Serving in Ecuador
In the wider Quito area of Ecuador, Childhood Development Centers are safe havens for children who might otherwise be left to the streets or an empty house. Offering nutritious meals, learning opportunities, and continuous access to positive role models, they most often run chronically understaffed with meager funding for anything more than basic supplies. This is where you can make a significant difference! Provide one-on-one nurturing and increase multifold the potential of every child you serve!
“In the bright eyes and unconditional smiles of the children at the daycare, we see why we have traveled thousands of miles, sanded down walls, shoveled mounds of dirt, inhaled paint fumes, pounded stones into pebbles, and awakened at dawn to do it all again. It is for these shrines of the human spirit, which we have known all along is what brings us from all corners of the United States. We are buoyed by these running, chattering, hugging reminders.”
~ Mark Santello, Global Volunteer in Ecuador
Calderón is the northeastern limit of Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and is the fastest-growing area of the country due to migration into the city of those seeking employment opportunities. The two centers we serve are the only low-income childcare facilities in the area. Without these Childhood Development Centers, many families, especially single mothers, would have no option for childcare, which, in turn, would make providing for their families difficult if not impossible.
If you’ve ever wanted to participate in a true labor of love, this is it. Global Volunteers has been invited to serve impoverished children at two centers run by the Ladies of Calderón Foundation. This organization works to nurture and educate children in very vulnerable economic situations who come from the surrounding area of Calderón.
Here’s how you can help:
- Provide nurturing care for the daycare center children.
- Help feed the children nutritious meals.
- Aid the staff in the creation of material for activities such as coloring or painting.
- Participate in labor or construction projects.
- Help children wash their hands with soap and water and learn
to brush their teeth.
- Teach conversational English to the daycare center staff (upon request; one hour per day).
Global Volunteers invites you to experience Ecuador by making a difference in the lives of some of these disadvantaged children and help them realize their God-given full potential so that they grow up as better citizens of tomorrow and make this world a more peaceful place to live.
Community Partner & Work Projects
Our community partner in Calderón, on the northernmost border of Quito, is Fundación de Damas Calderonenses or the Ladies of Calderón Foundation (FUNDAC for its acronym in Spanish). This nonprofit, non-governmental foundation was started by a group of women who wanted to help provide childcare for women in their community while they were at work. Their mission is to offer social services – food, education, vaccinations, etc. – to children from twelve months to three years of age who are in vulnerable economic situations. FUNDAC runs two centers – called Our Lady of Carmen Childhood Development Center #1 and #2 – which receive very modest government support. The majority of the 140 children they care for are from poor families. Without these affordable facilities, many of these children’s parents would be unable to work and these children would be in even more vulnerable economic situations. Global Volunteers was invited by FUNDAC in 2001 to help keep these centers running, provide needed attention to the children, and update the facilities. FUNDAC President María de Lourdes Erazo and Treasurer Pilar Guzmán are the key leaders who work closely with your team leader to facilitate the volunteer experience.
You are needed to assist with two main projects: helping care for the toddlers and young children attending the FUNDAC centers and assisting with the construction and repair of the childcare facilities. These service projects can also involve assisting teachers with classroom activities such as arts and crafts, helping to feed children, and teaching the center staff conversational English in the afternoon. No matter your background or age, these projects will fully employ your skills and energy.
One of the most important contributions you can make is to provide childcare for the youngest residents at the Our Lady of Carmen centers: the toddlers who need loving hearts and steady arms to hold and feed them, help them with their first steps, and play the games that allow their socialization and language skills to progress. Volunteers also provide the other children with much-needed attention. Some of the most important activities include giving the children psychosocial support through teaching new games, playing with them, and teaching them arts and crafts. Volunteers have the chance to help nurture these youngsters as well as assist in cleaning at the centers as the staff have very heavy workloads. In addition to caring for the children, they have many cleaning and classroom planning tasks to complete every day. Volunteers help alleviate their workload.
For volunteers who like to roll up their sleeves to make a difference, several pressing labor projects have been identified for immediate attention at FUNDAC. Past projects have included building shelving units for the centers, tiling the dining room areas, renovating the bathroom, painting, and gardening. In the coming year, FUNDAC hopes to tile the dining room walls at Center #2, install a new fence at Center #1, build shelving units, and build a new garden fence. Here there is always something that needs to be fixed, mended, or painted!
“I believe that by working hand in hand with those from other cultures, peace becomes inevitable. I only wish we could all work together like we did on this trip.”
~ Neal Pierce, Global Volunteer in Ecuador
The Essential Services
At the center of community development is Global Volunteer’s Essential Services Triangle. These are the 12 essential services, prescribed by the United Nations, which every child needs to realize the fullness of their potential. Global Volunteers organizes these services into three major categories – Eradicating Hunger, Improving Health, and Enhancing Cognition.
- School and household gardens
- Child nutrition
- Micronutrient supplementation
- Improved stoves
- Health, nutrition, and hygiene education
- Malaria and dengue fever prevention
- HIV/AIDS education
- General education
- Promoting girls’ education
- Potable water and sanitation facilities
- Psychosocial support
Global Volunteers is committed to supporting our community partners in these 12 areas through the sustained, comprehensive assistance of an ongoing stream of short-term volunteers and direct project donations from volunteers and supporters worldwide. Our focus is on pregnant women and their children. Depending upon the needs of the host community and the community-based projects requested by local people, Global Volunteers helps deliver some or all of the 12 services. Every volunteer can help in one or more of these 12 interventions. As a short-term volunteer, you’re a vital component in helping families and local community organizations deliver these essential services to their children.
