Name: Brenda Warren
Hometown: Washington, Illinois
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English
Occupation: Health Educator at Pekin Community High School
Volunteer Abroad: Forest Conservation and Sustainable Farming in Galapagos, Ecuador
Duration: 1 week
Start month: June 2018
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I decided to become a UBELONG Volunteer because of the opportunity to experience the unique beauty and culture of the Galapagos. I had volunteered with different organizations in my teen years, but only within the United States, and I remember how invaluable those experiences were. Now being in my 40’s, I knew it was due time for a real adventure abroad!
What is your favorite memory?
I’m not lying when I say that all the experiences on the reserve in San Cristobal became my favorite memory. From helping Jefferson learn the English language every day, watching Carlos effortlessly create a spear from his machete for farming, to assisting our chef, Sonja, as she prepared our delicious meals…I was grateful for those moments I could spend with the workers who lived there.
I was captivated by Cesar, our team leader, in all of his wisdom as he taught us the importance of preserving and protecting the land. I was mesmerized watching the frigate birds and blue-footed boobies fly overhead at the cliffs after the long hike he led us on. And picking oranges and passion fruit right off the tree for a snack when we were hungry. Sleeping under the nets at night listening to the rain, hearing the roosters crow in the early morning hours, resting in the hammocks after a hard days work… Every memory I will cherish.
What did you take from the experience?
The work was hard and the living conditions were rough. I only stayed a week, but the experience was incredibly humbling. There were only 4 of us volunteering for the week. We were a small group, but seeing the differences we were making by clearing out invasive plant species and planting new crops was rewarding.
In a sentence or less, best packing advice?
The best thing I packed was my $12 mosquito jacket. Even though the bugs weren’t that bad, I wore that thing all week working in the field. Definitely a “must bring” item!