Volunteer in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Overview

Puerto Lopez on the Pacific coast of Ecuador

Volunteer in Ecuador, South America

Ecuador is one of the smallest nations in Latin America yet it can boast a rich history, thriving indigenous cultures and unique and diverse natural environments. This developing country, so rich in natural and cultural resources, has great potential for the future but poverty is an every day reality for many of its people and a barrier to sustainable growth.

Ecuador needs her people to be confident readers so that they are better equipped to tackle the social, economic and environmental challenges that they, like most countries, face: reading is the foundation of so many things that lie beyond the classroom.

Life in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador
Environmental degradation is a key concern in Ecuador, which includes the wonders of the Amazon and the Galapagos Islands within her national boundaries. The education system in Ecuador remains under-funded and school libraries do not really exist: The Book Bus is in a position to assist with these challenges.

We work at grass roots level and to ensure the project is sustainable, we partner with Ecuadorian NGO ‘Ecuador Tierra Viva’. By joining the Book Bus team in Ecuador you can make a positive contribution to child literacy and help secure the future of the country’s next generations.

 

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Information

Project highlights

This project requires Spanish-speaking volunteers.

Project highlights in Puerto Lopez

Mentoring children from schools in the local communities
Organising after-school remedial reading sessions for children struggling to read
Running after-school reading clubs for children to attend in their free time
Helping local volunteers to work with the Book Bus
The project is based in the fishing community of Puerto Lopez, situated in a horseshoe bay with large sandy beach by the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean

Location: Puerto Lopez
Age: 18-75 (under 18’s by special arrangement)
Language skills: We are seeking Spanish-speaking volunteers to join our projects in Ecuador. If Spanish is not your first language you should speak the language to an intermediate level. (This is a great opportunity for you to improve your language skills!)
Accommodation: The Book Bus base in Puerto Lopez has dormitory accommodation with four bunk beds per dorm. There is a communal bathroom, kitchen, large communal area and a hammock! Our house is on the edge of town and only 10 minutes walk from the beach.
Food: A hearty breakfast is provided by our local staff. Lunch and evening meals are not provided and for these you should budget around $120 a week. Eating out in Puerto Lopez is not expensive and should you prefer to eat in you can use the kitchen at the house is available for self-catering.
Project support: Pre-departure induction, in-country Project Co-ordinator, 24 hour emergency support
Project dates: 3rd January – 28th November 2015
When to apply: 8 volunteer placements available. Apply as early as possible to ensure you secure your volunteer placement.
Want to know more? Contact us 0208 099 9280 or email us at info@thebookbus.org

 

The Book Bus in Puerto Lopez

Primary education in Ecuador is free but staffing and facilities that engender a good standard of education are often lacking, especially in rural areas. Schools rarely have libraries and if there is no teacher or parental support for children to read then standards of literacy will remain low. This impacts on overall education standards and future employment prospects. The simple act of installing books and encouraging children to read is the first step in developing the reading habit.

Bookbus Puerto Lopez, Ecuador needs you

The Book Bus has been working with schools in Ecuador since 2010. Every year we provide reading and literacy schemes to five schools in need of educational assistance. We also provide remedial reading sessions for children struggling at school and recruit and train local volunteers to act as reading mentors at after-school reading clubs.

Book Bus ‘Alfie’ arrived in Puerto Lopez in December 2014 and he is already a popular sight for children in the area. He makes daily visits to schools in Puerto Lopez and the neighbouring communities in Machalilla and Salango.

The project coordinator is Arturo Roadriguez who works year-round with our partner schools to promote the reading habit and encourage the children to develop a passion for books.

What will you be doing in Puerto Lopez

The Volunteer Schedule for 2015

The Book Bus needs Spanish speaking volunteers to support the Puerto Lopez project throughout the year. Project placements start and finish on a Saturday with a minimum project commitment of two weeks. The longer you can commit, the more you will get out of your Book Bus experience and, of course, the greater the benefit for the children we support. We do our best to reduce volunteer fees as much as possible for our longer term volunteers.

What will you be doing?

