South America / Ecuador

Volunteering for help build houses in Ecuador

I have always believed that volunteering thrusts you smack-dab into the heart of a culture like nothing else. And that’s exactly how my experience with Techo Ecuador turned out to be.  
Techo (or “roof’ in Spanish) is an organization based in South America and the Caribbean. While Techo is known for building houses for the poor, it has often been involved in emergency efforts during floods and other natural disasters.

When visiting Ecuador, I came across the opportunity to go to a remote village in Manta to build a house over a holiday weekend. So I packed everything I needed for a weekend in a small backpack including a sleeping bag, and headed over to their local office in Guayaquil. Turned out that I was not the only one. There were actually two buses full of volunteers from different universities.

The five-hour journey to the school was filled with Spanish songs and stories from fellow volunteers. At night, we ended up camping near a school which was going to be our home for the weekend. 

Original image by author

Every morning, we did some team-building activities. All of us were divided into groups of 8–10 people. After breakfast, we would head to the village on pickups with shovels, hammers and other construction tools.

Over the weekend, we dug holes, set up the base of the house with pre-built wooden planks, fixed the walls with timber, built the door and did everything else necessary to have this one-room house ready. The family for whom we were building the house provided us lunch, and we would have dinner back at the camp. 

The best thing about Techo is that they are usually organized and even if you don’t have any prior construction experience, don’t worry, a lot of the volunteers don’t. They are very supportive and you can learn. 

Note that you can do this kind of short-term volunteering on an Ecuador tourist visa. You don’t need a volunteer visa unless it is for long-term volunteering with a particular NGO or organization.

Loved reading about volunteering for Techo Ecuador? This article was submitted by Deb Pati of @The Visa Project. If you would like to share where you Venture | Explore | Conquer, contact us on submissions@dillydallymag.co
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