STORIES OF THOSE WHO HAVE TRAVELED AND VOLUNTEERED WITH US
My name is Jana, I am 28 years old and a designer from Germany. I’m always interested in how communication works in different parts of the world, how we can connect with people so as to work together and how we can improve communication to solve regional, cultural and political problems. I studied graphic design, majoring in social design. Design is more than making nice pictures, funny advertisements, serious looking logos and nice brochures.
Design can help connect different kinds of people with different backgrounds and knowledge to create something more important for a society. We always need to take responsibility for our actions, and I think, we have to learn how we can use our knowledge to create something more significant, helpful and sustainable, before we bring it into the world. I want to do my part by sharing my knowledge for social projects like the ones of NGO Taxi. I also want to talk to people about what kind of possibilities they have in their lives and jobs to do something different, good and helpful every day.
As I studied Social Sciences and Spanish, I was always interested in social topics and especially current subjects, for example migration or cooperation of development. After my Bachelor degree I decided to find an internship in the field of cooperation of development to experience the practical side and learn about the work in the field; NGO Taxi came up on a Google search and, after an informative Skype talk with the owner of the organization, I applied for this volunteer job. I wasn’t disappointed, because what I experienced in this time and what I learned lived up my expectations.
My main tasks were doing social media updates, translation work (translating English website text into German), creating an FAQ database, and, as I speak Spanish, attending some meetings with potential host families with my volunteer coordinator. I was also lucky enough to visit some of the projects in the jungle. The café with which NGO Taxi is affiliated was one of my favorite working places, when I needed a change of scenery.
The internship allows you get to know the work of NGO Taxi in a profound way, and to learn about what it means to work in this field (e.g. how much time and work is needed), as well as having the chance to complete different tasks and (maybe!) visiting the projects. I got a true insight in the actual work of an NGO in South America. In particular, I gained experience in many different administrative areas and learned more about marketing strategies and their importance. In general, I learned how complex the work in an organization like NGO Taxi is, how many people are involved, and how much work there is behind the scenes. The visit to our project sites taught me a lot, because I met the project leaders and some of our volunteers there. They told me a lot and I not only saw the achievements but also the struggles and problems related to the projects we support. Even though the project description may not sound like your field of work – it wasn’t mine either, as I didn’t have any experience in marketing – the organization will lead you and you will learn a lot.
I got to know other volunteers from different countries and therefore different perspectives and opinions. Some of them became really good friends and I wouldn’t want to miss any of the experiences I had with them on the weekends. I also learned a lot about Peru and the people living here. I saw a whole new world and experienced situations that were unknown to me. I had to face facts I struggled with; for example seeing old people begging on the streets or abandoned and sick dogs searching for food in the rubbish. Although I’m still not used to seeing this or the poverty in general, it is part of the whole experience here and it made me once again be more aware of how lucky I am to have grown up in Switzerland, without having to be concerned about how to make it through the day. It has taught me once again that how I live and what I have shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Overall it was a great and unique experience and I wouldn’t want to miss any of it. It was a learning journey and an adventure, as I had the opportunity to travel and to see different places in Peru. It was a time for meeting people, making new friends, hearing different stories, and broadening my horizon. Volunteering is a win-win situation for both sides; you will help people and in return you will gain a lot: you will get to know local people, and learn about their lives, their culture and history; improve your Spanish; have new experiences; live unforgettable moments; visit beautiful places; and make new friends. I can only highly recommend volunteering with NGO Taxi, either as an intern or in one of our projects. I’m sure there is the right project for everyone. You won’t regret it!
I joined NGO Taxi as a volunteer for three months during the summer of 2016 and I can honestly say that it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
The work itself wasn’t too taxing and I was able to play to my strengths, plus I had the satisfaction of seeing the results of my work instantly and knowing that, even if only in a small way, I was helping to improve the lives of many people in South America. My work mostly consisted of writing content for the website and project information documents for potential volunteers, and I appreciated the fact that most of the time I was trusted to just get on with it. I also learned a lot about the administration and infrastructure behind these companies, a totally new area for me.
The HQ apartment is a nice place to work, very light and airy, and the couches are indeed comfortable! However, unless there is a meeting scheduled you can work wherever you want, so I often went to café’s to work instead. My fellow volunteers were all really lovely people, and those who were doing the internship worked well as a team. However, the highlight of the time must be our volunteer coordinator, who is one of the nicest and most hardworking people I’ve ever met.
The other thing which made it so memorable was the city itself. I joined a gym and a salsa school, I took Spanish classes, and by the end I had made several local friends. It was also really special to be able to fully experience daily life in a city on the other side of the world; to go to the same markets as the locals, use the same transport, and take part in the same festivals and community events.