During term-time the Book Bus makes weekly school runs to visit the five primary and pre-schools we support in the coastal towns of Salango, Machalilla and Puerto Lopez. Book Bus volunteers act as reading mentors to children attending these schools and bring the joy of reading into the schools and their communities. We also run a valuable after-school programme of remedial reading sessions for those children struggling in the classrooms.

 

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Accommodation

Life in Puerto Lopez, accommodation & the surrounding area

Our base in Puerto Lopez is the "Casa de Voluntarios", a house with a garden situated on the edge of town. Puerto Lopez relies on fishing and tourism as its main sources of income and on a stroll along the beach you’ll see fishermen and day trippers mingling by the water’s edge. The National Park headquarters is in town and there are cafes, internet connections and good restaurants that will suit all tastes on a special night out. The house has shared bedrooms, a bathroom block and large communal living area which has WiFi access.

Sunset in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Accommodation is on a ‘Bed and Breakfast’ basis, breakfast is provided by our local staff and you are free to eat out for lunch and dinner. There are kitchen facilities should you wish to self-cater.

Climate

December to May is the wet (and hotter) season, during these months there is usually plenty of sunshine and blue skies, rainfall is abundant but falls in brief periods.

The dry (or garúa) season lasts from June to November. During the garúa season, a fine drizzle often falls, especially in the highlands, giving the name to the season,
as garúa is the Spanish word for mist.

Surrounding attractions

Afternoons and weekends are free to relax, explore and discover. There’s a wide range of onshore and offshore activities. You can also attend Spanish language classes if you’re keen to brush up on your language skills. If you have time to travel onwards from your Book Bus project you can book onto a cruise in the Galapagos Islands or fly down to Peru to explore the Inca heartlands and Machu Picchu.

Visit beaches in Ecuador
Further information on these and other travel options in South America are available from our recommended travel partner VentureCo Worldwide.

Options include:
- Machalilla National Park
- Isla de la Plata boat trip
- whale watching in August / September
- Horse riding
- Beach life and surfing
- Learn or improve your Spanish
- Onward travel to The Amazon, the Galapagos Islands and / or Peru and Machu Picchu

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Volunteering in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador FAQs
We do our best to provide as much information as possible about the Book Bus volunteering scheme but if you've still got questions, we will have the answers. Check out our FAQs below and if you still can't find the answer please contact us for further help.

Volunteering with the Book Bus

How long can I volunteer for?

The Book Bus project in Puerto Lopez seeks volunteer support from 3rd January 2015 until 28th November 2015. Volunteers can join the project during this period for a minimum of two weeks up to 90 days which is the normal period granted to foreigners visiting Ecuador.

What types of people volunteer in Ecuador?

We are looking for volunteers who can speak intermediate level Spanish and enjoy working with children. It helps if you enjoy art or have a little musical ability, or are prepared to have a go, anything that helps to broaden access to the story. The Book Bus tends to attract volunteers with a positive outlook, who enjoy being part of a team and who share a real desire to make a difference.

What are working conditions like in Ecuador?

Life in the Ecuador can be challenging at times due to the heat and dust, but the living conditions in Puerto Lopez are comfortable.

What level of Spanish do Volunteers need to join the project?

Spanish is the working language of our projects in Ecuador. To ensure that both you and the children enjoy working together you should speak Spanish to at least an intermediate level. Joining the Book Bus in Ecuador provides great opportunity to advance your Spanish and language classes are available to help you improve your language skills even more.

Why do I need a DBS check?

As the Book Bus works with children it's important all volunteers have a DBS check. You will need to send us a copy of this before you depart for your volunteering experience. Please note it can take up to 3 weeks so please ensure you apply on time. If you already have a DBS please scan the certificate and email to us. We must be able to clearly see your certificate number and date of issue.

What is your child protection policy?

We always work with children within a school or community group setting. We acknowledge our responsibilities towards children and ensure we work within the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Our guidelines aim to protect both children and our volunteers. Find out more about our child protection policy.

Life in Ecuador

Do I need to bring a mosquito net?

No, nets are provided at the house

Where can we eat lunch and dinner?

