Volunteer in an orphanage school in Ecuador
This is a small orphanage and school for around 20 resident children aged 2-14+ and a further 80 children who attend the school from the wider community in a poor district of Quito. The children who live in the orphanage are the children of prisoners, addicts, broken homes, or those who have suffered abuse and been re-housed by the authorities. Some of the girls have their own infants living with them in the home.
The children of the orphanage are unlikely to return home, but the orphanage does attempt to have them adopted, but this is of course difficult because of their background. Their situation means they are well behind in their education.
Volunteers provide support as teaching assistants in both English and maths lessons, working with children aged 4 to 14 years old, taught in mixed groups based on their educational standard (or sibling relationships) rather than age. Class sizes are typically just 10 or 11 children and the teacher may sometimes be split between two classes at the same time, leaving the volunteer to look after one while the teacher focuses on the other.
The children are keen to learn English and this is done both in lessons and informally outside of the classroom, an area where the volunteers are most beneficial, learning through play.
The orphanage is spread over a large site, with spacious living accommodation, a new dining centre, classrooms and some very tired looking play equipment. They also have a large plot they use for horticulture, growing a variety of fruit and vegetables which they use as a source of food and also education for the children. Produce includes broccoli, tomatoes, onions, peppers and lemon trees. All of this needs tending, which could be a dedicated role for a volunteer wanting to work exclusively in the garden, or a part time volunteer role working alongside the children.
The resident children do not leave the compound so they have limited opportunity to diversify their interests or get involved in a range of experiences. This is an area where volunteers can help, providing additional recreational activities after classes and during evenings and weekends.
Volunteer in the orphanage as a teaching assistant, carer and help to the existing staff in providing an education and a home to the disadvantaged children of Quito.
Volunteers work approximately 8am to 3pm in the school, providing teaching support in English and Maths lessons. You will work alongside a teacher, often managing two classes at once, so you can expect to oversee a class while the teacher is focusing on another group. You may need to prepare your own activities and teaching materials for this time, so you will need to set time aside for this.
The online teaching course we will provide you with offers tools and structure for lesson planning, as well as giving you ideas around learning styles and activities you can rely on when you need to.
You’ll also help serve lunch to the resident children and maintain the kitchens. It is all hands on deck, but you can still expect to take some time off after lunch. There are some after school activities that run until 3pm which is a chance to get yourself actively involved with the children, sharing your own skills, hobbies and interests, as well as after school homework clubs.
For those volunteers choosing to be resident, you can get involved in bathtime, serving dinner and helping wash-up.
On alternate weeks volunteers work on the market garden. It is hard work, in what can be hot conditions, so you need to come mentally and physically prepared! But this can also be a full time role for a volunteer with skills/interest in agriculture as there is a large plot of land to be utilised.
Volunteers help provide additional caring and educational capacity, with all the fresh energy that comes from volunteers. This can make a huge impact on children who have had some of the most difficult starts in life.
Volunteers increase the variety and amount of recreational activities available and help encourage one to one support for those finding things more challenging. The interest of international volunteers helps provide an increased level of self-confidence and self-worth.
And of course as a native English speaker you can really help with teaching English, as the children can practice their pronunciation with you and expand their vocabulary, both in the classroom and through all important play.
Thank you for helping to make this experience possible for me. I'm sad to leave, but am also bursting open with the wealth of new storiesUnder 18, Ecuador