Caring for Rubbish Dump Children

Ecuador (E4) | View map
£230 p.w.

Price is based on 3 months
1 month

Volunteer support for kindergarten children from the rubbish dump

  • Gain experience of working with pre-school children through volunteering
  • Help improve the lives of the most disadvantaged children in Ecuador
  • Suitable for volunteers wanting to gain experience working with children
  • Live in Quito, learn Spanish and enjoy the best of the region
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Project summary

The day care centre is located adjacent to a rubbish dump in the north of Quito, approximately 30 minutes from where Monika, the Outreach International coordinator lives. The dump was previously a scavenging point for adults and children looking to sift the rubbish for saleable items, but now it is run by the local authority as a transit station for rubbish. The rubbish is dropped off, sifted manually for products that can be salvaged or recycled, and then taken away for permanent disposal.

The day care centre is located about 500 metres from the dump and its purpose is to provide a clean, safe environment for the children whose parents work nearby, collecting and sorting the rubbish.

If the day care centre was not there then the children would be left at home, either preventing the parents from working, or more likely being looked after by family friends or relatives.

The children receive three meals a day and benefit from the opportunity to have a good wash themselves, plus having their clothes cleaned. Where time allows they have recreational activities and basic lessons. They are looked after by just four staff, however, one of which is the cook, so it is not possible to give much attention to one activity or child, which is where volunteers can be a huge help.

The building was donated by the city of Quito, but the project relies on donations from a US charity organization. The building contains a kitchen and two large playrooms, which in turn are divided into areas to play, sleep and work. There is a separate building with toilets and a small yard with a few toys, plus a newly built small play area, over-looking the rubbish dump.

Through staff and volunteers they have the opportunity to play and develop, and receive a basic pre-school education that would otherwise be absent.

Suitable for volunteers wanting to gain experience working with children and gap year volunteers.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

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The volunteer role is working in the day care centre, caring for, playing with and teaching children aged 6 months – 3 years.Duties of preparing and serving the food, cleaning and washing the children and their clothes are also an inherent part of managing the centre, and it is hoped that volunteers will support all the activities of the local staff.

The project was set up to provide a clean, safe, stimulating environment for children while their parents worked. The centre is therefore open 8am to 5.30pm, with lunch being taken at the centre, which means a long day for all staff.

How you can make a difference

The volunteers improve the staff ratios significantly, offering the children more time and attention; time to play, have fun, develop and learn. Through practical activities such as teaching children to wash their hands and teeth, hygiene can be improved which further improves the quality of life.

Volunteers also provide a benefit to the stretched local staff, providing for an overall more positive environment, capable of doing much more.

Like many of our projects, the attention of international volunteers has a positive impact on the self-esteem of the children and learning some basic English helps.

What is distinctive about this project:

This is a small but well organised project with a clear focus on supporting a disadvantaged community, great for someone looking to work with pre-school children.

There is a clear role & need for volunteers, who can work with staff to improve the life and prospects of a discreet set of young children.

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You will be living with other volunteers but it is likely that you will be the only volunteer at the project, so you need to be comfortable with that.

Quito is a cosmopolitan city, so you will be well connected to modern services and well positioned to travel to places of interest.

The day-care centre has predictable duties and activities to be undertaken and a clear need for volunteers, but you should expect to be proactive and flexible in your outlook.

Overall a clear role for a hard-working volunteer with an interest in working with pre-school children.


The centre closes for the last two weeks of August and the last week of December.


The staff do not speak English, so you will need to have a basic level of Spanish to coordinate your activities, although the young age of children means your energy and general communication skills will be a far bigger factor.

Experience required:

No direct experience is required, but the very nature of the work means you have to be comfortable working with young children, which you will only know if you have done it for prolonged periods.

The Project leader described the required qualities of a volunteer to be: “good attitude, hard-working, creative and of course to love kids”

Good to know:

You will be based in Quito, living with a host family, and will need to travel 35-40 minutes to the project by local bus. Beware of the usual traffic hazards and only take your essentials with you each day. Taking care of your personal hygiene is important when working with young children.

Price table

4 weeks8 weeks12 weeks16 weeks

Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers). Accommodation, food, airport transfer, travel to projects, in-country support, welcome meal and up to 2 weeks of high quality 121 Spanish tuition.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations

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Monika Montes

Country co-ordinator

Monika Montes

Monika is superbly connected throughout Ecuador and has been working with Outreach International since 2003. She lives with her two teenage children in central Quito and plays host to many of our volunteers who work in the city. Monika’s passion for volunteering is reflected in her commitment and level of support that she provides. She speaks fluent English and is a qualified Spanish tutor.

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