Thursday, July 19, 2007

July 18, 2007 - More Reflections on the 100th Team in Ecuador

Wednesday evening was once again a celebration time for Team 100 volunteers and our gracious hosts from Camp Hope and FUNDAC. It is overwhelming to be part of a two week celebration that has been built on the cumulative contributions of 99 teams before us. I hope each and every one of them that have been here before know how much their participation and contributions to the host communities are compounded exponentially and are being felt by each of us during this wonderful celebration of Team 100. My heartfelt thanks to the other 99 teams.

Our evening bus ride took us to a community center in the residential area where Jackie, President of Camp Hope lives. We dined on ham, rice, and salad, with ice cream for dessert. I include the menu only because most of us may remember more that after dinner the dancing began, with Mari, Rita, Jackie, Ignacio and all our Ecuadorian hosts encouraging us to participate. They led us through several hours of motion exhibited through extensive hip and foot movement. Global Volunteers’ Policy #4 in our handbook is all about Matched Labor, but Wednesday evening was all about Matched Celebration!

Ignacio, Mari, Rita and Jackie serenaded us with several songs while we all caught our breath in preparation for the final dance, and the room that felt chilly when we arrived was filled with the warmth and outpouring of thanks as we left.

Mari graciously gave us an extra hour of sleep in the morning!

My thought for the day is an excerpt from a longer quote:

“…So take too many pictures, laugh too much and love like you’ve never been hurt before. Don’t be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.” - Anonymous

- Katherine A.

July 18, 2007 - Reflections on the 100th Team in Ecuador

My alarm clock is set to ring at 6:30 AM but once again I am up much earlier. It is still dark, but the chirping birds outside the window tell me that it is about 5:00AM. At home, I would be up and about at this time as I am very much a morning person, but here I just lie in bed thinking about everything I have experienced in Ecuador and wondering what the new day will bring.

After enjoying our usual breakfast buffet, listening to the moving journal entries for the day and learning from Michelle Gran why Global Volunteers journal writing was started, we were off to our work sites.

This morning I did construction work at Calderon – twisting wires around metal re-bar rods with a special tool. I have never done construction in my whole life before coming to Ecuador and never thought I would want to but it’s really not so bad when you’re working with a group of wonderful people. One of the ladies from Calderon made it especially fun by singing and dancing – no doubt getting ready for the dinner dance planned for tonight. I thought the morning would drag on but before I knew it, it was time to walk to the restaurant “Mi Quinta” for a delicious lunch.

In the afternoon, I got to do what I looked forward to the most – playing with the babies! I thought they might be napping as they were yesterday, but to my delight they were all awake except one. Whether playing peek-a-boo, changing their clothes, or taking my name tag out of their mouths, babies are such a joy!

The afternoon flew by even more quickly than the morning – it was time to head back to the hotel. On the ride “home” I thought about which quote would be most suitable for this service program, and decided on this one because it reminds me of Mari, Global Volunteers, and the dedicated staff at Calderon and Camp Hope:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

- Toni G.

July 17, 2007 - Reflections on the 100th Team in Ecuador

As I reflected back over the past week and a half to decide what to write about in my journal entry, two quotes came to mind. The first occurred last Friday during the home visits from Camp Hope. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk with the mother at the first home. As she held her baby daughter, I told her how beautiful all of her children are. She graciously said thank you, and then told me something that I will never forget. She said, "Above all, I try to teach my children respect t. Everything else is good, but respect is the most important.” This comment touched me so much because if I lived in a home with seven people sleeping in one bedroom, I am not sure I would have the strength of conviction to place “teaching my children respect” as my top priority. I do hope, however, that I never let myself forget the courage and grace demonstrated by this mother to her children.

The second quote I felt best reflected the attitude I hope to take with me when I leave this country came from one of the women in charge of FUNDAC in Calderon. She was explaining to us their goal for the new space we are building to add onto the space of the existing daycare center #2 building. She said, “We are so grateful for your help because every time we have to turn a child away due to lack of space, our hearts break”. This is a woman who does so much for so many and she is constantly thinking of what more she can do for the community.

I think her words echo the thoughts of all those working at the two host organizations as well as my fellow volunteers. I have yet to (and am sure I will not) hear a volunteer say, “OK, good two weeks. Now I am going to go back to the States unchanged.” I am pretty sure that statement would be impossible. Instead, the conversations I have witnessed are filled with plans to sponsor a child, or plans to save a bit more money to donate each month, or even plans to immediately research another volunteer trip. I am incredibly lucky to have had this experience at such a young age. I will never forget the people I have met on this trip who have taught me that these two weeks are simply the beginning of all we can do for these children in the future.

Final Thought: “The highest reward for a person’s work is not what they get for it, but what they become because of it.” - John Ruskin

- Valerie N.

