8 Years of Blog Archive

Monday, January 23, 2012

Paying to Volunteer in Ecuador? What's Wrong with This Picture?

When we first moved to Cuenca we searched online and locally for an orphanage to volunteer at. It was really difficult to find an orphanage that did not ask for an enormous sum of money up front! Some volunteer programs that are physically situated here in Ecuador have administrations within the U.S and they are asking folks to pay thousands of dollars to volunteer their time? If you don't have the money, guess you can't volunteer. Uhhhhh? Are we missing something here?

Volunteering your time and giving money for a cause are two different things. Most people that volunteer do so because this is how they “give of themselves”.  TIME is MONEY!

We came to South America with the intention of volunteering our time and our love at an orphanage. Out of ten orphanages that are situated in and around Cuenca, surprisinly, there is only one that we have found so far that does not ask for a fee upfront.  

Some volunteers do not have the money to give to the workings of an organization but they do have time, love and labor to give to the actual children who are starving for attention.  But, if these organizations ask for money up front like so many of them now do then they are actually turning away a lot of helping hands and love simply because NOT everybody can pay $800 fee to volunteer, or perhaps they do not want to. 

Where does the money go? This does not help the needy and emotionally wounded children who just want to be loved. We can say a lot more about this but we will not lest we upset some folks who are behind the management of these organizations. Sure they need funding, but funding does not necessarily have to come from those who are already volunteering their time, love, and labor? People do what they can...

Sadly, it is the children who undergo deprivation when middlemen and women stand in the way of true hands on volunteers from those who actually have something to give and want to give to the children—hand’s on love! 

For instance, what If someone wants to give time and love to a needy child but does not have the money to volunteer? 

The way we see it is there are two sides to every coin. There are rich folks out there who never set foot in these organizations that help fund them. This is how they volunteer. And then there are people who live on a budget themselves who volunteer their time as hands on helpers instead of donating lots of money, such as an upfront fee.

We like to ask the administration what the orphanage needs, such as clothing, books, blankets, art supplies, repairs, painting, etc, and then go buy these things and or do these things.  Asking for an upfront fee is defeating the whole purpose of what volunteering means and is about!!

Does it not seem strange that before you can provide a hug or a play day to a homeless child, in most instances you first have to pay to do it? This seems backwards.


  1. Which one did you find that did NOT charge? I am interested in giving my time and my work for these kids too. That's one of the main things I'm looking forward to doing in Cuenca, when I move there next week! LT

    1. I agree. That is one of the things we look forward to as well.

  2. Replies
    1. when i click the contact it brings me to a link with books. Please contact me I would love to volunteer


  3. Being charged to volunteer at an orphanage may be common practice, but it sounds most 'peculiar' to me.

  4. I'm not sure about orphanage corruption in Ecuador, but as the mother of three adopted children I am aware of the problems that plague orphanages is other parts of the world. Unfortunately, some orphanages (and churches) will even sell donations such as clothing, books and supplies that westerners might bring or send. Best to support an organization that you know has been operating ethically.

    1. True, I am also planing to donate my time because I love kids and I know that orphans need love, not just clothes and food. I want to contact Frank once I settle down, I am still looking for an affordable apartment in Cuenca or close by

  5. I am hoping to come spend a few months in Cuenca, in the Autumn of this year. I want to volunteer with those who actually need me and I am not willing to pay for the privilege and what I consider to be an ethical/social responsibility on my part. I am currently learning Spanish. I have a background in geriatrics, caring for those with special needs, mental health care. I am retired so I currently do not have active licensure. I just want to help out a few days per week. Would you contact me with some actual names of organizations, please ? I don't know how to reach you directly.

    1. It's easy to reach us, just click on the contact button.
      Thanks for your comment...

  6. What a strange phenomenon! I have never heard of this practice. Charging people to volunteer sounds like a perfect way to discourage people from becoming involved.

    Hats off to you and your family for your good work.

  7. Hi. I'm trying to find a place to volunteer where I don't have to pay. How do I contact you directly? There is no contact button on this page. Thanks!


    1. Hello Michell,
      Look underneath the big photo and you will see a menu bar. At the right end it says "Contact Us:. Click there, Then click on "Email Frank and Angie". From there you can email us.


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