This guest blog post is brought to OSSO by recent Ecuador volunteer, Kaitlyn Mecham.
1. This will be the hardest but most rewarding time of your life.
Almost every morning you will wake up at 7:30 a.m. Most of the time, you will roll out of bed without makeup and with your hair in a ponytail. But, you will be greeted by the sweetest faces once you get down to your shift! You will help get them dressed, eat food, do therapy, and play for the rest of the day.
2. There are bugs here.
Luckily, the bugs are not too scary; they are just big. Sometimes you will find them on your bed. When that happens, give them a name and throw them out the window! Carl is very well known around our apartment.
3. You will eat a lot of rice.
I had no clue how much rice I would be eating! The great thing about the food here is that it is delicious. My favorite meal so far has been popcorn soup, seasoned rice, and chicken. Although, in town, it is really hard to pass up chatos, which is chocolate-covered fruit and sweets. My favorite chatos has 2 strawberries, 1 pineapple, 1 kiwi, and 1 brownie. It’s covered in dark chocolate with a white chocolate drizzle and it is the best dessert in Ecuador.
4. It is colder here than you think.
Yes, we are near the equator, but it still gets pretty cold in the evenings. Basically, whatever temperature it is in the morning, it is the opposite in the evening. I would recommend bringing some light jackets if you are prone to getting cold.
5. You will most likely come home with some sort of llama item.
Whether it is a poncho, blanket, or hammock, you will buy something with a llama on it. Make sure to bring enough money to get all of the souvenirs you want. I recommend getting a blanket from The Hidden Door shop.
6. Your heart will grow exponentially.
From the first moment you arrive, you start loving these kids and they start loving you. Give 100 percent of yourself to them and you will receive the best gift back: their love and laughter.
7. Some days, kids are just naughty.
This wouldn’t be a completely truthful post if I didn’t let you know that some days the kids misbehave a little. The great thing about it is they are quick to change and are sweet the very next moment.
8. OSSO is a great nonprofit to do an internship with.
I am currently doing an internship here, and OSSO has been nothing but helpful. They have made every accommodation possible to help me complete my hours. Why not travel across the world and do a cool internship?
9. The tias will become your best friends.
The tias are the orphanage workers. Give them a little bit of time to warm up to you. Before you know it, they will be asking if you have a boyfriend back home. They become your family away from home.
10. Don’t let your lack of Spanish keep you from coming.
I came here with little Spanish-speaking ability. But I promise you will learn what you need to know and you will be just fine. (And, you know, there is this wonderful language called “Charades.” I speak it about 80% of the time.)
So, if you are even kind of thinking about becoming an orphanage volunteer, DO IT.
You will never regret it. My time here has changed my life in many ways. I will forever be grateful for this experience.