* What is my volunteer position? What tasks will I be doing? Will I be working with a team?
CITTI Project volunteers work as a team along with leaders and in-country support. Together, we help communities to create adaptations from local materials. This is often done through adaptation workshops where families, educators, therapists, and adults with disabilities attend. Volunteers tend to find their role depending on their level of expertise, area of interest, or comfort level during a specific activity. This may involve presenting ideas, helping with materials, buying supplies, making adaptations for replication, setting up displays, and many other tasks that evolve from our process within a community.
* Where would I travel to and what type of physical activity should I prepared for?
Travel is currently in three different regions of Ecuador. All trips begin in Quito where you are at a high altitude of nearly 10,000 feet. Individuals need to be aware of their tolerance for high altitude. Depending on the trip you join, you could go north to Ibarra, or south to Ambato, or further south to Cuenca. All of these areas are at lower altitudes.
Activity typically includes walking in local towns and occasional opportunities for walking or hiking to nearby points of interests. None of our volunteer activities are especially strenuous.
* What kind of training and/or orientation will I receive?
There is not a need for training to participate fully in our volunteer program. You bring your enthusiasm and willingness to help. You will receive orientation at several stages along the way including before the trip begins, once you are in-country, and as we travel to new locations and situations.
* Are there any particular tools or project supplies I should bring with me?
Actually, we do not bring any tools or supplies with us on our trips. This is because it is important that we collaborate with local communities to create adaptations from materials that can be found in local markets. This assures that the adaptations are sustainable and replicable.
* What will each day be like as a volunteer?
Each day on our trip is new and unique and the hours vary. We may be traveling on one day to a new location. On another day, we may be preparing for a workshops which might include shopping or making sample adaptations. Other days may be set aside as free time to explore markets, crafts, and activities in the local areas. Our volunteers are typically busy with frequent opportunities for rest and relaxation.
* Will I have free time or days off to travel, or planned excursions? Will there be additional costs for these?
Our itinerary is varied with travel days, work days, and play days. Most planned group excursions are included in the cost of the trip. There are activities included in our itineraries that allow opportunities to explore arts, music, foods, and other cultural delights. There also are free days where you may visit museums or attractions on your own. The cost of these would not be included in your participation fee.
* Where is the volunteer project located? What is the work environment like?
We tend to work with communities in more rural areas, typically in small towns. Commonly, the workshops are hosted at the location of a disability-related organization or a local school serving special education students.
* What language resources will be available to me? Are there classes or a translator available?
A translator participates as part of our team during each trip. The number of additional translators depend on our activities, and are especially valuable during our workshops in the community. At times, we have had classes available to volunteers who would like to learn a few quick words or phrases. These classes are not always possible to arrange. Should they be available, there may be an added fee to cover costs.
*Do I need a passport?
A U.S. passport with remaining validity of at least six months is required to enter Ecuador. Your expiration date cannot be less than 6 months of the date you plan to enter Ecuador. They will stop you at customs in Ecuador and deny you entry.
* What costs should I be prepared for?
Included in your fee are costs for lodging, meals, in-country transportation including airport shuttles and travel to various locations within Ecuador, and Travel/Medical insurance for the time you travel with the CITTI Project.
Each person is provided a bed in a shared room, sometimes with 2 to 4 other participants. Meals are provided 3 times per day, except on days of international travel.
Expenses do not cover international airfare,meals on international travel days, incidentals, personal purchases, alcoholic beverages, or airport exit tax.
The CITTI Project will not fund lodging, meals or transportation outside of those arranged for the group. We will not reimburse any costs due to loss of property, loss of passport or other travel documents, or visas.
International airline tickets to Ecuador will vary depending on where you are traveling from. Average airline tickets from the US to Quito are about $800. Typical additional costs vary for each person and may include passport fees for those who do not have one or need to renew,or inoculations and medications as needed.
Ecuador uses US dollars and prices for most additional purchases are relatively inexpensive. Most purchases can be made for a fraction of the cost in the US.
* Are there any security or health concerns I should know about? Are there vaccinations required or recommended for the area I will be staying?
