A Projects Abroad intern works with a young boy during her Social Work internship in Ecuador.

Social Work Internship in Ecuador

Gain practical social work experience while working at a kindergarten in the Galapagos Islands

At a glance

  • Join our Social Work Internship in Ecuador. You’ll work with disadvantaged local children in a kindergarten and your work will focus on children with special needs.
  • Throughout your internships, you will have the guidance and supports od professional staff. This is a very good opportunity to gain practical experience.
  • You’ll work and live on the island of San Cristobal, which is a part of the Galapagos archipelago. You will stay with a local family or shared accommodation with other interns.

Start Dates: 


See Dates

Minimum Duration: 

Two Weeks


16 or over
You need to speak intermediate Spanish and should be studying social work or a related subject.

Is a Social Work internship in Ecuador right for me?

Are you currently enrolled in a social work programme at university? Would you like to gain practical experience overseas? Then our Social Work Internship in Ecuador is perfect for you.

You will gain practical experience working alongside local staff at a kindergarten on the island of San Cristobal in Galapagos. You will work mostly with underprivileged children from single parent homes.

Apart from your academic background in social work, you will also need loads of energy to work with little ones all day.

To join this project, you must be studying social work, and you need to speak intermediate Spanish. This will help you communicate more effectively with the children you work with, as they don’t speak English.

Our Social Work internship in Ecuador runs from May to March every year and you can join at any point during this time. You will need to spend a minimum of four weeks on the programme. We encourage you to stay longer to learn as much as possible.

An intern working with a child and gaining social work experience in Ecuador

What will I do at my Social Work placement in Ecuador?

You can use the knowledge and training you learned during your studies at university to help local staff. During your internship, you will:

  • Provide stimulation for the children through basic educational activities such as singing, and arts and crafts
  • Assist the local staff with the day-to-day care of the children
  • Play with the children and observe their behavior in and outside the play area
  • Give special attention to the children with special needs who are learning alongside the other children
  • Assess each child and identify their strengths

Your work will focus on the following areas:

Provide stimulation through educational activities

It has been shown that a lack of stimulation in early years, particularly in situations of poverty or neglect, can lead to delayed development later in life. As a Social Work intern in Ecuador, you’ll help increase the general stimulation of children in the kindergarten. You will do this by introducing fun educational activities, such as games, songs and crafts.

Assist local staff with the day-to-day care of children

In Ecuador, kindergartens are often overcrowded and understaffed. Because of this, teachers struggle to provide equal care and attention to children. You will support them by providing a very welcome pair of extra helping hands during the day. 

Play with children and observe their behaviour

Watching the way children play on their own and with others is a great way of identifying any behavioural difficulties that might need to be addressed. You can observe and discuss what you see with your supervisor.

Give special attention to children with special needs

In the centres where we work, the children’s basic needs are met. However, a lack of staff limits the amount of stimulation offered to each child.

This is particularly problematic for children who have special needs, such as autism. Sending them to a special needs school is expensive and most parents in these communities can’t afford it. Because of this, many children with special needs attend regular kindergartens. As a Social Work intern, you can help us give them educational support and the special attention they require.

Assess each child and identify their strengths

One of the ways in which we keep track of the children’s development and the specific needs of placements, is through specially designed checklists. We will train you how to use these checklists and input your findings into our Global Impact Database. We use this database to keep track of progress at our placements.

You will assess the status of each child on a daily basis in areas related to:

  • Numeracy
  • Literacy
  • Fine motor skills
  • Emotional abilities
  • Social skills
  • Hygiene

Where in Ecuador will I work?

San Cristobal

You’ll be based on the main island of San Cristobal. It forms part of the Galapagos archipelago located about 1,000km from mainland Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. It’s home to several pristine white beaches, but only two are for people. The others are all devoted to the protection of the local sea lion population.

The Galapagos Islands are hugely popular for anyone with an interest in biology, science, and wildlife. These volcanic islands are home to a vast number of species that occur nowhere else in the world. A few examples include the Giant tortoise, marine iguanas, Galapagos fur seals, and Galapagos penguins.

You will be working at a local kindergarten. Many kindergartens are overcrowded and understaffed. As a Social Work intern, you will lend a much needed helping hand, as well as a measure of expertise in your field.

Airport pickup, flights and visas

When you arrive at your respective airport, a member of Projects Abroad staff will be there to meet you. You can find more detailed information on arrival airports, orientation, and visas on our Ecuador Arrival Procedures page.

