“The most rewarding was bringing love, joy, and happiness to the children.”


UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Madeline Lindquist
Age: 23
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Nationality: United States
University: University of Oregon
Degree: Spanish and Psychology
Languages spoken: English, Spanish (advanced)
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Caring for Vulnerable Children in Cusco, Peru
Duration: 4 weeks
Start month: July 2017
Claim to fame: Maddie has been very diligent about studying for tests no matter how long it takes her. She, additionally, works at the KWVA University of Oregon Campus Radio Station as an office assistant. Very impressive, Maddie!

Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
Upon finishing my undergraduate degree at the University of Oregon, I knew I wanted to volunteer abroad in South America the summer after my college graduation. Over the course of a few weeks, I looked into numerous volunteer programs online comparing price, commitments, duration, locations, and lodging. After much research, I realized that becoming an UBELONG Volunteer was the best fit for me with its affordable costs, structure & organization, diverse projects, country placements, and safe living accommodations. As a volunteer, I wanted to be challenged, give of myself to others, experience a new culture, yet still have enough time to travel on my own. It’s accurate to say that UBELONG matched my expectations perfectly.

What did you find most rewarding from you volunteer experience?
While I was in Peru, my partner, Maggie, and I volunteered at a local orphanage just outside the city limits of Cusco. For me, the most rewarding aspect of my volunteer experience was bringing love, joy, and happiness to the children. Those who lived in the orphanage came from disadvantaged backgrounds; some didn’t even know their parents or siblings, while others had come from broken homes. They had very little. As a result, most were required to clean, do their own laundry, cook meals, and even walk the streets selling goods to earn money. Without a doubt, these children were in need of love, support, and people whom they could trust.

My last Friday at the project, the children, other volunteers, and I were drawing and writing letters in the classroom. One of the girls, Tamara, who always gave me big bear hugs, wrote me the sweetest letter that said, “Thank you ‘hermanita’ (a term of endearment they would call us, meaning ‘little sister’) Maddie for bringing us love to the CASA HOGAR. I love you very much”. And on my last day, another girl ran up to me and placed two beautiful bracelets on my wrist. All in all, I have to say that I found spending time with the children by giving hugs, playing outside, and doing simple activities like arts and craft the most rewarding. Smiles, hugs, and laughter really do go a long way and mean the world to these children.

What three pieces of advice would you give to a future UBELONG Volunteer?

  • Be flexible and open to new experiences! Nothing ever goes according to plan. Be aware that structure and/or organization doesn’t always exist.
  • Most of the time, plan A will fail. Therefore, always have a back-up plan just in case. Don’t be afraid to reach out to project coordinators for help, if needed.
  • Have fun, have enthusiasm, and be engaged! If not, it can really impact your volunteer experience and affect those around you.

In a sentence or less, what is your best packing advice.
My biggest packing advice is to pack lightly, bring extra money in case debit/credit cards don’t work in the machines, and, when working with children, bring clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty!

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Related post:
Meet Alexandra Gutierrez, a Cornell University undergrad, who volunteered with UBELONG at the caregiving project in Cusco, Peru.