EcuaExperience: Pre-Medical and Volunteer Programs

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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 226 reviews
  • Impact 9.7
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 46 - 60 of 226
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Winston
10/10

HLD gives you 200%

To start, HLD is hands down one of the best summer programs that anyone can choose to do! The combination of doing medical rotations, volunteering your time to those that need it, and touring the country has just the right amount of fun, learning, and rewarding experiences that you definitely will remember for the rest of your life. Whenever I was looking for a program to do over the summer, I wanted to do something that I could help out those less fortunate in another country, while also learning something valuable in my life. HLD fit what I was looking for perfectly! I went into the program the first day completely blind, and coming out my expectations were blown through the roof. The friends that you make and the things you do with them are something that will stay with you forever. Spending time with them for every moment of your life for 3-5 weeks allows you all to grow incredibly close with each other. I did the 28 day Pre-med with an extra week at the Galapagos. The pre-med portion was extremely organized. Everyday, I knew exactly what time and what I would be doing. In the end, I learned so much about the medical field because of all the different things we did. The tour was also very well organized. I knew where I was going and how much money I should bring with me. While some times I didn't exactly know what I was going to be doing, the surprises were well worth it! It made the whole experience even better! Finally, the volunteer portion was in my opinion the best part of the trip. After the week, seeing the joy and emotions from the community was the most rewarding aspect. You feel like you have made such a positive impact in their lives and know that they are much better off thanks to your work. I also did the extra week in the Galapagos on my trip. The week was absolutely amazing and I felt like I got a very good taste of what it is like in the islands. Now to wrap up, HLD has profoundly changed my life. It has made me further my interest in the field of medicine, and made me appreciate what I have back home. Being a 17 year old on the trip, I was welcomed as equals among people older than me. For those that aren't quite 18 yet and debating whether to go on the trip, I would still consider the trip. The trip is well suited for teenagers like me. Also for those considering about going, don't look at the cost. While the trip is by no means cheap, that factor should not be what decides if you go or not. You get way more out of the trip than the money you spend!

How can this program be improved?
The pre-med booklet could be in physical copy rather than in a USB stick. I did not bring a computer and had troubles trying to find a way to read it. Also I would suggest sending the booklet home early so students have time to read it beforehand. I already had very little time in my busy schedule and trying to cram another thing on top of that didnt work out. Another thing would have some knowledge of what to pack for med rotations. I was lucky to throw in a dress shirt into my suitcase before I left! Otherwise I wouldn't have any sort of professional attire other than t-shirts.
Yes, I recommend this program
Tori
10/10

HLD family

My trip to Ecuador with the HLD program was a life changing, educational and humbling experience. First of all I can't emphasize enough how incredible Jose and Juan are at creating a welcoming and exciting environment. By the end of my three weeks with the HLD family we really became closer than I could have imagined. The experiences shared amongst our group of friends are hard to put into words but I will try. I danced under a cabana in a thunderstorm in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. I played with the children of grateful families impacted by HLD's hard work over the years. I followed the process of a newborn baby from birth to vital signs to the neonatal unit. These are only a few of the many, many treasured memories I have from this trip. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone interested in learning more about the world, learning more about themselves, learning more about the medical field or learning more about dedication to a cause.

Yes, I recommend this program
Haereen
10/10

HLD 4 life

I’m so glad to have come across this program and these past 21 days have been an amazing experience of a lifetime for me. I really did get to experience all three components of helping, learning and discovering. My group spent a week in Jama volunteering for a local community that was affected by the earthquake in April. We were able to interact closely with them as we worked along side by side from morning to evening, as well as play soccer and other games. Even though there was an obvious language barrier, we were still able to connect and understand each other. This week in Jama gave me an opportunity to look at things from a different perspective, and taught me how to appreciate everything in life. We were also taken on a tour around Ecuador - from the markets of Otavalo to an incredible 6 hour hike in the Amazon rainforest and even camping in the bottom of a volcano crater! I got to see and do things that I never imagined were even possible, and it was an amazing experience. For all you students interested in medicine or science, this program offers pre-medicine, pre-dental, bio-medicine and physio programs where you get a chance to experience what those professions are like and do on a daily basis as you shadow doctors and surgeons. I did the pre-med program and got to shadow many surgeons’ surgeries, participate in patient rounds with doctors in the ER, learn how to draw blood from patients and stitch wounds, visit the radiology department and learn how to read scans, and so much more. If you are interested in medicine I recommend this program as it gives you an introductory to working in hospitals!! I really do recommend this program to everyone and anyone - even if you’re not interested in med school, they also do offer volunteer programs, ranging from 17 days all the way to 31 days with extra travel weeks to Machu Picchu and Galapagos! During my visit, HLD has consistently put our best interest and safety first, and I can assure you that if you do decide to travel and volunteer with HLD, you will have the most amazing, incredible experience of your life.