A typical day as a Social Work intern in Ecuador

You will normally start your day with a hearty breakfast around your host family’s table or with your fellow interns. After this, you will set out to the kindergarten you’re working at. You can use public transport, but in most cases it would be close enough to walk. Projects Abroad staff will show you where to go on your first day.

Your working day will normally start around 8am and end at about 3pm.

The first part of the morning will be dedicated to stimulating educational activities, such as playing games, singing, and doing crafts. By mid-morning, the children will normally have a break, where they can go outside and play. You will use this time to observe the way they interact on the playground and make notes of any behaviour that might require attention.

You will get an hour and a half’s lunch break between 12pm and 1:30pm. If you live close by, you can head home to eat and have a quick rest. Alternatively, you can enjoy a packed lunch.

After lunch, the children will take a nap. You can use this time to discuss activity plans with local staff and fellow interns. You can also fill out assessment forms and input your findings into our Global Impact Database.

Evenings and weekends are your free time to rest, relax, and explore. There is a lot to see and do on the Galapagos Islands, so be sure to plan some adventures. You can visit national parks, go on hikes, head to the beach, or visit some of the other islands.

An intern works with a group of children during her Social Work internship in Ecuador

What are the aims and impact of Social Work in Ecuador?

There are two main aims for this internship programme: to offer you the chance to gain practical social work experience in Ecuador and to help serve the local community.

Ecuador is known for its idyllic islands, beautiful scenery, and abundant wildlife. However, marginalized groups are neglected, and children are especially affected. Those that need the most help in Ecuador are underprivileged children from single-parent homes and children who have special needs, such as autism. It is crucial that these children receive the stimulation and care that they need to thrive and reach development milestones.

We have outlined four goals in our Care Management Plan for Ecuador, of which Social Work forms a part:

  • Promote early childhood development
  • Improve hygiene
  • Improve English
  • Improve the level of stimulation for each child

You will work at a kindergarten, helping to providing children with the support and care that they need. You will be also gain first-hand experience in a developing country while working alongside a qualified professional.

Join our Social Work Internship in Galapagos and gain invaluable experience while helping us provide care to children who need it most.

An intern gains social work experience in Ecuador working with local children

Measuring our impact

Our projects work towards clear long-term goals, with specific annual objectives. Every volunteer and intern we send to these projects helps us work towards these goals, no matter how long they spend on our projects.

Every year we take a step back and look at how much progress we've made towards these goals. We put together a Global Impact Report, which documents our achievements. Find out more about the impact our global community of volunteers, interns and staff make, and read the latest report.

Food and accommodation

You'll share accommodation with other Projects Abroad volunteers and interns during your stay in San Cristóbal. This is a great way to get to know your fellow volunteers and interns, share experiences, and explore your surroundings in your free time together. You can also request to stay with a host family in San Cristóbal.

The accommodation is safe, clean, and comfortable. Your programme fees include three meals a day.

Find out more about our accommodation.

Leisure activities and free time

Our projects in Ecuador are based in the Galapagos Islands. This region is famed for the research Charles Darwin did here with its many unique animal species. It’s the ideal location to explore the natural beauty of Ecuador.

While you’re volunteering here, it’s worth checking out the beautiful beaches where seabirds circle above and sea lions laze about on the sand. You can also go snorkelling or scuba diving along the coast.

Hiking around the base of one of the many volcanoes that make up the Galapagos is spectacular and thrilling! You can also follow the Darwin trail or trek through the Punta Pitt.

There are plenty of museums and art galleries for you to learn more about the culture and history. You can also chat to locals and buy souvenirs at bustling markets.

What’s great about joining our projects is the chance to connect with other volunteers. So you can choose to explore the Galapagos independently or you can travel with the new friends you make along the way.

Safety and staff support

Your safety and security is our prime concern. We have many procedures and systems to ensure you have the support you need to enjoy your trip with peace of mind. Our Projects Abroad staff are available 24 hours a day to help, and will be on hand to make sure you settle in well at your accommodation and placement. If you encounter any problems, they will be available to help at any time.

Find out more about safety and backup.

This placement is fully researched, safety audited, and risk assessed in accordance with the British Standard BS8848 for the Adventure Travel Sector.

When you apply you only pay $495, which comes off the total price. Flexible payment options and fundraising advice available.

Looking to do more than one project? Call us on 09 801 2518 to see if we can offer a discount.

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