Ecuador

Main Features

  • Personalised project selection
  • Pre-departure workshop included
  • 4 weeks intensive language classes on arrival
  • Orientation in Quito City
  • 24/7 local support
  • EIL Emergency support
  • Accommodation: Host family
  • Projects: Teaching, Environment and Welfare
  • From 8 to 24 weeks
  • Personal Debriefing
  • Group Debriefing workshop
  • Eligible for Global Citizen Award
  • "I felt that I had the best support behind me when volunteering with EIL. I feel like they were always there if anything went wrong and to help me through the hard times before, during and after my placement. I couldn't recommend them enough!" Damien, Dublin
Damien Equator in Ecuador

Ecuador is the smallest of the Andean countries, but contains a huge diversity of indigenous cultures, wildlife and scenery. With the tropical beaches of the western lowlands, the volcanic peaks of the central Andes and the dense rainforests of the Amazon basin, Ecuador is a country of startling variety and contrast.

Poverty reduction remains Ecuador's main development challenge. Volunteering in Ecuador will give you the opportunity to get involved in Ecuadorian life, make a meaningful contribution to a local project while discovering a new culture and at the same time improving your Spanish.

Participants will begin their programme with one-to-one Spanish classes in the capital city of Quito. A designated UNESCO world heritage site, Quito is situated high in the Andes with a beautiful colonial centre.

There are many interesting projects available in the categories listed below. The projects given here are an example of the projects in each category. Our goal is to match the skills and expectations of the participants with the needs of the local projects. Our volunteer coordinator in the field will suggest a project for you once they have your application. They are well placed to match your skills and interests to the right placements.

In this section

Welfare

Organisations which cater for the most disadvantaged in society are always in need of volunteer assistants. Placements are available in projects such as day-care centres for poor children, shelters for children, and respite centres for the disabled. Volunteers must be patient, caring and able to cope with difficult or distressing situations.

SINSOLUKA is an organisation focused on street children and youth of the city of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Their aim is to take them off the street by helping them to develop resources to be able to participate actively in the life of the city and the country.

Conservation

Ecuador is one of the region's most environmentally diverse countries, but many natural habitats are being destroyed by deforestation and desertification. Conservation projects have been set up to protect native wildlife and habitats such as rainforests and cloud-forests. Volunteers who are physically fit and enjoy the outdoors are needed to assist in many of these conservation projects.

Santa Lucia Reserve is a community-based conservation organisation in the cloud-forests of north-western Ecuador. Their aim is to conserve and protect the forest while developing sustainable income sources for the local families through ecotourism and volunteer work. Work involves reforestation, organic agriculture, and conservation education.

Teaching

Many charitable institutions in Ecuador work towards providing an education for the poorest in society who would not otherwise go to school. Knowledge of English provides a major advantage in terms of future opportunities, and this is an area where volunteers can be of great service. Placements are available in several educational institutions in and around Quito.

La Dolorosa Shelter near Quito is a non-profit organisation which provides education and a home for children whose families are unable to care for them. The shelter caters for children between the ages of 5 and 17. Volunteers teach English to the children, help them with their homework, and organise recreational activities.

Arrival & Orientation

You will be met at the airport in Quito by your host family. Here you will begin your 4 weeks intensive language training at EIL Ecuador's Spanish Language Centre. Classes are on a one-to-one basis with experienced teachers, with a total of 80 hours over the 4 weeks.

If you already speak Spanish, it may be possible to reduce the length of the language course (depending on your ability). This will also reduce the cost of the programme.

Orientation will take place during this period, covering issues related to culture and volunteer work in Ecuador. Volunteers also have an opportunity to visit various projects during this period. Unless you have a specific placement request, it is generally best to leave it until after you have seen the projects and then decide where you would most like to work.

Accommodation

Accommodation during the Spanish course is with an approved host family, with 3 meals a day. This will continue during the volunteer placement, unless other arrangements are required (such as accommodation at the project) in which case food will also be provided. Living with a host family is a unique opportunity to integrate with the local community, to learn about the culture, and to practice your Spanish.

