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Volunteer Kathy faced her fears in Ecuador

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Volunteer Kathy faced her fears in Ecuador

DEADLY spiders, needles, creepy crawlies —a Waterbeck girl overcame them all when she journeyed to Ecuador to volunteer.

Drama student Kathy Smith, 20, jetted off to the South American country earlier this summer and spent over two weeks helping to build toilets, teach English and explore the local landscape.

The ex Lockerbie Academy pupil raised and self funded over £2000 to pay for the once-in-a-lifetime trip with Volunteer Eco Students Abroad (VESA), an organisation who work hand in hand with indigenous village communities.

Kathy was put through her paces, helping to mix concrete, move gravel and dig holes to create bathrooms for Ecuadorian locals.

She said: “It was definitely the most physically demanding thing I’ve ever done. “Most days temperatures would reach over 33Cand it was hard work.”

But Kathy says it was all worth it: “At the end of the trip the locals came together and threw us a party,acelebration, it was fantastic.

“The children dressed up and performed traditional tribe dances, it was amazing to see and you could tell how truly grateful they were for our help.”

And her hard work was rewarded as week two of her journey saw the team treated to a jungle tour complete with hiking, canoeing, tubing, visiting an Amazonian animal refuge, meeting with a Shaman and so much more.

But the fun was temporarily put on hold for Kathy, who isastudent at Queen Margaret’s University in Edinburgh, when she discoveredadeadly spider lurking at the bottom of her boot.

She said: “If it had bit me I could have died within two hours. We were in the middle of the jungle and by the time a helicopter could have arrivedIwould have been dead.

“It’s so important to check your bed and your clothes to make sure. It was really scary.”

And reflecting on her trip, she said: “The best part of the trip was getting the chance to break out of my comfort zone.

“I’m terrified of needles but I needed to get vaccinations and injections beforeIcould go. I also hate spiders and creepy crawlies but I had to learn to live with them.

“I’m proud of myself for overcoming a lot of fears and also being able to help a wonderful community.”

And 2016 is a busy year for traveller Kathy, who jets of to Canada next month to spend a semester abroad at Brock University in St Catharines, Ontario.


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