Submitted by Bruce Herr - Santa Fe United States | June 11, 2018
My wife and I, both seniors, (or, as we are called in Ecuador, "la tercera edad"), volunteered as ESL teachers with VenaEcuador for six weeks in 2014. VenaEcuador arranged for us to live with a family in Cayambe, north of Quito, where I taught at a high school and my wife at an elementary school. We also team taught a high-school level English class during a 2-week Christmas break and taught members of the community, including police officers and tourism officials, two evenings a week. The experience was memorable - the teaching had its ups and downs, with frequent vacations and holidays, but our host "mom" was wonderful and warm and welcoming, treating us as part of her extended family. I had previously volunteered in Otavalo, Ecuador, with another program for which Mariana Lara was the coordinator, and this time we volunteered directly through Mariana's foundation, VenaEcuador. In both instances, Mariana did an excellent job. She not organizes assignments and finds host families, but welcomes volunteers into her house in Quito, supports their individual needs, and genuinely cares about their wellbeing. She seems to have contacts everywhere in the country, and helped make our experience rewarding and fulfilling. We warmly recommend VenaEcuador for a personalized volunteer experience.