Volunteer In Ecuador

General Information

When you volunteer in Ecuador you travel to Otavalo is a town situated in the high Andes in the north of Ecuador where our head office is based.

Ecuador is located in northwestern South America and is the smallest country in the Andes with a total surface area of 283,561 km² . With around 16 million inhabitants, it is one of the most densely populated countries in South America. 

The capital, Quito, is located at an altitude of 2,800 meters and lies just below the equator, which gives the country its name. Ecuador borders the Pacific Ocean in the west, Colombia on the north and Peru on the east and south.

Ecuador is divided into four major zones: the coast (Costa), the Andes (Sierra), the Amazon basin (Oriente) and the Galapagos Islands. The coastal area consists of wide plains with fertile land that are mainly used for agriculture. The plains are only a few meters above sea level, meaning temperatures can rise quickly. 

Next to extensive plantations, you will mainly find mangrove forests and tropical forests. Guayaquil, the largest city in the country, is located in the south of this country. You will also find the mouth of the Guayas, the largest river in South America that flows into the Pacific Ocean.

The Sierra is the highlands of the Andes and is formed by two parallel mountain ranges: the Cordillera Occidental and the Cordillera Oriental. The Andes runs through the center of the country. Both the capital Quito (2800m) and the third largest city Cuenca (2500m) are located in these high mountains. Ecuador is known for its large number of volcanoes, several of which are still active. 

The so-called “volcano road” is formed by volcanoes such as the Cayambe (5790m), Antisana (5704m), Chimborazo (6310m) and Cotopaxi (5897m). The Cotopaxi volcano is the highest active volcano in the world.

The Oriente is located in the east and consists of a tropical jungle area (la Selva), with a very varied flora and fauna. The area is intersected by a number of large rivers. The two best known national parks are Cuyabeno and Yasuni. This green lung is seriously threatened by the unbridled logging and many mining and petroleum concessions.

The Galapagos Islands are located 1,000 km west of the mainland. The archipelago consists of a group of 13 large and dozens of smaller islands. Five islands are inhabited. The islands are of volcanic origin and have never been connected to the mainland. This makes them particularly unique from a geographical point of view and they are home to unique animal species.

 

Volunteer in Ecuador
Ecuador is known for its volcanoes.

About Otavalo

Otavalo is a town situated in the high Andes in the north of Ecuador. The town is surrounded by volcanoes, Imbabura, Fuya Fuya, Cotacachi. In Otavalo you will be presented with the largest artisan market in South America every Saturday.

The city is located in the province of Imbabura at an altitude of 2500 meters and has approximately 53,000 inhabitants and owes its name to the Otavalo Indian tribe. This tribe has succeeded in maintaining its own culture and identity and adapting it to the current times. By modernizing the textile industry in particular, a lot of money has flowed into the community and people have been able to buy back the original lands from large landowners.

The town of Otavalo itself, compared to many other places in Ecuador, is prosperous with a cheerful street scene.

Volunteer in Ecuador
Otavalo market, largest artisanal market in South America.

Projects In Ecuador

Most project sites are based in Otavalo and surroundings but it is also possible that your placement is further away (especially the coffee plantations). Volunteers are always welcomed at the main office in Otavalo where they stay first couple of days during their orientation.

Our project operations consists of “growing together”, going through a process together with the local population. Through sustainable projects that address the problems directly. Values such as respect and self-respect, shared responsibility, transparency, trust, discipline and solidarity play a major role. We guide experiential learning processes in vulnerable communities to promote the local economy and sustainable agriculture. The main goal is that associations and productive organizations can evolve socially and economically towards independence.

We believe in integral processes, where cultural, anthropological, socio-economic, scientific-ecological and educational aspects are intertwined.

Education

What do volunteers do?

  • Volunteers assist local teachers and teach in primary and secondary schools.
  • Propose and introduce new pedagogical methods.
  • Volunteers can also be engaged to teach English to the community in public places and community centers. This way we will improve the level of English within the entire community.


Minimum: 4 weeks

Where: Volunteers are placed in communities in the area of Otavalo. Volunteers always stay near the school they work. We will try to schedule you in a requested destination but that is no garantuee.

