Volunteer in Ecuador
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 6 meaningful project options
- Projects based in Ecuador’s capital city of Quito
- Accommodation in volunteer house or homestay
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- Program fees from $290 for 1 week
- Affordable Spanish language lessons available
- Between 10 and 20 volunteers start this program each month
- Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in Ecuador to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Ecuador will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
- Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
- Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
- Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organizations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
- New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
- Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore Ecuador with your new-found friends.
The IVHQ Ecuador volunteer program has volunteer placements located in Ecuador’s capital city of Quito and surrounding urban and rural areas, approximately 45 minutes out of the city. Nestled high in the Andes, Quito is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful cities in South America. Despite this aesthetic beauty, there is a great need for volunteers to assist with the development of this city and its communities.
Volunteer programs begin every Monday. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 12 weeks.
There is a great deal of behind-the-scenes work involved in accomplishing the goals our partner organizations has for the children of Ecuador. The purpose of the NGO Support project is to provide assistance with the operational workload of the organization, to enable them to widen their reach and help more children. Volunteers can utilize existing skills and experience or learn new skills by helping with the day-to-day operations of these organizations, as well as gain a greater understanding of NGOs and the issues they face. Volunteers may assist with translation, record keeping, fundraising and grant writing, public relations, campaign scholarships, systems reviews and communication. Duties are assigned based on the priority of tasks at the time of a volunteer’s program in accordance with the volunteer’s skills, interests and experience. It is important to note that volunteers on this project are typically asked to spend a portion of their time working on another project, such as Street Children Work, to supplement their time performing administration support. Volunteers are recommended to bring their own laptop for this project.
Volunteers on the Kindergarten project assist Ecuadorian teachers in primary and kindergarten classes, teaching pre-school math, writing, reading and art lessons, as well as helping out with lunch and playtime. Classes are held in either a school for girls or a private school for low-income families with each class having 15 to 35 students. Volunteers play a crucial role in supporting the local teachers to take care if the young children. This project is a great option for aspiring teachers, volunteers with no experience in planning curriculum or teaching, as well as those wishing to improve their Spanish skills.
The School Support Project involves tutoring, providing educational support and instilling confidence in Ecuadorian children who have recently been enrolled (or reenrolled) in school. Volunteers on this project travel to different markets, a local school or community center and work with children in groups or individually, going through homework and supplementary activities. Please note, a conversational level of Spanish is required of volunteers to participate on this project.
Street Children Work
For many Ecuadorian children, school is never an option. These children spend 365 days a year working in the streets and markets, selling goods and performing with their parents to help their families stay alive. The Street Children Work project focuses on providing these children with some enjoyment in their lives, along with education. This project is popular among the families of these children, as it offers them new opportunities and perspectives on life that they otherwise would not have been exposed to. Volunteers on this project work with children of all ages and assist in providing basic school lessons, playing with the children, singing and dancing, providing hygiene awareness (such as teaching the importance of washing hands), and introducing the children to new activities and games.
The Summer Project provides support to children of various ages from disadvantaged backgrounds, who are either struggling with school, or trying to continue their education, as opposed to slipping back into a life of working in the markets with their parents. This project increases educational continuity and stimulates an enthusiasm for learning, which promotes education and schooling as a priority for these children. Volunteers on this project teach a range of subjects, including English, mathematics, reading, writing, dance, art, body expression, recreation games, and hygiene. Volunteers will generally work in support of a local instructor. The class will usually discuss a concept together and then reinforce that concept with an activity. The Summer Project works towards a final presentation at the end of the season, in which the children’s parents are invited to see their children perform dances, songs, and plays (both in English and in Spanish). This is a way to show parents the value of education and for the children to build their confidence. Children receive a certificate and it is a fun day for everyone. Volunteers on the Teaching English project whose duration continues into July will join the Summer Project.
In Ecuador, it is expensive to study a foreign language. Through the Teaching English project, we wish to support local partners in developing the population’s accessibility to educational and employment opportunities. Volunteers may be placed in a school for low-income families, to focus on developing the English language skills of children, or in a community center. Volunteers do not have to plan a curriculum, as they work in an assisting role, alongside a local instructor. Volunteers help plan the local teacher’s activities, provide classroom support and one-on-one attention to students. Activities may be focused on emphasizing pronunciation, conversation, reading, and writing through games and songs. Each class has on average 15 to 35 students (depending on the number of volunteers relative to the number of students, classes may be split into smaller groups). Volunteers are expected to give weekly evaluations, identify communication problems, address linguistic concerns, and develop language teaching strategies. During July and August, volunteers will teach English in combination with the Summer Project. It is important to note that classroom experience and confidence, Spanish skills and program duration will help determine where a volunteer is placed. A basic level of Spanish language skills are recommended for this project. As volunteers work with the support of IVHQ’s local team and placement staff, they do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate. However, we encourage volunteers to come prepared by completing some relevant training, like a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course.
Orientation is taken by our Ecuador team at the volunteer offices in Quito. Orientation begins in the afternoon of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Ecuador – Introduction to Ecuador, Ecuadorian Customs, Language Training Details, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in Ecuador, Introduction to your Project and Placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
Weekdays: While our programs are flexible and can be fitted to your requirements, an example of a typical day is as follows. Please note that volunteering on the Ecuador program is held Tuesday through Friday (expect to participate for full days, unless you’re also taking Spanish language lessons, in which case you’d volunteer for half days). Therefore the weekends on the program are Saturday through Monday.
