Review Volunteer Amy Runkle Ecuador Quito Volunteering at Homeless Shelter Program
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
She took me there on my first day to help show me around. She took me on the bus the first few days to show me how to get to the program. She also picked me up from the airport. She asked if everything was ok at the project every other day.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
I thought that my project would be more difficult because I have limited Spanish proficiency and that my clients would find it hard to talk to me but relationships can really develop across language divides.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
I spent one week in a coast town helping victims of a earthquake. I was working with kids who are living in tents in the street with their family, it was hard to adjust to this and find ways to help.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (Clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
You don’t really need bug spray in Quito but you do in other parts of Ecuador. Don’t be afraid to get lost and to travel somewhere when you don’t really know where you’re going. Just be patient and ask for help.
5.1-Other things volunteers should know:
a. Don’t flush the toilet paper down the toilet- the system is not set up for it
- Bring warm clothes because it is cold at night
- Even though ABV asks you to take pictures of you with the people you serve, it is really important and ethical to build a relationship with people before asking them to take a picture with you. Always ask, and explain that the picture might be used on the ABV website.
6- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
This program was good because it was able to connect me with a place to stay and a place to volunteer in another country, so I could just focus on the work I was doing instead of worrying about other things. There were also other ABV volunteers at the house that I could do things with. In the shelter I volunteered at, both the staff and the people I served were welcoming and open. I had the chance to lead groups for older adults who are homeless. I also spent time talking with the men who lived at the shelter. We talked about changing and motivation for change and one of the men regularly shared a memoir that he is writing with me.
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
We are in a very safe part of town. I am 15 minutes by bus from my project. The great meals are always very typical of Ecuadorian food.
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
Today was one of my last days and a group I was leading at lunch all decided to sing for me and one of them wrote me a letter about our time together. It was very moving to see that we had all connected so much in such a short period of time.
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
They sent emails to confirm everything and answered all my questions.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?