1Where is Rostro de Cristo located?
Rostro de Cristo is in the community on Tinwinza, on the outskirts of Quito, the capital of Ecuador.
2Where do Rostro de Cristo volunteers live?
RdC volunteers live together in a house rented by Rostro de Cristo from a local family in the neighborhood. RdC volunteers live in an intentional Christian community with an emphasis on simple living, hospitality, service, and spirituality. Each volunteer is accommodated with his/her own bedroom; bathrooms and other living spaces are shared.
3What programs are Rostro de Cristo volunteers involved in?
Volunteers work in many different places within their broader communities as partners with Ecuadorian organizations. These positions are predominately in the fields of health care, education, ministry, community outreach, and social work and have included community organizing projects, HIV/AIDS education projects, pastoral ministry with parishes and women’s groups, outreach to street children, serving as a teacher or teacher’s aid, facilitating after-school programs, or working at a clinic or hospital, such as Damien House, a hospital for patients with Hansen’s Disease. Visit the Recent Ministry Placements page on our website for more information on specific programs. Participants have some flexibility in choosing where they work based on their skills and interests. Volunteer placements are decided about two weeks after arrival in Ecuador through a process of community discernment, with the guidance of the in-country director. Depending on the circumstances and logistics, volunteers generally have between one and three worksites. Furthermore, the volunteer placement site schedules are meant to allow volunteers to have time each week to participate in both formal and informal community engagement and outreach. Thus, these placements aren’t viewed as full-time, 40-hour-a-week job positions, but rather as vehicles to facilitate relationship-building between volunteers and Ecuadorians and to create opportunities for volunteers to learn and understand more about Ecuadorian culture while also being of service to the community. Along with their normal work placements, volunteers are responsible for planning and leading 2 or 3 retreat groups and accompanying the retreatants in their daily activities as they experience life in Ecuador. This includes sharing the history, culture and background of the people in the local community, helping retreatants to live in solidarity with the people of Mount Sinai during their short time in Ecuador, and sharing in group discussion, prayer, and reflection.
4What is the retreat house?
This refers to the space where retreatants stay while on their retreat immersion in Ecuador. Currently, Rostro de Cristo hosts 8-12 retreat groups yearly from universities, high schools, and parishes from all over the United States. Each group stays for an average of seven to ten days. Volunteers work with Rostro de Cristo’s Quito Program Coordinator to take turns planning and leading retreat groups through their daily activities and experiences. The reflections and prayer times for the retreat groups are planned by the group themselves; however, the group leader assists with any needs the group might have.
5Who are the RdC Staff?
Visit our staff page to find out who the current staff are and what their roles are within Rostro de Cristo.
6How many people apply to be a Rostro de Cristo volunteer annually?
This number varies annually, but Rostro de Cristo usually receives between 35 and 60 applicants each year.
7How many volunteers do you accept each year?
We now are accepting 12-14 volunteers each year.
8When does the program start and end?
RdC volunteers attend a two-week orientation in the summer (July/August). The volunteers will leave for Ecuador directly following the conclusion of orientation. Volunteers term ends the first week of August of the following year. In total the experience is 12.5 – 13 months. Volunteers may discern renewing their commitment for a second year. This will be done in conversation with the Rostro de Cristo staff and must be approved by the Associate Director.
9Does each volunteer pay for air fare?
Rostro de Cristo pays for a round-trip ticket leaving from and returning to the U.S. It is the responsibility of the volunteer to arrive for the orientation. Each volunteer is expected to participate in a volunteer community fundraising campaign leading up to orientation in July to help cover various expenses including airfare to and from Guayaquil, Ecuador, orientation, health care, living expenses, etc. There is no personal fundraising goal that volunteers are required to reach, however the commitment to fundraise is essential to our mission and the well-being of our programs! Fundraising options have including but are not limited to: writing letters to family and friends asking for their support, speaking in church/parish communities about Rostro de Cristo and, reaching out to high school or college groups, and reaching out to local Rotary groups or other organizations to help support Rostro de Cristo and the volunteer’s year of service.