All in all, a fantastic experience I will never forget.
My name is Jonas. I am 21 years old and from Northern Germany. I just graduated from school before I arrived in Cusco. I thought a lot about what I wanted to do in my life after school, which job I should take, where I should move etc. It is not an quite an easy task, so I decided to take some time off, learn Spanish in Latin America and devote myself to my passion for animals. In search of an adequate project, I came across NGO Taxi. Their animal protection project seemed to combine exactly what I was looking for: animal care in the rainforest in Peru, a country that still has so much tradition in their culture. I flew to Peru in November 2014 and after 4 weeks of language classes, I felt prepared enough to start my adventure in the Amazon jungle.
Besides taking care of about 20 exotic animals, I was mainly responsible for maintenance and repair of the shelter. I also guided tourist groups through the site explaining to them the different animal species and typical Peruvian coca production. What I liked most about being in the jungle was the calm atmosphere, the sounds at night and my work with the animals which seemed to appreciate my help in the most thankful way. In total I lived for almost 6 months in a country with a totally different culture and tradition and enjoyed a very simple life in the jungle that made me think a lot about our aims and goals at home. I realized, that I need to be careful which life I am going to choose for myself.
In the animal protection project, I had some experiences that will help me a lot in my future life. In the streets of the little village nearby I met people that, at first sight, looked strange to me, but this was a very interesting experience as well. You learn how to handle situations you are not used to, how to go and buy food that doesn’t come with price tags and how to spend time bargaining on literally everything you buy.
Gathering so many impressions and feeling this different way of life was a totally new experience for me. Personally, it made me much more relaxed. I got to see time and our usual rush from a totally different perspective and now, I think, I can handle new situations with more confidence.
Through volunteering with NGO Taxi I learned about life in Peru and, and of course, about the animals at the shelter in the jungle. You also get to know how to deal with the animals and learn how they react. My greatest experience I had with the little monkey Rosita. She immediately captured my heart. Simply enjoying the day with the animals and seeing that they, too, are so often acting so much like humans is purely amazing!
I also enjoyed the absence of news and television. Life in the jungle showed me again how little one actually needs for living. When we went to see the NGO Taxi’s neighbouring conservation project we met, again, different people in the jungle. We visited a beautiful butterfly garden and stayed the night in a cosy wooden jungle hut nearby. What an adventure! Other than that I just enjoyed sunbathing and reading down by the river…
I have been volunteering with NGO Taxi for 6 weeks. First, I took 1 week of Spanish lessons, then I went hiking to Machu Picchu for almost 1 week, and worked the rest of the time in the animal shelter in the jungle. I haven’t choosen Peru for volunteering for a certain reason. What mattered most to me was that I could work in a Spanish speaking country in order to improve my language skills. However, before my departure, I was told that Peru is supposed to be an interesting country with a lot of beautiful nature and that the locals are very friendly and helpful.
What was most impressive was the local’s commitment to family, their contentment with a simple life and a willingness to help. As Peru is a developing country, it is extremely different from Germany concerning time management and punctuality, but one gets used to it very quickly. The animal shelter is located in the Amazon rainforest in Peru. Working in the shelter and helping with the animals was a great experience for me. The little monkeys immediately conquered my heart. I especially loved the tamarin and the piglet. The best thing is, that the animals can enjoy nearly perfect living conditions due to the shelter’s location in the rainforest in a beautiful area that offers nearly everything: wide open fields, all sorts of exotic plants and trees…
Apart from feeding the animals, I worked in maintenance and the renovation of the shelter. I created a little garden, for example, worked on foot paths, cleaned the area and renewed some roofs. We also often went fishing a lot to get food for the cat and the caimans. I really enjoyed the fishing trips, because we had to walk right into the rainforest to fish in a small side-arm of the Amazon river. Obviously, I haven’t done that before! All in all, those 6 weeks were an amazing experience and an unforgettable time with the animals, people and their culture. Now I am much more confident when dealing with people in general, or rather with strangers. Many thanks to the NGO Taxi for their good organization and colaboration.
Since I’ve always taken an interest in nature and wildlife I was super excited about getting to work in an animal shelter project. The huge variety of species, the magnificent scenery of a rainforest and the day-by-day work with exotic animals all proved to be everything I expected it to be and more.
You are going to do a lot of construction and maintenance work, which can be exhausting due the heat and the insects but don’t worry, the charming silliness of the animals will be sure to keep a smile on your face at all times. Also, for me it was fascinating to observe the interaction and relationships between distinct species in their natural environment. Guiding tourist groups from all over the world, as well as adapting to the cultural differences and this simple way of life, showed me a more outgoing and spontaneous side of myself that I didn’t know I had.
