Who can volunteer?
Anyone 18 years old or older can be an individual volunteer. You can adventure solo or bring a friend and use our recruit-a-friend discount. If you're volunteering in Ecuador, you can come any time throughout the year that works for you. If you're volunteering in Thailand, check out our summer Thailand trips to see which dates you'd like to travel.
If you are between the ages of 16 and 18, you can volunteer during the summer months when we have an in-country director in charge of supervising you at all times. Teen programs last for two weeks.
Families, couples, and groups
We also love to have families, groups, or couples come. Groups and families get to use group discounts. Parents are in charge of supervising their children who under 18.
Visitors are those who come to visit the program for a week or a few days. Most often, visitors are parents of volunteers who come for the last week or few days of their child's program to get a feel for what their child did while with OSSO.
How long can you volunteer?
With OSSO, you can customize and choose the length of your program. However, we prefer for you to choose the dates listed on our site because it’s easiest and most efficient for our directors if volunteers travel on the same days. We also recommend traveling with other volunteers for your personal convenience, especially if it’s your first time volunteering with OSSO.
A long-term volunteer is a volunteer who stays in country for four or more weeks. Long-term Ecuador volunteers get a 3-day Baños trip included in their program fee.
A short-term volunteer is a volunteer who stays in country for less than four weeks. The most common stay for a short-term volunteer is two weeks, but we are happy to create a trip sized just for you. Short-termers are usually families or youth volunteers who go during the summer, but adult individuals are also welcome to be short-term. If you'd like to add the 3-day Baños trip to your short-term Ecuador trip, you can for only $395 extra.
Where can you volunteer?
OSSO has been sending volunteers to Ecuador since 1999. While we used to host programs in both Cuenca and Quito, we presently serve solely in Cuenca.
In Cuenca, we assist four different orphanages and one day care. One of the orphanages, called Los Pequeñitos de OSSO, is run by OSSO and mostly serves children with special needs. Two of the other orphanages are run by Catholic nuns, and the fourth orphanage is run by a Christian woman who has dedicated her life to helping orphans. The day care is in the mountains, and due to the area's extreme poverty, has great needs which OSSO helps to fulfill.
Besides interacting with the kind locals and volunteering in the orphanages, while in Ecuador you'll also get to go on exhilarating adventures like zip-lining through rainforests and swinging on the renowned "Swing at the End of the World." To learn more about these and other activities, click the Explore Ecuador button below.
However, with all of the many fun things to do in Cuenca, nothing compares to the time and activities you give to the orphans. The children make a lasting impression on your heart. And you'll never want to say goodbye.
Thailand is a newer program to OSSO, beginning in early 2015, but has been a wonderful addition. OSSO assists a government-owned orphanage in Chiang Mai as well as a local special need's school called The Healing Family Foundation.
As an OSSO volunteer, you will have the privilege of living in the city of Chiang Mai, which is the second-largest city in Thailand and often referred to as the “rose of the north.”
Thailand adventures including riding elephants, whitewater rafting, zip-lining, and hugging tigers. To learn more about these and other activities, click the Explore Thailand button below.
While there is plenty to do and see in Thailand, your favorite memories will be made while playing with the children in the orphanage and volunteering at the special needs school.
What do you do as an OSSO volunteer?
Ecuador volunteers stay at the volunteer house on site of OSSO's orphanage. Each day you will have two shifts: a morning shift (7 a.m. to 12 p.m.) and an afternoon shift (2 p.m. to 6 p.m.). Your days will be full of caring for children — whether that means playing soccer, helping feed babies and special needs children, teaching children their colors, or changing diapers. You'll be kept busy, but your heart will grow everyday with love and joy from the precious orphans.
Each week you will get one shift off and a entire day off to go to town, the markets, or one of our suggested activities. In your down time, you'll find there is much to do in the city or at the volunteer house to entertain you.
Thailand volunteers stay in a hotel that we have hand-selected and visited. You can expect to spend about five hours each day working with the infants and toddlers of the government orphanage ViengPing. Then, a couple nights each week you will also get to teach English and play sports with the older children there. Other days of the week you will also volunteer at a special needs school.
In your free time, you can go swimming, get a cheap Thai massage, visit local markets, and try out delicious Thai cuisine.