March 2014 / Huntsville, Ontario, Canada
Louise Choquette, lchoquet@vianet.on.ca

I volunteered for FEVI for two weeks in March 2014. This was a great experience and, as an established professionnel, I appreciated the two-week option, which I was able to fit into my holiday schedule. I work as a health promoter in maternal and child health, and was able to put to use my experience in a new environment. FEVI is well connected to a number of projects and I was provided the opportunity to customize my volunteer work. Although two weeks is a short time, the projects were very diversified: I helped in the daycare and in the after-school program in Lumbisi for part of the time. I did a nutrition workshop for parents at the daycare and for teachers and parents in Machachi. I also did a number of short nutrition education interventions in the waiting room at two medical clinics, one in Lumbisi and one in Cumbaya. My  homestay family was wonderful, the best I have had in 10 different homestays in Latin America over the past few years. They spent a lot of time talking with me, which helped improve my Spanish. I was made to feel part of the family in every way. Lumbisi is a nice rural community, which has the specific characteristic of being a commune, so people really care about their surroundings and care for one another. I would certainly recommend this organization to professionals who want to have a Spanish-immersion experience. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

July 2010 / Rhinebeck, NY

Hilary Perks (hilary.perks@gmail.com)

After my first day in Lumbisi meeting everyone and visiting the places I would be spending most of my time, I immediately realized all the worrying I had done was pointless. I felt as safe as ever and my host family made me feel as comfortable as if I were in my own home. The first week I was there was the kids last week of the school year. Therefore this week, my boyfriend and I spent most of our time helping out in the garden, stopping by the school to help with lunch, and then continuing on to the comedor to serve the Ancianos (elderly of the community).

I was extremely lucky to have this experience and witness how grateful they were that we were there to help them. One day they even danced for us and then pulled us by the hands to join them!

Their culture is just absolutely amazing. Once the school year was over and the summer program with FEVI began, I taught an English class in the morning to the youngest kids in the camp. At the same time, my boyfriend continued to work in the garden.

The program is wonderful and allows you to choose where you want to spend most of your time helping out. I am studying to be an Elementary school teacher and therefore I loved my English class with the youngsters.

The best part is that the kids give just as much love to you, as you were hoping to give to them. We sang songs, played card games to practice our numbers, and played charades to learn the animals. After English class and eating a snack with the kids, my boyfriend would join us and we would take a different group everyday to play sports up at the stadium or just play fun games outside.

One Friday, the organization even arranged a trip to the zoo for all of my students, myself, and a few other volunteers! We had the late afternoons and nights free for anything we wanted to do. I loved to help cook meals and chitchat with our host mother. We spent a lot of time hanging out with our “siblings” and once in a while just took the time to rest. A few times a week we took Salsa lessons in Quito which we fell in love with!

On the weekends the organization also arranges transportation for the volunteers to go to places outside of Quito and Lumbisi which gave us the opportunity to see other wonders of Ecuador. Lumbisi is filled with the friendliest people of all ages, where you are continuously greeted with happy smiles and hellos. I hope to return to visit my family and all of the kids with who I shared some wonderful memories and who gave me the best experience I could ask for.

January 2010/ Denmark

Martin Nielsen Denmark (niller83@gmail.com)

My name is Martin Nielsen and I’m from Denmark. I spent a little more than two months in Lumbisi, though with one month’s break in the middle. I found the whole community to be a very unique place, with a family-like warmth you won’t experience in the most Western countries. If you like rural places surrounded by beautiful mountains, Lumbisi is definitely a place for you. You have bigger cities close by, but I mostly just stayed in Lumbisi as I’m in love with the nature, and you hardly notice Quito is but a 40 min drive away. The work was hard but rewarding. I spent lots of time in the vegetable garden and I went from practically knowing nothing about plants or how to take care of them, to feeling like I must have been a gardener in a former life. Other than that I taught English and music in the afternoon to many kids, and they always welcomed me with lots of “holas” and hugs. If you like kids you will not be disappointed in Lumbisi as there are many of them, and though quite misbehaved at times, their playful minds and interest in you will make you think of stealing them with you.

Then I rolled mama Clara, an elder, to and from the dining hall. She appreciated my help very much and I felt very well helping out with this, even though it was such a small thing for me. In the mornings the kindergarten is open, and that is indeed very hard work. I have no clue how the señoras can find the energy to work there every day, but if you want to give them a hand, I think you are more than welcome. So many kids, so much energy than needs to be canalized somehow. I miss very much my time in Lumbisi. Especially my host family which treated me so well. We had so many good laughs together. I already knew Spanish when I came, but I definitely improved a lot. I recommend to you, if you are thinking of coming to Lumbisi, to take as many Spanish classes as possible before coming, it will enrich your experience a lot, as hardly anyone in Lumbisi speaks English. So thanks a lot to Fundacion FEVI for making all this possible. I wish FEVI and everyone in Lumbisi the very best and I very much hope to return one day. I’m actually quite certain I will. Martin.

