A word from our volunteers:
From: San Fransisco, California
Volunteer dates: February 2013 - May 2013
It’s an odd feeling being in a place that you’ve never known, trying to speak a language you’ve never learned, and attempting to understand a culture you’ve never experienced. But when you realize that you’re welcomed into a community full of people you’ve never met, swarmed by future students you’ve never taught, and instantly friends with a boss you’ll never forget—well, like I said, it’s an odd feeling. And Sustainable Roots isn’t an organization that invites you into their home; they’re friends that become your family in a place that you will forever call home.
From: Silverton, Colorado
Volunteer dates: February 2012 - May 2012
As one of the first volunteers I have been able to see this amazing organization grow and change immensely. Because of my experience in Cosanga, I have made Sustainable Roots a significant part of my life. I suggest people to volunteer with them every chance I get. That is because the work being done is powerful. I felt connected with the community, the school, and the greenhouse projects.
Currently, I work at a school as a High School Spanish teacher. Without my time in Cosanga, I would not have even thought of teaching as a possibility. I'm hoping to return to Ecuador with my class to allow them to understand why I love this organization so much.
From: Linköping, Sweden
Volunteer dates: October 8, 2015 - December 15, 2015
Volunteering with Sustainable Roots was such a rewarding experience! Even though I was in Cosanga for quite a short while, I felt very welcome into the community, in which I got to both contribute to a positive development and get to know some amazing people. I feel like, however small, I was able to make a difference in several different areas such as opening up the minds of people in the community to the world around them and helping develop the local tourism industry. I would definitely recommend others to be part of this very important program and join this team of wonderful people! This I will keep with me for the rest of my life, and I will hopefully also be able to come back to Cosanga again
From: Littleton, Colorado
Volunteer dates: September 2012 - January 2013
I was fortunate enough to be able to volunteer in Cosanga between my time of graduating college and starting my job teaching here in Colorado. I can't speak highly enough of Cosanga as a community. The people are so welcoming and open to making the volunteers part of their town. The students are incredibly eager to learn and to have so much to offer. Ecuador itself is an amazing country to live in and explore. There is incredible wildlife, hiking, climbing and coastal towns to see. Though my trip was cut shorter than I wanted it to be, the experiences I had in Cosanga will be with me my entire life. The connections you can make and things you can learn about the world and yourself while volunteering with Sustainable Roots are really incredible. The great thing about the Roots is that everyone is able to make this experience their own, depending on their skills and interests and where they are at in their lives, but I know that every single volunteer looks back to their time in Cosanga with the students and the community as a positive, life-changing experience.
From: Denver, Colorado
Volunteer dates: August 2013 - February 2014
Sustainable Roots changes not only the lives of the students/community it serves for the better, but also the the lives of their volunteers forever. An organization that can accomplish both of these goals without sacrificing one for the other teaches us that changing the world doesn't come about through "development agendas" and "action items", but, through the heart. And Sustainable Roots has the biggest heart of them all. And even years later, it still softens mine.
From: Portland, Oregon
Volunteer dates: August 2014 to February 2015
Sustainable Roots is a tiny organization with a big impact. It’s one woman with a big heart, living in Cosanga and empowering a community. It’s every volunteer that has passed through, each leaving their mark. It’s creativity, love, exploration and growth. Volunteering with Sustainable Roots pushed me out of my comfort zone in ways that have made me so much stronger of a person. It immersed me in a culture with strong values that made me rethink my own. Spending six months in Cosanga was quite possibly the best decision I’ve ever made, and I’m counting down the days until I can go back again.
From: Grand Junction, Colorado
Volunteer dates: August 2014 - May 2015
The time I spent volunteering with Sustainable Roots was, without question, the most valuable experience of my lifetime. I have always had a traveler’s heart and had been many places before landing in Cosanga. My heart was captured by the people of the Andes and everyone I met was incredibly hospitable and welcoming. My memories are filled with laughter, kindness, adventure, and love. I had intensely meaningful conversations about culture, language, friendship, and I learned so much about the human spirit.
Sustainable Roots is such an exceptional organization. Toni, the president and founder, has an incredible heart and passion for environmental protection, collaboration, and community. The organization has always worked with the community and maintained humble, open communication in order to identify need and areas of growth.
Overall, my time in Ecuador provided me with an amazing connection - a focus on what makes all of us human. I shared so much joy and happiness with the people who would become my dearest friends. Sustainable Roots helped me find friendships, though thousands of miles away, that will always be a part of me.
I traveled across the world to teach English, but I was certainly the student in the end. My teachers were 5 year-olds with permanent smiles, 6 th graders with constant curiosity, young adults with a spirit of adventure, families with hearts of compassion, and a community with so much to give. Thank you Toni Walters, Sustainable Roots, and my dear friends in Ecuador for this wonderful experience.
Volunteer dates: March 2016
As cliché as it is to say, volunteering in Ecuador was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made. I was a short term environmental volunteer with Sustainable Roots, and I quickly realized that the three weeks I was there was not long enough! Being from Canada, speaking no Spanish, and having hardly traveled outside the country before, this experience was definitely stepping out of my comfort zone. But as soon as I arrived, I felt so welcome and at home. Toni (the director), as well as the other volunteers and Ecuadorians did everything in their power to ensure I had an enjoyable experience.
What sets Sustainable Roots apart from other international non-profit organizations? Everything. They don’t charge huge fees that get eaten-up by “administrations costs.” Toni (the founder/director/most energetic human on the planet) is one of the most down-to-Earth people you will ever meet. She lives in the town of Cosanga with her husband, and visits the volunteer house often to make sure things are running smoothly. Sustainable Roots caters to the needs of the community instead of imposing their own agenda, and as a volunteer your role is valuable and you aren’t just doing busy-work. Volunteering in Cosanga, you are totally immersed in the culture, and interact with locals daily. This experience is for people who want to actually make a difference, and the gratitude that people in the community have for this organization is indescribable.
Ecuador is stunning, and there is definitely time for soaking up the wonders of this incredible county while you’re there. In my short time there, I went on hikes, sampled food, went rock climbing, visited beaches, and even met some monkeys, but the opportunities are endless!
What’ll really capture your heart though are the people of Cosanga. The town is beautiful, and the people there are so friendly and welcoming, that you will never feel like you don’t belong. The children are so full of life and embrace your presence as if they’ve known you forever. In just three weeks there I made friends that I will never forget! Cosanga is small, but the people there have the biggest hearts, and this experience was unforgettable.
I would 100% recommend this organization.