EcuaExperience: Pre-Medical and Volunteer Programs

Video and Photos

ecuador
ecuador
paint
paint
Medical Rotation
Medical Rotation
Pujili community
Pujili community
friends for life
friends for life
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 106 - 120 of 231
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Andrew
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Month of My Life

Every day there were activities on this trip that seemed like something out of a movie. From the galloping horses around a volcano, to tubing down the Amazon river and rappelling down waterfalls, each day was one to remember. I found myself getting to the hotel every night reminiscing on the next incredible experience we had had that day, which allowed the group to become so close.

The medical rotations were a major reason I signed up for the trip. The tutors were fun to hang out with, and I learned more in that week than I ever have in that time. Although I was able to scrub in on surgeries and was able to see things I never would have been able to in Canada, the volunteer experience was the most rewarding. Although I had done something similar in high school with Free The Children, the contact with the locals was unparalleled. We finished the week with a soccer match, and a farewell dinner that was very emotional. It was a truly humbling experience to know we had made a difference in these people's lives.

All in all HLD was the trip of a lifetime. Juan, José, and the leaders made sure everyone was taken care of and happy at all times. My time in Ecuador I have made lifelong friends and have had the best month of my life.

What would you improve about this program?
MORE FOOOOOODDDD!!!!! I just eat A LOT.
Default avatar
Johnny
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Opportunity of a lifetime

HLD has been an absolute blast. I enjoyed every part of it, whether it was watching medical surgeries only a foot away or repelling down waterfalls in the Amazon rainforest! Each aspect of this trip has an outstanding amount of wonderful things to be offered. I learned more than I ever imagined I would throughout the medical rotations and got really close with the tutors that taught us. For myself, nothing will top building the homes for the families of Pujili. We all worked very diligentl and every second of it was worth it. It was amazing to see the level of gratitude each and every one of them had for us, especially the kids. Getting to see how the families used to live and then helping construct a better future for them was truly humbling and I am very grateful for being apart of such an experience. I am very thankful for the friends I met the first day and even more thankful for the family that we have become. The HLD Ecuaexperience is a trip of a lifetime and has impacted my life greatly. I highly recommend HLD to all that want to experience what the medical field is like, to make a difference in many families lives or even if you just want to see what the beautiful country of Ecuador has to offer, you will have a blast.

What would you improve about this program?
The program itself is layed out in a pretty awesome way. You definitely get a lot more than you expect coming into the trip. However, my only suggestion is bigger food servings, there is a lot of physical activity on some days and lions gotta eat :p Everything else is fantastic!
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Michael
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience of a Life Time

Literally words can not explain the experience I have had with HLD. I have made some lifetime friends as well as learned a lot about myself. With the help of the med rotations as well as the mentors I now know without a doubt that I want to be a doctor, which is something no other trip can offer. Sitting here at the end of my trip writing this, and trying to think back to all the thing I have done since landing in Quito blows me away. Each day is jammed back full activities whether it is watching open heart surgery, rappelling down waterfalls, playing beach volleyball in Canoa, shopping in the markets, or hiking through the amazon rain forest. To anyone reading this review and thinking whether it is worth it, I can personally guarantee the trip is worth every penny.

What would you improve about this program?
Honestly you do so many activities with such a wide variety of aspects, that it is difficult to say what could be improved. I think the trip did an outstanding job of addressing everyones interests but keeping in mind the range of comfort levels. If I was forced to say one thing about the trip thats could be improved it would be the food portions. People of the trip are super busy everyday (which is how it should be) but after a long day they (generally the boys) are very hungry and the food portions in my opinion were not enough, with no opportunity of seconds for those who wanted it.
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Genieva
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

HLD was an absolutely incredible experience!

HLD was an incredible experience for me. I learned an unbelievable amount during the medical rotations, and had an amazing time meeting lifelong friends. Yet for me, I think the volunteer aspect of the trip is what stood out the most. It was quite life changing to see how genuine the people of the Pujili village are, and how happy and grateful they are for the homes we helped build. It was extremely touching to have that interaction with the community. One difficulty I experienced was getting quite sick and having a hospital visit, and while that was difficult to experience and miss out on events, I definitely learned a bit about my self and strengths I have, as well as encountered the kindess of the staff during my recovery in Quito which I am very grateful for. I absolutely will recommend this trip to as many people as I can, as I believe it is an extremely valuable trip and have become very passionate about the HLD program.

