Volunteer for Sustainable Roots in Ecuador

Video and Photos

Toni and the Toucanette we found on the soccer field!
The Director, Toni, with two of our star students
Previous volunteer, Emma, with her best friend Naomi
High School Evening Program with Regional Director, Zo.
Emma, Becca and myself in Quito for a protest against drilling in the Amazon
Selfie while working in the greenhouse!


Sustainable Roots volunteers live in an amazing location on the eastern slope of the Andes in Ecuador. They can choose from two different branches of our work - the education and environmental branch. Work in both branches overlaps so volunteers get a taste of everything that we do.

The previous volunteer trains new volunteers. The continuity of our program lets you know that you are part of a lasting change in a community. The experience of Sustainable Roots volunteers is unmatched. We are an integral part of community life and volunteers become loved members of our small town.

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Questions & Answers

Hi! Obviously the more Spanish you know, the better. Because the town is so rural - there's hardly any English spoken except by the students who have learned it from Sustainable Roots. I went down with about 3 years of Spanish from college. I felt pretty comfortable - but obviously I learned a ton more once I got down there. However, another volunteer I was with in Ecuador hadn't studied any...


10 Rating
based on 9 reviews
  • Impact 9.8
  • Support 9.9
  • Fun 10
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 8 of 9
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Yes, I recommend this program

Giant Jupiter

My boyfriend Douglas and I spent six weeks volunteering with Sustainable Roots during the summer months of 2016. We had an incredible experience working with Toni and the other volunteers creating fun activities for the kids during their summer vacation. From rock climbing to creating GIANT models of the planets from recycled materials, our time with the organisation was truly incredible. We also enjoyed teaching English in the village and taught classes twice a week to the preschool kids and every evening to the older kids. We focused our lessons around fun activities to encourage the kids to enjoy learning English whilst simultaneously improving our Spanish.

Cosanga is a beautiful place surrounded by nature and the sense of community living in such a small village made us feel really welcome and at home. We also took advantage of our proximity to the amazon basin and spent a few weekends exploring the amazon jungle.

Living in the volunteer house was great fun as we were able to cook our own meals an in the evenings we spent time getting to know the other volunteers and members of the community.

We had such an amazing time that we have already made plans to go back as soon as I graduate from University. I would recommend this organisation to anyone who is interested in volunteering overseas.

What would you improve about this program?
I feel that sustainable roots would have the potential to grow with the support of more enthusiastic volunteers. I would encourage anyone who is interested in volunteering overseas to give it a go!
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Life in the Clouds

For 2 months I spent my life in the little, lively town of Cosanga volunteering as an English Teacher for Sustainable Roots. My entire life I had dreamed about volunteering abroad and what it would be like to immerse myself in a culture, but I wasn't prepared for the experience Sustainable Roots was going to offer me. From the most energetic boss you will ever have, to the cutest kids you will ever teach, to the most welcoming neighbors, and breathtaking landscapes, this is an experience not to be passed up.

I remember walking off the bus the first day with Toni (our boss) after she picked me up from the airport and I could see the impact this Organization had on the town from day one. We weren't able to walk the 50ft to the Organization house without about 100 kids (okay, I'm over-exaggerating, but you get the point) running up to hug her so excited to tell her some story of the day; Or the adults in the town, stopping her to ask a question or just to chat. And after that day, the same happened to me whenever I walked outside. Sustainable Roots helps to bring the town together - hosting community mingas to build a park where the entire town shows up to help, and helping better educate the children because children are the future. It is a powerful thing to be a part of. I cannot count the amount of hugs I received, nor quantify the amount of love I felt.

Building a 2.5meter Jupiter out of recycled bottles, playing soccer in the pouring rain, creating scavenger hunts for the kids, beautiful hikes, trying to make a fire while camping in the rain-forest (it worked!), stargazing, and telling scary stories when the power went out, all kept life pretty interesting. If you want any funny stories I have plenty! Not to mention exploring the country on the weekends - jumping off bridges, swimming in rivers, accidentally being part of an Ecuadorian comedy act in a park in Quito, attending music festivals, and hiking to swings on cliffs were just some of my experiences. And I can't forget the friendships that were made. I now have friends from all around the world - Scotland, Ireland, and Ecuador. They are people who will always hold a special place in my heart, along with the town of Cosanga. Every part was amazing. Ecuador is an awe-inspiring country.

If you're unsure whether to do this or not- don't be. I was just like you once, reading the reviews on this website wondering if this would be the right fit for me. I wasn't fluent in Spanish, and I've never taught. But these things didn't matter so much - because as soon as you arrive you will want to work as hard as you can for these people, because they are amazing, inspiring, and beautiful.

It is the adventure of a lifetime you won't ever want to end!

What would you improve about this program?
This program was overall amazing, and it just really needs some more volunteers and PR!
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Organization

I spent two months volunteering for sustainable roots and it was an entirely positive experience. The organization works hard and gets a lot done, even with their limited funding. One of my favorite parts about this organization was its connection with the community. Sustainable Roots hosts many free classes for the local people in its volunteer house. After classes, many kids hang out at the volunteer house. The volunteer house almost serves as a community center for the children. I enjoyed being constantly surrounded by lively, loving, and accepting children.