If you are a person who works autonomously and does not depend on being given assignments to get moving, you will enjoy improving the Shelter bit by bit and thinking of ideas to create better conditions for visitors and animals alike. In the end you will not only have made a difference to the project, but it will, and I can guarantee you, have been a changing experience for you as well.
After I finished my studies I decided to travel before my work started. I wanted to do something very different to my study subject and have new experiences. Besides, it was important to me to do something useful and make a difference. As my husband is from Peru, I wanted to explore more of his country of origin and practice my Spanish skills. I was always fascinated by the jungle and had never had the chance to see it before, so I chose to spend a month at the Animal Shelter project of NGO Taxi. It was the perfect decision for me.
After the best Spanish course ever in Peru and a wonderful week at NGO Taxi headquarters with the nicest people and exciting trips, I started my journey into the jungle with my NGO Taxi sister Jana.
Our jungle family Cesar and Victoria gave us a warm welcome and we felt comfortable in the village immediately. The work with the animals on Cesar’s project was an amazing experience. We built a new enclosure for Selva the tapir; showed tourists around the project; rebuilt the fences for the turtles; fed the crazy funny monkeys and sleepy Mochila the baby sloth; and walked with our rubber boots through the jungle looking for the favorite leaves of the Stuarts, the two squeaky capybaras, always accompanied by Unicornio, the dog-like pekari. I had never worked with my bare hands before but besides the exhausting sweaty mosquito part I felt very happy and more grounded surrounded by the amazing colorful nature and the exotic animals.
Besides the experience of the project itself, I got to know the daily life of the people in the village. Although they live simply and don’t have many options they all seemed happy. I liked to see that the family plays an important role; they are all very close and share everything. Even though they don’t have much they are all very friendly and open-hearted.
At first I was afraid to travel somewhere without my husband, friends or family, but it was wonderful to discover that the whole world is full of nice people and I don’t have to be afraid. I will never be alone because in our hearts we are all the same.
I booked my trip to Peru after I graduated school, because I wanted to travel and do something on my own. I love nature and animals, so the animal shelter project was the perfect option for me. When I came there with two other volunteers I was at first a bit shocked because the village had entirely different the standards to what I´m used to in Germany. But it didn´t take much time and I fell in love with the village. Cesar and Victoria were always very nice and cared about me and I also got to know many family members. But the best thing was the project itself. I loved the animals so much and the work in the jungle with Cesar was very exciting. It was a great possibility to come close to wild animals, to watch them and belong to them. It´s so amazing to see that each of them has their own personality. When Cesar and I went into the jungle to get leaves and grasses as food for the animals, he always pointed out things like insects, plants, and birds that I would not have even noticed without him. We also made trips to interesting places, went fishing, and did night tours.
I really enjoyed my time in Peru and realized how much nature has to offer us if we take our time to explore it. I´m grateful to all the people from NGO Taxi who made this trip possible, and I´m planning to come back to Cesar´s project someday.
My name is Anna. I am 29 years old and I was working for a pharmaceutical company in the marketing and sales office for about 8 years. I decided to leave behind a life which was very stressful and did not make any sense to me anymore. Years ago I dreamt about learning Spanish in South America and getting to know this incredible place in the world , not just as a tourist but from a different perspective. So I started my journey in Colombia where I spent one month learning Spanish and then I traveled to Peru, spent one week at NGO Taxi’s HQ, and after that 3 further weeks in the Animal Shelter in the jungle. I was very interested in going to a place with a lot of nature and I love monkeys. During my time at the Animal Shelter it was so much fun to see the animals’ behavior, especially that of the monkeys which is sometimes so similar to a human. I really fell in love with Rosita, the wool monkey. The sounds in the night were amazing, it was a concert of animal sounds.
To be honest the first week was very hard for me because I was not used to physical work and to the simple standard of life. But after I settled into it I was able to enjoy it. I had different tasks, like for example feeding the animals, renovating the shelter, and improving the conditions for the animals. Apart from this we released two of the tortoises into the wilderness, which for me was the most important work as this should be the objective of the shelter. Sometimes it makes me a little bit sad because the chances of releasing the animals into the wilderness are not that realistic as often the financial resources are missing.
I helped for nearly two months as a volunteer at the Animal Shelter project and I enjoyed every day that I was working and living with Cesar and Victoria. This project is a really good way to show the local people and also the tourists how bad contact with the wild animals of Peru is. It wants to protect and to conserve wild animals, like monkeys, tapirs, turtles, parrots, sloth’s, pecaris and nearly every animal which could be used as a pet.
