Nestled high in the Andes, Quito offers an amazing experience for volunteers. At 9000 feet above sea level, the city is one of the highest on the South American continent and has the views to prove it. Being the capital of a country rich in natural resources, traditions and a diverse collection of environments, the needs for volunteers are so varied and distinct. Many opportunities can be found in Quito itself and in the surrounding provinces.
In the capital there are many opportunities to help with children and to work with higher numbers of people in need. As you move out of the provinces, the person to volunteer ratio drops and the level of contact and involvement wilt increase due to the reduction in resources. There is no one area which needs more volunteers than another.
The most popular area of volunteer activity is with child assistance. This can range from working at an orphanage, to educational services at schools, and even working directly with families of the children at larger centers. These programs vary between school stays to orphanages to centers designed to accommodate children and their families. Most programs involve home stays with local families and also volunteer dormitories. The typical hours for a program are from 9 am until 4-5 pm Monday through Friday.
The next area of volunteer activity centers around medical services. Quito is home to a number of hospitals and medical centers which offer a hands-on experience and a unique environment to work in. Centered around hospitals in Quito and medical centers for poor families. The typical hours for a program are form 9 am until 4-5 pm Monday through Friday.
Environmental Protection and Development
Finally, environmental protection and development organizations are in high demand. Ecuador has so many different climates and landscapes that many offer unique environments that need to be protected and better developed. Some located in Quito and many have satellite locations in the provinces, mainly the Amazon and Galapagos Islands.
Health and Safety of Volunteers in Quito
Quito does not require vaccinations or special shots, yet it is always recommended to get the basic ones beforehand. What is important is to acclimate yourself to the altitude. This can be done with mate and coca teas as well as light eating on the first days of arrival.
Being a capital, Quito attracts lots of crime and theft. Be aware of your surroundings and always consult with your family or locals about where to go and where not to go. Keep aware of the people around you when walking the streets and do not venture out into unfamiliar territory. Know where you are going or at least always appear like you know where you are going. Quito also has many hospitals and pharmacies so you can easily receive medical attention or acquire medication if need be.
Contributed by Lee O'Brian