Volunteer in a community cooperative in the cloud forest of Ecuador
This is an inspiring community project initiated 20 years ago, whose aim is to demonstrate how rural communities, who previously depended on clearing land, can live in harmony with the environment.
The project is very successful and is seen as a role model for similar initiatives across Ecuador and South America.
The community is made up of 55 families acting as a cooperative and all members of the community contribute through a number of coordinated projects:
Volunteers are able to join in all of the above activities as a participatory and educational experience for all parties.
It is a project suitable for anyone with a passion for the outdoors, conservation, ecotourism, the culture of Ecuador, organic farming, and is suitable for gap year students.
Volunteers are accepted as part of the community and as such are expected to get involved in all aspects of community living, from milking the cows, to working in the market garden, and joining in the community celebrations.
Each Monday there is a meeting to discuss the volunteer’s weekly agenda, as a volunteer will rotate around all of the projects, from cheese production to managing the trails.
In our last visit (July 2015) it was described that twice a month there are trips to set the camera traps and once a month this involves an overnight camp.
If the volunteer has a particular preference or skill set then this can be included e.g. if someone just wanted to work in the market garden then this would be welcomed.
Volunteers are warmly welcomed by this ecotourism project, both to add capacity and skills to the work undertaken by the community, and also to help them in their own cultural exchange.
You will most certainly learn from participating in the sustainable activities of the community and the community benefits from your hard work, and the interest and perspective that an international volunteer brings to their remote community.
You will be able to help them practice English and gain a better understanding of international visitors who are an important future income stream.
I didn’t expect that I would fall completely in love with the place, the simple life in a cabaña or the animalsStudent, Ecuador