In the past I have never worked with animals, so I collected many new experiences in the Animal Shelter and now I know so much about the wildlife of Peru: for example which kind of leaves a tapir likes, how large capybaras can become, and that the common woolly monkey is a threatened species. Moreover, I learned how much and which combination of food every animal at the project needs and when is the best time to feed it.
As well as the daily tasks, feeding the animals, cleaning the shelter area, and guiding visitors, Cesar and I built a cage for an owl, which was a pet in the village and which has had to learn how to fly and how to catch food. Also, we planted more than 150 trees (Aquano and Paca Pacay) and maize, cucumber, papaya, and watermelon for the animals.
My time at the project was a great experience for me, I got a really good insight into the wildlife, the flora, and the daily life of the local people. Everyone who wants to learn something about these things and who wants to help to protect the wild animals of Peru will be very happy as a volunteer in the Animal Shelter.
My name is Jana and I am 24 years old. I looked for an adventure and I found it with NGO Taxi! Ordinarily, I work in a tax office in Germany, but I decided to use my vacations to work as a volunteer in the Peruvian jungle. I have wanted to travel to South America and experience the culture since I was a little girl.
I spent about 3 weeks in the animal shelter. I lived there with my host family Cesar and Victoria who are so nice and friendly (by the way, Victoria is really good at cooking!). We all lived and worked together and that was a lot of fun. I was only a guest for a short time but I still felt like a small part of the family. The work with the animals at the project was so great! I liked it so much and I miss all of them! It was such a great experience for me and it was also so nice to see how Cesar and Victoria put their whole heart into this project!
I look back with pleasure to my time at the project, I often wish to be there again! I have saved all the memories and experiences and will always remember my time there.
To go to this project was the best decision of my life!
My name is Martín, I’m 19 years old and live in Lima, Peru. As a volunteer I was looking for two things while engaging with NGO Taxi. First, as a Peruvian citizen myself, I wanted to help my country (and its citizens) in whichever way possible. Peru is still a country with very deep needs. All the way from political to educational needs. In my point of view, for me as a Peruvian, it would be irresponsible to go abroad when there’s so much need just around the corner. Second, I wanted to travel, get to know new people, and jump onto new adventures. Now, after 5 weeks of working with NGO Taxi I can say both of my initial motivations and expectations have been fulfilled.
I worked in the school project in Cusco city. Together with one further volunteer we assisted with English classes in a local school. The first days we were shocked by the low level of English from both the local teacher and the children. But isn’t that why we’re here in the first place? It’s true, having to work with such low levels of English might be frustrating. However, it was a genuine joy to go every day to school and stand in front of the kids. The love and motivation the kids show are really rewarding. Everyone in the school, up from the director to the students were really kind and thankful towards us. Now, after my experience is over, I feel I’ve helped my country, even if it’s in the smallest way possible. The rewards are definitely worth it.
But of course it wasn’t all about work. It was also about living and experiencing. Cusco is a place that offers A LOT. There are numerous tours and hikes one can do. Cusco and its surroundings are beautiful and filled with nature and history. As a volunteer one does not run out of things to do. Whether it’s visiting an archaeological site on a Saturday afternoon, going clubbing on a Friday evening or taking a 5-day break to do the Salkantay Trek up to Machu Picchu, the activities Cusco offers made my volunteering a complete and joyful experience. One I strongly recommend to any person looking to travel abroad. There’s no more complete way of genuinely experiencing a new place than working with its people and travelling around when not.
Wow – what a great experience!! 🙂 I did my second project with NGO Taxi in a school in Cusco, teaching the kids of the ‘Primaria’ (2° to 5° grade, 7-11 years old) about nutrition, along with some English and German. There was a lot of chaos at the beginning, but with some discipline and the support of the teachers I had a really good time with the kids. We talked about the basics of hygiene, what is important in nutrition (e.g. food and drinks), BMI, and the pyramid of nutrition. I prepared some worksheets so they could learn the names of different fruits, vegetables, and drinks in English and German. The kids always had the chance to learn other words they wanted to know and I feel I satisfied their interest in Germany. As requested, I also prepared some lessons for the parents, but in the end nobody appeared. It was a bit disappointing but still a good experience, as I realized I had a lot of fun preparing the lessons. On two afternoons I organized a cooking class for both kids and parents together (which involved a big shop in Molino market for 50 people, preparation of the venue, recipe creation, a cooking trial, etc.). Most of the people who had signed up came and we cooked a delicious panful of colorful vegetables with quinoa. I also prepared a healthy drink (passion fruit and green tea) and I was surprised that everybody loved it. I’m so thankful for my time with NGO Taxi and with the kids and coordinators/teachers at the school!!
