Volunteer to work with the elderly in a vibrant day centre in Ecuador
This is a day centre for the elderly in a spacious centre in central Quito. Although most of the users are relatively fit, healthy and fun loving, they come from very poor backgrounds and many lead isolated lives. Their lives are tough and typically they earn a living selling craft products, snacks and other items on the street.
Around 100 elderly turn up each day. The projects provides them with a good breakfast and lunch, which many will make a long journey across the city for. The project provides welcome relief from the poverty of their daily lives. The centre is warm and welcoming, full of vibrant energy, laughter, conversation and singing; quite unlike a typical British care home for the elderly.
The centre attempts to host a range of stimulating activities but limited staff resources mean this is not always possible. This is an area where volunteers in particular can make a difference.
The clients depend on the centre for support in the forms of meals, camaraderie and healthcare. Volunteers are always made to feel very welcome by the Director and by every single one of the elderly people.
This opportunity to volunteer abroad is suitable for all volunteers including gap year students and is especially suitable for those with experience in dealing with the elderly
Volunteers support staff across all activities. It is most welcome when a volunteer leads a regular activity that the elderly then start to look forward to, whether that is bingo, dancing, music, art, gentle stretching and exercise, English and cooking.
Help is needed preparing and serving healthy meals for them. You would also be asked to help out with excursions. You would need to be proactive but there is tremendous enthusiasm, and support would be provided for just about any activity that you may choose to initiate.
Although this project can do little to alleviate poverty it does a great job and gives up to four hundred people a loving environment where they can laugh and enjoy each other’s company in comfort. Volunteers helping at the centre often build up strong relationships with individuals and gain a unique insight into their lives.
The old people live tough lives in a country where health care and support is only available to those who can afford it. The situation is improving and every year more funds seem to be made available for these type of social welfare initiatives.
The project can manage without volunteers, but volunteers provide the extra capacity to make a difference. Most importantly volunteers lead those activities that bring much of the fun and laughter to the centre. The old people love it when volunteers give them attention, put on activities and genuinely care for them.
"The last day was definitely the hardest and most emotional, as 90 elderly people prayed together for my safe onward journey." Read Zac's review of his time volunteering with the elderly of Quito