Start dates

Weekly arrival dates: every Monday and Tuesday (flexible if necessary).

Visas

Upon entry into Ecuador you will receive a tourist visa for 90 days. If you wish to stay longer, you have to apply for cultural exchange visa type 12-VIII here in Ireland.

The EIL Development Education Network

Our volunteers work and live alongside local people in local communities in some of the most deprived areas in the world. It is in response to their experiences that the EIL development education programme was set up. On their return to Ireland we ask our volunteers to be the voice for the stories of the people they worked with and to highlight their experience of poverty and inequality. Then together we campaign to make a difference by promoting global justice, human rights, fair trade, debt relief and greater equality and respect among the peoples of the world. Our goal is to see global justice and equality reach the top of the Irish agenda.

The Application Process

Applying for the Volunteer Abroad programme is a straight forward process: after receiving your application and CV we will contact you to find out more about your interests and motivation for wanting to be a volunteer. We then send your information to our colleagues in the country of your choice and they make your placement. As soon as they confirm a suitable placement for you, we will send you all the information necessary to finalise your preparations. Although some countries can accept late applications, you should send your completed application 12 weeks in advance. The earlier you apply, the more time we have to find the most suitable project for you.

What you need to do:

  • Complete the application form and send it to us together with 2 recent passport photos, €350 deposit, and recent CV.
  • Do a telephone interview (or in person if you live in Cork and/or want to call in).
  • A confirmation letter of enrolment will then be sent within 10 working days.

If you prefer we can send you the application form by post.

For more information about applying to volunteer with EIL please see How do I apply? or contact Anton.

We guarantee no hidden costs.

We encourage you to compare our costs with other organisations and a careful comparison of what is included and what is not included is always advisable.

What Is Included

  • Pre-departure information and preparation workshop
  • 80 hours of one-to -one Spanish class (for all programmes exept for 8 weeks conservation prog.)
  • Orientation to volunteer work in Ecuador, visits to community service projects
  • E-mail access during Spanish course
  • Placement in community service project
  • Ongoing support by local volunteer co-ordinator
  • Homestay with host family during Spanish course, with 3 meals a day
  • Accomodation with full board during volunteer placement (+ small extra fee for conservation projects)
  • Registration of visa and census if volunteer is in Ecuador for more than 6 months
  • Small donation to a local project
  • Debrief workshop on return to Ireland
  • Invitation to join the EIL Development Education Network

What Is Not Included

  • Cost of flights
  • Personal expenses
  • Quito airport exit tax ($40.80) on departure (the cost of the tax is subjected to changes)
  • Visa expense
  • Medical, liability and travel insurance (available for €10 per week)

The EIL Development Education Network

Our volunteers work and live alongside local people in local communities in some of the most deprived areas in the world. It is in response to their experiences that the EIL development education programme was set up. On their return to Ireland we ask our volunteers to be the voice for the stories of the people they worked with and to highlight their experience of poverty and inequality. Then together we campaign to make a difference by promoting global justice, human rights, fair trade, debt relief and greater equality and respect among the peoples of the world. Our goal is to see global justice and equality reach the top of the Irish agenda.

Costs

  • 4 weeks: €2,349
  • 6 weeks: €2,599
  • 8 weeks: €2,859
  • 12 weeks: €3,299

€200 supplement for medical placements.

Prices are subject to change.

Visit our WHY PAY? and FUNDRAISING pages.

Protect the environment: EIL Carbon offset system

Compensate for the CO2 that your flight will generate by helping to plant trees in Guatemala.