  • Gualsaqui – 12 km from Otavalo
  • Moraspungo – 14 km from Otavalo
  • San Jose de Quichinche centro – 6 km from Otavalo
  • Cambugan – 15 km from Otavalo
  • Apuela – 66 km from Otavalo


Schedule: We teach from Monday to Friday, hours depend on the period of the year.
 
Requirements

  • Knowledge of English
  • Knowledge of Spanish
  • Patient
  • Open minded
  • Positive attitude
  • Good collaboration skills
  • Team player
  • Able to work with limited resources
  • Able to communicate with a very limited common language base

What do volunteers do?

  • Volunteers assist local teachers and teach in primary and secondary schools.
  • Suggest and introduce new pedagogic methods
  • Showcase his or her own work and allow students to do the same.
  • Teach students basic techniques and encourage them to take the techniques further.
  • Encourage and inspire students to practice skills that may be uncomfortable at first.
  • Volunteers can also be engaged to get started with the community in public places and community centers.


Minimum: 4 weeks

Where: Volunteers are placed in communities in the area of Otavalo. Volunteers always stay near the school they work. We will try to schedule you in a requested destination but that is no garantuee.

  • Gualsaqui – 12 km from Otavalo
  • Moraspungo – 14 km from Otavalo
  • San Jose de Quichinche centro – 6 km from Otavalo
  • Cambugan – 15 km from Otavalo
  • Apuela – 66 km from Otavalo


Schedule: We teach from Monday to Friday, hours depend on the period of the year.
 
Requirements

  • Knowledge of English
  • Knowledge of Spanish
  • Patient
  • Open minded
  • Positive attitude
  • Good collaboration skills
  • Team player
  • Able to work with limited resources
  • Able to communicate with a very limited common language base

What do volunteers do?

  • Volunteers assist local teachers and teach in primary and secondary schools.
  • Suggest and introduce new pedagogic methods
  • Instruct students in a variety of physical activities relevant to curriculum requirements
  • Instruct students on general physical health and well being.
  • Motivate to participate in sport activities.

Minimum: 4 weeks

Where: Volunteers are placed in communities in the area of Otavalo. Volunteers always stay near the school they work. We will try to schedule you in a requested destination but that is no garantuee.

  • Gualsaqui – 12 km from Otavalo
  • Moraspungo – 14 km from Otavalo
  • San Jose de Quichinche centro – 6 km from Otavalo
  • Cambugan – 15 km from Otavalo
  • Apuela – 66 km from Otavalo

Schedule: We teach from Monday to Friday, hours depend on the period of the year.

Requirements

  • Knowledge of English
  • Knowledge of Spanish
  • Patient
  • Open minded
  • Positive attitude
  • Good collaboration skills
  • Team player
  • Able to work with limited resources
  • Able to communicate with a very limited common language base

What do volunteers do?

  • Volunteers assist local teachers and teach in primary and secondary schools.
  • Suggest and introduce new pedagogic methods.
  • Leading dance classes in the community for individual or groups.
  • Teaching various dancing techniques.
  • Demonstrating dances before the class, in order to effectively teach students new moves.

Minimum: 4 weeks

Where: Volunteers are placed in communities in the area of Otavalo. Volunteers always stay near the school they work. We will try to schedule you in a requested destination but that is no garantuee.

  • Gualsaqui – 12 km from Otavalo
  • Moraspungo – 14 km from Otavalo
  • San Jose de Quichinche centro – 6 km from Otavalo
  • Cambugan – 15 km from Otavalo
  • Apuela – 66 km from Otavalo

Schedule: We teach from Monday to Friday, hours depend on the period of the year.

Requirements

  • Knowledge of English
  • Knowledge of Spanish
  • Patient
  • Open minded
  • Positive attitude
  • Good collaboration skills
  • Team player
  • Able to work with limited resources
  • Able to communicate with a very limited common language base

What do volunteers do?