I appreciate very much being able to gain an insight into the educational system in Peru, which is so different from the one I am accustomed to. I have talked with a lot of local people about the Peruvian system and nobody seems to be really satisfied with it. In Germany there are strong organisations working in the field of vocational training, among other governmental organisations that help to implement the German system in other countries, if they want it. Of course, the German system cannot always be transferred to other countries, but I am very interested in learning about the factors that might promote or prevent such a development.
Getting to know a teacher like the one in the school project was also a very positive experience for me. I guess it would be difficult to find a teacher in Germany more open-minded and willing to listen to foreigners than the one in the school project.
As a peer, I can understand the teacher’s situation, which means I can be more helpful to her in spite of the different situations in Germany and Peru. Moreover, I can contribute ideas and suggestions. However, the teacher needs help in implementing new forms of teaching.
The teacher likes her job and is very motivated to improve, but she is at present not able to do a good job. Her grammar skills are good, but her speaking and pronunciation skills are poor. She is insecure and slightly helpless, and I get the impression that she feels inferior to the older pupils. Moreover, she feels herself under pressure by the Ministry of Education. She sticks to the school book that is unfortunately not a very good one (a lot of mistakes, boring exercises, bad writing skills exercises).
I spent my time in Peru in the animal shelter project. My thoughts of what to expect there were quite different to what I found. The village in which you live consists mainly of wooden huts, with mountains and greenery around you that a photo alone cannot absorb. I felt like I was living in a different time. Time stood still for all inhabitants. I have rarely seen so many happy people, and laughed so freely. It showed me how little is needed to be happy. If you have little you have less fear of losing what was never yours.
I lived in the house of the manager of the project. Together with his girlfriend, we cooked every evening and mostly for the whole family. I really enjoyed being a part of the family and gained insight into their beliefs. On the weekends we mostly went into the jungle. One day we went to the river and fished, after which we built a tent and then I enjoyed the most delicious fish I have ever eaten. But there were also many hours that I was alone, hours in which I learned how to use my mind, to hear, to smell and to see with other eyes. In the jungle you realize that everything around you is alive. At the project you take care of the animals of the jungle, which have been either abused or found without a mother. Eventually the animals were like my best friends. I was already aware of the connection between humans and animals, but this experience once again showed me the beauty of that relationship. During my stay we also built a new hut, which mainly consists of materials from the jungle. Moreover, I worked for several days on plantations and rice fields. Physical work has given me a lot; at the end of the day I was exhausted, but very happy.
At the beginning I felt a little bit lost but then I quickly overcame my homesickness. It may seem all so different but it’s up to you to find the beauty in this way of life. Don’t try to change anything in the world, begin with you and your wonderful experience starts from there.
School’s over. What’s next? A question a lot of young people ask themselves when they’ve finally graduated from high school and are free to do whatever they want. After spending a lot of time during the last 13 years in stuffy classrooms, writing exams and doing a ton of homework, I needed a real break to free my mind and to learn things that nobody can teach you in a school or university. After thinking a lot about it I made the decision to do a combination of traveling, working, and volunteering. Just traveling frees your mind, working abroad is a nice experience, but voluntary service really gives you the unique chance to help people that are in need and at the same time learn so much for yourself, meet amazing people, and really immerse yourself in a foreign culture. Furthermore it gives you the good chance to learn a new language, like in my case Spanish. So I started looking for a volunteering project on the internet and found the NGO Taxi childcare project in the Peruvian Amazon. I really liked the description and the idea of it so I applied for it and a few months later I was sitting on an airplane to Peru, starting the adventure. First I spent 4 awesome weeks in one of the main cities, learning Spanish, taking amazing trips, partying a lot, and meeting beautiful people. Then it was time to leave the NGO Taxi Headquarters for the jungle. I was really excited and a bit nervous about changing my western lifestyle and suddenly living in a totally new culture as a foreign white person. But none of my doubts were legitimate. When I arrived everyone was so nice and lovely to me and welcomed me with open arms. During the next 6 weeks I worked on the project, most of the time with other volunteers on my side. The work consisted of some gardening and very basic cleaning but most importantly of working and playing with the children. Whether it was creating dance choreographies in school, giving English classes, helping with math homework, or just playing football on the nearby pitch, it was always so fun and nice. The kids are really lovely and seeing them being happy without all the luxury that is normal for Westerners made me really think about my life in Germany. I realised how lucky I am to have all the opportunities that a rich western country offers me, and beside of a lot of other things, I learned to appreciate the chances and luxury that I have everyday.
