Conservation and development in Shuar Communities in the Amazon
If you are interested in learning about other cultures and protecting the Amazon rainforests, an adventure waits for you in Arútam and Ecuador. We offer volunteer placements all year round to people who actively want to engage in community development, conservation, and experience the Amazon as well as learn about the life of the Shuar Indians.
For us, volunteering is not just about the work. It is also a cultural exchange and opportunity to learn about the Shuar culture, and volunteers are invited to participate in all community activities. You will also be given the opportunity to visit other Shuar and Quichua communities in the surrounding forest as well as exploring the amazing 2600 acre reserve located right next to the community.
Volunteers live in the Shuar community Arútam, which also is the headquarters of FUNDECOIPA. Volunteers are accommodated in a volunteer house close to the community center. The volunteer house has double rooms, bathroom, kitchen facilities, a fireplace, and washboards for laundry and open space for with hammocks.
Volunteers will be provided with three meals per day and free drinking water. Furthermore biscuits, sweets, beers and soft drinks can be purchased in a small shop in the community. Meals consist of a traditional Shuar diet supplemented with rice, pasta and vegetables. The main stables are manioc, plantain, sweet yam, rice, pasta, vegetables, chili and meat. Another stable part of the diet is the chicha. Vegetarians can be accommodated.
There are no specific skills required to participate in the program. Those who have a passion to assist others, flexible and positive attitude as well as capability to live under basic conditions can join the project. There are no age restrictions but young and elder volunteers should note that they will be living in tropical conditions with basic facilities. Volunteers under 15 years have to be accompanied by their parents.
There are no Spanish level requirements for volunteering. We receive volunteers without any previous Spanish skills to volunteers with advanced Spanish skills and native Spanish speakers. Basic Spanish skills and active effort to learn will, however, improve your experience as the working language is Spanish and villagers speak little English. That way the project is also a great way of enhancing your Spanish skills.
Villagers are bilingual with Shuar as their first language and Spanish as the second – some understand some English. All villagers are both fluent in Shuar and Spanish. The working language is Spanish, but villagers will often talk Shuar among each other. Villagers are very keen on teaching Shuar to any volunteers interested.
Project availability and commitment
There are no set arrival/departure dates for the project. When you apply and pay you just need to inform us about your proposed participation dates. The project is available year round. Although we accept volunteers for short periods of time (2 week minimum) we encourage volunteers to make a commitment for 4 weeks in order to gain more thorough insight knowledge about the project and the Shuar. The arrival date is also flexible and your stay first starts once arrived in the community.
Weeks Total cost
2 weeks 195 USD
3 weeks 275 USD
4 weeks 335 USD
Hereafter each additional week is 75 USD
Based on the visions and experiences from the villagers in Arutam, FUNDECOIPA was founded in 2005 as a platform to address the problems facing the villagers and surrounding communities. With support from the volunteers, the activities and projects of FUNDECOIPA are launched as initiatives to stop the negative development and deforestation in the area and create a development path that can serve as a model for other communities.
The volunteer program is for people who want to actively engage in community and grass root development and conservation, get hands on experience with the Amazon and learn about the Shuar culture. The program will not only let you travel to a new country, visit wonderful places and live with people from different cultures. You will also develop new skills, gain field experience and participate in activities aimed to preserve the forests and improve the quality of life of the Shuar families. All volunteers will be living in the Shuar community Arutam and the Arutam Rainforest Reserve.
For us, volunteering is not just about the work. It is also a cultural exchange and opportunity to learn about the Shuar culture and volunteers will be living and sharing meals with Shuar families and are invited to participate in all community activities. You will also be given the opportunity to visit other Shuar and Quichua communities in the surrounding forest as well as exploring the amazing 2600 acre reserve situated right next to the community.