Location: Mera, Ecuador
Volunteer date: Two months in 2011; again from August 2012 - June 2013
Story by Jamie Ashfield from the UK
Merazonia, quite literally, changed my life.
I originally visited in 2011, hoping to take a break from the tourist trail and do something a bit different - volunteer and work with wild animals. I had put aside two weeks to spend there, before going back to exploring Ecuador...
...I stayed for two months!
More than that, I came back again, and spent almost a year living at Merazonia, slogging through mud and torrential downpours, feeding and caring for feathered, fluffy and scaly critters in need and basically having a fantastic time!
Now, I'm training to be a veterinary nurse and all because of the amazing, selfless people at Merazonia and their inspirational work for animals unable to fend for themselves. It genuinely gives me goosebumps thinking back on my time there. The stunningly beautiful jungle setting. The tireless font's of empathy that are the staff. The infectiously enthusiastic volunteers that come to stay. The heart-wrenching tales of survival that each and every animal that has found sanctuary there has to tell.
It might not have such a profound impact on your life as it did mine....but it will definitely open your eyes to the beauty of nature, the human capacity for both cruelty AND kindness, as well as what a like minded group of people can do with passion in their hearts and determination in their minds.