  • Organise seminars with local professors, lecturers & teachers.
  • Research with local professors, lecturers & teachers.
  • Provides unique insights into how forests play a vital role in services for society.
  • Explore with students how forests provide habitats for animals and plants as well as recreational spaces, and provide employment opportunities that help sustain rural communities.
  • Practically demonstrate how forests help protect water and soil quality through stabilising soils and rehabilitating saline landscapes, to helping combat global carbon emissions and air pollution through the storage of carbon in trees and wood products.

We cooperate with the Ministry of Environment for this project.

Minimum: 4 weeks

Where: Volunteers are placed in communities in the area of Otavalo. Volunteers always stay near the school they work. We will try to schedule you in a requested destination but that is no garantuee.

Schedule: We teach/work from Monday to Friday, hours depend on the period of the year.
 
Requirements

  • Knowledge of English
  • Basic knowledge of Spanish
  • Patient
  • Open minded
  • Positive attitude
  • Good collaboration skills
  • Team player
  • Able to work with limited resources
  • Able to communicate with a very limited common language base

What do volunteers do?

  • Organise seminars with local professors, lecturers & teachers.
  • Research with local professors, lecturers & teachers.
  • Teaching of agriculture, natural resources, and land management.
  • Classes taught in an agricultural education curriculum may include horticulture, land management, turf grass management, agricultural science, small animal care, machine and shop classes, health and nutrition, livestock management, and biology.
  • Discuss the policy and economic issues related to this topic.


Minimum: 4 weeks

Where: Volunteers are placed in either Otavalo, Ibarra, Quito or Atuntaqui. There is a possibiliy on field work for a couple of days depending on the needs of the moment.

Schedule: We teach/work from Monday to Friday, hours depend on the period of the year.
 
Requirements

  • Knowledge of English
  • Basic knowledge of Spanish
  • Patient
  • Open minded
  • Positive attitude
  • Good collaboration skills
  • Team player
  • Able to work with limited resources
  • Able to communicate with a very limited common language base

Complex societies require complex thinking. In a world of rapid changes and shifting boundaries there is a growing need for minds that are capable of switching perspective and thinking outside of narrow academic boxes.

What do volunteers do?

  • Organise seminars with local professors, lecturers & teachers.
  • Research with local professors, lecturers & teachers.
  • Study of multiple fields of social science and the humanities, including history, geography, and political science.

We cooperate with the Ministry of Agriculture for this project.

Minimum: 4 weeks

Where: Volunteers
are placed in either Otavalo, Ibarra, Quito or Atuntaqui. There is a
possibiliy on field work for a couple of days depending on the needs of
the moment.

Schedule: We teach/work from Monday to Friday, hours depend on the period of the year.
 
Requirements

  • Knowledge of English
  • Fluent Spanish – you will come in direct contact with the local community.
  • Patient
  • Open minded
  • Positive attitude
  • Good collaboration skills
  • Team player
  • Able to work with limited resources
  • Able to communicate with a very limited common language base

Pedagogies vary greatly, as they reflect the different social, political, cultural contexts from which they emerge. Theories of pedagogy increasingly identify the student as an agent, and the teacher as a facilitator. Conventional western pedagogies, however, view the teacher as knowledge holder and student as the recipient of knowledge.

What do volunteers do?

    Research and organisizing seminars with local professors, lecturers & teachers about following (non limitative) subjects:

    • Joint productive activity: teachers and students producing together.
    • Language
      development: Everyday social language, formal academic language, and
      subject matter lexicons are all critical for school success.
    • Contextualization: “Understanding” means connecting new learning to previous knowledge.
    • Challenging activities: Getting the correct balance and providing appropriate assistance.
    • Instructional conversation: Classrooms and schools are transformed into communities of learners through such dialogic teaching,
    • ……



    Minimum: 4 weeks

    Where: Volunteers
    are placed in either Otavalo, Ibarra, Quito, Atuntaqui or Cayambe.
    There is a possibiliy on field work for a couple of days depending on
    the needs of the moment.

    Schedule: We teach/work from Monday to Friday, hours depend on the period of the year.
     
    Requirements

    • Knowledge of English
    • Basic knowledge of Spanish
    • Patient
    • Open minded
    • Positive attitude
    • Good collaboration skills
    • Team player
    • Able to work with limited resources
    • Able to communicate with a very limited common language base

    What do volunteers do?