I would say my time in Peru was one of the most special periods of my life! I found a lot of good friends, saw beautiful places, lived and worked in a foreign culture, and last but not least learned so many things that will help me in my future!
Thanks a lot to my friend and coordinator Eli, all the other awesome volunteers and people that I met, and the whole NGO Taxi team for making this possible!
I joined NGO Taxi as a volunteer on the hospital project for three months as I was interested in starting a career in medicine – well, I can say that it has proved to me that this is something I am passionate about doing
During my time at the hospital project I have learned a lot, and challenged myself in many ways. I was pleased to discover that I am able to deal with serious wounds happily; I have learned to cope with being around blood and other bodily fluids; I have improved my people skills through dealing with patients daily; and I have learned a huge amount of medical vocabulary as well as gaining knowledge about basic treatments and common illnesses. I was even lucky enough to attend a birth on my second day!
I have loved working at the hospital as all the staff are so friendly and open, and as interested in my culture as I am in theirs. They have really gone out of their way to include me, including inviting me to share lunch with them, and there is one doctor in particular who takes great pains to make sure I learn something new on a daily basis. All of the doctors are very willing to answer your questions in depth and explain what they’re doing (although you need to ask rather than wait for them to tell). I really like the relaxed atmosphere in the hospital, and the way that the patients are treated like friends.
After over 2 months I still find the work stimulating – apart from the daily admin errands there is always something new and exciting happening – the birth has definitely been the most inspirational thing so far!
All in all, a fantastic experience I will never forget.
Giving German classes was a very rewarding project. I asked some people if they were interested in learning the basics of the German language. It didn’t take long until we had a little classroom filled with 10 people, amongst them my Spanish teacher Justo and another English Teacher I once worked with. We started right from the beginning. It was so impressive how they came to my class every night, even though they were studying in the morning and were working in the afternoon every day. It was a lot of fun as they all were very motivated and hardworking. I think it is a great chance for them to learn German, especially because Cusco is full of German tourists and if people plan to work as a guide it is helpful to know some basics of German.
Also, I really liked my second project. I decided to support our lovely Spanish teacher Libia. She is such a warm-hearted, hardworking and absolutely amazing person and friend that I simply wanted to help her. She deserved it so much. In August 2015 she opened her school and there was still a lot of work to be done. My main task was translating a document that was supposed to be her website as soon as possible. It was written in English (unfortunately the English was not good at all, which was the reason why I decided to proofread and correct the English version first). Then, I translated the whole document into German so that Libi could have her website in three languages: Spanish, German and English. Also, I helped her with decorating and promoting her school. I searched for photos of activities she offers her students in order to create a nice photo wall. This way, new volunteers and students know what kind of options they have, studying at Libia’s school. At the end of my time of being there, I eventually got the whole document translated which allowed me to finally create her website.
Now, Libi has her own website for her Spanish school and hopefully this will help her get even more students to study Spanish with her.
My Name is Alex, I’m 19 years old and I stayed for two months at the reforestation project in the Peruvian jungle. I really enjoyed my time there with Pablo and all the people who came from all over the world to work and live together.
The best moments I had were with Pablo and the other volunteers cooking and eating together, seeing and learning about the animals and plants of the rainforest, developing the project site (like building new stuff for the lodge or making new paths through the jungle), taking a bath in the nearby river, and playing games with the kids in town.
Living at the project means living without hot water, electricity, or a phone service, but that’s why I had such a great time there. Every day you wake up because the sun shines in your face and not because of an alarm clock. I enjoyed the time without any type of electricity or the need to wake up punctually every day. However, if you need to you can get phone service or internet in the towns nearby.
I planted a tree in my time as a volunteer but most of the time I cut bamboo or weeded. At first sight it seems that I destroyed the jungle instead of taking part in reforestation! But that isn’t actually true. What I did was clearing away the so-called ‘secondary forest’ – invasive plants that originally didn’t live in the jungle – in order to create space for the original species to grow. So if you go to the project and you’re helping Pablo to cut plants, even if it feels strange, you are doing the right thing. For me it took a while to see that.
The basic tasks you have to do at the project are cooking, washing dishes, weeding, cleaning the lodge and your room, planting and harvesting fruits like bananas and pineapples, give workshops for the kids in town, and teaching English to the taxi drivers. To sum it up you have to do everything that’s necessary to live in the jungle on your own. A normal day for me was getting up between 6 and 7, having breakfast at 7, going to work from 8 to 11, lunch at 1, more work from 2/3 to 5, and dinner at 7. But there’s no absolute determined daily routine. Pablo doesn’t like to make rules, what means that you are free to do whatever you like whenever you like. For me this was one of the best things a project could teach me.
