Volunteering FAQs

How many volunteers are there normally at CENIT?

There are typically around 25 to 35 foreign and national volunteers at CENIT.

Where do most of the volunteers come from?

The majority of CENIT volunteers generally come from Europe and North America. However, we often also have volunteers from Asia, Australia and New Zealand, South America and Central America, which makes CENIT a diverse, interesting global community!

Is there a minimum time I must volunteer?

Yes, the minimum time commitment for volunteers is two months. We have this regulation because the success of our work depends greatly on the amount of trust and confidence we are able to build with the children and families. Furthermore, it is necessary to stay longer for some of the more complex jobs (the minimum time commitment can be found in each volunteer description).

I have a specific skill; can you make an exception to this time limit?

For especially skilled individuals, such as doctors and nurses, an exception may be made to the two-month rule. This, however, would have to be discussed and evaluated on an individual basis.

If I would like to volunteer, do I have to apply for a specific volunteer position?

Before you apply, you can let us know about your interests and time commitment so the volunteer coordinator can match you up with an appropriate position and program. You can also revise detailed descriptions of CENIT`s volunteer opportunities on our website.

Is there a cost for being a volunteer?

We ask each volunteer for a one-time contribution of $100. In exchange, you will receive daily lunch, a CENIT T-shirt and the support of a full-time volunteer coordinator. Your contribution also supports the administrative costs of the volunteer office and helps sustain our programs.

Does CENIT provide food or housing for its volunteers?

Due to economic constraints, CENIT is unable to provide its volunteers with free housing, although it does allow volunteers to eat lunch for free at its school cafeteria.

Does CENIT provide health insurance for its volunteers?

CENIT is unable to provide health insurance for its volunteers. Before traveling to Ecuador, it is recommended to consult with your current insurance provider to see if they cover any health-related expenses overseas. Providers may not cover travel-related expenses such as Political Evacuation and Natural Disaster Evacuation, Repatriation of Remains, and Emergency Medical Evaluation. Therefore, it is suggested to buy supplemental travel insurance to cover these expenses. If you do not have primary health insurance, it is suggested that you buy a comprehensive travel insurance plan that will cover all medical expenses.

Additionally, private clinics and hospitals are relatively very inexpensive compared to costs in the Europe and North America. Finally, everyone in Ecuador, including foreigners, can access the public health care system for free.


How can I find accommodation in Quito?

Volunteers are responsible for arranging their own accommodation, but CENIT´s volunteer office has contact information for host families, hostels, and rented apartments and can assist the volunteer to find adequate accommodation. In the past four months, CENIT has helped approximately 70% of our volunteers find housing. The remaining volunteers find accommodation through the volunteer agency or university program that sends them.

Most rented apartments can be found between $150.00 and $300.00 and within 40 minutes of our office. Host family arrangements are more expensive and cost between $300 and $450, but include daily meals.

How much can I expect to spend in general?

Overall costs of living in Quito depend on your lifestyle such as how often you wish to travel, eat at restaurants, and go out clubbing or drinking. Most volunteers spend between $400 and $600 per month, although one can easily live on less or spend more.

How much can I expect to spend on food?

Food costs can vary greatly. To eat lunch or dinner in a traditional Ecuadorian restaurant costs around $2.50, while eating a meal in a touristy area can easily cost $9.00 or more.

Do I need to speak Spanish?

Ideally, yes. Not only are language skills necessary to work well in most of our programs, but also your experience will be a lot more fulfilling if you’re able to express yourself.  This is especially important for volunteers who plan on staying a short time (2 or 3 months), as you will likely spend the bulk of your time learning Spanish and likely leave just as you are getting comfortable with it! Language requirements are listed in each volunteer description.

We highly recommend studying Spanish before you come by taking classes, reading books or listening to language CDs; furthermore many volunteers take Spanish lessons during their time in Quito to perfect their skills.

How much do Spanish classes cost in Quito?

The price for individual Spanish classes is around $7-9 for an hour. Group classes are generally quite small (4-6 students) and cost $5. CENIT`s volunteer office can recommend Spanish school that were well liked by past volunteers.

We also ask that you wait to find an appropriate Spanish school until you know your time availability and schedule of volunteering with CENIT.

Does CENIT require a specific religious orientation to be a volunteer?

CENIT is run by Catholic nuns from the Congregation of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, but accepts volunteers regardless of race, religion or sexual preference.

Can you pick me up at the airport?

CENIT is unable to pick up volunteers from the airport, but most host families and hostels have this service. It costs approximately $25 – $35 to take passengers to the center of the city via taxi or other private transport services. Legitimate taxis are yellow, have a light on top, have a red registration sticker, and have the name of the cooperative that they work for on the back door

There is also an airport bus service and public buses that take passengers to the northern sector of Quito and are more cost efficient. For more information, see http://www.aeropuertoquito.aero/es/transporte/aeroservicios.html.