There are many eateries in Puerto Lopez ranging from the budget but perfectly acceptable cafés to more sophisticated tourist joints that are nice for the occasional night out. Seafood is big on any menu in Puerto Lopez and you can try authentic international cuisine from as far away as Italy or as near as Colombia. If you enjoy cooking or want to economise there is good food available from the produce market and the town’s main supermarket. Fish can be bought directly from the fishermen on the beach!

What are the plug sockets in Ecuador?

The plug sockets in Ecuador are the round two-pin type. (US model)

Can I have a private room?

There are no single rooms at the Book Bus House. If privacy is important we can arrange a single room at a nearby hotel for an extra $25 per night. Get in touch with the UK Book Bus administrative team for more information.

Communications in Ecuador

How can I access the internet?

There is WiFi internet at the Book Bus Base in Puerto Lopez.

Will my phone work in Ecuador?

Check with your home provider, many UK networks work in Ecuador but call and data charges can be very expensive. Local SIM cards are readily available for making national calls.

General Questions

Why it's there a Volunteer Fee and what does it cover?

The international volunteer scheme is one of the key elements in the success of our Book Bus projects. The Volunteer Fee helps the Book Bus make the essential investment into infrastructure and organisation for our volunteers to be effective and for the children we support to be safe. This means that we have the staff and resources available to support our volunteers from the moment of initial enquiry through to returning home. It also means that the children and the communities we support can enjoy continued access to good books long after the volunteers have departed.

The Book Bus is a registered UK charity and therefore a non-profit organisation. The Volunteer Fee is classified as a donation to the charity and we encourage our volunteers to fund-raise to meet the cost of the fee. You can open your own JustGiving page to encourage sponsors to donate on your behalf. Donors can donate as much as they wish, any funds received over and above the value for the volunteer fee will be treated as a donation to The Book Bus for Project Development.

Your Volunteering Fee consists of two parts: The Joining Fee and the Project Fee.

The Joining Fee is £300 and is a non-refundable fee that covers the following costs associated with your volunteer placement:

Volunteer recruitment and induction costs, volunteer scheme administration costs, your project volunteer handbook and ongoing volunteer support from Book Bus project staff, communication costs with volunteers and Book Bus marketing costs.

The Project Fee pays for the following:

Volunteer project costs including airport pick-up, Bed and Breakfast Accommodation at Casa de Voluntarios (twin share), project supervision, in-country 24/7 volunteer support and in-country administration costs, project costs including all transport, books and materials required by the project, staff salaries, insurances and associated costs.

Money Matters

How much money will I need to bring with me?

The currency in Ecuador is the US dollar. You should allow US$20 per day for food and drinks although you may spend more than this depending on your appetite and tastes.

Do I need to take cash or debit cards?

There are reliable ATM machines in Puerto Lopez which accept both Visa and Mastercard. It’s worth having a standby reserve of $200 in cash in case the ATM system goes down or your card is refused.

Getting there: Flights and travel documents

Do I need a visa in Ecuador?

No a visa is not required. (GBR and IRL passport holders – check visa requirements with your local Ecuador Embassy if you are not a GB or IRL passport holder)

When should I arrange my flights?

We ask that you do not arrange flights until your volunteering application has been accepted and joining fee paid. Once we accept your application volunteers are welcome to book their flights independently, although many volunteers do book their flights through our partner VentureCo.

How do I get to the Puerto Lopez?

Guayaquil Airport is the nearest international airport to Puerto Lopez. You arrange your flights to arrive and depart from Guayaquil on a Saturday.

How long is the drive from Guayaquil Airport to Puerto Lopez?

The drive from the airport to your Book Bus accommodation is about 3 hours.

Why can I only arrive on a Saturday?

Our project pickup and drop-off is only arranged for Saturdays. This helps keep our costs down as much as possible. If you do not arrive at the scheduled time you will need to make your own travel arrangements to the project area. Get in touch with the UK Book Bus administrative team who will be able to advise.

Health Matters

What immunisations should I have?

You will need to consult your doctor or health centre as the requirements often change.

What type of insurance should I take?

