1. Where is Rostro de Cristo located?
Rostro de Cristo is located in two communities on the outskirts of Guayaquil–Ecuador’s largest city and port–in the southwestern Ecuadorian province of Guayas. One community, Mount Sinai, is an invasion community that is currently within the Guayaquil city limits to the northwest. The other community, Arbolito, is a neighborhood within the growing municipality of Durán, just across the river to the west of Guayaquil. Visit our interactive map for a visual of these communities.
2. Where do Rostro de Cristo volunteers live?
In both the Mount Sinai and Arbolito communities, RdC volunteers live together in a volunteer house. In both cases, these volunteer houses are located adjacent to and on the same property as a retreat house, which is used to host visiting retreat groups. 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.
3. What 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 Where We Work 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 Arbolito and Mount Sinai during their short time in Ecuador, and sharing in group discussion, prayer, and reflection.
4. What is the retreat house?
Located next to the volunteer houses in Mount Sinai and Arbolito are the retreat houses. Rostro de Cristo hosts an average of 25 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 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.
5. Who 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.
6. How 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.
7. How many volunteers do you accept each year?
We now are accepting 12-14 volunteers each year.
8. When does the program start and end?
RdC volunteers attend a two week orientation in mid-July. The volunteers will leave for Ecuador in late July, directly following the conclusion of orientation. Volunteers stay until the beginning of the following August.
9. Does 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.
10. What 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.
11. Do volunteers receive a stipend?
Yes, each volunteer will receive a small monthly stipend.
12. What about food?
Each house will receive a weekly allowance for food and water. The volunteers in each house community are responsible for budgeting, buying, and cooking their meals.
13. Can 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.
14. Is 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.
15. When 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.
16. What 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.”
17. What 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.”
18. Do I need to be fluent in Spanish?
Competence in Spanish is important as RdC does not provide language training. 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.
19. Can 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.
20. Do I need any vaccines?
Volunteers should receive typhoid, yellow fever, Hepatitis A and B.
Refer to the US Government travel website for the most current information.