What would you improve about this program?
I find it difficult to find something to improve, however perhaps the medical rotations could be started an hour later as we all found that week very exhuasting! Also, there were a few instances where the breakfast was barely ready for us before we had to leave in the morning for rotations which caused us to eat very quickly, however it all worked out!
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Jenna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

100% worth your time

HLD provided a trip like none other. The food, accommodation, and activities were all fantastic. What makes this program extra special is the volunteer experience and the friends I made. The whole group became like a family away from home.

Working alongside students like myself and the local families who would eventually receive the homes, made the volunteer work very fun and much more meaningful. Through this experience, I learned to appreciate all that I have and the opportunities I will be given for the mere sake of living in a incredibly blessed country such as Canada. I will never forget the overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude I felt by helping these lovely families and I thank HLD for creating such an amazing connection between us.

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Grace
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

HLD was the best month of my life!!!

My month in Ecuador travelling with HLD was the most amazing experience of my life. Although the cost of the trip initially made me hesitant, after coming on the trip I can say that it was 100% worth every penny. The three components of Help Learn and Discover were very evident during the trip and it was an unreal experience working along side med students in the hospital. I learned so much for than I could have ever imagined during just one week of medical rotations. The volunteering week in Pujili was life changing and really was eye opening to me and it was clear to see that we were making a difference in the lives of others. The amount of different places and activites we were able do on this trip was amazing and I can not say enough good things about my ecuaexperience!! All I can say is, if you are thinking of doing HLD, DO IT!!

What would you improve about this program?
The medical rotations I think could have started an hour later in the day. The breakfast was very rushed before getting to our rotations, and then usually once we got to the hospital we ended up just waiting around for an hour anyways before things got busy and before we started doing things.
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Ghoncheh
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing Ecuaexperience

I was first pretty skeptical about spending thousands of dollars to spend a month of my summer with strangers in a foreign country but I can honestly say it was the best decision I made and easily the best month of my life! The activities I have done here just isnt possible to do in Canada, and the opportunities are a once in a lifetime experience.

Help: We went to Pujili, Ecuador to help build 20 homes for families in need, truly an amazing eye-opening experience! Spending time with the community helping them build their own homes was a really rewarding experience and im glad I got the opportunity to make a difference in the children's lives and their futures. Overall It really put things into perspective

Learn: This was the first year HLD launched the pre-dentistry program and it was super interesting because the pre-dent students got to clean eachothers teeth, learn how to take moulds, look for cavitieis as well as go to the hospital and learn about surgerys, radiology, ER, internal medicine, and stiches! It was great for someone who might possibly be interested in both fields. This was an incredible portion of the trip as we had the opportunity to participate in med rotations by shadowing doctors and dentists in the OR/ER - something that just isnt possible to do in Canada.

Discover: This part of the trip consisted of visiting different parts of Ecuador and participating in various different activities. Trying to do all the activities HLD lined up for us in the same time frame would have been hard if I visited Ecuador alone but having Jose and Juan take care of you making sure you see all you need to see in the month is just super convenient. I have met the best people and had the best time in all the activities planned.

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Jennifer
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Once in a Lifetime Experience

Wow! Is the first thing I would like to say since just finishing my time in the Pre-Med 1 group of HLD. I have met so many BEAUTIFUL, AMAZING people on this trip that I will honestly cherish for a lifetime. That alone has been one of the greatest parts of this trip. You get to know so many different things about people and just really get to know them and I loveeeee making new friends, even moreso to just be around people who have some of the same goals that I do - like going to medical school.

Secondly, the things I have done in just 28 days has been INCREDIBLE. I have seen so much, learned so much. The medical aspect of it where I actually got to be in the operating room watching surgeries was honestly just mindblowing! I have never come across any opportunity to do that on my free time. The tutors that I met were all SO SMART. I admired all of them so much and they taught me so much, things that I will hold onto forever.