How can this program be improved?
It would have been nice to be more informed of the weather!! I know that weather varies in Ecuador, but I feel like a more detailed update of the weather/climate in all the places that we visited would have been nice. For an example, I was prepared for very hot and humid weather for the whole trip so I packed lots of shorts but I found out that Quito (where the medical rotations and the hostel were) was actually pretty cold enough to be walking around in jeans! Also, it would have been really nice if we could've received the medical booklet (and the whole USB too maybe) before arriving to Ecuador. This would've given us the chance to pre-read the booklet without feeling rushed, as we were overwhelmed with a busy schedule and adjusting to a new country that we were not able to focus on our readings in the hostel at night.
Yes, I recommend this program
Shannon
10/10

HLD in my veins

It is really hard to write out, in a brief summary review, all I felt, learned, experienced, saw, overcame and loved during my 21 days in Ecuador. This trip was the perfect combination of adventure and thrill seeking activities, hands on learning along side enthusiastic med students and wise physicians. And of course, I feel at the heart of the program, the volunteer week. The numb muscles from the work will leave you but the smiles and tears of joys from the community live in you forever.

I can't tell a story of my favourite memory...because each day I spent in Ecuador topped the next. From the little things like getting caught in the rain in a rainforest! making special friends in Jama and spending endless hours laughing with cool kids with whom you can relate to, Ecuaexperience will be the highlight of your youth and guide your future to bigger and better things.

How can this program be improved?
Improve transportation to and from airport for travellers travelling by themselves.

I love the surprises but some information a little soon in advance, like some of the activities we can expect in order to pack appropriately.

Jose you are the bomb! Thanks for spending so much quality time with us.
Yes, I recommend this program
Noah
10/10

life-changing experience at HLD

My experience with HLD was a life-changing one, especially since it was my first time going to a third-world country. My first week was a medical rotation. We went into operating rooms to observe how surgeons work and emergency rooms to learn about doing clinical histories and diagnosing. At one point, the hospital had a black out. It was the first time that it has happened in the hospital. I was surprised by how the surgeons stayed calm and reacted quickly by turning on a flashlight. Numerous patients came in and I was able to see and analyse many different cases. This part of the trip reinforced my dream of becoming a doctor. I would recommend the pre-med program for everyone because it is truly inspiring. The tour part was also amazing, especially the hot spring and tubing. The volunteer part of the trip was what impacted me the most. It was so different from my expectations. Before the trip, I expected people in misery in the town destroyed by a major earthquake. Yes, the town was pretty worn down. However, people were willing to work their hardest to reconstruct the town. The people of the community, even kids, helped to build the foundations for the containers. I was tired by the work, but I got my energy from the people working as hard as they could. Even after their hard work, they always had smiles on their faces which was incredible. I felt guilty feeling sad because of small matters back at home, while the people of Jama enjoyed everything they did even after their town was destroyed. This part of the trip made me realize that I should live my life with a positive mind because I am extremely lucky to be living in a first-world country. I also realized that helping others gives me extreme happiness, which caused me to set a new life goal: to become a doctor and travel to third-world country to help less fortunate people.

