Volunteering abroad: a week with the Pakay Chikta community

My favourite lil’ man Justin

DISCLAIMER: I tried to keep it lighthearted and funny, but I’m not really sure if I succeeded. I hope it is still entertaining for you in a different way. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve always felt lucky with the experiences I’ve had. Since I was very young I have been taken all over the world by my parents and grandparents which is why I fully blame them for firstly: starting this blog and secondly: catching the travel bug.

However, I don’t really think it was until 2016 when I first visited South America that I understood what I really wanted from travel. Not to say lying on the beach with a cocktail isn’t fun, but sometimes there is only so much relaxing you can do when in reality – your life isn’t all that stressful.

I booked my trip to Ecuador with Volunteer Eco Students Abroad (VESA)ย so it meant that they organised EVERYTHING. Weย spent some time exploring the Amazon jungle (which you can read about here), a couple of days in Baรฑos (read my weekend guide here) and my favourite part of the trip – volunteering with a local community.

In the short time we were there, I really saw the positive impact we had on the community.

 


Did you know? 55% of Ecuador’s indigenous population lives in poverty.


 

VESA have a powerful vision to create a positive relationship between student volunteers and the communities they work in.

Their website says that they were set up ‘with a vision to promote Direct Action support in communities and regions where traditional charities and aid do not operate’.

This is where we came in. ๐Ÿ™‚

We had a number of projects in the village that not only included providing basic needs to the community, but the necessities we were making possible for them were mainly things that I take for granted every single day.

Clean toilets? Basic plumbing? Improved education? These are things I have had since birth,ย and yet there were adults in this village who up until last Summer had lived without it.

The people we met were also so accommodating and lovely. Below are a couple of pictures to prove we were working hardย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ’ช:

Almost done ๐Ÿ™‚

Construction – most family homes had a toilet block built outside. The tanking system meant that for the first time they had a proper, working toilet. YAYย ๐Ÿšฝ๐Ÿšฝ๐Ÿšฝ

We also finished off some of the blocks made by previous VESA groups:

PS. Check out the mozzie bites on my legs

I promise this miserable face is actually a sign of satisfaction and accomplishment lool

My favourite part of the volunteering was teaching in the village school. While they had a basic education in both Spanish and Kitchwa, in order to get a place in a secondary school closer to a city, they need to know English.

The kids were so excited and eager to be taught. The schooling isn’t compulsory, so they allย wanted to be there and it was nice to see ๐Ÿ™‚ .

Plus they have the cutest teaching assistants!

We also brought them gifts from home – they were honestly SO EXCITED, and it was so humbling to see how something so insignificant to us could make them so so happy.

BEST GIFTS TO TAKE (FROM MY EXPERIENCE):

  • Books and pencils (for the teachers)
  • Rulers, colouring books, stickers etc.
  • Hair clips and cheap accessories
  • Toy cars and football t-shirts
  • Footballs, volleyballs etc (remember to transport them FLAT)
  • Bubble blowers – these were a HIT.
  • CUDDLY TOYS

โญAll my gifts were from Poundland!โญ

As we were the last group that would be working with this community, we had a celebration at the end of our trip.

We had a last meal with the children and they performed a dance in traditional Kitchwa clothing. It was such a nice way to end our week with them. ๐Ÿ™‚

Plus — this was our daily commute, you seriously can’t complain can you?

Aaaaaaand here are some more of my favourite photos from the Pakay Chikta community:

There was a lot of rain on one of the days – and I DIDN’T HAVE WATERPROOF TROUSERS.

This volunteering opportunity was hands down one of the best things I’ve ever done.ย If you take anything away from this post, then take my advice and do something like this if you can.

Whether it’s abroad or just in your local community, it is hands down one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences.

 

Watch my Ecuador after-movie below (keep your eye out for my lil friend Justin in the Batman costume๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š)

Also – thank you Sarah and Rachel for letting me use some of your photos, you da best xxx

Have you ever volunteered abroad? Let me know in the comments!ย ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ’ญ

 

If you liked this post, please share it! It helps me a lot xox

 

This is the last Ecuador post I promise, maybe. Happy travelling, Holly xoxox

 

If you’re not bored of me yet:

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