A Journey of Nature, Learning, and Friendship, a Volunteer's Experience

By Macarena Tabja,

3 minutes read

Macarena was our Communications volunteer for 6 months. She decided to volunteer in search of a more fulfilling life, but little did she know that this decision would lead to a transformative experience. A six-month immersion in a world teeming with nature, knowledge, and newfound friendships.

Uncertainty can be difficult. It generates insecurities and doubts about what lies ahead, and that's where I was when I made the decision to volunteer at Chaikuni. Living in a city I didn't really like, working different jobs, and feeling like I was going against the signs my mind and body were sending me about what I really wanted for myself, I knew there was something better somewhere else. That's why making the decision to bet on this new adventure was not a difficult thing to do. Today, 6 months later, I feel happy and proud to have embraced a different, positive kind of uncertainty; one full of nature, learnings, and people I can now call friends.
Contrary to what many people might imagine (spoiler alert), the Amazon is anything but quiet! Birds, frogs, rain, thunder, insects—everything is constantly reminding you they exist and that they are alive. I found myself recurrently asking out loud, “What are you?!” to indescribable insects and sounds that I came across with. Such biodiversity and beauty are simply overwhelming, and I emphatically recommend everyone to experience it at least once in their lifetime.
Volunteering at Chaikuni is enriching in every aspect; you just become a better human. Although, as a photographer and communicator, my volunteering mainly focused on contributing in that area, that didn’t exempt me from being involved in other activities. I have planted vegetables, harvested papayas, helped some of the locals with their English and school lessons, given a Muay Thai class, helped to cook, translated when some non-Spanish speaking volunteers needed help, cheered at innumerable soccer games on Sundays at the nearby town, celebrated my birthday at a river beach and in the company of all these amazing people I have gotten to know. I have laughed like I hadn’t in years; a true, genuine laugh that you can feel bubbling inside and when it comes out, is worth the stomach pain and tears it generates. That same reminder the Amazon and its people give you of their existence suddenly makes you much more aware that you too, are also alive and that is such a gift to receive.
Now, back home, I reflect on everything that this experience has given me and truly hope that I have been able to give at least some of it back: to Chaikuni, to the Amazon, and to all the friends I have made. And in the midst of all this uncertainty of coming back to my old life, there is one thing I am absolutely sure of: I will always be grateful for this experience and cannot wait to laugh with all of you again, stomach pain, tears and all.