Our international partners accomplish amazing things with volunteers. Read their stories.
Volunteer assistance is critical to enabling our international partners to create change in their communities. Many of them have shared the work they were able to accomplish with the help of international volunteers. Read their stories below.
Rosario, Intag print story
February 26, 2012
Volunteering in Rosario – Intag
We spent roughly ten weeks living with a family in Rosario and I have to say that they are some of the most caring, friendly and generous people I have ever met. Their way of life is very different to what we are used to and the family provided us with many new experiences. One day we walked for a few hours to get to the best place to pick blackberries. On another we picked beans that grew on a corn crop on the side of a steep hill. We also learned the process involved in making baskets – collecting the vines, splitting and shaving them and the actual weaving itself. Picture this; sitting on the lounge room floor, listening to music, drinking beer and weaving baskets in rural Ecuador. Not an experience I ever thought I’d have.
During our time with the family we introduced them to a few new things too, such as making pizza and playing cards. We also taught them about our culture and way of life and exchanged stories. Although there was a language barrier, our Spanish being only basic when we first arrived, we were still able to communicated and understand what the family were saying (mostly). This was especially true of one of the family members who uses a lot of hand gestures and actions when speaking.
We also taught English at the local school, which due to our lack of Spanish was a little difficult at times, but hugely rewarding and a lot of fun. For the younger children, who were still learning to read and write Spanish, it was a lot easier to draw something or point at something and teach them the English word for it – rather than getting them to write it down. The older children who had a better knowledge of English, thanks to the volunteers that came before us, really enjoyed to test that knowledge by playing games.
For someone that is considering volunteering here there are a few helpful things that I can tell you; firstly, gumboots/wellingtons/rubber boots (whatever you want to call them) can come in really handy as it does get quite muddy if it has been raining – you can bring a pair with you or buy some in Cuellaje. Secondly, if you have to have access to the internet on a regular basis it might be better to ask Ned to place you with a family close to or in Cuellaje. We walked into Cuellaje from Rosario a few times without any problems at all, but it does take a lot of time – meaning that’s less time you’re spending with your family on their farm or at one of the school. Alternatively, you could catch the school truck or milk truck into Cuellaje in the morning and the school truck back in the afternoon – but again this still takes a lot of time. Thirdly, bring wet weather gear. If the sun is out there isn’t a problem with drying clothes, the problem is when it’s not or when it starts to rain when your clothes are on the line. Furthermore, it is a rural farming area meaning there are bugs, some of which bite – so bring some insect repellent with you. Additionally, if you decide to teach English at one of the schools, you might consider bringing some paper with you, as the children sometimes forget their books, and also a whiteboard marker. Lastly, if you ever have any problems or questions ask Ned (aka Edwardo) he is always available to help or chat. It’s also a great idea to spend a night or two at Ned’s so you can discuss with him exactly what you want out of the program – this will allow him to place you in the right area with a family that will better suit you. Plus you’ll get to meet his lovely dog Benji. Additionally, it can be better to stay the night in Cuellaje and catch the milk truck up to Ned’s in the morning, rather than in the afternoon, as this means you won’t risk doing some of the walk in the dark.
Our time in Rosario was an extremely worthwhile and amazing experience; there is nothing more we could have asked for. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank both Ned and our lovely family for making it everything that it was. Hopefully we’ll be back to visit one day soon.
Hannah and Lee