Thursday, October 12, 2006

Volunteer with Shunku Llacta and Visit the Rainforests of Ecuador

In June 2005, my friend Abby Jaramillo, the Executive Director of Urban Sprouts, brought six international volunteers to two rural communities in the rainforests of Ecuador, Guayabillas and Santa Rosa, with the organization Shunku Llacta. While the volunteers were there, artisan groups in each community, the Comite Artesanal de Guayabillas and the Grupo Artesanal “La Ilusion” de Santa Rosa, hosted them, which gave both communities skills in eco-tourism. The volunteers helped to construct public bathrooms and worked in the communities' schools.

January 10-24, 2007, the artisans' communities will host eight Shunku Llacta volunteers for two weeks. The two communities are located in the rainforest of northwestern Ecuador and are so remote that they can't be reached by car. Volunteers will work with community members on projects like building a community center, working with children in local elementary schools, and practicing sustainable forest management work. They will stay with residents of each community and have opportunities to explore the rainforest with its diverse native plants, waterfalls and swimming holes.

The volunteer requirements are:

* Be at least 18.
* Fluent in English or Spanish, and at least basic knowledge of Spanish (equivalent of at least two college semesters).
* Interest in community development and cross-cultural communication.
* Other topics of interest may include sustainable agriculture or forestry, production of artisan handicrafts, eco-tourism, education, health, or rural economic development.
* Good health and willingness to stay and work in an extremely remote and rural location.
* Experience living or working with diverse communities.
* Desire to create a community action project which you will implement on your return home, involving your home community in communication and suppport with the communities in Ecuador.

The cost of the trip is $350 and does not include airfare to Quito. The cost includes all in-country travel, room, board, and program expenses during the trip. You are responsible for obtaining your own travel insurance. Two partial scholarships are available.

To apply: Send a resume and cover letter explaining why you are interested in the project, how you meet the requirements, and any related experience you have to Abby Jaramillo, Project Coordinator at

Photo: A volunteer helps to harvest fruit.

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