Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 12, January 14, 2010


This has been quite a full week already. We have all worked really hard and some of us are needing a rest from the daily activities. But it is not time to slow down just yet. There are still things to be done.

This morning it was our delightful breakfast as usual with our thought for the day and journal reading from yesterday read by Cora. Then it was everyone off to the work centers.

About mid morning Sue and I finished the grouting for the upstairs room that Barbara and I had worked so hard on. It was the remaining room that had not been grouted. I have to say it looks really good for a trio of first-time grouters. I’m not sure but I think Maestro was impressed. I know I was.

Jackie and Joanna worked with Kathy and Alexandra in construccion with the 3 – 4 year olds. Their project today was making footprints. They painted each child’s foot, one foot yellow and one foot blue and made their footprints on white paper. From upstairs I could hear the kids laughing about getting their feet tickled. Joanna and Jackie were happy to finally get the kids outside in the sunshine. The ninos loved it.

Cora was with Paty and the babies. Cora tells a story about one of the babies, Anahyi, who has had a fever. She was given a liquid Aleve and then rubbed down all over with a lemon. The tias are convinced it was the lemon and not the Aleve that broke her fever. It is felt all around that these little ones are going to miss Cora as much as she will miss them. Not to mention how much Paty will miss Cora. I really don’t know how Paty manages on her own.

Barbara spent the morning with a new child. The little girl cried all morning. Barbara finally got her to stop crying, but the group sang a song about mothers and children, which started her crying again.

Glenda was with Sandra today, and they also had a new child. They were singing and dancing every time I looked at them. They also recruited one of the workers from outside to lead in the dancing to the always beautiful Ecuadorean music.

Joanna and Meredith had a nice break, getting a manicure by Paolina’s mother, Janet, who is also an artist like Marguerita. Joanna got a really nice French manicure, while I got some fancy stripes with sparkles.

Judy and Shannon were at Center #1 today. They both thought it was a very pleasant experience and not at all like the first impression we may have had.

I was still feeling under the weather so I took some time off to sit in the swing. As I soaked up the warm sunshine and marveled at the beautiful surrounding Andes mountains, I couldn’t help but be a little awe-inspired by this seemingly less complicated culture. The people, the children, the music, the colors, the language all make up this beautiful collage called Ecuador. I am very glad I came.

Later that evening we went to a wonderful restaurant in Old Town called Hasta la vuelta, Senor. We had a great dinner along with sangria. Everyone had a fun time.

By Meredith

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 11, January 13, 2010


First, I wish to recap two items: Who we are, and where we are from; and team goals:
Barbara (NY), Glenda and Judy (Boston, MA), Jackie (CA), Shannon (AZ), sisters Meredith (TN) and Joanna (WV), me—Cora (MO), and our beloved leader Jennie (MN).

All of us are between the ages of mid fifties to early seventies and are grandmothers, except Jennie who is in her late twenties, has yet to “bite the bullet into motherhood,” but has mothered each of her Oldies-But-Goodies expertly and compassionately.

Our team goals included: (l) to learn Spanish; (2) to promote goodwill as an ambassador from the U.S.; (3) to serve the children, workers and community; (4) to appreciate Ecuadorian people and their culture; and (5) to enrich our lives. At last evening’s team meeting we all agreed our goals had been more than met. We have also melded into a strong (sometimes strong-willed) team as the 136th to this beautiful country.

We were all together for our breakfast of fresh fruit and juice, yogurt, roll and butter, and guava jelly, cereal and scrambled egg with ham. Joanna will rejoin the team at day care center (DCC) #2 after a 24-hour flu. Meredith and Judy will remain at Sol de Quito to recuperate. Jackie gave us her journal report during the meal. Shannon and Jennie will work at DCC #1.

It is sunny today, beautiful, yet I still have no photos of the Andes, especially Cotopaxi. Jennie used my camera in hopes of capturing the sight for me, but the mountains were shrouded in a haze.

