12 Months, 4 Countries, 2 People: 1 Life-changing Experience (Part 2)

In 2016 Jonathan and Magali, a young couple from Belgium, embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure: a trip around the world volunteering with ADRA projects from Mongolia to Vanuatu.

You can read the first part of Jonathan and Magali’s adventure here.


Ecuador. Guayaquil.

Ecuador, our third stop, was completely different from anywhere we’d been previously. We stayed more than two months in Guayaquil, one of the most important cities in the country. We had the opportunity to work directly with the beneficiaries of an economic development project. The goal of the project was to improve the financial capacity of vulnerable women through training in new skills, such as sewing and dressmaking, and to improve the women’s self-confidence and self-image. The final step was for the women to develop their own commerce.

Ecuador. Jonathan visits sewing machine shop with women entrepreneurs

We worked on improving the project, but more importantly, we helped the beneficiaries with training in communication, marketing, and social networking for businesses. Several times each week we held personal trainings with individual women in order to understand each business and its challenges, and to find solutions. We spent quality time with these women, and often we were surprised by their joy. They were incredibly motivated and generous. Several times, they prepared surprises for us, such as for Magali’s birthday, and for our departure. They had nothing, but they shared with us abundant happiness.

We were particularly touched by the extraordinary strength of character of Venus, a 50-year-old woman with severe physical disabilities. She was amazing—always smiling and joking with us, and she was really motivated by our business training. She worked very hard to produce good handicrafts, such as cushions, bags, and covers. At the end of our stay in Ecuador, she offered to Magali a handmade bag. It was absolutely beautiful and we were extremely touched by her generosity.