      Research and organisizing seminars with local professors, lecturers & teachers about following (non limitative) subjects:

      • Clinical psychology: Assessment and treatment of mental illness, abnormal behavior, and psychiatric problems.
      • Business Psychology: Develop applications to improve the work environment for employees and productivity for employers.
      • …..


      Minimum: 4 weeks

      Where: Volunteers
      are placed in either Otavalo, Ibarra, Quito, Atuntaqui or Cayambe.
      There is a possibiliy on field work for a couple of days depending on
      the needs of the moment.

      Schedule: We teach/work from Monday to Friday, hours depend on the period of the year.
       
      Requirements

      • Knowledge of English
      • Basic knowledge of Spanish
      • Patient
      • Open minded
      • Positive attitude
      • Good collaboration skills
      • Team player
      • Able to work with limited resources
      • Able to communicate with a very limited common language base

      Agriculture

      This project focuses on poor farmers, single and abused women

      What do volunteers do?

      • As a consultant from the Board of Direactors you help improving the coffee production of small coffee farmers both qualitatively and quantitatively. 
      • Help with the daily activities at the coffee plantation
      • Full immersion within the target group to become a confidant, this by learning from them and letting the target group score during your placement.

      Minimum: 4 weeks

      Where: Volunteers are placed at various coffee plantations. Volunteers always stay near the plantation to become part of the community. We will try to schedule you in a requested destination but that is no garantuee.

      • Nanegal – 150 km from Otavalo
      • Nanegalito – 140 km from Otavalo
      • Intag – 69 km from Otavalo
      • El Limonal – 100 km from Otavalo
      • Carchi – 96 km from Otavalo

      Schedule: There is no set schedule, you perform your tasks in consultation with the local team and the mentor of the project.

      Requirements

      • Knowledge of English (does not have to be perfect)
      • Basic knowledge of Spanish
      • Patient
      • Open minded
      • Positive attitude
      • Good collaboration skills
      • Team player
      • Able to work with limited resources
      • Able to communicate with a very limited common language base

      Business Support

      At this project, volunteers will face all facets of business related duties in the coffee process. The goal is to increase coffee quality, marketing, sales, etc. which will benefit all plantation owners and laborers. It his projects different kind of entrepreneurs are welcome from marketeers to experts in world trade but also volunteers willing to work in the catering industry are welcome.

      What do volunteers do?

      Together with the cooperation of coffee producers you will organize following (non limitative) subjects in the coffee business.

      • Maintain, improve the export
      • Marketing
      • Coffee processing
      • Help in the “cafetarias”
      • ….

      Minimum: 4 weeks

      Where: Quito

      Schedule: There is no set schedule, you perform your tasks in consultation with the local team and the mentor of the project.

      Requirements

      • Knowledge of English (does not have to be perfect)
      • Basic knowledge of Spanish
      • Patient
      • Open minded
      • Positive attitude
      • Good collaboration skills
      • Team player
      • Able to work with limited resources
      • Able to communicate with a very limited common language base

      NGO Support

      Our scholarship program is there to help the less fotunate to have access to school and other services important in their daily life.

      What do volunteers do?
      Volunteers monitor progress with the sponsored children and report to their sponsors. Besides monitoring you also assist and inform the sponsored children and their families in following (non limitative) subjects:

      Healthy behaviors:

      • Increased knowledge:  Children need to be equipped with information to make good choices. They may have no idea that certain behaviors put their health at risk, and different people and communities have different perceptions (and misperceptions) about health. By giving children accurate information, you’re helping them to make healthy choices for a lifetime.
      • Improved attitude:  All the information in the world won’t help if children don’t believe changing behavior is important. We’re making sure children and their parents see these issues as relevant to them.
      • Increased self-efficacy:  Finally, children have to believe they can really pull off these healthier behaviors. Part of that comes down to designing interventions that can work for them in their circumstances. The rest of it is instilling in children the confidence and belief to keep it up.

      Use of health services

      • Improved availability: Children can’t use health services if they’re not available in the first place. We make sure our children can get to nearby providers when they are open and at times that work for our families.
      • Improved affordability: Our children are living in poverty. We make sure their financial conditions aren’t a road block to accessing care.
      • Increased demand: Once care is accessible, we work to make sure people use it when they need it. We teach individuals about where to find services and ensure they’re happy with them.

