Advancing Life Volunteers Share Heartwarming Stories from Cotacachi, Ecuador

Now in its third year, the work of ASEA Advancing Life in Cotacachi, Ecuador, continued this summer with the first of 2019’s two expedition groups making an unforgettable impact in June. The volunteers who aided in the building of a vocational campus furthered progress toward the end goal of training local villagers with skills for a brighter future.

Between digging drainage for the local soccer field and visitor lodging, digging the foundation for the vocational campus kitchen, meeting with future students of the school, and helping out locals at their sugar cane and guinea pig farms, the volunteers were proud to experience the everyday life of villagers and learn as much as they could for future expeditions.

Several volunteers offered personal stories about how meaningful the experience was for them. Andrea Ortiz says that her host family treated her like one of their own, from greeting her every morning with a smile, accompanying her to and from the worksites, and engaging in wonderful conversations with her in the evenings.

“One night I didn’t get back from work until around 10 pm and the father of my host family was waiting for me on the front porch,” Andrea remembers. “He said he was worried about me being out so late and wanted to wait up until I arrived home safely. He was essentially acting like my dad. This family meant a lot to me because they had recently lost their mother and yet gave so much to me despite the fact that they are still in mourning and they did it all with a smile.”

Lucas Jensen was another volunteer who noticed how cheerful and happy to assist the locals were.

“I was really excited to hang out with my friends and fellow volunteers from the ASEA corporate office,” says Lucas. “But what I really loved was working with the people in the village. People would follow and then jump on the bus to help us. And they were with us, every day, side by side helping us get all the work done.”

“They would talk about the pride they had in their country and their village and how excited they were to help us construct the building for the vocational school. It’s a beautiful thing to see how the Advancing Life Foundation is helping strengthen the economy in this area. We were running up the mountain with wheelbarrows of cement, rocks, and bricks and we were exhausted. It was really hard work but the locals were helping us the entire time.”

Zach Jackson was another volunteer on this particular expedition who says his favorite day of the trip was playing frisbee with a local school kid for forty minutes. He says it’s the simple things that really made him appreciate the experience.

“The biggest thing I took away from this trip is that we don’t appreciate what we have,” says Zach. “These people have next to nothing and they are still so happy and grateful every day.”