Lunch at our regular spot, Mi Quinta, featured juice for some, potato soup, an entree of chicken, potato cheese patties, beef salad, and red Jello for dessert. We look forward to lunch, to down time, to compare notes. We brought back leftovers for our dog on the roof.

Shannon at DCC #1 with Jennie worked with 3-4 year olds coloring and practicing for their Friday presentation. Jennie also danced with the children.

At DCC #2 Glenda worked with tia Kathy, Jackie with tia Alexandra cutting, dancing, as they practiced for Friday, and reading two books in English. We swept the second floor for grouting.

Barbara cut, sliced, and diced in the kitchen. Joanna and I stayed close to tia Paty, where we shared nine, three of which are infants and most of the group is in diapers, but tia Paty works hard at potty training any toddler over 12 months. Having Joanna sing to the babies is such a treat.

This afternoon at DCC #2, Jennie, Sue, and Jackie prepared art activities for tomorrow while I attempted posters for one of the songs we will use Friday. Shannon at DCC #1 punched holes in art work for the children’s folders and both sje and Jennie helped get the children ready to go home as did those of us at DCC #2.

After a supper of spaghetti and a fruit-filled mousse, we nine, including sickies, were escorted to Jacchigua, a national folklore ballet, by our patient tour guide Martin and driver Carlos (both in suits). We were all pretty spiffy too. Jennie, who’d seen the ballet last year, made other plans—understandably.

Oh were we in for a treat! The small theater was perfect for close viewing and many had front-row seats. The cast attire was authentic Ecuadorian. The music group of four included the pan flute and mandolin (known here by another name). What a wonderful way to wrap up our time here!

Yes, two more work days.

I don’t recall ever working with such a caring and quirky bunch of volunteers. Yes, we are FAMILY.

And, Jen, while this experience would be good anytime, you have made our two weeks absolutely exceptional. Bravo!

So I leave this additional thought: Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. I John 3:18 (NIV)

By Cora

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 10, January 12, 2010


I awoke this morning to my regular cheerful good morning from Sue my roommate who is usually up before me. The sun was out!

Breakfast was at 7:15. Our cook Chartio made a nice breakfast as usual. During breakfast Jennie noted that dinner is at 6:30 tonight. A short meeting will follow.

Around 8:00 Pili picked us up at the hotel. The city of Quito comes alive at that time. Riding to Calderon at that time is a learning experience.

After stopping at center #2 first, Sue, Jennie and I went on to center #1. The children were finishing their snacks. The tias greeted us with hugs and kisses. Center #1 is a beautiful old Spanish building (needs a lot of work). It used to be a restaurant I was told. It is also used for a temporary Calderon bus terminal. The children are divided into two rooms, babies, 2-year-olds and 3-to-5-year-olds. I worked with (Yesenta) who has been with the center for 5 years.

For their table project she talked about chickens. The children glued egg shells on traced chickens I prepared the day before.

Tia (Germania) worked with Sue at another table. After craft time we spent some time in the large yard where the children loved the freedom to run and play ball.
At lunch the children always have soup which they love. They had rice, avocado and hominy as well. The tias always made sure they finished their food. Their nap time followed their lunch on floor mats. Jennie, Sue and I left for lunch while they napped at 1:00. Mi Quinta served us lentils, herb rice and pork chop and always soup of the day.

After the children woke up from their nap, Jennie, Sue and I worked on a project which started the previous day as well. We cut out rabbits for their personal pencil boxes and traced chickens, large and small.

Some children loved sitting with us cutting and drawing with scraps of thin foam material. Others just loved having enough space to run and play with each other.
We helped clean up the room when Pili arrived at 4:00. Before we left we said our sad goodbyes.

P.S. I will remember for a long time the tias, the children and the wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen each day!

By Jackie

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 9, January 11th, 2010

Message for the Day from Judy: THEY TOO SERVE, HE/SHE WHO STANDS AND WAITS.