It is mandatory that all volunteers take out comprehensive insurance for the time they are with us on the Book Bus. Our partners VentureCo who administer the Book Bus volunteering scheme can recommend an insurance scheme and we’ll be happy to share more details once your volunteering application has been accepted.

More Information

What about responsible volunteering?

We believe that volunteers should be provided with valuable and quality volunteering opportunities. Our projects are built from grassroots level and we ensure that projects are wanted and needed by the local community. We work in partnership with the local education authority, teachers and Ecuador Tierra Viva to ensure our work supports and enables the local community.

When will I get my Volunteer handbook?

Once your application form has been accepted and your joining fee paid, we will send you a pdf of your volunteer handbook for you to download. Please note that in order to keep our administrative costs low we do not post handbooks.

This handbook contains almost everything you’ll need to know including more information on the Book Bus project, accommodation details, what to pack, what books and resources to bring with you and a quick language guide. We’re always on hand to give you more information so please do contact us via email, telephone or twitter.

Can I speak to volunteers who have already been on the project?

Yes we can put you in touch with previous volunteers so you can find out what their experience was like. Get in contact with us and we’ll connect you!

I’ve got more questions, who can I talk to?

You’re welcome to give us on a call on +44 (0) 2080 999 280 or email

How can I keep in touch?

You are welcome to email or telephone us +44 (0) 2080 999 280
Follow our news on Facebook /thebookbus or on Twitter @thebookbus
Sign up for our regular newsletter

 

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Costs

Why is there a Volunteer Fee and what does it cover?

Volunteering fee in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador
The international volunteer scheme is one of the key elements in the success of our Book Bus projects. The Volunteer Fee helps the Book Bus make the essential investment into infrastructure and organisation for our volunteers to be effective and for the children we support to be safe. This means that we have the staff and resources available to support our volunteers from the moment of initial enquiry through to returning home. It also means that the children and the communities we support can enjoy continued access to good books long after the volunteers have departed.

The Volunteer Fee for our Puerto Lopez
in 2015

The Volunteer fee consists of a Joining Fee and a Project Fee.

The Joining Fee of £300 is a non-returnable fee that covers the following costs associated with your volunteer placement:

Volunteer recruitment and induction costs, Volunteer scheme administration costs, your project volunteer handbook and ongoing volunteer support from Book Bus project staff, communication costs with volunteers and Book Bus marketing costs.

The Joining fee is payable when your application has been accepted and the dates of your project placement confirmed. Please do not book any flights to your project site before we have confirmed your placement and you have been fully registered onto the Book Bus volunteer scheme.


The Project fee covers the following costs associated with your volunteer placement:

Volunteer welfare and project costs including airport pick-up, project supervision, in-country 24/7 volunteer support and in-country administration costs, project costs including all transport, books and materials required by the project, staff salaries, insurances and associated costs.

Accommodation and food at the Book Bus base in Puerto Lopez.

The Project Fee is payable 6 weeks before your placement start date.

 

Duration (weeks) 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Joining Fee £300 £300 £300 £300 £300 £300 £300 £300 £300 £300 £300
Project Fee £690 £980 £1155 £1325 £1495 £1665 £1835 £2005 £2175 £2345 £2515
Total Fee £990 £1285 £1455 £1625 £1795 £1965 £2135 £2305 £2475 £2645 £2815

 

What’s included above?
Pre-volunteering support,
In-country support
Airport pick-up and drop off (Saturdays)
Accommodation
Bed and breakfast
Project team leader support
Post volunteering support

Airport pick-ups: Please note we pick up at Guayaquil Airport every Saturday. If you wish to arrive on an alternative day we can arrange for a pick-up but you will be charged an additional cost.