Before you travel, be sure to consult with your health-care provider regarding your own personal need for vaccinations as listed by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Call 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) to hear their extensive recorded information about health risks and precautions for international travelers or visit the CDC webpage at <http://www.cdc.gov/travel>. Tap water in most locations in Ecuador is not safe. Bottled water should be used at all times -even when brushing teeth! Pay close attention to your hydration at all times and be sure you're getting plenty of (safe) water. Consult your local travel health clinic for the most up-to-date information on vaccinations required and recommended for Ecuador. We provide our volunteers with additional health information in a packet of materials prior to travel.
* Can you accommodate special needs like dietary restrictions, allergies, physical mobility, etc.?
The CITTI Project is committed to the inclusion of people with disabilities. We expect all participants also to make a commitment to help make the trip as accessible as possible for everyone. HOWEVER, the irony of this excursion is that the developing world is extraordinarily INACCESSIBLE. There are few buildings, homes, stores, or city streets designed with disability access. We cannot guarantee transportation, restrooms, restaurants, or even disability related organizations to be accessible, especially to individuals who are non-ambulatory or have other physical limitations.
Accommodating special diets in a developing country is not always feasible and it is important that participants be aware of the limitations that our hosts or restaurants are able to provide.
* Do you accept youth volunteers?
CITTI Project volunteers must currently be at least 18 years of age or older. There may be future trips that enable us to include youth volunteers. We look forward to that opportunity.
*What type of lodging is included? How will I get my meals?
Lodging is provided in hotels and hosterias. They are selected for safe locations, cleanliness, hot water, and the ability to accommodate a group. Everyone is provided their own bed in a shared room, typically with 2 or 3 other people. We do not have the ability to offer single rooms at this time.
Depending on the trip itinerary, lodging may be within a town such as Cuenca, or Otavalo where there are markets, restaurants, museums, and much more to explore. We also stay at a hosteria during our trip to Ambato, which is hosted by an indigenous family on beautiful country land.
Meals are provided 3 times a day. Depending on the daily schedule, meals may be provided through our local host, providing home-cooked traditional foods. This is common during our workshop days. At times, we will eat together at restaurants selected for their known care for our tourist stomachs. There will be occasions to eat in small groups with other travel buddies.
* Can couples volunteer together? If they are married, unmarried, GLBTQ, etc.?
All couples are welcome to volunteer together. However, both individuals need to apply, pay the participation fee, and participate fully in the program. Accommodations, travel, meals, and all other travel arrangements are restricted to CITTI Project volunteers and our in-country team. All effort will be made to allow couples volunteering to lodge together, however, there is no guarantee that rooms for couples will be private. Most rooms are shared by 3 to 4 volunteers.
Please note that the CITTI Project welcomes couples regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation. We do ask that you be aware that the culture within the communities we serve is not necessarily comfortable with open displays of affection. We ask that ALL couples respect the more modest culture of the Ecuadorian people.
* What is the timeline for the volunteer project or position?
Each trip has it's own itinerary that serves as the schedule of commitment for all volunteers. You may wish to take advantage of traveling on two or more contiguous CITTI Project trips, all to different locations of Ecuador. This decision will need to be made prior to travel. In either case, your volunteer time begins once you arrive in-country and ends according to the travel schedule. There are at times special projects that require completion once you are home. Should this be expected, it will be made clear prior to travel.
*Do you provide evacuation or medical insurance? Do I need to carry any specific type of volunteer or emergency insurance?
Your participation fee includes emergency medical evacuation insurance. It is your responsibility to purchase additional or supplemental coverage if desired.
*Do you have any rules or guidelines for volunteers to follow?
Our volunteers are expected to travel with the group and stay together through the entire project. Everyone is expected to observe and respect the travel and program schedules established by the CITTI Project. It is expected that you obey all laws of the country. CITTI Project volunteers shall not participate in any form of political activity (protests, marches, or strikes). This is essential for your safety and the security of your visa. The possession and use of drugs is strictly prohibited, and the CITTI Project will be not be responsible if an participant is arrested for participation in such activities. Participation in high-risk activities (such as motorcycle riding, skydiving, bungee jumping, mountain climbing, and scuba diving) is prohibited during the course of the program