Monday, the beginning of our last week, turned grey and drizzly. This is our first rainyish day with the ninos. I don’t know if it is a “Monday thing” or the weather, but the children seem restless today. Last week I was amazed at how most of the 2 to 4 year olds could sit quietly in a chair for what seemed to be 10-to-15-minute time periods. Today they seemed to be more like this age group in the U.S. Last week some volunteers, unused to activity, gave out books. The children love books. They read to each other. Ignacio reads aloud. His favorite book has pictures of animals, and he moos, neighs, and barks loudly—to himself having a wonderful time.

The volunteers help the tias by tracing the picture of the day—a cartoonish dog, cat, duck, etc. Today, however, the activity of the day involved the tia painting each child’s hands in turn so the child could make a hand print on paper. After each hand print the child had to leave and wash los manos. The hand washing is in addition to the 6 or 7 mandatory hand washings before and after breakfast, snack, lunch, and snack. After lunch the kids also brush teeth. Also the tias prepare for each meal by working tables and hoisting tables on top of each other so the floor can be swept and mopped. Between cleaning tables carrying chairs, sweeping and mopping, washing and drying hands, and washing towels, the tias have very little time.

Meanwhile, today, Barbara and Meredith toiled and tiled. Barbara said, “It’s back, arms, dusty and dirty. Kudos to these two ladies.

Jennie, Sue, and Jackie worked at day care center numero uno under difficult circumstances. The children eat, have an activity or not, and nap in the same space. Hopefully this afternoon will be better.

By Judy

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 6, January 8, 2010

Message for the day from Meredith: EXPECT MIRACLES

TGIF! What a full and exciting week it has been! The characters in our story have become our friends—Tias Elisa and Chavela in the kitchen, Tia Paty with the babies, Tia Alexandra in Arte, Tia Sandra in Hogar, Tia Kathy in construccion. And, of course, Lily, Pili, Margarita, Elvita, Carmita, Marujita and all the women of FUNDAC who have worked tirelessly with us and helped ease our transition into Guarderia #2.
Buenos Dias! We greeted the children and they greeted us. We helped the children eat breakfast and then went on a quick tour of Calderon. Elvita told us about the oldest barrios in Calderon and how the population has exploded in the past 5 to 10 years. We saw many neighborhoods, the old-style tile roofs, the unfinished construction, the Cementerio—Parque del Recuerdo. The views of the valley and the new airport were beautiful.

Our final stop was both impressive and emotional. As we entered Escuela Fiscal de Minas “Tarqui” we were surrounded by hundreds of girls in uniform. They were all eager to meet us and even practiced their English a bit. This public school as girls in the morning from about 7:30 – 12:30 and boys and girls from about 1 – 6 p.m. (Escuela Fiscal Mixta Bernardo de legarda)

Everywhere we go we are greeted with open arms. As we finished our tour, Elvita explained that many people from Calderon have moved to Spain and the U.S. in search of work.

Back to work!

Barbara and Jackie continued working with Tia Alexandra in Arte. Alexandra’s mother filled in for a while, and they all colored pets. Jackie’s dog, Indy, is now famous. To elaborate on the theme of “pets,” Barbara read an entire book about two dogs upside down in Spanish.

Sue and Tia Sandra helped the children paste red crepe paper on green Christmas trees, and Sue organized each ninos’ work in folders.

Cora continued to have at least on, often two, in her lap at all times. I spotted her singing to Victoria during refingerio. Per Cora, “Victoria appreciates good music.”

Tia Kathy had no problem asked for Judy’s assistance! Tracing cats, pasting brown foam pieces, helping with the daily meal routine, and cleaning the center and the children.

Upstairs the princesses are nearly completed and beautiful. Meredith painted yellow and silver stars, and Joanna painted the shirt purple. They also painted the floor a lovely shade of purple! The turpentine came in handy.

Glenda finished the silver crown and star wand and said, “She has become herself.” A beautiful Ecuadorian princess indeed. Glenda admired Carmita’s work on the flowers. And we all have admired Margarita’s bears.