The volunteer portion of the trip was beautiful as well. It was the most eye-opening, humbling experience I have ever had in my life. The people are so grateful for what us volunteers are doing for them, and the kiddies are so cute and loving. It was an amazing environment to be around and it really taught me how blessed in life I am. I do not regret any second of helping to make a new life for these wonderful people that are less fortunate than myself. I loved doing that for them.

The discover portion of the trip blew my mind out of this entire universe! I have seen and done so many things in such a short time. The founders, which you will immediately love!!!, made sure that I was always having fun and that everything was always perfect. And everything indeed was always perfect. I won't go into detail about what exactly we did here because it should be a surprise, should you choose to join the HLD family - which...who wouldn't?! This has truly been overall the most amazing experience of a lifetime for me. I would tell the world about it if I could!!

Every single penny that I spent was MORE than worth it and I would do it all over again if I had the chance! I love HLD and everything that came with the package. HLD til I die!!!!!

What would you improve about this program?
I truly do not know what I would change about this program. It was perfect to me and I enjoyed every single bit of it.
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Grace
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable Trip

When I was preparing to come on this trip I was honestly a little nervous. I wasn´t sure what to expect or what kind of people I was going to meet on this trip.
I leave this trip in a day and I can say from the bottom of my heart that I have never regretted a single day on this trip. From the amazing new people that I´ve met to the many adventures that I have gone through, this trip has changed me as a person. It has opened up my eyes to so many new things and I feel that I am going home with a new perspective in mind. These three weeks have been unforgettable and incredible. If I could stay longer or do it again I would. The volunteer experience was amazing. Knowing that I was making a difference in the lives of others that were less fortunate than me left me completely speechless knowing that I could do something so big for someone else. I am looking forward to coming back sometime soon and seeing the same amazing people I spent this incredible time with.

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Jane
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience of a Lifetime!

I had the time of my life in Ecuador with HLD! The program was really well balanced for those who want to see another country, have fun, learn about medicine, and help those less fortunate.

There is no such thing as a typical day for this program, every single day was different and exciting! We did about a week of medical rotations which I found very informative. It was an experience that pushed me further towards my dream of someday being a doctor because I greatly enjoyed witnessing the physicians at work first hand. The hostel we stayed in was also super nice and really new at this time. Sometimes in the evenings we did workshops where we learned skills like suturing!

Next we went to the volunteer site where I got to interact with the community and work towards a common goal with them. We built 21 houses throughout the summer but in May it is mostly digging. Hard work but well worth the end result of helping the children and parents who I had come to know build a home they will keep for generations.

Also dispersed throughout the program are travel days and a tour at the end of the month where we saw many parts of the Ecuadorian landscape including the jungle, rain forest, coast, and for some of us the Galápagos Islands. I was able to cross a lot of adventures off my bucket list through this program, while also lending a helping hand to my fellow man and learning about a career in medicine.

Overall my experience was fantastic! The guides really catered to eating restrictions as much as possible and were very friendly and welcoming. I would definitely want to return to Ecuador with HLD someday!

What would you improve about this program?
I wouldn't change anything really.
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Fadl
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Experience of my Life

The Help, Learn, and Discover: Ecuaexperience program was the greatest month of my life, hands down. It has something for everyone.

HELP: Students get to volunteer a portion of their time in Ecuador to helping a community build homes (and a better lifestyle) for themselves and their families. Students were able to interact with the community (including their adorable children) while putting in lots of work to ensure safe and beautiful homes were built. We also had a great amount of fun doing it!

LEARN: Students were also involved in medical rotations in which we were able to visit different wards in the hospital and experience things like the ER, OR, and ICU. We also did case studies that involved learning objectives that we presented in front of a group of medical students. This was a great learning experience that allowed us to think hard about our cases (rather than do simple research and presentations). The tutors themselves were extremely knowledgeable and helpful. They were kind and eager to teach us.

DISCOVER: This portion of the trip allowed students to visit different parts of Ecuador and learn about its vast culture and history while still having an incredible amount of fun! From horseback riding at the base of a volcano to an amazing beach resort, there is never a dull moment. Every minute of this trip was fun. Even the bus rides were great as we all grew as a family during this time and sang along to popular songs.