What’s not included?
Your own travel costs to Guayaquil
Travel insurance
Immunisation costs
Lunch and dinner
Weekend/extra trips

Additional Costs to Consider: (approximations)  
Travel Insurance £70
International Flights to Guayaquil
(Dependent on high / low seasonl)
£750
Vaccinations £200
Personal food allowance* US$120
Personal expenditure
(Suggested weekly amount )
£25
Weekend excursions
e.g. Boat trip to Isla de la Plata
£100

 

* Accommodation at the Book Bus base is Bed and Breakfast only. Budget approx $120 per week for lunch and dinner

 

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Reviews

quote marks

Volunteer in Puerto Lopez, Ecudaor, Helen

The work that the Book Bus does is so valuable. Puerto Lopez is in a fairly poor area, and the schools we went into had very limited resources, and hardly any books (other than the ones that the Book Bus had provided). It was clear that the kids absolutely loved us being there, and were fascinated by the books. The standard of numeracy and literacy appeared to be lower than in the UK (some of the younger children even struggled to write numbers). The kids crowded round us from the minute we arrived. My favourite bit was when I was trying to introduce the story I was about to read to a group, by pointing at a picture on the first page, and asking them a question about it. The next thing I knew (and completely unprompted) I had all 6 kids reading (well chanting, actually!) the whole book out in unison! Icould barely stop myself from laughing out loud. It was clear that the Book Bus was creating a real passion for reading, which I believe is vital as a foundation for all other aspects of education.

On a personal note, I also found it incredibly rewarding. As well as being able to help the children so much, it is also fascinating to get first-hand experience of what life in another country is like. And of course, my Spanish skills improved a lot!

quote marks

- Helen Keep, Puerto Lopez 2013

 

Apply

How to Volunteer for the Book Bus
project in Puerto Lopez

Places are limited on our projects so we suggest you apply as soon as you are sure the
Book Bus is for you. It’s never to early to sign up but we ask that you do apply as least
four weeks before your intended start date to ensure your application goes smoothly.

Completing the form

Click the Apply now button at the top or bottom of this page. This will download your application form. It’s fairly self-explanatory and will take about ½ hour to complete. As well as asking for your details we also ask you about:

a. Your expectations for the Book Bus programme
b. What relevant skills/experience you have
c. What’s your motivation for joining the Book Bus

The more detailed you give us, the better, as we want to ensure that you can share your wonderful skills and experiences to the maximum whilst you are with us in Ecuador. The more we know in advance the better we can ensure that your experience is a fulfilling and positive one.

Once your application is complete you will need to email it back to us and we will contact you within seven working days giving you more details about the project. You’ll find more details about the application process on the application form. The Book Bus offers opportunities for volunteers to make a real sustainable long-term impact. Discover, learn, share and make a difference on your Book Bus volunteering experience.

Paying your volunteering fee

We will be back in touch with you via email within seven working days to confirm the outcome of your application. After we have confirmed your place on the Book Bus project we will send you an email providing you with details of how to pay your £300 joining fee.

In order to secure your place you will need to pay your joining fee within 5 working days via a secure PayPal service or bank transfer. We will send you all the relevant details in your confirmation email.

Once we have your joining fee we’ll send you the Volunteers Handbook as a pdf which gives you all the details you require about your project. It’s an exciting time to really get planning for your Book Bus experience!

Getting ready

Many volunteers want to take out extra resources with them for the project including books, stationery, paper, glue, goggly eyes (essential) and stickers. We’ll put you in direct contact with your project co-ordinator as soon as your final payment is received so that we ensure you take out the resources that are most needed for your project.

Buying books

We’re very grateful if volunteers want to buy books for our projects. To ensure we share books that are relevant for the children we have a list of the top 100 most wanted books. Get in touch and we can let you know what books are most needed in Puerto Lopez.

Keep in touch

We want to ensure you have a rewarding and uplifting experience with the Book Bus. We’re available to answer any of your queries. You’re welcome to check our FAQ’s section above on the website but if you want that old-fashioned one to one conversation we’re happy to help. Give us a call on +44 (0) 2080 999 280 or email

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Donate to the Book bus

How Can I Donate?
The Book Bus is a charity funded entirely through voluntary donations. Our donors have helped over five thousand children improve their reading and writing skills since 2008. In 2013/14 we are raising funds for books, classroom resources and our magnificent Book Bus fleet, your contribution will help many more children benefit from these valuable resources. Donate to the Book Bus here.