Volunteering in Ecuador


While living abroad, some expats wish to get involved in the local community life.

What organizations expats can turn to if they want to volunteer in Ecuador?

How to join a charitable institution, what are the steps?

Which causes have the greatest need for volunteers in Ecuador?

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience and advice,


Volunteering has historically been a viable way to obtain a full year of residency in Ecuador through a non-immigrant visa.

A good place to start in Quito would be www.saexplorers.com

cccmedia in Quito

At www.gooverseas.com "Volunteer in Ecuador," various organizations are reviewed that provide volunteering opportunities, typically for up to a few hundred dollars in fees.  Volunteers can be accomodated for one week up to six months or more.

At www.volunteer-ecuador.org ... where a registration voluntary "donation" is asked upon arrival here, they offer to pick you up at the Quito airport and move you around Ecuador for various volunteering opportunities ...

-- In Quito:  child care, teaching, children with special needs, orphanage program.

-- Amazon rainforest:  animal rescue program.

-- Galápagos Islands:  conservation program.

  -- High school students teen-group program.

Keep in mind that the Galápagos may be an unsafe area during the height of the El Niño weather season.

cccmedia in Quito

There are plentiful articles about volunteering in various places in Ecuador, at the following link....

http://www.transitionsabroad.com/listin … ador.shtml

The need to give back to your community is great in Ecuador. Schools are in dire need, especially those schools in the "campos" - countryside. Few schools have either English or computer programs, and these are programs that are helpful in order for Ecuadorian children to get better jobs when they are older, especially in areas that have large numbers of "extranjeros" (expats). As well, itt's important to remember that you don't have to wait in order to be asked. Simply visiting a local teacher in his/her classroom can open up doors for a myriad of volunteering possibilities.

However, it's important to remember that there doesn't have to be an organization already in place to help.

Before I arrived in Southern Ecuador, in the Vilcabamba area, I saw from photos I had seen online that there was an extreme need to help the animals of this community. At one point, I saw two animals in dire need of fostering, but no one on the site where I had seen them had been willing to take them in. I contacted people on the thread and managed to find someone to take them and care for them until I could arrive (I adopted those dogs, numbering two at the time, but after a week, I had nine because one had been pregnant!). The result of this was the founding of the animal rescue organization Ayuda Mascotas Ecuador (AME). Since then, AME has rescued and helped many animals. We are presently in the process of working with the local zoo in our area to educate people on the responsibilities involved in owning and caring for a pet, and we are hoping to, eventually, have our own rescue enter.

What this boils down to is that there is always a need, and if you cannot find an organization in place, you can help to organize and develop an organization to help!!

There is a great desire from the students and teachers for English classes. If you start at the second grade anyone can teach them the numbers, colors, common greetings ect. I have been teaching for 2 years volunteering here in my new home  town Puerto Cayo. It's fun and rewarding

If you are full time resident of Cuenca contact the Hearts of Gold Foundation  http://heartsofgoldfoundation.org/.

You can also participate in activities of Love Cuenca; see FB page of the same name.

I totally agree with all of you. Teaching and animal rescue are great volunteer opportunities. For a few months, I lived in a small town in the mountains this year. I walked into the local High School and asked, if they would be interested in an English teacher 2 days a week. The kids were wonderful, but there were over 40 teenagers in each of the 5 classes I taught, rotating the teaching of each class, after each 40 min. It was a daunting task to say the least. But I loved it.  It was also discovered, that only One teacher actually spoke English, none of the other English teachers could speak the language. Only One English teacher actually understood me well enough to answer back in English. The director of the school asked for 3 new real English teachers at the end of that term. When it comes to animal rescue, I think it is also very important. There are too many dogs walking around all day, and only some have a permanent home. They are being let out in the morning and go home at night-fall. In the meantime, they are free to visit restaurants or what-ever else those poor dogs find worth-while, looking for food. I have witnessed cruelty to dogs and other animals. There seem to be no anti-cruelty, anti-noise or anti-pollution laws, and if there are, nobody seems to be aware of them. There are 4 dogs and a bunch of chickens on this property, and 4 dogs next door. The Shepherd dog is up on the fourth floor of the bldg. as a watch-dog, He has the run of the whole floor with large balcony. The barking is almost continuous 24/7 and he cries a lot, when he gets lonely. To me, never letting that dog to be anywhere else, is cruelty. Barking, until he gets hoarse and no company. On the yard there are a Pit-bull and two mongrels, who often fight and bite each other. When all 8 dogs start barking, things turn into quite a concert. I feel so very sorry for that Shepherd dog sometimes, Trying to talk to the one family, that lives there, was futile. They do not wish to be "molested".  My landlady told me, that, if the dogs are guard-dogs, there is nothing one can do about it. They can bark 24/7.  The owners no longer listen to it, so when there is an actual break-in, they would be totally unaware of it.  Ah, well...  I just use ear-plugs at night.

I have taught in English in several countries, and I have found that many English teachers can't speak the language. In fact, when I was teaching at a South Korean high school, most of the local English teachers taught English in Korean!!! Don't even ask!!!

As for anti-cruelty laws for animals, they do exist. For example, it is illegal to leave animal chained up.  However, most Ecuadorians won't call if someone has their pat chained because they don't want to have problems with their neighbors. It is something that, for the most part, just isn't done.