7.30AM Breakfast at the volunteer house or homestay.
8.00AM Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements. Work and hours are dependent on the project and placement that each volunteer is working at. There is a break for lunch and volunteers are responsible for the purchase of this meal.
2.00PM - 5.00PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel home, prepare for the next day, or do some shopping and sightseeing. If volunteers are taking Spanish language lessons, these will usually take place in the afternoons and last between 2 and 3 hours.
7.30PM Dinner at the volunteer house or homestay.
Evenings: To ensure the safety of our volunteers and respect of others in the volunteer accommodation, a curfew of 10:30 PM has been put in place from Monday to Thursday and a 1:30 AM curfew for Friday to Sunday.
Please note, this schedule will vary depending on the project the volunteer is particiapating on. If a volunteer is taking Spanish language lessons, they will usually volunteer for half the day and spend the other half (3 to 4 hours) taking Spanish language lessons.
Volunteers on the Ecuador program can also join social clubs arranged by the local staff. The social clubs give volunteers the opportunity to meet volunteers from other projects and share in their experiences on the program. Club activities include free conversational Spanish groups, Ecuadorian movie nights and salsa lessons! All of the club activities are held in the afternoon, after volunteers have finished at their placement, and range in cost from US$3-US$5.
Volunteers are accommodated alongside other IVHQ volunteers, in either a volunteer house or homestay. Bedrooms can be comprised of single beds, bunk beds or a double bed and volunteers can expect to share a room with one or two other volunteers. Living is comfortable and the volunteer house and homestays have electricity, running water and western bathrooms. To ensure the safety of our volunteers and respect of others in the volunteer accommodation, a curfew of 10:30 PM has been put in place from Monday to Thursday and a 1:30 AM curfew for Friday to Sunday.
Volunteers are provided with breakfast and dinner, 7 days per week while on the Ecuador volunteer program. Breakfast generally consists of tea or coffee, cereals, local breads, condiments, and fruits and cheese. Dinners will be a mixture of traditional Ecuadorian meals (meat or vegetarian stews, rice, vegetables or potatoes) and western meals. Carbohydrates, such as potatoes, bananas, plantains, bread and rice are common ingredients for Ecuadorian dishes. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you. However, we need to stress the point that you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of, but as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible.
“I love the city, the volunteer house, and most of all the street children market program. It is a bit unnerving, as this is my first time out of my own country, and Quito is relativley huge compared to where I´m from. But it´s exactly the kind of learning experience I wanted to have. Also, it helps that the local staff are so accomadating; I honestly feel I could go to them with any problems I might have.” - Lisa Waters (Street Children Work Volunteer in Ecuador)
During the weekends (Saturday through Monday), volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of Quito and Ecuador. Long weekends can be taken to travel further afield to explore the amazing national parks of Ecudaor or Galapagos Islands. If you are interested in art, culture and history, you can check out Quito’s historical center, where you can learn about Quito’s history, legends and Pre-Columbian cultures. From the city’s historical center, you can take the El Teleferico (cable car) for beautiful views of the city and surrounding volcanoes. Horseback riding and hiking is available to the Guagua Pichincha volcano summit. You can visit the coastal region of Salango for snorkelling, Silver Island, and the beautiful beaches of Los Frailes. Jungle excursions can also be arranged to experience the nature and unique wildlife such as toucans, parrots, and monkeys.
See our Ecuador Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Ecuador!
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Weather and climate: The climate of Ecuador is composed of a number of microclimates that separate into four distinct zones. La Costa (Costal Lowlands) is tropical, La Sierra (Andean Mountains) is temperate; and El Oriente (Amazon Region) shares the jungle climate of the upper Amazon rain forest.
Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in Ecuador. Additional requirements apply for School Support volunteers, please review the project description above. Please note that a reasonable level of fitness and mobility is required for all projects. If you have any health concerns that may be affected by altitude, we recommend that you discuss these with a medical professional prior to travel.
Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Ecuador volunteer program, however on certain volunteer projects, such as Teaching English, Administration Support and School Support, volunteer work will be restricted with limited language ability. We recommend that volunteers take advantage of the very affordable language lessons offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers by our partner staff in Ecuador. Past volunteers feel that taking these lessons help immensely with day-to-day volunteer work and communicating with local people. Volunteers interested in taking Spanish lessons can arrange these directly with the local staff once in Ecuador.
Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.
Spanish language lessons are available for all volunteers regardless of their ability. IVHQ strongly recommends these for all volunteers unless they are fluent in Spanish. Volunteers with a basic level of Spanish should strongly consider these lessons to allow them to work and communicate more effectively during their program. These language lessons are organized upon your arrival in Ecuador during your program orientation. The language lessons are tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Spanish and must be paid for in Ecuador to our local staff. The cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers.
- 12 hours/6 days = US$84 (or 3 days intensive)
- 20 hours/10 days = US$130 (or 5 days intensive)
- 30 hours/15 days = US$195 (or 8 days intensive)
- 40 hours/10 days intensive = US$250
- 60 hours/15 days intensive = US$375
- 80 hours/20 days intensive = US$480