10What about health insurance?
Each volunteer will receive basic health insurance starting from the day he/she/they lands in Ecuador to the day he/she/they leaves Ecuador. Health insurance is only applicable in the country of Ecuador.
11Do volunteers receive a stipend?
Yes, each volunteer will receive a small monthly stipend.
12What about food?
The house will receive a weekly allowance for food and water. The volunteers community is responsible for budgeting, buying, and cooking their meals.
13Can I have visitors?
Yes, family and friends are encouraged to visit with the approval of the In-Country Director and when there are no retreat groups present.
14Is there a deadline for the application?
Yes. The priority deadline is February 15th, but we are open to receiving applications after that date. See the Apply page for more information.
15When do volunteers commit to the program?
After a completed application is received, selected volunteer applicants will be invited for personal interviews on a rolling basis. After the interview, the applicant will be notified by mid-April if he or she is accepted and will have a limited amount of time to commit to the program following this acceptance.
16What does it mean to live in a “Intentional Christian community”?
Rostro de Cristo volunteers live together in an intentional Christian community. Each person may have a different idea of what that means. RdC volunteers commit themselves to sharing time together in prayer and meals and challenging each other to explore the values of simple living, hospitality, spirituality, service, and social justice. Throughout the year the volunteers will complete retreat weekends as a community. Overall, one of the objectives of the program is that the volunteers foster a living and working environment centered on faith and love. One former volunteer says this about living in community: “You will find in community that the best way to see yourself with all your blessings and faults and vices and gifts is not to stare at yourself in the mirror, but to look at the other people in your community: they are the best mirrors you can find, and you would not be able to peer so deeply into your own soul were it not for their presence.”
17What does it mean to “be”?
In a RdC volunteer’s daily life, including worksites, there is an emphasis on “being” rather than “doing.” This concept can be difficult to understand for some people. Our volunteers and retreat groups spend much of their time being with Ecuadorians as opposed to doing things for Ecuadorians. This time “being” is meant to fulfill our mission by building relationships through faith and love. Time in the community can be spent playing, working, and praying WITH the Ecuadorian people. It is within and through the strength of those relationships that love and service are truly done. Here is how one former volunteer describes what “being” means: “we need to teach classes, coach basketball teams and run after school programs. But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that it ends there — let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that’s the end of the line. Its not — it is too easy to fall into the distraction of ‘doing’, and failing to take the harder path: the path of entering into genuine relationship with another human being. That’s the hard thing to do, and not everyone can do it. That’s what it means to “be,” as opposed to “do.” True, people need food, housing, and education. But unless those things are facilitated mindfully, with love (or agape, for you Greek scholars and MLK fans), they miss the point entirely. Being, not doing — it’s a radical call to a radical way of life — simpler, yet harder; counterintuitive, yet true, and finally, revolutionary, yet more real and more authentic.”
18Do I need to be fluent in Spanish?
Competence in Spanish is important as RdC does not provide formal language training. There are opportunities in Ecuador for language support, such as tutoring, that Rostro facilitates for volunteers. Competency can come from experiences of intensive study and/or immersion in Spanish and is demonstrated when an applicant is able to carry on a basic conversation in Spanish. An applicant should show evidence of the ability, interest and commitment to continue to grow in competency in Spanish. Furthermore, applicants should demonstrate a respect for other cultures and ways of being in our diverse world; and openness to learning from people of another culture other than their own.
19Can I go home/back to the United States to visit my family during the year?
Volunteers commit to one full uninterrupted year. All holidays including Christmas are spent in Ecuador.
20Do I need any vaccines?
Volunteers typically receive typhoid, yellow fever, Hepatitis A and B, Covid vaccine, and are encouraged to speak to their physician about vaccine recommendations. Please refer to the CDC travel website for Ecuador for the most current information.