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Best Gap Year Programmes for Volunteering in a Community

The ultimate in cultural exchange

Legend has it that late one night the Tsa'chila shaman prayed to the gods for a remedy to ward off the death-dealing illnesses spread by the Spanish invaders. And the next morning, when the shaman awoke, the sun was shining down on a single achiote bush. The Tsa'chila's covered themselves in the red juices of its seed pods, and slowly, the smallpox started to dispel.

Today, most Ecuadorians consider the shamans of the Tsa'chila the secret holders of the rainforest who have healing powers more powerful than western medicine. But deforestation, land-grabbing and the introduction of a cash-based economy are threatening the livelihood of these tribes and many like them around the world.

Communities are being ripped apart and displaced as the modern world seeps in and rattles their beliefs. The young are rejecting their ancestry and heading to the big cities for the promise of a better life, which sadly is not always the case.

Through many of our programmes you will have the opportunity to get involved with projects in tourism, development, and farming that allow these communities to maintain their way of life in a sustainable fashion, all the while putting the pride back into their past.

Pervian lady with a lama in Peru

Where are you looking to go?

We have several gap year programmes which are very focused on community development, to provide you with authentic cultural exchange. The best ones being in Kenya, Cambodia, Colombia and Peru which are all about sustainable community development.

Add on independent travel

What we are finding is that our teams never want to come home post-programme and choose to add on a phase of independent travel with their new found friends - certainly making the most of their gap year. We can easily support this through our independent travel resource hub, which every leaper has access to. Inside you will find 101 travel ideas and itineraries to make sure you see the highlights of every country and do it through vetted, safe people. Have a read of the following blogs to get you started.

Alternatively nip over to the independent travel hub to find out more and become a Leap VIP member.

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Here at The Leap we can help both team traveller through our programmes and/or the backpacker.

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