 

Heads and shoulders
My name is Suzanne Mahony and I’m from Terenure, Dublin. I was lucky to get a leave of absence from my job as a tax consultant to go to Ecuador for two months to live with an Ecuadorian family, learn Spanish and volunteer in a day care centre for young children in Quito, Ecuador. I decided to volunteer because I wanted to help others, try something different and challenge myself in the process. I was always keen to visit South America and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to go there, improve my Spanish, and get a real insight into the culture by living with a local family and...
Hi Suzanne, its almost halfway through your time in Ecuador, how are you getting on? "¡Hola! I'm already over here in Quito, Ecuador for three and a half of my eight weeks. It was definitely a shock to the system initially with the language barrier and I was doing a lot of smiling and nodding at the beginning (I probably still am!) but I have already picked up a lot and am able to communicate one way or another! The family I am staying with are lovely and are very patient with my attempts at broken Spanish! They were very welcoming right from the beginning with a lovely welcome sign in...
Damien Thomson and Kevin Hickey speak with Dil Wickremasinghe of NewsTalk about how the EIL Travel Awards can have a very strong impact on participants. They discuss the benefits of travelling and learning about different cultures, especially for young people as these types of experiences can often determine career paths and life decisions. Damien speaks about his Travel Award to Ecuador , which he won when he was 16 years old and how this experience has affected his life. Interview starts @ 43.05

Reflection on my volunteer experience in Ecuador

I have been home since the 26th of October and on so many occasions I have sat down to write something and share how I am feeling with those of you who care enough to read this. The truth is, I have found it so difficult to string the words together. My thoughts have been so fragmented and while I have been told that is completely normal, I didn't expect that it would also affect my writing ability!

Salinas has been lots of different things for me. In the beginning it was foreign and scary. I arrived to a place like no other I have ever been - rural Ecuador has been a real eye opener for me! I spent the first few weeks crying at the visible poverty in the area. The houses that look thrown together, the tin roofs, the bare bricks and shaky windows. Funnily enough, Salinas is pretty well developed in comparison to some of the other more rural communities of the area and in general in Ecuador. That was even more difficult to come to terms with. I spent weeks being enveloped in the fear of...
It is very difficult to describe the loneliness you feel sometimes when you are so far away from home. For me, it is not the type that makes me cry or want to turn around and go home. When I think of all that I am learning here in Ecuador there is nothing that could make me change my mind about volunteering. But the odd time, when getting someone to understand your joke, or when you try to describe to someone what a phrase means and they just do not understand, it can make you yearn for something of home to make you feel like you are being understood. One of the ways I have found to express...
Every time I sit down to write a blog I find that my mind is overflowing with subject matter. It is so difficult to fit all my experiences into a few paragraphs that I know at people will contemplate reading. Every day I gain more and more admiration for this little town. At first glance, it seems there is nothing to see and nothing of consequence. But in the middle of my fifth week, I am discovering there is more to the community than meets the eye. I am inspired by the sheer will and entrepreneurial mindset of these people. Last week i visited the local Hilandería, or woolen mill. What an...
Hi to all! This is, believe it or not, week three in Salinas for me. I am surprised so far that I have not been blown away yet! Nobody tells you before you arrive that summer in the highlands is very, very windy!! Every once in a while all the lights go out in the village and we are left in darkness for a while because some cable got blown aside. The dust is unimaginable too, it gets in your eyes and up your nose and nearly into your shoes when it blows in your direction! It is safe to say that I was prepared for some of the differences that would exist between Ireland and Ecuador, but not so...
Hi to all in Ireland! Hope you are all keeping well! I am blogging to you all finally from Salinas, where I have started my work. It is Thursday May 31st. I was collected in Quito by a local early on Saturday morning and we made the three and a half hour trip to Salinas. The trip itself was memorable. We spent the first half hour trying to get out of Quito. It is such a long city and making my way from the north, all the way to the southern tip and beyond was a journey in itself. Then onto open road and me and my driver Enrique buzzed along at top speed. Word of warning - all Ecuadorian...
I have been in Quito for a couple of weeks but I feel like I have been here a lot longer! There is no doubt about it but I have learned so much! I arrived in Quito airport late on Friday night, April 27th. With very few words of Spanish I managed to meet my host family. While i brought my Dpanigh phrasebook with me, I felt very lost in translation for the weekend, waiting for language classes to start on Monday. My host-parents, Raquel and Jose Baez, couldn't be any nicer and have been so patient with me and my pigeon Spanish! The intensive language classes are certainly making me learn fast...
Hi everyone! I got home from my 4 week trip to Ecuador a week ago now and I had the most amazing time! It has been a month of non-stop fun. I kept a journal and it's completely full now and it's so funny to look back at it and just laugh. I can't believe my journey is over. It flew by, but I definitely made the most of it. I have no regrets. I enjoyed every day. While it's fresh in my memory I thought I'd write a bit about what I missed and things like that. It might be useful to future winners too. What I missed most about Ireland: I didn't actually miss much while I was away. It was almost...
I'm half way through my stay here in Ecuador now. It flew by! I hope the next two weeks drag out! I really don't want to go home now! On Thursday, I went to The Nariz del Diablo with my German friend Valerie. It is a train that goes down a mountain and there is amazing scenery all around. I study Geography in school so it was really fascinating seeing all the different land formations. We were given a free lunch half way through the train journey. Afterwards we went back to the train platform and there were a group of indigenous people dancing. Withing seconds Valerie and I where thrown a...