Do I have to work every day?

Certain CENIT programs require daily attendance; in others you can work a set number of days per week. However, you will have a greater variety of options if you are able to work every day.

Do I have to work all day?

Most volunteer positions offer two work sessions, the first from 8:00AM to 12:45PM and the second from 1:30PM to 4:15PM. There are a few activities that exist outside of this schedule, but those are the exception. Volunteers are welcome to work in both sessions, or to work either in the mornings or in the afternoons. Some volunteer positions, especially administrative ones, require a full-time commitment.

How much vacation time do I get?

Volunteers are allowed 5 days of vacation for every 2 months of volunteer work at CENIT.

When is CENIT’?

CENIT`s hours of operation are from 7:00AM to 4:00PM from Monday – Friday. Sometimes, CENIT holds events on the weekends.

Is Quito dangerous?

Quito is no more dangerous than any large city in any other developing country. The most common crimes are pickpocketing and mugging. If you avoid attracting undue attention, and take precautions such as carrying little money or valuables, traveling in groups, and generally being aware of your surroundings, it’s unlikely that you’ll have problems. Still, you can never be 100% sure that nothing will happen.  We recommend that all volunteers research Ecuador prior to coming. The volunteer coordinator will also give you security tips upon your arrival.

Additionally, CENIT is not responsible for any of your lost or stolen valuables. If you have any further concerns, you can contact your country’s State Department/Foreign Office or CENIT`s volunteer office.

What is the climate like in Quito?

In Quito, the temperature ranges from 8.6°C (47.5°F) at night to 21°C (70°F) at noon, and averages 15°C (64 F). There are two seasons, wet and dry. The wet season is called winter and the dry is considered summer. Quito’s “summer” lasts about 4 months, from the end of June to September. In Quito´s “winter” season from October through May, the city receives large amounts of rain. The weather in Quito is fairly unpredictable during each day, sometimes being very hot when the sun is shining strongly and then getting quite cold when a storm suddenly blows in.

What kind of clothes will I need to bring?

Generally, it is recommended to wear pants and a sweater in Quito.

Keep in mind that Ecuador is a geographically diverse country and if you plan to travel it can get quite hot on the coast whereas get extremely cold in the mountains.

Ecuador has a more conservative culture and it is recommended that you do not wear shorts or short skirts in Quito. It is also difficult to find larger shoes sizes for men in Quito.

Is there a dress code for volunteers?

We ask that volunteers please do not wear torn or very dirty clothing. We also ask that you refrain from wearing anything with an obscene message, advertising for tobacco, liquor companies and so on, or anything that is overly revealing (bare midriffs, very low cut shirts, short skirts etc.) It is important to remember that as a volunteer you are a role model for the children, and they will often follow your behavior. For this reason we ask that you dress comfortably yet conservatively.

Do I need a visa in order to come to Ecuador?

Foreigners are allowed to enter Ecuador for 90 days at no cost via an entry stamp at the airport or the border. We recommend that anyone planning to stay for more than 90 days obtain a visa from the Ecuadorian embassy/consulate in his or her home country.  CENIT`s volunteer office can help you obtain a volunteer visa (12-VII), which is valid for up to two years and costs $180. If you plan to stay for 6 months or less, you may also obtain a tourist visa, which is sometimes easier, although more costly, than a volunteer visa. Please be aware that if you overstay your visa, you may receive a fine and you will be barred from entering the country for a period of 9 months upon leaving.

To have the most up-to-date information and for more details please review Ecuador’s Foreign Affairs website: http://www.mmrree.gob.ec/eng/services/req_visas.asp and contact the Ecuadorian embassy/consulate in your home country.

Can I get a work certificate or a letter of recommendation?

Yes, it is possible to get a work certificate or letter of recommendation. Near the end of your volunteer experience, please let the volunteer coordinator you would like to receive one. It is up to the discretion of the volunteer coordinator to write a letter of recommendation.

Are there any administrative openings at CENIT?

CENIT has administrative positions in the areas of communication, fundraising, monitoring and evaluation, sales and marketing, health, and technology. Please review the volunteer opportunities on our website or feel free to contact the volunteer coordinator directly. Keep in mind that administrative volunteer opportunities may require a longer-term commitment.

Are there paid positions for foreigners?

CENIT currently partners with Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) to provide a stipend to the volunteer coordinator (U.S. recent graduates only). If you are interested in the volunteer coordinator position, please contact us.

There are no other paid positions for foreigners; however, many CENIT volunteers receive scholarships or grants from their colleges or universities, youth groups, or other organizations. Volunteers have also found that it is often possible to do enough fundraising at home to finance your stay here.

How can I get more information?

If you have any further questions, concerns, or doubts, please contact us.