Ecolibrium Sustainable Adventures

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3 / 10 after 1 Review Based on overall, support & value average ratings

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If you are considering volunteering your time with Ecolibirum Adventures, please read this review.I believe that people who are already dedicating their money and time to volunteering should not be profited from. I found Ecolibrium Adventures through a mutual friend and made my first mistake by assuming this translated to trust. The founder spoke with me and addressed most of the stigma's about volunteering abroad and did a superb job convincing me that Ecolibrium was different. By the time I got off the phone with her, the questions I determined as key to going were answered and I made my payment. A week later I was on a flight that costed me $3000, to make a difference. After a 24 hour journey to Bolivia I started to find the expectations set by Ecolibrium were falling short. I was promised a detailed itinerary and still did not have it as I landed in a foreign country. I flew on a Friday at her advice and was told I would be taken around and my weekend would pass quickly and I would be more cultured. I arrived at the headmaster's school 2 hours after landing to be told to come back the next day for my first Spanish class and since I had this class scheduled I would not be able to join their weekend activities. I walked back to the apartment jet-lagged and weary and unable to reach Ecolibrium or get on the Internet (I was told finding Internet cafes was the easiest thing and that everyone had wi-fi yet I could not find even one cafe). The next day I waited an hour for the Spanish teacher who did not show up and found out later that she was not informed by the headmaster I had a lesson with her. Monday, my first day of school, the headmaster showed up an half hour late (and did not pick up my calls) and told me volunteers pay for her bus fare. We took an hour bus journey beyond the outskirts of town and she left right after handing a folder to the (other volunteer) teacher. It was shared that I had a background in teaching but after 10 minutes in the classroom I was signaled to follow the teacher and spent until lunch time peeling peas. Many other incidents followed similarly, and by the end of a short 2 week period every question I posed for Ecolibrium and every expectation was not met. Some disappointments were minor while others directly affected me such as how the city was shutdown for Carnival (and I had clearly told her my intention was to maximize my volunteer time, leaving me with 6 days of volunteering) or about being vegetarian (she said there would be abundances of restaurants though I barely found a vegetarian restaurant), or how easy it would be to reach her or get online, or the feeling that I was being exploited when my ride to the airport was included but the headmaster only confirmed it late the night before and informed me I needed to pay for the taxi that picked her up than me and dropped her back off after she "took" me to the airport. What probably hurt the most was my concern for where the money would go which Ecolibrium collected from me. I did a quick analysis and found there must have been a 40-50% markup and when I addressed it, I was informed the profit made was 'fair' to the work involved in organizing a trip. It does not take a lot of money to get by in South America. Overall, I felt the expectations set by Ecolibrium exceeded my dream volunteering experience. The actual support provided and fees charged for it (and the fact that my my trip was planned on the fly by Ecolibrium) fell short of making it the experience it could and should have been. If you are going to volunteer, do not rush into it, ask all the due questions, do not assume everything the organization tells you is going to happen, and explore choices beyond Ecolibirum. These experiences are meant to be memorable, make effective change, and not create bigger gaps between the poor and wealthy.

Posted: October 16, 2012
By: volabroad