Pages

Population

12,500,000 (49.7% on the Pacific Coast of Ecuador; 45.5% in the Sierra; 4.6% in the Amazon Basin, and 0.15% in Galapagos). 61% of the population lives in urban areas; 56.4% is concentrated in the Provinces of Guayas, Pichincha and Manabi. Life expectancy is 69.9 years. The mortality rate is 6 per thousand, and annual population growth, 1.9%

Major Ethnic Groups

Mestizo (65%), Indian (22%) and Afro-Ecuadorians (6%).

Territory

255,970 sq. km located on the west coast of South America, south of Colombia and north of Peru. On the West Coast lies the Pacific Ocean and to the east is the Amazon jungle basin. Ecuador is divided into 22 provinces.

Capital

Quito founded Dec. 6, 1534, located 14 km south of the Equator. Population 1,500,000.

Official Language

Spanish; Many Indian people in the Andes and in the Amazon basin speak Quichua, which was the lingua franca of the Incan Empire, and there are 8 other tribal languages. In most schools, English is the second language taught.

Government

Democratic since May 1824 (a Department of La Gran Colombia); 1830, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela formed independent countries. August 10, 1979, the Ecuadorian Democracy, based on the 21st Constitution, was reformed.

Religion

85% Catholic.

Principal Cities

Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca.

Economy

The Ecuadorian government, on August 2000, changed the country's currency (sucre) to the USA dollar in an effort to stabilize the economy.

  • Unemployment Rate: 10% (as of Dec. 2002)
  • Underemployment Rate: 50% (as of Dec.2002)
  • Foreign Debt: Approximately US$ 16 billion.
  • Main Exports: petroleum, bananas, coffee, shrimp, palm oil, cacao, wood, tuna, fish and flowers (especially roses).
  • Main Imports: raw material, capital goods, consumer goods, and lubricants-combustibles.

Business hours:

  • Malls: 10:00 - 20:00
  • Small Shops: 09:00 - 19:00 (usually)
  • Banks: 08:30 - 16:00

Restaurants

1st class restaurants usually close on Mondays. Fast food restaurants are open all day until 22:00 h., 7 days a week.

Quito

The lovely Andean capital of Ecuador, Quito, is truly a city of contrasts - colonial churches side by side with modern glass-fronted buildings and a wild profusion of tropical and temperate trees and flowers. It is situated at an altitude of 9,300 feet above sea level.

Quito occupies a valley about 10 miles long by 3 miles wide, extending along the foothills of the Pichincha volcano, which provides a high, green backdrop with snow-capped peaks surrounding the capital on all sides. Striking contrasts are evident between the old, southern sections where the architecture is distinctly Spanish colonial, and the newer northern section where asphalt streets, paved sidewalks, and modern architecture are the rule. Quito is the most important trading center of the highlands. Here textiles, pharmaceuticals and other products are manufactured for domestic consumption.

Although the Equator is only 15 miles north of the city, the high altitude produces a fresh, pleasant climate. The average year-round temperature is 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but that hardly describes the situation. You may swelter on the sunny side of the street under the lavish equatorial sun, but you feel an appreciable coolness on crossing to the shade. However hot the midday sun may be, the temperature drops as the day wanes, and the nights are always cool and often cold. On the whole, one day is much like another throughout the year. The sun rises and sets about 6:00, with no noticeable change other than the presence or absence of rain depending on the season. The rainy season is said to start in October, though it may be a month late, and it is supposed to terminate in May. The months of July, August and September are called summer (verano). The little summers generally occur during the rainy season, one early in November, "Veranillo de las Almas", and the other in December, "Veranillo del Nino". The rainy season is not as damp as it sounds, because an all-day rain is uncommon, and the humidity in this altitude is not unpleasant.

Standard of living

Remember that in general the standard of living for the great majority of Ecuadorians is much lower than developed countries. Expect to have to adjust to deficient basic services, to seeing children working on the streets, unsanitary conditions in markets, poor garbage and trash collection, and poverty.

Your stay in Ecuador is a unique way to arrive at a greater understanding of the struggles and problems of developing nations. Remember that you have much to learn from Ecuador and it's people, such as their love of spontaneity, their enjoyment of life, music, and family, their ingenious way of coping with economic difficulties and an uncertain future, the fascinating history of the country and the influences and events which have shaped it into the country it is today.

Questions:

Is it safe?
Who volunteers?
Can I go with a friend or family member and can we be placed in the same project?
Is the deposit refundable?
Can I combine more than one country?
How long can I go for?
When can I go?
How much does it cost?
What’s the difference between EIL’s volunteer abroad programme and others?
Why aren’t volunteers paid/given expenses?
Why do volunteers have to pay for their programme?
I would like to participate in the programme but I didn’t realise how much it would be or simply can’t afford it.
How do I apply?
When should I apply?
Can I come in to discuss options?
What visa do I need?
What vaccinations should I get?
What are the age limits?
Do I need any special skills/qualifications?
Can I work on a specific project?
I already have a good language skills – can I drop/reduce the language course?
What is the accommodation like?
Will there be other volunteers going at the same time as me?
What does the optional insurance cover?
Can I apply from northern Ireland/UK/outside Ireland?

Answers

  • Is it safe?

    We only place volunteers in locations where it is safe to do so. Traveling to a developing country can be challenging, but most people travel without encountering trouble. Volunteers are briefed on safety issues during the predeparture workshop and during the orientation in-country.

    EIL only places volunteers in countries where we have a sister office with coordinators embedded in local communities who can provide participants with grassroots support and monitor and react to safety issues on the ground. Staff members in the field have years of experience in supporting international volunteers and in assessing and mitigating risks. A 24-hour/7-day emergency support system is in place to handle any urgent situations or crises. EIL has also developed a thorough set of policies, procedures and guidelines related to Child Protection, Risk Assessment and Crisis Management, Equality and Inclusiveness. This ensures that every participant is having a safe volunteer experience.

    It is advised to check government travel advice for your destination. Check the websites of the Irish Dept. of Foreign Affairs and theUK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Also read the safety information that we send you and of course exercise caution in any country.

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  • Who volunteers?

    EIL volunteers come from a range of different backgrounds. Our volunteers are:

    • Students and young people willing to volunteer abroad during their holidays, between jobs or on a year out.
    • Office workers, teachers, farmers, nurses, engineers, factory workers, waiters and just about anybody wishing to help, take some time out or just looking for a different experience during their holidays.
    • Retired people who want to put their time and skills to good use.
    • Apprentices and students who need to complete an internship or work experience.
    • Youth clubs, family groups, clubs, school groups or groups of friends.

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  • Can I go with a friend or family member and can we be placed in the same project?

    It is possible to apply with one or several friends, family members or a partner and to be placed in the same accommodation and project.

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  • Is the deposit refundable?

    The vast majority of the applicants are accepted in the programme but if your application is not successful, we will refund your deposit. Otherwise, the deposit is not refundable.

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  • Can I combine more than one country?

    It depends on the combination of countries. As we are dealing with two different programmes you will have two different programme fees. We may be able to look at a reduction of our administration fees but this is a small part of the fee. In the case of Latin American countries you may be able to do the language course in one of the countries thus reducing the fees in the other country. This will depend on our office in country and we need to make arrangements with them to do this.

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  • How long can I go for?

    Programme lengths vary from minimum 2 weeks to 11 months, depending on which country you choose. 2/3 weeks programmes are available in Guatemala, Thailand and Vietnam. Though if you choose to go for such a short period it is important to have realistic expectation as regard as what you can achieve.

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  • When can I go?

    You can join most of our programmes any time of year but you must ensure you attend a pre-departure workshop with EIL first. Attendance is mandatory in order to volunteer with EIL. Many of our programmes overseas have flexible start dates. We have set start dates in South Africa, Nepal, Nigeria, India, Morocco, Vietnam and Thailand but they have at least one every month. If you are looking for a teaching placement we need to check the term times in that country.

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  • Will there be other volunteers going at the same time as me?

    If this is a priority for you to be placed with other volunteers we will indicate you the programmes where you are very likely to be with other volunteers. If there are volunteers going to the same destination at the same time we will put you in touch via e-mail so you can become acquainted. There may well be other international volunteers from other countries working with you. However, be prepared that you may be the only international volunteer there. This is a greater opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and get to know local people if you are not relying on other volunteers. Be prepared that you may feel isolated or lonely sometimes. Accommodation in volunteer house and volunteer camps (with other international volunteers) are available in Thailand, Vietnam and India.

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  • How much does it cost?

    The programme fee varies depending on which country you choose and the length of programme. All the programme fees and what is included are on our website and in our country specific information sheets. To give an idea, programme fees start at €785. If the full length of language course isn’t needed, we maybe able reduce the programme fee. Our fees do not include flights, visas, vaccinations, medical and travel insurance, and personal expenses.

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  • What’s the difference between EIL’s volunteer abroad programme and others?

    • EIL is an established Irish not for profit intercultural learning organistion
    • We work with sister organisations who are members of the EIL worldwide network.
    • We will thoroughly analyse your profile, needs and expectation and match it with the most suitable volunteer programme
    • Our programme are flexible: placements are available in 15 couintries, from 2 weeks to 11 months with start dates year-round and a wide range of project is available
    • Volunteers are placed in local projects supporting local initiatives
    • We offer an authentic cultural experience including a full cultural orientation and most programmes include stay with host family.
    • Safety is the first priority: our volunteers have 24-hour support in country from our National office, the local co-coordinator as well as mentors on the project.
    • Our programmes fees are very competitive and cover accommodation, meals, transfers, support - with some exceptions.

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  • Why aren’t volunteers paid/given expenses?

    We place volunteers in local partner organisations in developing countries. These organisations need volunteers because they can't afford enough paid staff and are not in the position to offer expenses/pay volunteers. EIL and the partner organisations we work with are not for profit making organisations and depend on the support of volunteers. Please see Why pay? for more information.

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  • Why do volunteers have to pay for their programme?

    EIL and our in-country partner organisations are non-profit making organisations. The programme fee covers the cost of placing a volunteer in the project, to provide accommodation, meals, transfer and transport, pre-departure & in-country support and insurance. The projects volunteers are sent to in developing countries cannot afford to cover these costs themselves. Please see Why pay? for more information. Many volunteers cover some of the costs by raising funds. Fundraising support is available and we will send you a fundraising pack.

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  • I would like to participate in the programme but I didn’t realise how much it would be or simply can’t afford it.

    We recognise that some of our participants are students and affording the programme fee is an issue. Many volunteers cover some of the costs by raising funds. Fundraising information and advice is available. We also have a number of travel awards and scholarships available every year. Keep an eye on our website for these awards.

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  • How do I apply?

    Applying for the Volunteer Abroad programme is a straight forward process: after receiving your application and CV we will contact you to find out more about your interests and motivation for wanting to be a volunteer and to confirm the date of your pre-departure workshop. We then send your information to our colleagues in the country of your choice and they make your placement. As soon as they confirm a suitable placement for you, we will send you all the information necessary to finalise your preparations. We can accept volunteers up to 8 weeks before their programme start date as long as they can attend a pre-departure workshop. The earlier you apply, the more time we have to find the most suitable project for you.

    What you need to do:

    • Complete the application form ( Word / PDF ) and send it to us together with 1 recent passport photo, €350 deposit, a copy of your passport and recent CV.
    • Do a telephone interview (or in person if you live in Cork and/or want to call in).
    • A confirmation letter of enrolment will then be sent within 10 working days.

    If you prefer we can send you the application form by post.

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  • When should I apply?

    Ideally, you should apply about 12 weeks in advance of your proposed start date. Later applications can be accepted no less than 8 weeks prior to your intended date of departure but please bear in mind that attendance at a pre-departure workshop before you go is mandatory. The earlier you apply, the more time we have to find the most suitable project for you. You will also need time to sort out your flights, visas and vaccinations. If you plan on fundraising for your place, please note that the balance of your fees are typically due 6-8 weeks before you travel.

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  • Can I come in to discuss options?

    You can discuss options over the phone or if you live locally you are welcome to come in. Before you take the trouble to visit us at our offices, we recommend thinking about where you would like to go, what placement you are interested in, when you want to go, how long you want to go for and why you want to volunteer. Call to make appointment.

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  • What visa do I need?

    The type of visa will depend on where you are going and for how long. Visa information is available on our website and on the info sheets we can post you. However you are responsible for your visa and you should contact the Irish Embassy or Consulate for the destination country in good time prior to departure for the requirements and application procedures.

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  • What vaccinations should I get?

    For legal reasons we cannot give advice on this. Please contact your doctor or the Tropical Medical Bureau.

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  • What are the age limits?

    You have to be over 18 for most programmes. If you are on the younger than 18 and would like to volunteer abroad with a group of friends or students, please contact us to discuss the options. There is no upper limit.

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  • Do I need any special skills/qualifications?

    No. We are looking for people who are independent minded travelers. Living in a developing country demands flexibility, initiative, maturity and drive. Of course if you have particular skills and experience that you would like to use then we will take this into consideration when finding a suitable placement. Please see Is this for me?

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  • Can I work on a specific project?

    You can indicate the type of project that you would like to work on and if you have a particular example in mind from our website then you can indicate it. This is not guaranteed. Our partner organisations will suggest a placement for you. They are well placed to match your skills and interests to the right placements.

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  • I already have a good language skills – can I drop/reduce the language course?

    Sometimes this is possible – we would have to know what level you are at and check this with the national office in-country first.

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  • What is the accommodation like?

    It will depend on the country and project, either with a host family, in a volunteer house / camp or with an independent room at the project site. It may be basic compared to the standards you are used to here. We will provide details of the family or accommodation you will be staying in before you leave.

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  • What does the optional insurance cover?

    Basic travel, medical and liability and baggage insurance. Information on what it covers is available in the insurance booklet we will send to you. We can also check with our insurance company if you have specific queries.

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  • Can I apply from northern Ireland/UK/outside Ireland?

    • Northern Ireland: we can take applications.
    • UK: We will pass your details onto EIL UK and ask them to get in touch.
    • Other: Please visit Federation EIL to find the nearest EIL office to you.

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