Ecuadorian Non-Profit Organizations
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The socio-economic realities of Ecuador, for many, continue to be as grave as they have ever been. Regrettably, about half of the Ecuadorian population remains unemployed or underemployed, while well 28.6% of the nation lives under the poverty line. Just after dollarization, the cost of living drastically rose, and the per capita GNP and the GDP decreased, bringing more hardship and suffering. In addition, with neoliberal measures steadily diminishing the State’s role in the economy as well as its ability to maintain any kind of social welfare infrastructure, and with the government dedicating roughly half of the nation’s resources to keeping up with interest payments on its $12 billion external debt, Ecuador was unable to count on the State to act as a benefactor. In recent years, the GNP and GDP have improved, as have funds available for governmental social programs. Nonetheless, the country’s poor still suffer.
However, in the face of economic hardship, a number of NGOs have been doing a remarkable job helping the nation to get by. Working to fill the gaps left by a faltering economy and a lack of governmental assistance, NGOs have played an indispensable role in helping the nation’s marginalized citizenry meet their basic needs, encouraging sustainable development and protecting the nation’s natural resources from exploitation.
Recognizing the importance of the increasingly vital role played by Ecuador’s many noteworthy NGOs, EE.com would like to highlight the work of some of the nation’s more distinguished non-governmental organizations. What follows is a fairly comprehensive list of some of the nation’s most notable NGOs along with links to their web sites (when applicable), a brief description of their work and principle projects, and information for would-be volunteers.
Locally Managed and Regional Organizations
Handmade Recycled Paper from Ecuador – Ecopapel is handmade recycled paper stationery individually decorated with wildflowers. Buy Recycled paper invitations, recycled business cards and environmentally friendly gifts in Ecuador. It is made in Ecuador, South America as part of a community development project.
Fundacion Octaedro – This NGO organizes a biannual film festival to promote filmmakers from around the world and educate viewers in Ecuador. Proceeds help cover the costs of its Teacher Training Program which started in 2001 and has benefitted over 5,000 students from poor urban and rural schools.
Selva Viva – In an attempt to preserve vulnerable species in the Amazon, AmaZOOnico runs a rainforest animal rehabilitation center, eco-lodge and school. Volunteer positions are available for veterinary, wildlife biology, conservation biology students and professionals, as well as students of tourism.
Consorcio Camaren – Comprised of members from the environmental, agricultural and academic worlds, Camaren is a training system designed to promote the sustainable management of natural resources. With its success based on the vast array of experience of its members, Camaren was created for with two basic necessities in mind: improving the efficiency with which natural resources are managed and recognizing that a training process depends on a highly specialized pedagogy.
Kallari Craft Cooperative – This cooperative of over 850 Amazon families has discovered the path to sustainable development, rainforest conservation and cultural preservation. Since 1997, Kallari has applied grassroots community organization and direct international marketing to triple prices for their ethnic handicrafts and organic cocoa. Kallari markets 100% natural Fair Trade handcrafts (jewelry, handbags, belts, baskets and wooden pieces) as well as organic certified cocoa, chocolate, coffee and a variety of herbal teas at its must-see café / restaurant / craft gallery in Quito. For more information about helping as a volunteer intern e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Darwin Research Station – Founded in 1959 under the auspices of UNESCO and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (previously World Conservation Union), the Charles Darwin Foundation is dedicated to the conservation of the Galápagos ecosystems. The Foundation operates the Charles Darwin Research Station to conduct scientific research and environmental education for conservation. The Station has a team of over two hundred scientists, educators, volunteers, research students and support staff from all over the world. Volunteer opportunities (some with room and board). For more information, please write email@example.com.
Fundación FEVI – This non-profit, non-governmental organization is dedicated to facilitating intercultural education and volunteer community service. FEVI arranges community service visits from people all over the world to smaller, less fortunate communities in Ecuador. It works with homeless children, centers for elderly people, women’s organizations, indigenous communities, health care centers, public schools, human rights organizations, and adult education centers. Spanish classes are included in its programs.
Fundación Maquipucuna – This cloud forest conservation project has an emphasis on community development. Fundación Maquipucuna is a non-profit NGO that was created on 1988. One of its projects, The Ecotourism Operation has been awarded two international recognitions: The Ecotourism Showcase 2000 and the Skal International 2003. Fundación Maquipucuna is currently working on following projects: ecotourism, organic gardens, organic coffee, bamboo furniture, environmental education, orchids in vitro exportation and others.
