Tanya Read – Review


Why did you want to volunteer?
To explore and travel at the same time.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Absolutely! The project I helped in was a day nursery for some of the poorest children and they simply don’t have enough people working there to do everything. It was a lot of running around and making sure the children had something to do and were okay but it was great fun and the time went really quickly each day.

What did you do for fun?
We visited Otovalo and went to the coast for a few days.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
There wasn’t one thing which stood out as it was all so much fun. Practising my Spanish with the children was interesting and involved lots of laughing, I don’t think they understood I wasn’t from there so kept repeating things to me. The staff often had to try and translate but it was funny.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
We were a really great little bunch, there were 3 of us then another girl finished her stay but I think on this project it’s more about getting to know the locals and the people you work with than some other projects which are busier, at least that’s my impression as I met a girl who’d done a couple of other projects with OV which were bigger groups.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
I would like to visit India next and maybe a couple of others too.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
Wetwipes for your project so you can wipe the children’s hands quickly when they get covered in paint.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Speak Spanish from day one, regardless of how little you know, it really makes a difference and opens up opportunities with the local people. Don’t do what I did and worry about Spanish so much I didn’t speak to anyone, a few hellos really opens things up and makes everyone else comfortable with you too! Go for it!

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Shannon King – Review


Why did you want to volunteer?
I wanted to include some volunteering as part of my trip around South America and liked the look of the programme on the website. I wanted something which wasn’t too touristy and a chance to learn Spanish for the rest of my trip.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
I’m not sure how much difference I made as I was only there for two weeks but I think the children liked the activities I organised that they’ll remember.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
Learned Spanish with some other volunteers and travellers. That was a really good way to meet other people who were working elsewhere and travelling.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
The others on my Spanish course.

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise, why was this?
There was a small cafe near my hostel which was friendly with internet and computers. Other than that the hostel was a nice place to hang out in the lounge and watching local TV.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
Yes maybe another year, this trip was a big one, but if I have the time I would like to to Kenya.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
A couple of little activities you can get out easily when you need them to entertain the children. I took travel connect 4 which I’d read had been used on other projects, they really appreciated it and hadn’t played before even if they were a bit over-keen and ended up playing other games with it afterwards too!

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Enjoy yourself!

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Catherine Scott – Review


For my first trip with OV I chose Ecuador as it fitted in nicely with my travel plans from Ecuador to Peru then Argentina, Brazil and home.

It was a country which has aways interested me since I read about a local man who went round the country on motorbike for charity. It seemed to be a small country with everything in it and yet you don’t hear much about it in the news.

I spent two weeks at a nursery in Quito and then two weeks on a conservation project in the forest planting and clearing ditches. Both projects were very different. I also took Spanish classes for my first two weeks in the mornings which were invaluable to me as I only knew the basic words for hello and goodbye when I arrived. My dictionary was essential for the conservation project as no one spoke English there!

I was able to bond with the children in the nursery easily and made friends with the staff and other volunteers at the conservation project. I am still in contact with one of them and hope to revisit one day.

Overall it was a fantastic way to start a longer trip and made me more confident on my subsequent travels, I am not sure how confident I would have been if I hadn’t volunteered first.

Advice for anyone else? Learn some Spanish before you go because it’s easier to build on what you know already than start from scratch. Oh and you don’t need malaria tablets if you are only in the city as it’s so high up!

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Craig Russell – Review


Why did you want to volunteer?
I just finished my degree and wanted a break before work.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Some of the projects don’t have as many staff as at home so I think we helped just by being there.

What did you do for fun?
Trekking and the otovalo market, although it’s a bit touristy and you can get the same stuff for less in Quito the atmosphere at Otovalo was special and made a nice day out.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
For me day one was the best experience, just taking your new surroundings in and so many different experiences and new friends in 24 hours.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
I made friends with one of the staff at a nursery I was working at. They invited me to a family party which was great fun.

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise, why was this?
There were too many bars and cafes to mention – there wasn’t one in particular and there was a good crowd of foreigners and backpackers around to make friends with aswell.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
I wanted to fit in Peru this time but my budget wouldn’t stretch, maybe next year.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
A jumper and waterproof jacket as it can get colder in the evenings and it does rain a bit sometimes.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Make friends with local people and invite yourself, they are all so friendly but you can’t be reserved. That way you get more out of the experience.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas