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Our mission

What would our work be without the many young people who set out on the journey to El Salado in Ecuador ?

Two to three volunteers per rotation are sent every year in the month of August. The minimum stay in the project is nine months. Experience has shown that this time frame is well suited. After a phase of settling into the community and the host families, intensive language learning and getting used to the altitude of about 3,600 m above sea level, there is still enough time to realise your own projects.

Much of the work of the association in El Salado is based on the initiative and creativity of the respective volunteer teams. In consultation with their contact persons in Ecuador and Germany, they choose their own areas of responsibility and activities. In this way, the volunteers learn to take responsibility and to develop their interests and skills independently.
In their work, the young volunteers always reflect on their role in the community, the consequences of their actions and are always encouraged to look at the world from a broader perspective. Respectful interaction and open dialogue are particularly important to us. Through this cooperation between young people and adults of different nationalities, we want to promote the exchange of knowledge and experiences across borders, generations and cultures.

At the moment, our activities are concentrated in the village of El Salado, which is located in the Ecuadorian Andean highlands, about an hour's drive from the city of Ambato. Within the scope of our possibilities, we support various projects in the fields of leisure, education, environment and health, which, hence, contribute to the realisation of the goals of the local community. This is mainly, but not exclusively, achieved through the efforts of the different volunteer teams.


In the past years, the focus of the volunteer work was on the cooperation with the teachers of the local educational institution "Unidad Educativa Intercultural Bilingüe Llangahua" (UEIB) - from kindergarten to grade 13. This mainly involved supporting the teachers in the design and implementation of some lessons, but it is worth nothing, that we consider volunteers to be additional support for teachers, but they do not and can not replace well-trained ecuadorian teaching staff.

Furthermore, due to the initiative of several volunteer teams, we temporarily extended our involvement to the schools in the towns of Sanjapamba, Escorzoneras and Escaleras.


The focus has also shifted to offer topic-specific working groups that take place outside the regular timetable. In addition to supporting teachers, the volunteers also offer various after-school activities, such as baking or swimming, which have become quite popular over the years.

Afternoon programme:

A central component of the on-site activities is our so-called afternoon programme, in which the volunteers open the doors of the hospedería (guest house) and invite the residents of El Salado, especially the children, to various creative, sporting, musical and cognitive activities. In the hospedería there is a small repertoire of craft materials, reading books and board games. Of course, the children can also turn to the volunteers with questions about homework, presentations or in preparation for exams.

Community work:

In addition, the volunteers' involvement in projects of the village community are ecually as important. For example: In cooperation with stupor mundi e.V., the women's group is committed to the preservation, production and distribution of local handicrafts (especially knitwear).

The volunteers also often participate in so-called "mingas". This is a form of division of labour in work that benefits everyone in the village and in which all local families participate, for example the parents of the school children, together with the volunteer team from 2008/09, built the schoolyard of the UEIB and later created a nature-oriented playground.

Together with the students of the upper school (grades 11-13), the then director of the school (Luis Paucar) and an engineer from an Ecuadorian environmental organisation, a team of volunteers developed a reforestation project. Students planted about 700 indigenous trees of the species 'Yagual' and then took care of them on their own responsibility. Some of these Yaguales are now between 1.50 m and 2.00 m high!

Preparation and follow-up of the volunteer service:

We are convinced that the volunteers make a decisive contribution to the successful work of our association stupor mundi e.V.. For this reason, we place special emphasis on the preparation and follow-up of the volunteer service:

During a preparation weekend, the volunteers are given an insight into the work of the association and are intensively informed about the possible fields of activity. It is important for us to develop initial ideas and incentives for possible projects in dialogue with the young people and to get to know their interests and abilities. In addition, the preparation creates the basis for an open and trusting exchange between us and the volunteers for the duration of their stay abroad and also gladly beyond.

A short ethnological reflection exercise serves to raise the young people's awareness of how to deal with other people without prejudice and with respect. After all, trying to free oneself from stereotypical (mostly judgmental) ideas is, in our understanding, the basis for hierarchy-free cooperation.

After their volunteer placement, we invite the young people for an evaluation. Together we discuss positive and negative events and experiences regarding the work of the volunteers in El Salado and their supervision by the association stupor mundi e.V.. All participants are given the opportunity to express constructive criticism, which is very important for the personal development of the volunteers as well as for the permanent change and expansion of our association's work.


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