        Education

      • Increased secondary school completion:  We measure success by identifying the percent of sponsored children who have reached that milestone.
      • Increased school enrollment: We measure the percent of sponsored children who are enrolled in any level of formal and nor formal education.
      • Increased achievement of identified learning outcomes: We measure the percent of sponsored children who achieve minimum proficiency standards for their age or grade level.

      Empowering Children
      Empowering kids means equipping them with the skills, knowledge and social responsibility that helps them become agents of change. To measure progress in this area, we use data collection and analysis to identify the percent of youth with the ability to voice their own opinion and those who actively participate as leaders and volunteers in their communities.
      These intermediate steps help make that possible:

      • Strengthened life skills, measured by the percent of individuals who self-report having a strong competency in the long list of essential life skills as defined by the World Health Organization.
      • Increased social responsibility, measured by data that identifies the percent of individuals who self-report having a strong competency in social responsibility.

      Employment
      Our focus on employment means making sure the teens in our program have adequate marketable job skills and that they know how to enter the workforce. We measure the number of teens in our program  who have:

      • Increased marketable skills, measured by the percent of teens actively developing skills through university or vocational training programs. For younger teens, we measure enrollment. For young adults, we measure completion.
      • Enhanced access to the local job market, measured by the percent of program youth who demonstrate knowledge and skills to access the job market in their communities.

      Other information
      Minimum: 4 weeks

      Where: Otavalo

      Schedule: There is no set schedule, you perform your tasks in consultation with the local team and the mentor of the project.

      Requirements

      • Knowledge of English (does not have to be perfect)
      • Basic knowledge of Spanish
      • Patient
      • Open minded
      • Positive attitude
      • Good collaboration skills
      • Team player
      • Able to work with limited resources
      • Able to communicate with a very limited common language base

      Our Local Team In Ecuador

      Volunteer in Ecuador - Sandra

      Sandra

      Bookkeeper

      Sandra is the local bookkeeper and is specialized in all coffee projects. She assist the local farmers with their tax issues. She is already active for over 10 years in our projects. Sandra is very dedicated and faithful in her work

      Volunteer in Ecuador - Fermin

      Fermin

      Board member

      Already active as board member for over 8 years. He is specialist in Philosophy, literature, teology, photography, analysis of moral behavior, politics. Fermin has a charismatic personality.

      Volunteer in Ecuador - Hernan

      Hernan

      Artisan products specialist

      As textile engineer he is our specialist in artisan products, with main focus on textiles. He has a lot of knowledge about colonial history. Besides being an expert he has a big sense of humor.  He works already for 6 years in the organization in Ecuador.

      Volunteer in Ecuador - José

      José

      Board member

      Active in the local organization for 6 years. He makes documentaries about general development in art, culture and agriculture. Jose is modest and very professional.

      Volunteer in Ecuador - Clarita

      Clarita

      Board member

      Already active for 6 year in our local the local board of directors. Clarita is a very wise woman, she also teaches literature at various Colombian universities.

      Besides the board members mentioned above, we have an extensive team of coffee producers, teachers and community leaders. It would become an endless job if we introduce everybody on this page. The board members will welcome you upon arrival and introduce you to the team with whom you will cooperate.

      Volunteer in Ecuador - team meeting
      Team meeting

      Housing

      When you volunteer in Ecuador you always  stay at the office in Otavalo for your first two nights. 

      During the rest of your placement you stay in a single room in a homestay. All accommodations are selected for their safety. Volunteers are never placed in dangerous or unsafe areas. Water shortage can occur, but never for a long period. Facilities depend on where you stay. Sheets and towels are always provided by the host. There is hot water everywhere except in Nanegal; Nanegalito; Gualsaqui; Moraspungo & San Jose. Every homestay has a western toilet.
      Some places might have WIFI available, but this is unreliable. Things can change suddenly, best is to arrange your own mobile internet (our team will help you with this).

