day I took the time to write some of the new things that I learned. Here are some of the main things I took away from my trip to Ecuador:

1) I really felt I made a difference volunteering. Although the volunteering in Ecuador building houses for a small village was the main (and by far the funnest) part of the whole trip, I would say I became a volunteer basically right after the first meeting after receiving notice that I was accepted into the program. The first thing we got to do was create fundraising plans to raise money in order to buy the materials we would need to build the houses with. I served as the treasurer for my group, and so I personally got to see that the money we raised went directly towards making payments to the various shops and vendors in Ecuador that helped supply us with goods (like, right down to actually giving the money to the shopkeepers in person). It was also gratifying to see a place that was originally bare all of a sudden have brightly colored houses standing there by the end of the summer.

2) I made lasting friendships, not only with my fellow group members who did the trip with me, but also with some of the local adults and children who lived in Ecuador. To this day, I still keep in touch with people who now live in the houses we helped to build, and it's lots of fun to exchange stories with them about what's going on in our lives and hear about how they're doing! In addition, some of my group members are now my closest friends--I don't know, something about spending a whole month together and having to endure doing medical rotations and volunteering together really built a group mentality that I enjoyed. Above all, the feeling of being in a group and accomplishing something that we all love together is a great feeling.

3) I got to witness just how diverse a country like Ecuador is within itself. I don't think I've ever been on a trip in which you can travel to mountains, beaches, hot springs, rainforest (the Amazon!!!), farmland, and large cities all at the same time. It was certainly an amazing experience going to all these difference places! One thing about Ecuador that was a new experience for me was the altitude--sometimes the altitude changes we experienced while we were travelling by bus were significant enough that our water bottles would concave or slightly inflate!

4) I gained insight into the nature of the medical field. Before this trip, I had a thought that I might want to do medicine when I graduate, but after this trip, I now know that I WANT to do something in medicine when I graduate. While we were in Quito doing medical rotations and taking lessons, I loved every second of all the hard work we were tasked with. The medical rotations were some of the coolest things I've ever gotten the chance to do. We got to get a glimpse of basically all the main fields in medicine, including ER, OR, Pediatrics, radiology, Sports Medicine, and Internal Medicine. In addition, during the week of medical rotations we were split into groups and given a group research project, and I learned A LOT from doing that project. The coolest part by far was that the project was in the form of a patient case study, and so I got to experience firsthand what it would be like to diagnose a patient. Absolutely the coolest experience ever.

What would you improve about this program?
Be prepared for long bus rides--they're really the only way to get from place to place in Ecuador, but trust me, the bus rides are worth it when you step off the bus and find yourself in a new place for new adventures!
Default avatar
hldpaststudent
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Experience of a Lifetime

This trip became the best month of my life by far. From the crazy activities that created endless friendships to the unexplainable feeling you achieve by changing the lives of countless local families in need, this trip is an emotional roller coaster in the best ways possible. I couldn't have expected any more from what I got out of this experience. Nothing could ever compare to how this trip could change an individual.

What would you improve about this program?
The only problem we all faced were baggage issues with our flights. Definitely change airline companies and don't fly with American Airlines.
Default avatar
Past
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

LOVED IT

Everyday there were activities going on that involved the group. The experience was so great and I loved it. I would do it again in a second. Building houses was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done! Also the medical rotations I got to take part in furthered my interest and drive to attain a medical career, however if you don't want to go to med school this program would still be absolutely amazing. I went down with an open mind for the program and I absolutely loved it and made some new life long friends. All the leaders and organizers of the program are enthusiastic and fun, they helped to make the trip even better! Absolutely no regrets about doing it and I would recommend it to everyone!

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

Trip of a Lifetime

Everyone was amazing on this trip. I went in not quite knowing what to expect and had the most rewarding trip! It was fun, educational and we helped such amazing people - totally worth it!

What would you improve about this program?
Most rewarding, educational, fun experience I've ever had.