Volunteering in Ecuadorean Communities

If you participate in a week-long community immersion and decide that you would like to stay in the community for longer, the guide, the community coordinator and other people in the community can help you work out a volunteer position that suits both you and the community. For example, if you like farming or you would like to learn to farm, you can help Dueña Maria de Carmen take care of her 2.5 hectares of vegetables and fruits, her 50 guinea pigs and rabbits and other animals in Mulalillo, as well as the 12-acre organic farm cooperative owned by 49 partners. If you speak English, you could teach much-needed English classes at a local school. If you work in construction, you could help install or improve a bathroom shower.

There are many opportunities for volunteering in each of the immersion communities -- In the coast and jungle, artisans make handicrafts such as coconut shell jewelry or skirts made out of seeds, but they don't have much market for selling the products. In the paramo (high mountain region) near Mulalillo, residents would like to set up facilities for making sweaters and other products from the wool that they fleece off of sheep but they haven't gotten around to applying for a microloan, so they currently sell huge bags of fleeced wool for only about a dollar. There are virtually no chocolate-making factories in Ecuador, though much cacao is harvested directly from their trees, mostly in the coast.

Working out a volunteer position depends on your skills, your time, your interests and the interests of the community.

Click here to learn more about some of the Ecuadorean families who can host you as a volunteer.

Other potential volunteer activities:

Aside from helping host families with their chores and work, other opportunities include helping/learning to make cheese and yogurt at the local cheese and yogurt factory or helping to implement a sewage processing system that is currently being built through mingas, a cooperative labor system where local residents must put in mandatory hours of work every week in order to complete a communal project. Volunteers are encouraged to work out their own weekly schedules depending on their skills and interests Ð just keep in mind your time frame for what you would like to accomplish!

In addition to working with communities, Earth to City also collaborates with an Ecuadorean non-governmental organization called Consejo Nacional Para la Reactivación de la Producción y Competitividad (CNPC) that helps Ecuadoreans to organize and form small businesses, and to finance them using microloans or grants. Earth to City's administrative coordinator, Marco Barrionuevo, used to work with CNPC and is currently planning one project to count farms, and another project to set up an immersion agrotour for people with Down's Sydrome.