LEADERS: The leaders of this trip were extremely fun but made sure we had a safe experience as well. In particular, Juan and Jose (founders of Ecuaexperience) were the best hosts anyone could have asked for. They did not have many restrictions on students, giving us the freedom to have a lot of fun but remain safe. They were also involved with the students and created long lasting relationships with all of us. They're fun, energetic, and extremely caring about anyone and everyone. I'll never forget everything they've done for me.

FAMILY: The people you meet on the trip come from all parts of Canada and the United States and each has their own unique back story. But on this trip, every single one of them becomes a part of your family. Life long relationships WILL be formed. The hardest part about this trip is leaving everyone you've met at the end.

What would you improve about this program?
This program has very little, if anything, to improve on. In general, everything was perfect and I could not have asked for a better experience.
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Kim
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Month of my Life

Overall I thought the trip was incredible. Every single day was better than the last. I have so many amazing memories and friendships made from the trip. One issue was that we had no idea what our schedule would be for the month until we arrive at the hostel in Quito. Although I was worried about not knowing my schedule, I found that it wasn't that big of a deal anyways. We learned to go with the flow and enjoy the laid back lifestyle.

My trip began with a week on the Galapagos Islands. It was AMAZING! If you have the opportunity to go then don't miss out on this week. (Volunteer, Bio med or extra week) We swam with sea lions and penguins! Our leaders took us to see everything. After the week was over I felt that it was the best week of my life.

The next 3 weeks consisted of traveling and visiting the work site. As soon as I stepped foot on the work site I knew I would like it even more than the Galapagos. I felt that we really changed the lives of the families we were helping. During those 3 weeks we also got to see A LOT of Ecuador. I could have never fit so much in if I did a trip on my own.

The only other issue I had with the trip was the food. We spent a lot of money to go on the trip but I was hungry often. Breakfasts didn't usually consist of much more than toast and cereal. I understand that it is expensive and difficult to serve a group of 30 students but I wish we got a little bit more and maybe some snacks during the day.

The organization and food were minor issues I had with this amazing program. We were involved in helping a community in need while also getting to see this beautiful country. I would recommend HLD to anyone.

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Teddy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

2014 Ecuaexperience

Jose and Juan are the most hands on owners ever. They made the whole experience worthwhile. Not only were they accompanying us on our everyday trips, no matter the problem, big or small, they took it into their own hands. This trip was a total eyeopener.

What would you improve about this program?
What I would be the events. Some of the events were not as entertaining nor exciting as I would have hoped.
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Sunaira
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Experience

This trip was incredible to say the least. We went on amazing adventures such as snorkeling with sharks, swinging off a cliff in Banos, hikes in the jungle and much more. The volunteering portion was my favourite part, it was so touching when we got to give the homes away and celebrate with the community after, it was definitely a joyus day! The galapagos was my second favourite thing. The water was so blue it was just amazing! The week in galapagos just flies by because you are having a wonderful time. Juan, Jose, Olivia and the other staff are so supportive and you feel extremely safe when you`re with them!

What would you improve about this program?
The amount of travelling time but that´s really hard to fix unless you cut down on the activities, which would suck.
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Mandy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A True Ecuaexperience

My experience with HLD was unlike anything I expected. Obviously a great amount of adventure is a given, but what I did not expect was how close we got to Jose and Juan. It's more than just a vacation and it's more than just a volunteer summer camp. It was a retreat from the city life with random people - a potentially estranging experience - who became friends and family. We grew together and learned more about the world together. More than that, we got to do the same with the community that we helped. It's a sort of connection that's more than just going to a place, we were completely immersed in the culture with locals as our friends and guides, people who welcomed us with open arms. We didn't even feel like foreigners.

What would you improve about this program?
Although I enjoyed the spontaneity of not knowing what's happening next until it happens, I feel that some people would have liked to know a little more beforehand (like which days would be travel days, etc.). I know it's difficult to have the itineraries ready beforehand but I thought that some people were ansty.