As an animal rescuer, while I am often appalled at what I see in Ecuador, it is important to understand two things regarding animals in Ecuador. First, Ecuador has long been an agrarian society, and, in such a culture, dogs are seen as tools. Their jobs are to guard - period. This is important to Ecuadorians because, as in most poor countries, people's homes must be guarded to protect their property from break-ins. The other thing is that poverty is what prevents most people from being able to provide decent care for their animals. One of the things I try to do where I live in the poorest area of Ecuador is to help my neighbors out with food and medicine. I have some sweet neighbors who love there dogs, but putting food in their mouths must often come before putting food in their dogs' mouths. So, I help out by making Satin Balls to fatten up their dogs, dropping off dry food and handing out flea and tick control medicines. Even if we can only help one family, that is important.

Animal welfare awareness is definitely on the rise in Ecuador. Our rescue group in Vilcabamba was just asked to participate in a local zoo/aviary program called "Your Dog, Your Responsibility". These types of programs are happening everywhere with the hopes that the next generation of Ecuadorian pet owners will be able to better provide the proper care and attention every animal needs to live a healthy life.

If you are interested in volunteering you can contact Yanapuma Foundation. We have offices in Quito and in Cuenca, and the foundation is a non-profit NGO whose mission is to promote sustainable development among indigenous and marginalized communities in Ecuador. The foundation collaborates with over 35 grass-roots organizations to send volunteers where they are needed. In addition to a variety of projects in Quito and Cuenca, we work with organizations in the Amazon, Pacific region, the Andes and the Galapagos Islands.
Our policy is to charge enough to cover our overheads, with any left over going to the work of the foundation. Our Spanish schools in Quito and Cuenca and our travel agency are "social enterprises" generating core funding to keep us in business. Every volunteer that we connect with a pre-vetted project helps us to fulfill our mission.
We place over 250 volunteers a year, both individuals and groups, and we are happy to advise on the best way of getting your volunteering set up. You can find our websites by googling "Yanapuma."

I am going to be in Cuenca for 3 months and have time to help with English classes  ages 8 to 16-
Preferliby in  an area with native  students  as long as there is bus service  to and from. I've been to Ecuador. 3 time now and love the country and most of all the people. My name     Paul. Forrer
E mail.   paul forrer @ gmail .com.             I'm planning on. Jan, Feb.  March .

Thank you everyone for such valuable information. It gets me excited with the prospect of helping and getting to know others in the community. I am both an animal lover and have volunteered in shelters at home and overseas. I'm also an ESL/EFL instructor by profession. I hope that this thread will remain active for a long time because I don't foresee getting to Ecuador (Cuenca possibly) before next spring. Or will this information be archived in a new section of the Guide to Ecuador?

Many thanks for all the information and inspiration!
Warmest wishes,

peripatetic_soul :

I hope that this thread will remain active for a long time because I don't foresee getting to Ecuador before next spring. Or will this information be archived in a new section of the Guide to Ecuador?

Many threads that go inactive are maintained in place.  It's common to see posts from three or four years ago even though nobody has posted on the thread in the past couple of years.

cccmedia in Quito

hi my name is ken Neff  from Medford or
would like to look in to helping out in EUCADOR IF I CAN . MY EMAIL

Moderated by Priscilla 3 years ago
Reason : Do not post your personal contact details for your own security + avoid posting in caps lock

Hey guys, I'm a 24 year old American with brief EFL teaching experience in Brasil (but no certification), and I'm looking to move to Ecuador in January.  I'm currently looking for work as an English teacher or something in the tourism industry.  I have a university degree in Journalism, speak Spanish and Portuguese, and would be a good fit for anything to do with writing, including social media, translation, and blogging.  I'm struggling to get much interested from any of the schools or tour operators I've contacted.  Any expats out there with advice for someone open to ANY way to support myself in Ecuador?  Thanks in advance.

cmcnew18 :

I'm a 24 year old American with brief EFL teaching experience....

I have a university degree in Journalism, speak Spanish and Portuguese, and would be a good fit for anything to do with writing, including social media, translation, and blogging.  I'm struggling to get much interest from any of the schools or tour operators I've contacted.  Any expats out there with advice for someone open to ANY way to support myself in Ecuador?

Welcome to the Ecuador forum, New 18.

You are young, obviously motivated and come across as having plenty of energy.

However, it's a stretch to think that anybody is going to pursue you to take a job when you're thousands of miles from here.  Tons of Ecuadorians and a bunch of Gringos are looking for work, and they're already here.

Your best bet may be to arrive here on a non-immigrant volunteer or (Spanish) student visa -- typically good for 12 months -- and see if you can assist less-fluent Gringos in all the services they may need... visas, apartments, transportation, dealing with the bureaucracy and translating being common examples.

cccmedia in Quito

Here's another thought... Take advantage of your journalism degree, especially if you have a voice for radio.

After you get here, start by contacting ABC Radio News in New York.  Like a lot of national and international news organizations based elsewhere, it's likely they don't yet have a "man" in Quito.

If you can demonstrate vocal ability, writing ability and awareness of EC news values... you could be doing spots, ROSR's, actualities and Q-and-A's on national radio the next time a volcano blows or there's an unpredicted change in presidentes or when the night finally comes when they re-open the casinos.

Ask for the network's chief of foreign correspondents to get started on that.

There's no reason you can't feed stories to multiple news outlets.

cccmedia in Quito

Thank you CCC.  I appreciate the feedback.  All good ideas.  Cheers.

Hi. I am director of Yanapuma Foundation (Fundación Yanapuma) and we run our own sustainable development projects in Ecuador as well as collaborating with over 35 grass-roots projects all around the country to receive volunteers, individually and in groups. We are always happy to talk to anybody about collaboration to help us realize our mission, and we are open to suggestions. You can google us to find contact info (I don't think these fora allow us to put websites and email addresses!)

Is it safe and do u live alone?

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