How can this program be improved?
The program could be greatly improved if we are given more information before the trip (about destinations of the tour, the details of medical rotations, and the situation in the volunteer sites and what we are doing exactly). Although I understand that not revealing much of the trip was an effort to make it more interesting, I think that more clarity would attract many more people. Also, although the medical workbook was helpful, I did not have time to read everything. It would be nice to have the booklet emailed to the students few days before the trip so that they can read it thoroughly and more efficiently learn the materials thought by the tutors. Also, it would be much less stressful to the students. The cost of the trip could also be more transparent. When I first saw the cost of the trip, I was reluctent to go because I could not understand why it would cost so much. After three weeks, I realize now that the numerous activities, food, and hospital opportunities make up for the cost, but the high cost may discourage people from coming. I wanted to bring a few friends with me, but they did not go because they did not think that it was worth the cost. I hope that whomever is reading this would consider my suggestions. Otherwise, it was a truly amazing trip.
Yes, I recommend this program
Jaime
10/10

Absolutely amazing experience

By far the most amazing program you could find. There are none of its kind, as there are not other programs that can give you the most rounded experience like this one. Help - you volunteer at a site in Ecuador to help build homes for families in need. My trip was building homes for the community of Jama, although due to the earthquake before, the homes were built in Manta and sent to Jama, due to the state of Jama being unfit for us to stay & work there. Learn - You get to experience hospital rotations, and learn all about them. You get surgery, where you're actually in the OR, 3 feet away from a surgery, ER where you get to learn all about what happens in an ER, and maybe even practice taking vitals on patients, Sports Medicine, OB/Gynecology, Radiology, pretty much anything that you can think of, this program lets you experience it. Discover - You spend a week touring around the different areas of Ecuador getting to experience the Amazon rainforest, amazing waterfalls, beaches, mountains, everything that the country has to offer. It's all so much better than just reading about it, or looking at pictures that other people have taken, until you actually experience the sheer beauty of the country, you don't truly get to appreciate it.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Anna
10/10

Trip of a Lifetime

This experience absolutely changed my life for the better.This program made me grow and allowed me to enjoy and be thankful for the little and the large things in my life, it made me want to spend more quality time with my family. This is only referring to the volunteer portion. Volunteering with HLD is something you can not experience any where else. You get the opportunity to make friendships with the families you are helping.The medical portion truly helped me decide where I want to take my life and how I want it to be shaped. The things I saw, such as looking through the microscope during an eye surgery, and do still make me smile with joy every time I am able to tell someone new. Finally, the Ecuador tour was incredible, I truly feel like I saw a a great portion of what Ecuador has to offer. My favorite experience was tubing down the amazing river and staying in the middle of the amazon jungle. The next morning we all woke up and went on a hike where I got to see all different kinds of bugs and swing from tree vines. If you get the chance, definitely take the extra week in Galapagos, it is a habitat you will never be able to experience any where else. HLD sure takes care of you there and makes sure you get the most out of the Islands through snorkeling, volcano hiking, and more. As a result from what I have learned, experienced, and saw on the trip my only hope is that other people can do what I did.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Suraiya
10/10

The best summer EVER!!

I have always wanted to travel and explore other places in the world. I never thought I would get the chance to do that especially with such a great group of people. What was even better was being able to see the impact HLD makes and meeting the individuals whose lives we help change for the better. I also really enjoyed the adventurous detours, activities and beautiful landscapes such as the view from the "swing at the end of the world", the horse riding at Cotopaxi, exploring Moussaoui and going on a tour of Quito. Looking back at my experience with help learn discover I know I chose the right program and I would do it all again.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Brenna
10/10

Best month of my life!!

From the second I got of the plane I knew I had found a new home. I was welcomed warmly by Juan and one of the tutors and brought to 593 hostel where I made immediate friends. The following week in medical rotations I learned so much about current medical practice and techniques and how to talk to patients. It was educational an educational and fun environment where I saw so many different aspects of the medical field and even participated in patient examinations.
The following weeks volunteering was just as amazing! Seeing the happiness of the children every day and how hard the families worked was truly inspiring. The community greeted us with open arms and shared so much with us. We truly felt like part of the community and leaving was the hardest part of the trip.
Traveling was done mostly on weekends and brought us around all of Ecuador. From the Amazon Jungle, to Canoa beach, to Mindo rainforest and of course Quito, there was no path too far away for us.
Leaving Ecuador at the end of my five weeks was like leaving home. I have no doubt I will be returning one day!

