Volunteer helping to teach and care for street children in Ecuador

  • Volunteer in this well established project, providing care and support to children from the street markets of Ecuador
  • Teach, support and care for these children in a kindergarten project
  • Ideal for gap year volunteers wanting to work with children or those with experience in healthcare
  • Volunteering in Quito provides an ideal base for exploring other parts of Ecuador

Project summary

This long-established and successful volunteer project in Ecuador was originally designed to support young girls that worked and lived on the streets and were susceptible to sexual exploitation, but now the project supports both boys and girls from disadvantaged families, providing a range of educational and welfare programmes.

The different programmes include pre-school education for some of the poorest children, plus tutoring, homework classes and recreation for those older children who are in state education. This volunteering project is important because without it the pre-school children would be left to their own devices while the parents work in the markets, and those of school age lack a supportive environment to continue their homework, learning and recreation after school finishes.

Based around the large street markets, the pre-school children are collected by volunteers from the market stalls where the children would otherwise spend their day. They are walked to nearby basic classrooms where pre-school education and activities take place.

The homework club operates every day from the main centre. It is for children who attend school but have no working space at home. As well as homework clubs there are usually sports activities that the volunteers can help lead.

The health service addresses the needs of both children and their families. Poor diet is a problem and the associated difficulties of hypertension, diabetes and dental problems needs addressing. This is an opportunity for aspiring or qualified health workers to contribute to and gain insight from an alternative social healthcare programme.

This project is suitable for gap year volunteers who want to have experience volunteering with young children and those career break volunteers who may have experience working in a social care or healthcare environment.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

The most popular programme is the pre-school education programme. Volunteers collect the children from market stalls and take them to classrooms located just off the main market areas. They put on educational activities for pre-school children, including songs, games, arts and crafts, as well as basic primary school lessons. They help provide food for children and ensure that the children wash their hands.

Some of the children will inevitably have behavioural problems and the support of volunteers helps keep sessions on track.

Every afternoon there are homework clubs for older children and volunteers can help provide support and tutoring, depending on their levels of Spanish.

Volunteers with health or dental qualifications would work with an Ecuadorian nurse. Most of the hands on work is first aid but there is a need to promote awareness of a healthy diet, hygiene, drug and alcohol abuse. Hypertension and diabetes are the main problems due to poor diets.

How you can make a difference

The project has a number of local staff but could not operate effectively without volunteers. Indeed the success of the programme means there are large numbers of international volunteers currently filling in a gap in state education and welfare provision.

Volunteers improve the capacity of the project, meaning the children get more attention and support, improving their learning and enjoyment.

The children also enjoy the participation of international volunteers, who can help provide a fun and engaging time.

What is distinctive about this project:

This is the most established project supporting vulnerable children in Quito. It is well structured, with clear roles and the number of volunteers make it a lively and varied project to work in.

Being based around the downtown markets is an exciting and vibrant location.

Blue Tiger Features:

For those volunteers wanting to work with other international volunteers in a structured role, this placement offers a great chance to volunteer in a bustling and rewarding environment.

While working in and around the large, public markets may feel intimidating at first, you will soon be recognised as a volunteer and learn to enjoy the vibrant colours, smells and activity of the district.


The project is open all year round.


Basic Spanish is helpful when dealing with the pre-school children, with more intermediate skills required to support the older children or to work in healthcare.

Experience required:

Working with the pre-school children needs enthusiasm and proactivity. Experience of working with or caring for young children is helpful, especially when dealing positively with those children that may have behavioural issues.

The health programme needs qualified people.

Good to know:

You will be living and working in Quito, which is ideally located to explore the best of Ecuador

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, excursion. Two weeks of good quality 121 Spanish tuition.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations

Things to see and do

  • Visit the Amazon rainforest
  • Downhill mountain-biking in Cotopaxi
  • Go Wild in Banos
  • Visit the Galapagos
  • Straddle the equator

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.

About Ecuador