      Fieldwork
      It could be possible that you have to do fieldwork for a couple of days, keep in mind that luxury is not always present. Tap water is only available in the cities; in the villages this is more exceptional. You will only find hot water in urban areas.  In remote areas you may need to wash with a bowl filled with river water. Water can also be boiled on a wood fire in the remote areas.

      Meals

      All meals are the responsibility of the volunteer. Some accommodations have cooking facilities, others do not, The team managers will explain where to buy your groceries.
      For around USD 7.5/day you can already eat in your homestay prepared by your local host. Except in Otavalo & Atuntaqui where the host is not preparing any meals but here you can use the kitchen.
      Except for El Limonal & the Carchi province, you can easily eat in the city.

      Free Time

      Otavalo is surrounded by volcanoes, Imbabura, Fuya Fuya, Cotacach where you can hike. In Otavalo you will be presented with the largest artisan market in South America every Saturday.

      The most known tourist places in the area of Otavalo are:

      • Artisanal market
      • The waterfall of Peguche
      • The waterfall of Taxopamba
      • The San Pablo Lake
      • The lakes of Mojanda
      • Parque Condor
      • The Imbabura volcano and Fuya Fuya can be climbed, it is recommended to do this with a competent guide.


      There are also big festivals every year

      • Fiesta de Yamor
      • Pawkar Raymi
      • Inti Raymi

      Possible Costs

      Volunteering abroad does cost money and it is not our intention that the community you are going to help has to pay for this. If there was enough money to bear these costs, we would rather spend them on a local employees who understand the local culture and daily customs.
      If you want to learn more about our transparent system, take a look at our transparency page.

      Accommodation & Meals Cost

      These costs, which you pay on site, are related to your housing in Ecuador such. By paying locally, you are also sure that your contribution will end in Ecuador and will not stay behind at various “stations”. The cost for one week is 50 EURO.

      What is included?

      • Local costs and preparations for your stay;
      • Accommodation 7/7;
      • Pick up at the airport;
      • First transport to your project after your 2 day orientation at the main office in Otavalo.

      Other Possible Costs

      Probably there are other expenses that you have to keep in mind. Below a brief summary of the most common possible costs:

      • International flights;
      • All meals: for 7,5 US/ day you can already eat at local restaurants or with your host. It can be cheaper if you prepare your own meals;
      • Drinks;
      • Travel insurance;
      • Visa extentions;
      • Costs related to your free time (entrance fees, accommodation, transport to, etc);
      • Internet: different available plans, depending on you wishes. You can alreaday have a basic 30 day plan for 5USD.

      Alliance Fee

      any projects require a continuity of volunteers to create impact and we want to ensure sufficient inflow of volunteers to keep every project viable. Unfortunately volunteer recruitment comes with a costs such as marketing. The fundraising done by the organizations in our alliance are exclusively used for development projects in the countries mentioned on this website.

      The alliance fee serves to bear the costs of the alliance’s platform. We ask every participant a one-time alliance fee of € 130. This is a one-time contribution which you pay after being accepted for your first volunteer placement. After payment of this contribution you can do unlimited voluntary work in any project in the future (if there is availability and you meet the set requirements for that project).

      As a member, we always inform you as soon as new projects are added in our alliance.

      What is your alliance fee used for?

      1. Despite of our good intentions, we are also obliged to pay taxes. After this the balance is used for: annual costs for the management of our platform such as the maintenance of the registration database, administration …. We try to minimize these costs, but we have to cover them. We also have a great looking website that needs to be maintained and kept up-to-date.
      2. Promotion costs money and we want to be visible as much as possible so we find enough volunteers for each project. Your contribution is also used for promotions on various media, printed materials etc. Besides this we also try to attend as many fairs & network events as possible.
      3. We are only volunteers and put a lot of effort in our projects but also in your preperation. In the past we had volunteers not showing up which is very disturbing to our team and local communities that we support. We also view this contribution as a form of guarantee that you will actually fulfill your commitment.

      You can read more at our transparency page.

      Preparation & Guidance

      We will not let you leave without a thorough preparation. We have a detailed system, so you can sleep on both ears and leave with peace of mind. Once you have been accepted and everything has been put in order, you can count on the guidance of our experts.
       