This website has more easily accessible information on the foundation’s volunteer programs:
Fundación Natura – The mission of Fundación Natura is environmental protection, preservation of biodiversity and sustainable management of natural resources, and through the transformation of habits and behaviors, the formation of a national environmental consciousness and the establishment of a new social ethic. In doing so, its ultimate aim is to better the quality of life for the present generation as well as future ones. The foundation regularly has openings for volunteers willing to work with the organization’s reforestation project in Pasachoa in addition to its various environmental education and trail maintenance projects.
Fundación Niñez y Vida – Tierra de Hombres Ecuador, is a legally recognized NGO with over three decades of experience helping the nation’s economically challenged children and adolescents. Focusing its energy on the most integral areas of the child’s development – health, education, nutrition and the family unit – the foundation shares with children the experiences and positive encouragement of its staff, volunteers and other adult role models. The foundation currently runs several centers in Quito and in the province of Chimborazo, and regularly accepts volunteers. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fundación de Protección Animal – Established in 1999 by Peace Corp volunteer and DVM Elizabeth Dautis, along with several veterinary students and citizens concerned about rampant animal abuse in Ecuador, FPA is the first animal-welfare organization in southern Ecuador. It is working to create a more humane world for animals through educational and outreach programs and legislation. Its projects include running the nation’s first spay and neuter clinic, working to educate the public about environmental- and animal-related issues, and lobbying with politicians to pass more animal friendly legislation. Contact: email@example.com.
Galo Plaza Lasso Foundation – It currently manages the Condor Huasi project, designed to accomplish the conditional reintroduction of captive condors into the wild while conserving the páramo ecosystem in which the condors dwell. The foundation also supports a community library and runs a women’s community embroidery project which helps local indigenous families earn revenue while preserving, revitalizing and reaffirming a sense of cultural pride and century old traditions. For more information, you can write the foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
La Tola – established over 25 years ago, La Tola was originally dedicated to providing a stable home for orphans. However, with the escalating downfall of the Ecuadorian economy, La Tola now works extensively with street children and indigenous families who have voluntarily left their homes in the countryside in an attempt to earn money in the streets of Quito, as well. La Tola regularly accepts willing volunteers. For more information on volunteering, contact: the South American Explorer Club’s Quito clubhouse at email@example.com.
South American Explorer’s Club – http://www.saexplorers.org/clubhouse/quito-clubhouse
New Era Galapagos Foundation – Realizing the vital ecological, culture and economic importance of the archipelago which it calls home, the New Era Galapagos Foundation is preparing the youth of San Cristóbal Island for the challenges of conserving the Galápagos Islands. Its approach is twofold: to promote and provide educational alternatives while helping develop an appreciation, and respect for the natural environment and biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands. The organization runs foreign language programs, art programs, dance programs and an environmental education program. It accepts qualified volunteers.
New Horizons – is the NGOs’ NGO, so to speak. Working with NGOs and not-for-profit organizations of all stripes, New Horizons provides a variety of them with the labor, donations, toys, books and medicine that they need to effectively make a positive change in the lives of underprivileged Ecuadorians. Working in all corners of Ecuador and Galapagos, New Horizons spearheads and assists in a wide variety of social, educational, community development, environmental, business and healthcare projects.
Río Guaycuyacu Reserve – Located in the rainforests of the northwestern lowlands, Río Guaycuyacu operates a nature reserve and family fruit farm in which it promotes sustainable agricultural and conservation practices. In addition, it offers research facilities for biologists and tropical agricultural apprenticeships/volunteer work.
Río Muchacho Organic Farm – Situated near the beautiful Bahía de Caráquez, this coastal farm manages a variety of reforestation, permaculture and environmental education projects. Volunteers accepted to assist with these projects live with local campesino families and assist in all aspects of the organization’s work.
Volunteering Ecuador – Created with the purpose of helping the nation’s most underprivileged women and children, Volunteering Ecuador works to help disadvantaged children and youths aware of their inner strength, creativity and abilities, so that they may use these as tools to raise their self-esteem and integrate them into society. The organization offers a variety of volunteer and cultural exchange programs dealing with homeless and other disadvantaged children in Ecuador.
Amnesty International – Since 1961, AI has worked to defend human rights all across the globe. In addition to the many other countries in which the organization has worked, Amnesty International has sponsored a number of different campaigns throughout Ecuador.
Red Cross International – This worldwide organization is recognized for its continuous efforts to help the needy, impoverished, diseased, displaced and disaster-afflicted in every corner of the planet. In Ecuador, the Red Cross runs a free ambulance service as well as spearheading a program in natural disaster preparedness. The Red Cross does accept qualified volunteers.
UNICEF – Mandated by the General Assembly of the United Nations, UNICEF works to protect the rights of children worldwide, ensuring that their basic needs are met and that they grow to reach their full potential.
*If you know of or work with an NGO worthy of mention which is not listed here, please feel free to let us know by sending a comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.