Sitting almost two miles atop the Andes in Ecuador, Quito is the world’s highest capital city and a premier destination for volunteers from all over the world to lend a helping hand while having the adventure of a lifetime. Ecuador is a developing nation and many of its urban inhabitants live in poverty with little access to quality education, healthcare, and other such social services. Volunteering abroad in Quito is your opportunity to have a positive impact on the country’s underserved populations right at the epicenter of Ecuadorian history and culture.
Projects & Placements
As in many urban environments, most available volunteer placements in Quito are in the areas of social services and community building. Child care is a popular area for volunteering in Quito too, whether placed in an orphanage, community center, or other such institution. Children who are living in poverty or who have been left unfortunately orphaned can benefit greatly from interaction and instruction from international volunteers, and volunteers in turn will find themselves learning a surprising amount from their time with the children as well.
Education and healthcare are other popular areas for volunteering in Quito, and there are many volunteer organizations with concentrated efforts in international volunteers can fill a great need by lending their efforts to serve this demographic. Volunteer work in Quito at health clinics, after-school centers, or in classroom settings are all potential mediums for spread knowledge and awareness.
Most volunteer programs in Quito do not require volunteers to speak Spanish, although some do require volunteers to be at least conversational in Spanish and being more familiar with the language will greatly enhance your ability to interact with locals regardless of your placement or program. Some volunteer programs in Quito combine volunteerism with language study, providing a great opportunity for volunteers to enhance their Spanish language fluency.
Volunteer programs in Quito typically run throughout the year with flexible start and end dates for participants to mold their own ideal schedule. The city itself is located right on the equator (“Ecuador”), meaning that there is very little seasonal variation and anytime is great to volunteer.
Life in Quito
For tourists, Quito is most famous for its historical city center, one of the largest and best preserved in all of South America, and for being one of the very first places in the world to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Further, there are many historical and architectural fascinations throughout the city that are well worth exploring, such as Carondelet Palace, Basilica del Voto Nacional, and the Cathedral of Quito.
But as a volunteer in Quito you will soon move past the tourist attractions and begin to experience the everyday Quito which locals enjoy – a thriving cultural, commercial, and educational hub of activity, and arguably Ecuador’s most important city. There are many parks, museums, and other attractions to explore outside of volunteer work in Quito, and many unique cultural opportunities which locals can help you discover too. Start by exploring La Mariscal or Parque Metropolitano, and see where the day takes you!
The city is fairly well connected by a bus system, and is also located in the Guayllabamba river basin, a short ride away from many outdoor adventure and trekking opportunities. Quito is also the only capital city residing in the shadow of an active volcano – if you are feeling brave, then go for a hike on the slopes of Pichincha (don’t worry, the last time it erupted was in 1999).
Accommodations & Visas
Most volunteer programs in Quito will assist volunteers in organizing housing for the duration of their stay. Homestays are a very popular option, giving those volunteering in Quito the unique chance to live for an extended period of time with an Ecuadorian host family (and enjoy delicious home cooking too). Many individuals who volunteer in Quito also opt to live in a flat or apartment instead, either independently or with other volunteers. Consult your program to discuss what options they offer and which seems like the best choice for you!
Ecuador has a fairly lax visa policy when it comes to temporary visitors, so most individuals who volunteer in Quito will not even need to obtain a visa unless they plan on volunteering abroad for longer than 90 days. If you do plan to volunteer in Quito for more than three months, then it is usually possible to arrange a visa after you have begun your volunteer work in Ecuador.
Benefits & Challenges
Quito is a beautiful and exciting city which will challenge not only your lung capacity at such high altitudes, but your commitment and endurance as a volunteer abroad far away from home. High up in the Andes the adventure of a lifetime awaits, one where you will learn a lot about yourself while also contributing valuable services to underserved populations in need of a helping hand.
So do your research to find what volunteer program feels right, brush up on your Spanish skills, and begin the journey of volunteering abroad in Quito today!