      As soon as you applied and you are accepted to volunteer we start with your preparation. You can already read a lot on this website, besides this we also prepare you through other channels. Once in the field you also can rely on our local team.

      Project Page

      Volunteering abroad will have an impact on you but also on the local community. We think it’s very important, that you as a volunteer are aware about what to expect.  So you can start prepared with your volunteering experience. When you are accepted as a volunteer and you confirmed from your side, you will receive the access codes for our secured volunteer page. At this page you can read all information which is important for your preparation, Such as information about your project, accommodation, How to apply for your visa, a packing list, a complete chapter about cultural differences and much more …

      Personal Mentor

      You will be assigned a mentor who you can contact for any help or needed advice. Our mentors are members of our alliance and have years of experience in the projects we support. This system ensures that you receive good guidance from VAA.

      Your safety is very important to us. We only allow volunteers to travel to areas that are politically stable. If this is not the case, the project will not proceed. Every member of the alliance keeps a close eye on the security recommendations. Of course, we can also rely on the local employees of the projects. They live and work there themselves and know the area very well.

      Ecuador has a highly changeable climate, which means that it can be variable at any time. Generally though, in the Sierra, there is little variation by day or by season, with changes occurring as you climb or descend instead. The coastal and Amazonian lowlands have a wet equatorial climate, but the higher you climb the colder it gets.

      Rainfall is primarily aected by proximity to the eastern or western slopes of the Andes; in the west, June to September are drier with October to May typically wetter; in the east the opposite is true with October to February drier and March to September much wetter. There is also a variation in the amount of rainfall as you journey north to south, with the southern highlands much drier than the landscapes in the north.

      The coast can be enjoyed all year round, although it is cooler between June and November, when a sea mist, known as garua, sets in. January to May are consistently the hottest and rainiest months here. The Galapagos are also aected by garua between May and December; January to April here are the hottest months, with heavy but brief rainfall also possible. In the Oriente you can be aected by rainfall at any time, but it is wettest from March to September. Most cities are located in a comfortable subtropical zone.

      Every project has at least one permanent employee. This employee organizes your project and your stay together with the participating organization of our alliance. During your stay you can always connect with them; they are available for advice and practical information, but you can also count on them in case of an emergency.

      Volunteers are welcomed at the international airport “Marescal Sucre Quito” (airport code: UIO). Upon welcoming at the airport we bring you to the office where you also will stay your first night to relax after a long flight.

      The second day we provide an extensive orientation at the office and you will learn everything about the team that will guide you. The second night you will also stay at the office. The third day we will bring you to your project where we will introduce you to the local community.

      In the past we had problems with sharing our operations address therefore we deliberately not share this information in advance. The organizations within our alliance take their duties seriously, our projects are not tourist  attractions and we do not want uninvited guests to disturb our operations. Moreover, it is very disturbing for the local employees of our alliance but also for other volunteers if someone suddenly appears at the projects to take a look.

      We are not doctors and we do not know your personal & medical background. That is why we advise everyone to make an appointment with your doctor or travel vaccination center before traveling to your destination. You can always take a look at the website of the WHO for the latest situation in Laos.
       
      Every organization within our alliance has an emergency procedure and you also receive all emergency telephone numbers once accepted as a volunteer. You will find all this information on your personal project page, you will receive the code as soon as you are accepted as a volunteer and you completed your application.

      You always enter Ecuador with a tourist visa which is valid for for 90 days. Your tourist visa can be extended up to 180 days. You will receive all information once you are accepted as a volunteer. Be aware that costs occur in case of extensions, . Our team will help you with your extension.

      I you want a longer stay, up to 2 years, a visa that must be arranged at the consulate of Ecuador in your home country. The prices for this visa are regularly changed.  Applying for this visa is a true administrative burden, so you need to start in time with this.

      There is no typical day or script to follow – every day will be different and full of surprises. That is the beauty, but also challenge, of international volunteering. We expect you to understand this and be flexible, open and proactive at all times.

