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Amazon Community and Indigenous Health, Ecuador

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Impact

    8

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

Adventure, Community, and Education in the Heart of South America

The month I spent in Ecuador participating in CFHI's Amazon Community and Indigenous Health program was one of the most unique and incredible experiences I have enjoyed in my life. This program takes place in Quito, Puyo, and various locations surrounding Puyo - including a trip into the Amazon to stay with a Shuar family. The Amazing Andes spanish school had fantastic teachers, and our week of intensive spanish was sufficient to dust off the cobwebs and prepare me for the challenge of understanding the various dialects I would encounter throughout my travels in Ecuador. I would warn anyone considering this particular program that proficient Spanish speaking abilities are a must, because as soon as you step outside the cities or more touristy locations of Ecuador you will need to rely on your spanish to easily get around and communicate with locals. I consider myself nearly fluent, and even I had trouble picking up on certain dialects and following medical conversations during clinics.
However, if you are confident in your spanish, are open to new cultures and up for adventure - it does not get much better than this program. Starting in the modern city of Quito, you can smoothly transition into being in a new world while enjoying comforts you are familiar with back home. The clinical experience in Quito is at a relatively more modern hospital, so this also provides an opportunity to begin learning about the nuances of how health care is different in Ecuador. From Quito you travel through the valleys of the andes to Puyo with the opportunity to enjoy your weekend in the fun little adventure/eco tourism town of Baños, where you can enjoy a day of rafting, climbing, canyoning, bridge jumping and many more fun activities before heading to the natural hot springs to relax your worn out body. While based in Puyo, a quiet and safe jungle city, you visit small health clinics in the surrounding communities to learn how Ecuador is able to provide free basic health care to all of its citizens. It is here you will find a style of medicine we are not familiar with in the United States. One which emphasizes a physicians relationship with the community they serve. CFHI typically arranges two tours of wonderful gardens in Puyo, providing an opportunity to learn more about the ecology of the Amazon, its many indigenous communities, and the plants they use for resources and most importantly, natural medicine. The cherry on top of the whole experience is the opportunity to stay with a Shuar family in the Amazon, an adventure that requires a long hike through muddy jungle terrain. For someone who grew up in a city, the experience was not always comfortable, pleasant, or particularly safe feeling (considering the numerous venomous spiders and snakes we encountered), but it is one of those once in a lifetime experiences you can't wait to bring home and share with your friends. Highly recommended.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Social Life

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Community Impact

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Volunteer Experience

    8

The best abroad experience!

I had the absolute BEST experience with CFHI!! This specific program is so wonderful and unique, not many people will ever get a chance to experience anything like this. Not only did I learn a great deal about the culture and the healthcare system in Ecuador, but I feel like I was able to contribute to the health and well-being of the people. I feel like I was able to learn so much about myself and attain a greater sense of independence as well. Being a pre-med student, I believe that all the skills and experiences I learned through CFHI will help me to become the best physician I can possibly be.