I can highly recommend this project because of its great atmosphere; the project leader Pablo, who has a great sense of humor and is really friendly and nice; the nature around you, especially the river; and living without any connection to the rest of the world.
For more than 20 years I have been working as a nurse and that’s why I wanted to see the work of other caring professions in another country, like Colombia, who have other cultural habits.
On my first day on the Volunteer Circle, the project leader took me from my hostel in Bogota to her farm. While we were driving, she told me about the situation at the two projects I took part in.
I worked for the first week in the Elderly Day Care Centre, where more than 70 senior residents lived, as most of them were at risk of a life on the streets. During the following weeks I worked at a project for children and young people. It opens after school and in the holidays, and is a place where children receive education and social interaction instead of being alone on the streets. We prepared many things for Halloween, like masks and decorations, and of course we danced a lot with them for fitness and movement.
During my time there a meeting for the sugarcane farmers was organized, where a member of the town council took part. The farmers have many problems like age, illness, too few water resources, and a lack of manpower. All of these problems were to be mentioned at the gathering so that maybe there will be help from the government. To organize that, we had to visit the farms nearby on an almost daily basis. Hiking there was lots of fun and I enjoyed the overwhelmingly beautiful countryside.
The trips at weekends to other areas of the country were really exciting. We did things like visiting and exploring caves or we simply relaxed and partied.
In the end I was deeply impressed by the work of my project, who stands for the rights of humanity and tries to help without getting tired.
Muchas gracias a NGO Taxi y a la organización donde trabajé, donde tuve muchas experiencias para mi vida.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Galapagos project. Not only was it a beautiful place, but the locals and project staff were very welcoming, friendly, and helpful. I felt at home as soon as I arrived and there was a strong feeling of teamwork throughout. There was always a good atmosphere and any of the rare disputes were settled peacefully through listening and compromising. The project leader really motivated the volunteers and made it fun, although the work could be physically exhausting, and one sometimes came away with blisters from the tools or many mosquito bites.
My daily tasks mostly consisted of weed and invasive species control, gardening, everyday hacienda duties (such as milking), various community activities, and a weekly hippotherapy session. This last task, for me, was a particularly meaningful experience that I will not forget quickly. After work you could go to deserted beaches and swim with the sea lions and tortoises, go for a walk in the forest, or relax at the project site. At the hacienda you can still see the balance between man and nature, and the tranquility of that and connection to the natural world was something I really liked. I have definitely become more environmentally aware, learnt to live with less, and became better at getting on with strangers.
There is good English spoken on the project, although you do live in slight isolation, as there is no phone or internet signal, nor other tourists, and the only way to get to town is via taxi, which you have to book ahead. However, the surroundings made up for that, and members of the local community often helped, so you got the chance to find out about Ecuadorian life. I also felt extremely safe on the project, and I liked the fact that the local community directly benefited from what we were doing.
If you come to this project, I would advise you to be ready for physically demanding jobs and have an open-minded attitude, as well as be able to cope with many animal species, including insects. But if you are prepared for this, you will enjoy an once-in-a-lifetime experience. This is a well-organized and very welcoming project which I would definitely recommend!
I also took part in the surf and help camp. Because I worked with local people and did different activities, I had a lot to do with them. I felt well integrated and was soon no longer seen as just a tourist, but taken into the community, which can be particularly important when you are in a project for a long time. The project leaders were very keen for me to learn about local life and culture as much as possible.
On the project I fed the injured animals and provided medical care as well as generally ensured that all animals feel comfortable. I have learned to rely more on myself, and the local people have valued my help, even when I improvised; for example, when I spontaneously gave some children an afternoon of English lessons.
I would definitely do the project again, as it was a very varied time in my life. A good mixture between commitment and work, while at the same time recreation and fun.
I volunteered at the school project of the Volunteer Circle and I really felt like I made a difference. The people on the project site are not very familiar with foreigners, but due to my presence in the school and in the community they became very curious to learn more about European people, welcomed me with open arms, and were very happy that somebody from far away was interested in them and their country.
The teachers and students in the school highly appreciated my work. The head teacher and the head of learning teacher said this more than one time to my project leader. On my last day there was an ‘evento de agradecimiento’ (appreciation event) prepared by students from all the classes and the teachers. Moreover, I received personal letters from dozens of students, telling me how precious the previous weeks had been. Also the parents gave me positive feedback, so that I think I left a positive impact thus enabling future volunteerships in the region.
I spent my time on the Volunteer Circle project working with the sugarcane farmers, who do not have enough workers to help cultivate their land and need help to meet the requirements for large-scale panela production. I really enjoyed my time with them, as I enjoy physical work and like to see the results from the work I do immediately, as well as knowing that I am a real help to the individuals involved.