July 17, 2007 - Reflections on the 100th Team in Ecuador by a First-time Volunteer

It is hard for me to put in words what I am presently experiencing here in Ecuador, …and not just because English is my second language!...but I will try. I did not know what to expect at all when I signed up for this journey of service and learning with Global Volunteers, but I dad to do it!!! I had to go for it!!! I had to make this jump in the unknown. And here I am today, trying to share some of my feelings with you all, beautiful people!

I will never forget the kindness of the leaders and members of this unique 100th team. This is just fantastic to be such a large group being here for the same purpose of giving, serving, learning, sharing and loving.

I will never forget my days at Camp Hope with these adorable children who made me cry and laught of joy more than once. These innocent angels touched my heart to the deepest – forever!

I will never forget, while working on top of this building yesterday afternoon at FUNDAC, twisting wires with my friendly partners, the majesty of all these mountains surrounding us Pure beauty. A moment of eternity…No, I will never forget.

May this wonderful and breathless experience help me to become a better person…to myself and to others. A person more humble and always full of gratitude each and every day. I will end here with these last few words: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

Love always.

Thank you.

- Sylvie B.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

July 17, 2007 - Reflections on the 100th Team in Ecuador

Ecuadorian life seems almost routine now, with a familiar rhythm: Morning wakeup, walk, breakfast eggs and rolls, bus rides, work, lunch, more work, errands, dinner and free time. Our group is long past the "what do you do?" conversation; in an age of reality TV, I've come to believe the volunteer experience is way more entertaining.

Despite the familiarity, each day holds a few gems that surprise, inform, entertain. Today we saw another side of Quito that's higher up on the glitzy scale that the neighborhoods where we live and work here. I admit that the sight of upscale shops and well-manicured entryways felt wonderful. There is clearly great wealth here, as well as great poverty.

As we approach the final stretch, my thoughts are turning homeward. I wonder how to describe Ecuador and the Global Volunteers experience. One word: contrast.
- Rich and poor
- Oil and eco-tourism
- Filthy work and spotless laundry
- Great need and greater hospitality
- Super-singles and empty-nesters
- Harry Potter and Salsa dancing
- Rainforests and 1-room houses
- $120 shoes and $1 purses
- Weathered indigenous women and handsome Calderonian hostesses
- Pre-Incan pottery and gilded cathedrals
- Beautiful hummingbirds and raty mongrels
- Strangers and friends

- Carrie W

July 16, 2007 - Reflections on the 100th Team in Ecuador from a Returning Volunteer

My thought for the day: My life is not the same having seen the sun shine on the other side of the world.

The first time I arrived in Ecuador I felt apprehensive, as many of you - my fellow team members - did. I had no medical or carpentry skills so I wasn't sure what I could offer that would make a difference.

To be able to comfort a crying child, give words of encouragement or just offer an extra pair of hands is all that is needed of me. The smiles and hugs I receive from the children and staff remain with me long after the two weeks is over.

I am always amazed at the group of caring, generous people I am privileged to be a part of. A teacher at Camp Hope once said to me: "Thank you for coming to Camp Hope. You could go anywhere on vacation - yet you choose to come to Ecuador to help our children."

When we return home and try to explain to others the wonderful experiences of our Global Volunteers team in Quito, Ecuador, they may enjoy our stories and pictures. But the only people who truly understand are the fellow team members who hold the same special memories in their hearts.

- Barb N.

July 16, 2007 - Reflections on the 100th Team in Ecuador

We awoke to another beautiful morning. Our colleagues staying at the other hotel joined us for breakfast as did Rachael, our new translator. Each group then left for their respective work sites. My group attended the tour of Camp Hope and learned that Camp Hope serves 125 kids, 50% of whom have disabilities. Camp Hope offers an array of services including PT, OT, psychology, speech therapy, medical and dental care. There are 15 classrooms to educate both "typical" and special needs kids. In addition, social, vocational, and spiritual services are offered as well as parent education, volunteer support, transportation for the children, and an orphanage named Casa Hogar. We toured classrooms for children who are babies, toddlers, K-3, Pre-vocational and Vocational II. The vocational classrooms help to train students in basic skills that they may be able to use in work settings. At Casa Hogar we met Pola the dog and Elsa the pig, who may be joining this large family for dinner (the pig, not the dog!). The facility is absolutely beautiful and the love and care surrounding these children was apparent. When we returned to Camp Hope I had the great fortune to work with Delia, the school nurse, in the very well-organized infirmary. She quickly lined up some great dermatology cases, including some of my favorites including eczema, warts, seborrhea, candidiasis, scabies, actinic keratoses. I was extremely impressed with her clinical acumen and ability to explain diagnosis and treatment to each patient with the utmost compassion, respect, humor and playfulness. She considers all of the children her own and treats them as such. I was left with the overall impression of a place alive with hope, faith and love, so my thought for the day is a quote from Reinhold Niebuhr:

-Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.
-Nothing that is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.
-Nothing we do however virtuous can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.

- Peggy S.