Shannon stayed back with a nasty head cold. We missed her, but were glad she didn’t spread her germs.

Lunch at Mi Quinta featured empanadas. Highlights in the afternoon included painting the maracas, story time, nap time, and deep cleaning.

Off to Otavalo, Mindo, and Quito’s historic center.

By Jennie

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 5, January 7, 2010

Message of the Day from Joanna: LIVE IN THE MOMENT

We arrived at Center 2 at the usual time and were greeted by the children and tias. Today they requested that some of the volunteers work outside to clean up the garden. To that end, Meredith and Barbara spent most of the morning and early afternoon working alongside parents and grandmothers weeding the flower borders, cutting the grass with dull and broken hedge clippers, and edging the borders. Joanna worked in the garden as well. We had these observations:

1. The people are very diligent and hardworking.
2. They seem to prefer using hand labor in lieu of tools, lawnmowers and rakes.
3. They used potato sacks as trash bags—a form of recycling.
4. Jennie suggested that they have difficulty repairing lawnmowers, etc.

Joanna and Glenda continued painting and refining the murals. It has been very pleasant painting in quiet companionship with the birdsong music and breezes through the open windows. Glenda helped Joanna with the mouth on her princess; tomorrow we will add the finishing touches.

Judy was proud to announce that when the other volunteer group presented the cake to the children she didn’t eat it. Judy and Glenda played with the two year olds—interactive games and stories. They worked with Sandra—played outside. Judy’s observation: They washed hands five times—before and after playing outside.

Jackie worked with Fernanda. Some activities were: Story at board regarding family life and a song—Jewel of Father’s Eye, about a father and children. Kids made play dough. Jackie observed that the children are very receptive to Fernanda.

Barbara floated (operative word) from garden to kitchen. Barbara’s observation was that dishes are washed with Lava soap and cold water. Boiling water is poured over stacked dishes.

Jennie bought hand nails from little Ignatio’s grandfather. These will go on the stairwell that is to be tiled. Joanna observed Jennie reading a lengthy Dr. Seus book to a very attentive group of two year olds. Observation: Children are able to sit and attend to task as well as wait while teachers prepare.

Shannon spent time in construction rincone. She traced pictures and wrote instructions for kids in Espanol. She played outside pitching balls with kids. Observation: Some tias speak loudly to children but always lovingly.

Cora continues working with Pati and the babies. Joanna observed that they have a good rapport with one another. Cora observed that Pati was affected by her child’s illness (as anyone would be).

Judy observed that the children (even 2’s) have good coordination while eating.
Sue spent time with the babies and seemed to love feeding, holding, and rocking.
Glenda was given an ice pack by the kitchen tias.

We returned to the hotel and prepared for an early dinner consisting of a delicious crunchy roasted corn, fried plantain, ribs, hominy, and cake.

At 6:00 a group of us embarked on the tour with Martin and Andres. We drove by the Basilica (built in 1898) adorned with indigenous animals instead of gargoyles. Continued driving to the “border” between Old Town and South Quito—up the mountain for a sparkling vista of the city at night en route to The Virgin. Unfortunately she was shrouded in darkness. Continued to La Ronda where we strolled this historic district replete with artsy shops, bars, and musicians. We enjoyed Canelazo at the Bohemia.

The city was founded in 1534 and has 1.5 million people.

Later we drove by San Francisco Cathedral and Independence Cathedral. Also the President’s mansion.

By Joanna

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day 4, January 6, 2010

Message of the Day from Shannon: DON´T HIDE YOUR LIGHT UNDER A BUSHEL

After breakfast, we drove directly to Center #2. The volunteers who purchased supplies at the art store presented them to Lily. She was most grateful for the gifts.

Sue spent the morning in the art room where the lesson of the day was hygiene. First the children had a talk about bathing, shampooing hair, and brushing teeth. They then took dolls outside, were placed in groups of four, and each group bathed a baby. This was followed by a writing lesson on the letter O. Then they had a period of outside play.

