Ecuador – Bina Valsangkar (2007)

Bina Valsangkar was a medical student at the University of Michigan. Bina is the founder and president of The Quito Project, a non-profit health and education program for the poor in Ecuador. The $1500 scholarship from Sara’s Wish Foundation helped Bina continue her work in Quito.

Here are Bina’s travel safety tips:

Pickpockets and thieves are a problem in certain areas. If you are aware and responsible, there shouldn’t be any problem. Take the following precautions:

  • Never lose sight of luggage or personal belongs, especially in crowded areas like bus or trolley stops or city streets.
  • Never place your valuables in overhead compartments or below your seat in buses and trains – keep them with you on your lap.
  • Carry wallets or valuables in a zipped bag or clothing, not standard pant or shirt pockets. Keep backpacks in the front of the body when walking in touristy area or crowded city streets.
  • Try to avoid carrying a lot of money all of the time (maximum should be about $20).
  • Be careful when small children ask for money. Often there will be others with them that attempt to pickpocket while you are distracted.
  • Don’t carry your original passport around with you. Carry one of two copies with you for business transactions.
  • Never walk to “La Virgin del Panicillo” (in Quito) on foot. Talk a cab.
  • Never walk through any parks alone at night.