I generally worked on the same task each day, and my most frequent tasks were assisting with the cleaning and packing of the sugarcane, or helping to plant new plants. However, during my time there, I also helped to build a composting area; produced a poster for the farmers explaining composting practices; gave a presentation on good hygiene in the workplace; and helped to plant two trees which can be used as a natural fertilizer and insecticide. I worked a lot with hand tools such as spades and rakes – be prepared!
Initially the farmers were quite shy, as they were unused to volunteers and they do not speak English. However, they quickly relaxed and made me part of the family. The project leader is an extremely helpful woman (fluent in English) who is very generous with the food she provides, and the accommodation is very clean and tidy. I discovered that in general I loved Colombia, as the people were so warm, welcoming, and accepting. The landscape was amazing and so varied – it was like you could find the whole world in one country.
I felt I really made a difference with this project, and was made to feel very welcomed, appreciated, and safe. An experience I would definitely recommend, especially for those who already have knowledge of farming or would like to gain some.
You definitely have close contact with the local population on the surf and help project, which I personally particularly liked. One of my frequent tasks was to feed the animals, to keep their enclosures clean, and to measure and weigh some animals (such as turtles and penguins). During the free afternoons I surfed course or just to went with other travelers to get something to eat.
Sometimes we had day trips instead of working. For example, we spent a whole day in a nearby large city and visited a whale museum and observed wild sea lions. Another time we did a bike tour and participated in the construction of an octopus house. It is definitely not boring here!
Since I’ve been here, I have experienced so much that was exciting, but my highlight was feeding the penguins. One of the three came on the same day as I did and I immediately fell in love. I’m looking forward to every opportunity I have to feed the penguins!
I found the experience of having to deal with situations which do not occur in Germany fairly easy. Here it is usual for there not to be running water, and for frequent power cuts or internet problems. Since these problems are generally fixed by the next day, I took this with humor which helped me be unaffected by it.
A highly recommendable experience!
During my time volunteering on the Colombia recycling project I was very impressed with the good relationship between the project and the locals; the community seemed to be very interested and enthusiastic in what we were doing, which made my time there even more enjoyable. I was also very impressed with the smooth organization of the language school, which enabled me to progress rapidly.
Overall, a really enjoyable and positive experience which I would highly recommend.
I was interested and motivated to work in Peru because of the vast amount of research I had done on it in preparation to complete my advanced senior work. I was very happy to have gained first hand knowledge through experiencing and observing the local culture and customs as well as talking with locals and getting a better understanding on their views of their country and its history. I feel a connection to the local people that I met and worked with in the jungle and they were very welcoming and really worked at sharing their culture with me. I was even able to learn some words and phrases in Quechua.
For me volunteering at a reforestation project site was a chance to create a greater connection between myself and the world I live in. It was also an opportunity for me to gain experience and knowledge about native plants and their uses, which I had a personal interest in. I have learned about certain plant species and animals and about how to be a participant in the natural world around me and conscious of my impact on it. After having done so much research and reading on the history of Peru, being able to interact with people and learn about their cultures and lives and what their personal views are of their country was very important and enriching for me.
Katharina and Jochen
Parents of an NGO Taxi Volunteer
We just want to say thank you for the gorgeous time that our son spent with NGO Taxi!
He really had a great start to his world trip year!
We always had a good feeling and knew that he was in good hands with you!
The best thing about my experience as a Volunteer for the NGO Taxi Headquarters is that the work you do will really be used. You can read your own texts in the internet and see your work.
I really enjoyed going to the language school. The content of the classes varies every day. At first the teacher talks to you for a while and teaches you Spanish grammar. When she notices that you are getting tired she simply changes the program so that you can concentrate again. Sometimes we went on little excursions to the market or to the coca museum. This helped me learn useful vocabulary and how to make conversation in a relaxed atmosphere.
Learning Spanish at the school in Ecuador as a beginner was a really good experience. I learned really fast and a lot. The combination of trips around the city and cultural and culinary events makes learning Spanish a whole new experience. You walk straight out of school and can use what you just learned. During school hours, you get to know a lot people that form a community and share daily
experiences. The school is extremely well-organized and gives you enough comfort to learn efficiently as well letting you have enough space and freedom to travel and make your own discoveries. I thought the accommodation was excellent too, and the teachers were all fantastic. I had a really great time learning Spanish with NGO Taxi in Ecuador.
I am very impressed by your business. You use an intelligent and empathetic approach so that you can get things done within the countries that you work and give young people a meaningful experience along the way.