Meredith was in with the babies. She helped feed the babies twice, helped them go to sleep for their naps, and played with them. Cora was also with the babies. She fed, diapered and rocked babies, and washed the bibs. She also recommended that one of the children see a doctor for what looked like a splinter in his left hand which was developing cellulites.

Jackie worked in the construction room where the children had a similar hygiene lesson. The children also painted. Outside the children played soccer, ball, played on the swings and teeter totter.

In the morning, Joanna was with the 4 year olds. They exercised then had a hygiene lesson similar to the others. In the afternoon, she worked on the mural.

Glenda painted and painted and painted. She is 75% done with the figure she is painting.

Barbara spent a frustrating morning trying to create purple paint unsuccessfully. She played outside with the children.

Judy was with the 2 year olds. The children finger painted a quarter moon with a face that she had traced. The children painted the moon, themselves, the table and the floor. She was intrigued watching Kathy mix soup with a wooden implement that looked like a chicken foot.

Shannon worked in the kitchen. She washed dishes, peeled potatoes, and shelled beans, then washed dishes again after the children´s lunch. We learned the menus are planned and rotated every three months. A government nutritionist checks the menus and the FUNDAC treasurer is also involved. Shannon has a new appreciation for canned and frozen vegetables.

Lunch was at the same restaurant. We had chicken, rice, broccoli, juice, and some fruit for dessert. On the way back to the center, we stopped at a Marzipan shop and had a demonstration on how to make marzipan. Most of us tried it out and made a flower. We were given pins with the FUNDAC logo. They are very pretty. Back at the center Joanna organized some singing games for the children. They, us and the tias had fun. This evening we went to La Marical, walked around and had tea, coffee, or wine. Did a little shopping. We had dinner at a crepe and waffle restaurant. Delicious! Much laughter and storytelling--a good day and evening.

By Shannon

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 3, January 5, 2010

Message for the day from Sue: Carpe Diem; Seize the Day

This group was eager to do so. After the reading of a clever account of Monday´s activities, assignments were discussed over breakfast and we set out with Pili for site 2 and to work. Everyone seemed to have a good day.

Meredith reported that she was able to read a storybook to the ninos in Spanish upside down. Shannon worked in the anteroom where the children glued pieces of paper on a tracing of their names. Joanna started out in the art room and then the mural project beckoned and she ended up helping out downstairs as well. We are all excited about the murals being painted to complete the work on the 2nd floor. Team 136 leaving our mark!

Jackie reported that the babies were especially vocal and that she was able to quiet 1 of them successfully. Judy was glad to get her group of children outside playing catch and soccer. She did rescue the escapees who ran upstairs. Glenda is working on the mural and again led the tias in the maracas project. Cora worked with the babies and expressed particular appreciation of Paty. Barbara installed another toilet seat, peeled potatoes and is painting ARCA IRIX rainbow upstairs.

I enjoyed my time in the kitchen and peeled more garlic than I ever have. Late in the afternoon after a session with books and coloring , volunteers sang active songs with the ninos.

Ending the day with stop offs at stores, supper and salsa Lessons. A day properly seized!

By Sue

Monday, January 4, 2010

Day 2, January 4th 2010

Message of the Day from Glenda, NOTHING VENTURED NOTHING GAINED

I write this journal in between arriving back to the hotel and dinner. And I must say this was one amazing day.

The official day began with breakfast and the journal reading, then onto the bus to view the other day care sites. Then on to work.

The facility was clean and tidy and the classrooms, ninos, and tias were welcoming. We were ushered off to our designated classes and from that time on a frantic, frenetic pace through lunch.

At lunch I asked my colleagues for comments regarding their morning and here are some responses regarding jobs accomplished.

Meredith- I did slicing, chopping, and dicing. I am a Vegamatic!
Sue- Wonderful little 2 year olds!
Judy- I swept 2 rooms and made ¨pelota¨ small paper balls.
Cora- beautiful babies
Shannon had to change one dirty diaper and Cora only had to do a wet one.
Barbara installed 6 toilet seats and organized the office.
Chip-cur off some of his finger and Shannon used her first aid kit to keep the man still chopping.