      There are always new initiatives being launched and other volunteers looking for a helping hand. The projects are very dynamic and responsive to the community’s needs, and we encourage you to be flexible and willing to help wherever there is need. It is very likely that you will have the opportunity to work across multiple projects. Remember, the more you put into your experience, the more you will get out of it.

      The principal language of Ecuador is Spanish, which is spoken by approximately 93% of the population. This language was first introduced by Spanish colonizers during the 16th century and became the language of government, business, and religion. 

      We have local team members, who speak: English, German and even Dutch. We do not require you to speak Spanish (English is sufficient) but be aware that communication with the local population might be difficult.

      Our projects in Ecuador are a great opportunity that want to learn Spanish or improve their language skills.

      All organizations active in the alliance take their work very seriously. From general preparations to details that you never imagined that they exist, but that are important to give you a safe, comfortable and meaningful experience. We invest a lot of time in preparing, following up and implementing our preparation materials, but also our projects on site. We hope that you, for your part, commit yourself 100% during your volunteer work and this is done in a respectful way for us, but even more so for the local community you are going to help.

      • Volunteers are not tourists. Volunteers cooperate and serve the local population while tourists want to be served. We expect you to adopt an open, flexible and proactive attitude. After all, these are the most fundamental characteristics of a good volunteer.
      • Volunteers are not employees. You will be shown the direction before and during your voluntary work, but you will not receive the same training as an employee receives. We expect you to ask questions, offer your help and engage in the execution of your project work.
      • Kindness and being positive are very good qualities. You will meet many people during your volunteer work. Good social qualities are the key to success for good interaction with others. The best volunteers are those who build a good relationship with the people they work with. Take every opportunity to build a relationship of trust, even if there is a language barrier.
      • You stay and work in a developing country where life is completely different from what you are used to. Do not expect to find the same efficiency, punctuality and structures that you are used to. Being open minded and adapting to new situations are the most fundamental qualities of a volunteer. Do not expect that you will get a written scenario. Every day will be different and you can come across different situations that you did not expect on your path.
      • You may have taken a vacation to do volunteer work. However, keep in mind that a “volunteer holiday” does not exist. Volunteers enjoy their work and enjoy themselves during their free time. However, volunteering abroad is not easy. It can be very challenging and some days seem like an exercise in managing frustrations. It is all part of the experience so patience and a positive attitude are good qualities for a volunteer.
      • You are not going to change the world. As long as you fulfill your duties in a responsible manner, you will be part of the team and will have a positive impact on the local community.
      • Be humble and open to learn. You may have overwhelming ideas, qualities, talents and knowledge to share. The local population also has a lot to offer.
      • You travel to a new country where the smallest parts of daily life differ from what you know. Try to understand this and do not judge it too quickly. The culture of the community you are staying in is no better or worse than in your hometown, it is just different. Turn off your blinkers, open your heart and you will feel comfortable even outside your own comfort zone.
      • During your volunteer work, and especially during the preparation, you will receive a lot of information about the projects, living facilities, daily life, etc. Circumstances can change unexpectedly. Local needs may cause you to perform tasks other than planned. You must understand that the duties of a volunteer are based on local needs and not on you personally. It is your responsibility to adjust, because you are going to give and not to take.

      Daily behavior when you volunteer in Ecuador

      • Dress appropriately and in consideration of the local culture. Women especially, you may have to dress more conservatively than you are used to at home. 
      • Follow the local laws and remember, corruption and poor government services can be the norm in Ecuador. 
      • Abide by the cultural norms and rules of your hosts. Look to them for social cues and if you have a question, ask. Do not be shy!   
      • While we will not babysit you, we expect you to follow the instructions and rules set forth by us and our local partners. We also expect you to be a good communicator who is friendly and respectful to us and our team. Whether something is going well or not, tell us.
      Read more about our vision

      Start Dates

      In our alliance we always ask the volunteers to do volunteer work by week. At some projects it is already possible to volunteer for one week, but it is also be possible that a minimum placement of a couple of months is required for certain projects. You can read this at the projects chapter of the chosen destination.

      When Can I Arrive In Ecuador

      In Ecuador you choose which day you arrive.

      What is the minimum period to volunteer in Ecuador?

      You can already volunteer in Ecuador from 4 weeks.