How can this program be improved?
I wish we could have spent more time in the Jungle and the Galapagos being truly immersed in the nature and watching the wildlife.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Carolina
10/10

One of the best experiences I've ever had

HLD provided me with an incredible experience. José and Juan, along with the leaders went out of their way to make every single one of the 28 days we spent in Ecuador amazing. Even though the medical rotations stood out to me in particular, volunteering and exploring Ecuador did not fall short. Working on the houses in Pujilí and getting to give them to the 20 families was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. While exploring Ecuador we went from swinging at the "End of the World" to waterfall repelling in the jungle to surfing at beach. Every single aspect of the program exceeded my expectations. Food was great and so were accommodations. This will be a trip I will never forget.

How can this program be improved?
Maybe providing the students with more information on all the activities and the raw schedule of what the trip will be like would be helpful. If I would have been informed, I would have packed very differently.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Korede
10/10

The most incredible experience!

Whenever people ask me about how my trip to Ecuador with HLD went, I always find it hard to come up with words to fully describe the experience.This is because one word cannot do justice to the brilliant work that is put together by the company, Help, Learn & Discover, to make sure that your 28 days in Ecuador are incredible.

From being able to witness a hip replacement surgery, to riding horses next to an active volcano, tubing down the Amazon River, and being able to spend time in the diverse Galapagos Islands, this experience truly is amazing.

You are also given the opportunity to change the lives of 20 beautiful families by building and providing them with new homes and being able to see the impact that we had on the children and their parents are memories that I will forever cherish and never forget.

I want to thank Juan and Jose and the entire staff associated with HLD for the fantastic experience.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Jason
10/10

The Greatest Experience of my Life!

HLD is a life changing, eye opening, once in a lifetime opportunity! I have done this trip for two years now and both times my experiences were amazing! The great work this program does for the people and villages in Ecuador is so amazing, as they give the families a chance for much better lives with access to much more necessities. The learning portion of the program is a great experience as well difficult to find anywhere else, as students are able to go through medical rotations and view the scenarios the doctors go through each day from things such as childbirths to surgeries. The discover portion of the trip as we travel through Ecuador is a ton of fun and great experiences from doing things like waterfall repelling to surfing the beaches of Canoa! There are so many great activities I never thought I would get the chance to do and am very grateful that HLD was able to help me cross these certain things off my bucket list! I highly recommend this trip to all people and can guarantee they will all have an amazing time!

How can this program be improved?
Honestly this program is amazing and I wouldn't change anything about it!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Sam
10/10

Incredible Experience!!!

This trip was amazing. It exceeded my expectations and I would recommended it to everyone. I learned so much about the medical field, as well about myself during medical rotations. In the help portion of the trip, we had the opportunity to work along such deserving families and hang out with the sweetest children. And I will never forget giving the houses away, it was such an incredible feeling. Ecuador is a beautiful country and this trip does an great job of exploring and showcasing it. But if you have the chance, go to the Galapagos, it is a trip of a life time. This trip is worth the cost, you get to meet and build great friendships with students all over Canada and the States. Best trip of my life!

How can this program be improved?
I would spend more time volunteering and spend more time in the Galapagos.
Yes, I recommend this program
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tina
10/10

You should go at least once in your life

I spent a month in Ecuador over the summer this year with HLD and it was the best decision that I had ever made. Everyone that made HLD possible were the most caring, kindest, and lovable individuals that I've ever met. If there was a problem or something that you weren't satisfied with, they made an effort to fix whatever that was wrong. Moreover regarding the trip itself, instead of volunteering for the entire month, along the way we stopped at all the major tourist attractions in Ecuador. It was all carefully planned out. If something unexpected were to happen, there would always be a backup plan. Even if it meant stopping at a different city that was not on the itinerary due to unforeseen circumstances, the hotels/hostels were always safe and the best the town had to offer.

At the end of the trip, I had a tough time saying goodbye to the country and everyone that I met there. I definitely recommend going with HLD especially if it your first time travelling alone. The trip help me grow as a human being, and i wouldn't hesitate to go back next summer.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Negar
10/10

Best Experience!

It is going to be the best month of your life. You have one week of med rotations that you can see and learn a lot, also there are amazing tutors that will help you out with your questions and teach you many materials. Volunteer week is absolutely amazing, and you get to spend time with great people of the community. Rest of the trip you get to see Ecuador, which is a very beautiful country, and do many activities. You usually spend the nights in the best hotels that are available and have amazing meals. The price of the program is more than worth it, and the month is unforgettable.

Yes, I recommend this program

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...