My time there was spent teaching and helping out with classes, planting trees, working in the greenhouse, and traveling around the country on the weekends. Cosanga is a beautiful place that not many foreigners visit. I enjoyed being entirely immersed in a culture so different from my home. It's also a great place to learn Spanish because none of the locals speak english.

If you are thinking about volunteering with Sustainable Roots DO IT. It was my first time outside of the US and I feel that my time there positively impacted the way I think about life forever. Cosanga and the people I met there will forever hold a special place in my heart.

What would you improve about this program?
Sustainable Roots works really hard and gets a lot done but they would greatly benefit from more funding and more volunteers.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

A+ Non-Profit

Sustainable Roots is one of the best international non-profits out there. I volunteered with them for six months after I graduated college and the experience changed my life forever.

I majored in International Development and through my classes quickly learned that not all International Non-Profits are created equal. Many cause more problems than they alleviate. However, Sustainable Roots is not that way. This program seeks sustainability by looking at the community's needs rather than trying to impose its own agenda and I think that's what makes it so effective.

One of the best things about volunteering with this program is how valuable your roll is in it. You're not just a useless participant, but a creative contributor helping to craft and execute its mission.

This is a program for people who are looking to be truly immersed in a culture, rather than just be a tourist.

This is a program for people who are looking to actually make a difference, rather than just collect an experience.

But that's not to say my experience was't full of adventures. Because it was full of too many to count. Full of zip-lining, rainforest trecking, food sampling, river touring, waterfall rappelling, cow milking, city scoping, hot springs soaking, volcano hiking, artisan shopping, bridge jumping, rock climbing, jungle camping, monkey meeting, and white-water rafting, But, most importantly, it was full of people. People with big hearts in a small town and I am forever grateful.

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing would be to increase support and funding to help grow the organization so it could accomplish even more projects and provide even more opportunities to the people in Ecuador.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

One of the most important experiences of my life

Stepping outside of your comfort zone is paramount for personal growth and that is what I did when I went to Ecuador. However, when I arrived, I immediately felt welcome and included when Toni (Sustainable Roots Founder and the raddest person on Earth) met me at the airport. She is the nicest and goofiest friend you will ever have.

The people who live in the town are friendly and will do anything to make you feel like Cosanga is your town too. From Don Lucho manning his tiny store that sells whole chickens down to lollipops that, I'm pretty sure are illegal in the United states because they are so sweet, to the people outside of the town who teach you how to milk cows and whistle for birds.

It is difficult living in a foreign country, learning a foreign language and practicing foreign customs, but that is what makes the experience worthwhile. Well, that and teaching English to the most adorable kids in the entire world. The students are eager to meet and become friends with any and all volunteers.

I stayed for six months and wanted to work and change my visa just so I could stay longer. I miss Cosanga, Ecuador everyday not because of the unparalleled beauty, but because of the people I laughed, played and sang with.

I HIGHLY recommend Sustainable Roots.


What would you improve about this program?
If I could change one thing it would be the length that volunteers can stay. I don't think this is up to Sustainable Roots, but more up to the Ecuadorean Government. Travel Visas only last up to 6 months, but I am sure there is a way to get a work visa or some other type that allows for longer stays.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

My Sustainable Roots Experience

I was a short-term volunteer and stayed for two weeks, which I quickly learned was not nearly long enough. I was able to help with English classes, greenhouse restoration, and other community enhancement projects. I was also able to explore surrounding areas, such as Quito and Tena, where I went white water rafting (so much fun!). The people of Cosanga are so welcoming and friendly that I never felt like I didn't belong. The kids are so full of life and were so enjoyable to be around; I miss them dearly. There is so much heart and passion in this program and I can't wait to watch it grow!

What would you improve about this program?
I would love to see more volunteers with this program. There are so many great ideas and plans for the future.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Sustainable Roots: All about Community and Love

There is something different about Sustainable Roots, and once you arrive in the uncomplicated, luscious green hills of Cosanga you will notice it right away. This isn't just any volunteer opportunity where the needs of the volunteer are placed above the needs of the people being served or the kind of project that falls apart once you leave. The children of Cosanga will captivate your heart and give you a higher purpose while you are there to educate them, share experiences and learn what sustainability means.

What would you improve about this program?
It would be great to start a scholarship program to aid students of Cosanga to get a higher education.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Sustainable Roots

I volunteered with Sustainable Roots for 6 months and had the best time. The organization is like no other organization I know. It is made up of amazing people doing awesome things for a beautiful town. Volunteering through Sustainable Roots allows you to be immersed in the Spanish language and culture, experience cloud forest biodiversity, and be a part of something that is making a difference in peoples lives. It's a chance to spend your days teaching and playing with kids and experiencing one of the most beautiful countries in the world! The town is full of loving people who are so grateful for what the organization is doing and how it's helping the youth in town. I miss the town and the people there every day I'm not in Cosanga.

What would you improve about this program?
Honestly, all this program needs is more volunteers to make it better. The organization has great plans for the future, all it needs now are volunteers who are passionate about the organization and what it's doing.