I witnessed and heard Joanna´s lovely voice made magic with the children. They all became quiet and listened too.

After lunch we returned to the work site where I was able to do paper Mache with our team and the tias and the kitchen ladies. If all goes well, at the end of this week, everyone will be shaking their maracas.

by Glenda

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Day 1, January 3rd, 2010

Message of the Day from Jennie-EXPECT SURPRISES!

Global Volunteers 136th service mission to Calderon, Ecuador begins with a day of orientation. Judy, Glenda, Sue, Jackie, Meredith, Joanna, Cora, Shannon and Barbara gather for breakfast, introductions in pairs and then a meeting with our FUNDAC hosts. Yolanda, Marujita, Elvita and Pilar seamlessly translated by our fearless leader Jennie. We learned about the two centers -#1 has 60 children including 10 kids of the tias. Children are in a nearby house. Center # 2 has 40 children completing 2nd floor construcion. Curriculum includes art, reading, legos, puzzles, homemaking and science "rincones." There are 15 tias-8 at the first center, 6 at the second center plus Lili the administrator. The children range in age from 7 months to 5 years. The women were warm, open-hearted and repeatedly expressed their appreciation for the work of Global Vonunteers. Hugs and gratitude all around.

Jennie then reviewed our possible roles in Calderon, practices and policies. People volunteered to coordinate food, water, celebrations, journal, first aid and free time. We signed up to write Journal entries and "message of the day." Jennie reminded us of the GV principal mission to "Wage peace and Promote Justice."

We then did an exercise beautifully facilitated by Jennie where we each wrote 3 "to verb object" cards indicating our most important reasons for coming to Ecuador on this trip. All of the cards were posted into five categories by a group decision making process. We then chose one statement that best exemplified each category as follows-
To Learn Spanish
To be an ambassador of good will from the US
To serve children, teachers and the community
To appreciate Ecuadorean people and their culture
To enrich my life

The morning ended with the group spelling out some characteristics of an effective team as follows-
Respectful, Cheerful, Coorperative, Energetic, Flexible, Open Hearted, Friendly, Cohesive, Teamwork, Accountable, Appreciative, Enthusiastic, Prompt, Attentive, Giving, Sharing, Generous.

A delicious lunch was served featuriing lacro de papos-potato soup
pollo-chicken arroz-rice papas fritas-fried potatoes, forsas con crema-strawberries and cream and maracuya-passion fruit juice.

A break after lunch. Some went to the mall. Then we gathered for a review of Safety and Health suggestions.
Remember safety trumps.
No personal gifts
No intimate personal contact
No illegal drugs
There must always be matched labor.

An animated Spanish class followed highlighting greetings, ages, marital status, family composition and body parts which culminated in a body song.

Martin Mioanda coordinator of then spoke to us about available tourist opportunities for weeknights and next weekend. There was considerable interest in our group for many of his exciting offerings. He generously proposed lower rates and a free salsa class at the hotel. These activities will be coordinated and we will get back to him. More hugs all around.

Dinner featured trucka-trout arroz-rice papas and sopa de verduras-vegetable soup jugo denaranjellas-juice. Dessert was a pear like fruit called babaco.

After dinner we met to discuss free time plans. It was decided that most of us will go to Otovalo, a trip that included leather, lake, equator and market on Saturday Jan. 9th. We will go to Mindo, the cloud forest for nature on Jan. 10th. Jacchigua the National Folkoric Ballet on Jan. 13th and the Night Tour including churches lit, Panecillo and La Ronda on Thursday Jan. 7th.

We requested a better rate and Martin has offered the Tour for $20 each. He´ll let us know about the Salsa class on Tuesday Jan. 5th. Final event was a birthday song and gift to Evan. Exhausted volunteers retired before 9 pm.

by Barbara