January 2009 / Scotland

Belinda Normandale, St Andrews University

I can safely say last summer was the most inspirational, fulfilling and fun summer of my life. I worked in Lumbisí “The moon valley” for 6 weeks, teaching in the Muñequitos summer camp, working in the Huerto Orgánico and working for los ancianos in the community dining hall. In the Muñequitos school my activities ranged from teaching to helping paint the mural on the side of the school, even to teaching the kids how to brush their teeth. In the huerto orgánico we planted seeds in the greenhouse, harvested and painted benches and bins to add even more colour. One of my best memories is taking the kids on a trip to the huerto orgánico, seeing them marvel at the size of the tomatoes and then seeing them run through the sprinklers in the hot sun having the time of their lives.

The community of Lumbisí welcomes you with open arms and after only a couple of weeks I was constantly greeted with “Hola mi hija” while walking through the streets, or kids running up to me covering me with hugs “hola profe”.

Fevi is much more than a volunteering agency, it is a family with Cristina as la madre cariñosa, even though she is only in her late 20’s! She organised educational trips to Quito for the volunteers and took us to dance salsa in the evenings. She even made the group of volunteers I was with dance a traditional Ecuadorian dance in a competition in front of the whole community during the annual Lumbisí fiestas, which we won! I not only gained the confidence I needed for my university Spanish, but have also enriched my life. I want to take this opportunity to thank Cristina for everything, Fevi is deserving of all the aid it gets.

Febrero 2007 / Argentina

Valeria Antih (valeria.antih@gmail.com)

Estoy para ser útil a cualquier persona que quiera contactarse conmigo. Fui realmente feliz y plena durante el tiempo que tuve el honor de vivir en Ecuador. De aqui me llevo amigos entre los voluntarios, entre la gente de aquí y entre tantas otras personas que se cruzaron en mi camino. Me llevo experiencia, sabiduría, anécdotas, fé y millones de recuerdos. Me he convertido en una nueva persona.

La organización FEVI es muy especial ya que funciona de una forma distinta al resto de las organizaciones que simplemente organizan “work camps”. El trabajo que hacen es constante y maravilloso, en el dia a día y cada vez intentan llegar mas lejos y a mas personas con sus proyectos. No se toman vacaciones, FEVI y sus voluntarios trabajan 365 dias al año.

He aprendido muchas cosas nuevas, demasiadas para ser enumeradas y demasiado profundas como para ponerlas en palabras. El aprendizaje de este mes me acompañará el resto de mi vida y me sera de ayuda en cada dia de la misma.

Gracias a todos los integrantes de FEVI, (staff y voluntarios) a Miriam, Patricio, Veronica, Lucia, Maria Teresa. Gracias a la comunidad de Lumbisi y de Cumbaya, a Lupita. Fernanda, Sylvia, Jenny y de todo el Ecuador por cambiar mi vida para siempre. Y gracias a Subir al Sur de la Argentina por la guia recibida para lograr encontrar mi propio camino. Valeria Carla Antih.

July 2006 / USA

Bob Schnack (bob.schnack@bullivant.com)

My 19 year old daughter Kelsey and I did two weeks of volunteer work last summer through FEVI at FEVI’s learning center in Cumbaya and at the Hogar Maite de Crespo in Sangolqui. It was a great opportunity to expose my daughter to international volunteer work, and FEVI people were phenomenal to get to know and in coordinating our experiences. Despite the obstacles faced by the kids, they were uniformly warm and happy and generally just a joy to work with and be around.

The experience was very rewarding and has inspired my daughter to pursue similar volunteer work in South America next summer. We also both fell in love with Ecuador’s land, people, and culture, as well as met some other incredible volunteers from the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. We would both do this again without hesitation, and for me it was a great opportunity to share the experience of doing volunteer work and international travel with my daughter.

February 2006 / India (USA Resident)

Ganesh Narayan  (gnarayan_2001@hotmail.com)

The past two weeks have been some of the most rewarding of my life. What FEVI does here in Cumbaya is something magical – a place where kids of all ages can come to just be kids – regardless of what else is going on in their lives.

During the mornings at the Gustavo Vallejo Public School, in San Francisco de Pinsha, Paul and I got a chance to help the kids with their English lessons, play Math games with them, play soccer and Frisbee with them, and just bring them some smiles and laughs. We also got a chance to clean their very old swing set and re-paint it to look like new. They were so happy to see us every morning and never complained or were sad, grateful for whatever little they had.

During the afternoons I spent time at the after school center run by FEVI. There were about 15 – 20 kids of all ages (three from the Gustavo Vallejo school). We mostly played games with them and a few times, I had a chance to teach them some yoga (which they found pretty funny). We also went to the Magic Pencil art exhibit one day, and played some soccer (with ice cream afterwards) another day. I will never forget the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and juice that we always would have just before the kids would leave.

Anyways, I could go on and on, but it really was a wonderful time here – all due to the kindness and generosity of the FEVI people around here. Best wishes, Ganesh.

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