Volunteer in an orphanage school in Ecuador

  • Volunteer in an orphanage school as a teaching assistant
  • Gain experience working with children in care, who are victims of broken families
  • Help is needed in their market garden, which helps feed the children and raise funds for the school
  • Ideal for volunteers wanting experience in teaching and social care
  • volunteer in an orphanage 6

Project summary

Volunteer in an orphanage school, helping teach, play and care for disadvantaged children

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.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

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.

How you can make a difference

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.


What is distinctive about this project:

This is a well run orphanage school serving a legitimate need in one of the poorest parts of Quito and where volunteers can help improve the quality of life for the children.

For the more committed and Spanish speaking volunteer this would be a rare opportunity to live on site, providing a more engaged perspective of what living and growing up in a home is like.

And of course there is always the opportunity to mix working with the children with labouring in the market garden!

Blue Tiger Features:


This is a great opportunity to get involved in a social project and make a difference. There is accommodation on site, but we could only recommend this if you were able to speak Spanish and you were volunteering with a friend, as you will need to ensure you have a ‘mental break’ from the social work.

For those living in our volunteer accommodation in central Quito it is a one hour bus ride to the orphanage school. The buses are fine – so you just need to be confident in using local transport and enjoying the ride for 60 minutes.


The programme of activities vary over the school period and holidays and placements need to be confirmed upon application.


An intermediate level of Spanish is needed to coordinate effectively with staff and work with the children, so as to get the most from your experience. The Spanish lessons we include at the international school can be a huge boost for those looking to improve their Spanish as part of the experience.

Experience required:

No specific experience needed but the nature of the orphanage school calls for a positive, hard-working attitude, creativity and of course a compassion and sensitivity to children.

You will be involved in teaching, so any experience in this respect is helpful. You will benefit from an online learning course that we include, to give you an understanding of basic teaching structures and confidence of working in a low resource environment to help you preapre.

Horticultural experience would of course be ideal for a volunteer wanting to work in the market garden.

Good to know:

The orphanage is based on the outskirts of Quito, a one hour bus journey from your accommodation in the centre, which you share with other volunteers working on other projects in Quito.

Quito is a modern, cosmopolitan city and a great launch pad for your Ecuadorian adventures.

You do have the option of living full time or part time at the orphanage in dedicated volunteer accommodation. This would enable you to spend more time with the children after classes and at the weekend, when they would benefit most from your energy and recreational activities.


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