Support indigenous Achuar community develop through language learning in Ecuador



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 Min stay requested: at least 2 weeks

  • Description


    IMPORTANT NOTE: Please read the community profile and volunteer description before replying! If you are interested in being a volunteer, please include in your message:
    1) A bit about yourself
    2) Your experience teaching or with children
    3) Any experience with indigenous communities or knowledge of the hardships they often face
    4) Dates available to volunteer

    Anank is a small indigenous Achuar community located in the Ecuadorian Amazon along the Pastaza river. Its residents engage in subsistence agriculture, fishing, and hunting and heavily consume chicha, a traditional fermented yucca drink, as a food supplement. Anank participates in the government conservation incentive program ‘Sociobosque,’ and receives a yearly stipend in exchange for patrolling the forest for illegal logging and hunting and reporting illegal activities to the authorities.

    The primary language spoken in Anank is Achuar. Fluency varies from person to person. Children attend a bilingual Achuar-Spanish “extension” school and follow the national curriculum as much as is feasible. Although the Ministry of Education requires students to study in English, there are no English-speaking teachers in the region, and English is usually not taught at all in school. As a result, no community member in Anank, nor in neighboring communities, speak English. Anank is among the first Achuar communities to start an English program.

    Leaders in Anank have prioritized English language education as community development priority for two reasons. First, knowledge of the English language greatly increases employability for Achuar youth and adults in a region that is economically underdeveloped and in a job market that is historically hostile to indigenous Ecuadorians. Many community members have expressed a desire to work in ecotourism, a sector in which they can support their families, live at home (as opposed to moving to the city), and engage in environmental stewardship. Second, Anank leaders believe that English education will help the next generation better engage with international actors as the forest becomes increasingly threatened by illegal logging and hunting, and even government-sanctioned exploitation, as they have seen happen to other indigenous communities in Pastaza. English education, for them, is a preemptive defense against future attempts to exploit the natural resources of their homeland.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Language practice
    Help with Eco Projects

  • UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Volunteers will be fully immersed in Achuar language and culture for the duration of their visit. They will have the opportunity to learn Achuar, learn about and see key species of plants and animals, and learn about the community’s conservation efforts. The volunteer may accompany the “guardiaparques” (local forest rangers) on their patrols if he or she desires. Most importantly, the volunteer will gain perspective on the hardships faced by indigenous Amazonian communities in Ecuador.

    Volunteers will have mornings, evenings, and weekends free. He or she may take walks along the trails connecting communities, help out in the chakras (small farms), visit other communities, practice Achuar, learn how to make macawas (traditional pottery used to drink chicha) or relax along the shores of the Pastaza River.

  • Projects involving children

    Projects involving children

    This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.

  • Help


    Anank is looking for an English teacher or teachers to instruct basic English courses for children and adults. Between the months of May and August, a two-week commitment is desired from all volunteers.

    When the school year starts in September, the community desires a teacher that can make at least a two-month commitment to avoid disruption in the children’s education.

    The volunteer is not required to have teaching experience but is highly encouraged to study basic English grammar and methods and develop a curriculum outline before arrival. Volunteers will work with younger children who do not yet read or write, as well as with older children who do.

    Couples are welcome. All ages 18+ welcome. Volunteers whose native language is not English are welcome, as long as they are capable of teaching basic English. Volunteers should have a basic handle on Spanish to be able to communicate their own needs while in the community, as well as to use in the classroom.

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    Spanish: Fluent

    This host offers a language exchange
    This host has indicated that they are interested in sharing their own language or learning a new language.
    You can contact them directly for more information.

  • Accommodation


    The volunteer will live in a private cabin and should bring a hammock, inflatable mattress, or padding to sleep on.

    Three meals a day will be provided at no cost by the community. Meals typically consist of yucca, potato, or plantain, and fish or meat if it is available. The diet tends to be repetitive, so volunteers who would like variety are encouraged to bring their own food and snacks if they desire. The volunteer may bathe in the stream, or in an outdoor faucet system to be installed in the month of August 2019. Volunteers should request that all water prepared for them be boiled.

    Electricity was recently installed in Anank, and leaders are working to get internet access in the community. Wifi is now available in the community.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    IMPORTANT: There is no fee to volunteer, but the community asks that you cover the travel costs of the community president to pick you up in Puyo (approximately $20 total for transportation, hotel and meals - though recently, the community advises that bus fares and hotel prices have gone up). Given that the territory where Anank is located is newly accessible by the road and there is little to no tourism activity, outsiders may be viewed with suspicion or confusion. For this reason, it's necessary that you be picked up and accompanied into the region by a local. This means someone needs to come get you in Puyo, which can be cost prohibitive for the community. For this reason, they ask volunteers to reimburse the president's travel costs.

    ***Please be very certain about your arrival date and time in Puyo, as the community president must come and meet you and will have to cover costs if you don't arrive on time.***

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    10 hours/week

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Accuracy of profile: (5.0)

Cultural exchange: (5.0)

Communication: (5.0)

Host ref number: 167523258464