Volunteer Program At a Glance

Rostro de Cristo (Face of Christ) is a Catholic volunteer program located in and around Guayaquil, Ecuador. RdC provides young North American men and women an opportunity to encounter the presence of Christ in the reality of the lives of the people of Latin America. It can be an authentic immersion experience for those who choose to live, eat, work, play, and pray with the people of Ecuador.

History
While a member of St. James Missionary Society in Durán, Ecuador from 1988-1994, Fr. Jim Ronan founded Rostro de Cristo (RdC). Fr. Ronan realized the value of immersion with the poor as an opportunity to live more deeply the gospel, and wished to share this experience with people from the United States. In 1989, the first retreat group of high school students and teachers spent several days with Fr. Ronan, living in community with the people of Durán and experiencing the reality of Ecuador. A year later the first volunteers arrived to spend a longer period of time living with and serving the people.

For over 20 years, Rostro de Cristo has been facilitating volunteer missionary experiences and short-term immersion experiences in Ecuador. Our volunteers live simply in a faith-centered community and serve in Ecuador for one year. They serve in schools, parishes, medical clinics, after-school programs, and other community-based projects – just to name a few. Our retreat groups are invited to share in the lives of our volunteers and of the Ecuadoran people for 6-8 days.

Since the beginning Rostro de Cristo volunteers have live in Durán, Ecuador a sprawling urban city across the Rio Guayas from Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city. In August 2010 Rostro opened a new house in Mt. Sinaí, a large invasion community on the northeastern margins of Guayaquil. Over the years the volunteer community has also grown from its first year of only three in-country volunteers to currently 14 volunteers in two communities and a growing alumni network of over 160 former volunteers. Additionally, Rostro de Cristo hosts about 25 retreat groups annually from various high schools and universities across the country.

Context
Durán’s approximately 500,000 people are mostly underemployed or unemployed and lack the most basic services. Likewise, Monte Sinaí is a rapidly growing settlement whose inhabitants rely on eking out a living in the informal economy. Both of these communities reflect the mass internal migration seen throughout the global south where people who seek to escape the poverty of the rural areas move to the urban areas in the hopes of finding better opportunities for their families. However, most of these migrants continue to live in poverty on the edges of the city. By living in and serving in the most impoverished communities RdC volunteers have an extraordinary opportunity to form relationships with the people of Ecuador to better understand and appreciate their reality, culture, and history; to promote better US-Latin American understanding and solidarity; and to experience how a deep faith sustains the people of Ecuador in their daily lives. RdC challenges its volunteers to follow the example set forth in the Gospel by working among the poor and marginalized, and recognizing the face of Christ in them.

Local Parishes and Partners
Rostro de Cristo works with several local parishes and partner organizations. Volunteers participate in life of the local parish, serving as witnesses to God’s love with each other and their Ecuadoran community. RdC partners with several other local foundations that serve educational, health, and community development needs in Durán and Guayaquil. In addition, RdC volunteers, together with local community members, run two after-school programs in Duran.

The hope of the Rostro de Cristo program is a simple one: to be with the people. While each volunteer serves the outreach efforts of our local partners, our desire is that our volunteers place being with before doing for. That they come to know the lives, stories, struggles and joys of the people. We believe that to encounter the Face of Christ in those we meet in Ecuador requires that we live among and be with our neighbors – by being with them we come to know more deeply the living, crucified and resurrected Christ. Although the service of RdC volunteers is meaningful and important, this is not an end to itself. The end is to enter into genuine, mutually transforming relationships that allow you to better know yourself, your sisters and brothers in Ecuador, and God.

Being in Ecuador
The greatest gift one can give another is the gift of oneself, and Rostro de Cristo provides volunteers the opportunity to give – and receive – in a truly meaningful way. While working with and being with the people of Ecuador, it is very likely that you will experience love, generosity, friendship and joy by simply sharing in the daily life of the people. You may also experience the generous hearts of Ecuadorans by receiving what they have to share such as: their homes, time, attention, open hearts, and even a piece of food offered in love. At the same time, you will witness the pain and hardships of the economically impoverished and excluded; you will experience firsthand of the unjust realities of our world. This witness is a sign of the love and generosity experienced through the strong presence of Christ in the Ecuadoran people. The time spent volunteering and being in the community allows one to return the same love, and through this shared love and struggle, live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Current Rostro de Cristo Volunteers
The volunteer community consists of more than a dozen volunteers: half of the community working, praying, and living in Duran, and half in Rostro de Cristo’s location in Monte Sinaí.  The life of the volunteer community is guided by RdC pillars of spirituality, service, community, simplicity, and hospitality.  In an effort to remove any obstacles between volunteers and those they serve, the focus is on deepening relationship with God, each other, and those with whom they work. The opportunities for ministry are many, these include: teaching, running after-school programs, leading retreat groups, working at a hospital for Hansen’s disease, assisting in HIV/AIDS education and helping with micro-financing programs. Volunteers have worked in many different placements, depending on the gifts and interests the applicant brings to Ecuador and the needs of our partners.

The Year
Volunteers participate in a two week orientation and training in mid-July leading up to departure for Ecuador. Volunteers depart as a group for Ecuador at the end of the orientation program and remain in Ecuador until the beginning of August of 2015, helping to orient the new volunteers the following year. Volunteers are also encouraged to attend a reorientation retreat scheduled in the fall after returning from Ecuador.

Remuneration & Fundraising
Each volunteer will receive a modest stipend (not very much!) while a volunteer in Ecuador.  Volunteers live in a simply furnished, but comfortable and secure house with private bedrooms. A weekly food stipend is provided for each volunteer community.  Basic medical needs are covered at one of the medical centers in country.  Health insurance in Ecuador is provided, as well as roundtrip airfare to and from Ecuador, and 3-4 retreats during the year in country. Rostro de Cristo asks that each volunteer participate in efforts to raise funds to help cover the costs of supporting the volunteers before, during and after the year in Ecuador.

Requesting an Application
To become a year-long Rostro de Cristo and request an application please complete the following steps:

  1. Review the information regarding our application process.
  2. Review the information regarding our volunteer program.
  3. Request an application by contacting the RdC Fellow, Chris Kambhu, (617) 746 – 5893.