Service Program Logistics
Global Volunteers Ecuador Country Manager, Maggie Bjorklund, leads all teams in Ecuador. In cooperation with our community partners, Maggie will facilitate your team’s orientation, assist you in being fully engaged in your assigned work project(s), and manage all project-related logistical issues. For her Bachelor’s degree, Maggie studied grassroots international development in Ecuador where she has resided since 2003. As a community member, Maggie will introduce you to the community, help acclimate you to the local culture, invite you to community events, and engage you in the day-to-day life of the community.
Three meals a day are included in your service program fee. Breakfast is taken at the hotel and will usually consist of coffee, tea, fruit juice, eggs, rolls, cheese, fruit, and corn or plantain-based delights. Lunch is the largest meal of the day and is taken at a restaurant in Calderón if serving at Center #1 and delivered when serving at Center #2. In Ecuador, lunch always includes rice in an appetizing main course. Dinner is usually taken at the hotel or at restaurants in Quito. Lunch and dinner commonly include stews, grains, vegetables (usually beets, carrots, or beans), fried potatoes, plantains, chicken, seafood, pork, and beef. You will have the chance to taste local delights such as ceviche (a cold seafood soup), empanadas, and arroz con pollo (a dish with rice and chicken). Tropical fruits such as pineapple, passion fruit, papaya, and sour sop abound. Desserts, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages are readily available for an additional charge.
Volunteers stay at the comfortable Hotel Sandmelis located in the center of Quito. The hotel rooms have private baths with hot water, telephones, cable TV, and Wi-Fi free of charge. A computer is available for use as well. You can see photos of this hotel here. The Sandmelis is located within walking distance of the main park in Quito – an attraction for tons of families on weekends – as well as many restaurants and shopping opportunities. It is just a 15 to 20-minute cab ride away from the artisanal market and Quito’s Old Town. Accommodations are in double rooms. Single rooms are available for an additional fee.
All in-country transportation is included in your service program contribution. You will be picked up at the Quito international airport on the first day of your service program and driven to the hotel in a car or van. The airport is located about 45 minutes outside the city in the valley. You will also be taken to the airport on the final day of your service program. Each day the team will travel together in a van out to Calderón. The ride is about 30 minutes.
Note: transportation for free-time activities is not included.
During free time and on weekends, volunteers have a multitude of interesting opportunities. Flanked by the snowcapped Andes Mountains, Quito is the world’s highest capital city, at more than 9,300 feet above sea level. The extremely well-preserved Old Town of Quito was the first site ever to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, in 1978. Quito won the award for Best Tourist Destination in South America by World Travel Awards in 2013. You can spend hours strolling in the plazas, markets, cobblestone streets, and historical sites of centuries-old Quito.
Other options include weekend trekking to the world-famous Otavalo outdoor market (the largest market in South America), Cotopaxi National Park where you’ll find one of the world’s highest active volcanoes, lush rainforest reserves, or the northern town of San Antonio de Pichincha where at La Mitad del Mundo (“The Middle of the World”) you can literally straddle the equator with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and one in the Southern.
You will discover that this is a fascinating country. Roughly the size of Nevada, Ecuador has an amazingly diverse geography. In addition to the rolling green Andes Mountains, Ecuador is home to the Amazon rainforest, beautiful Pacific beaches, and the famous Galapagos Islands. In just day-trips you can visit the cloud forest, beautiful waterfalls, outdoor markets, and volcanoes while still having Quito as your base.
When considering planning a trip to the Galápagos Islands, please note that the minimum stay in the archipelago is usually five days. The islands studied by Charles Darwin are located 600 miles off the coast of mainland Ecuador and can only be reached by air travel from Ecuador’s two largest cities, Quito and Guayaquil. There are two ways to explore the ‘Enchanted Islands’ – on a ship or on a land-based tour where you stay in hotels on the three inhabited islands and do day excursions to nearby islands.
You also might be interested in shopping for the unique Ecuadorian folk art that is Calderón’s claim to fame – bread-dough decorations. For years, local artisans have been creating these fanciful crafts that are used as Christmas ornaments and simple decorative figurines.
Whether you are a nature lover, appreciative of colonial architecture, or interested in learning about the cultures of this, one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse countries in Latin America, you will never be at a loss for free time activities!
Service Program Contribution
Global Volunteers’ service program contribution covers all lodging in double accommodation, three meals a day, in-country team transportation, emergency medical evacuation insurance, all preparatory materials, onsite orientation, a full-time team leader, and administration costs. The Ecuador service program contribution is $2,956 for one week and $3,171 for two weeks. Please ask your Volunteer Coordinator about extended stay options as well as discounts for students, companions, alumni, and children under the age of 12 with an accompanying adult, as well as referral credits. We encourage you to use Global Volunteers’ online fundraising tool where you can create a personalized webpage to request partially tax-deductible donations from family and friends to help cover your service program contribution. Airfare and free time activity expenses are your responsibility. The service program contribution and airfare are tax-deductible for U.S. taxpayers.
“True friends are always where you need them. A deep thank you to Global Volunteers for the volunteer work that benefits our community. Generous and loving hearts like yours strengthen the community spirit here in our community. We eagerly wait for you to come and share experiences and community work. Thank you, friends, for your assistance. We will always remember you.”
~ María de Lourdes Erazo, FUNDAC President