Friday, August 5, 2011

An amazing experience...

Thought to End: “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us”.

-Albert Schweitzer

Journal by: Susan Weida

The mood at breakfast seemed subdued, I think we are all aware of how fast this amazing experience is coming to an end, trying to put it into the larger perspective of our everyday lives that will soon start up again.

We had a surprise of a new driver today, Fabian’s brother, who was very friendly and eager to work on his English with Kristina while driving. She quickly slipped into her teacher role.

On arrival in Calderon we went to our usual assignments and had busy mornings all. At 11 we gathered at Center #1 for the farewell ceremony. The tias had prepared all the classes except the babies to perform dances, songs, and a wonderful animal parade. I was especially proud of Tia Ruby’s class who did a rousing Spanish “Wheels on the Bus” that I taught them. The tias then performed lovely costumed dances from Otavalo and the coast and the event ended with everyone dancing. I was impressed with how engaged and well behaved the children were and thought about how important it is for children to see adults having fun in positive ways.

We were each presented a handmade present and mazapan children in costumes of various regions. Our “Mano en Mano” poster seemed to be truly appreciated. Kristina thoughtfully presented the tias and volunteers pictures of our interactions during the week.

Jessica and Steve stayed at Center #1 to thankfully assist with lunch, which as we were running late was per Kristina “like lunch on steroids”. Babies were dropping off to sleep in their high chairs. We enjoyed a relaxing lunch and returned to our respective centers for the afternoon.

Although the normal activities needed to continue the focus of the afternoon was on fond goodbyes. Kristina showed her pictures on the computer and was begged to download them on a flash drive for the center to keep.

We will certainly talk more at dinner (writing journal early due to Steve’s early departure) but I think we all have gained so much more knowledge, friendship, and feelings of love during this trip—much more them we have given. I know the faces of the children and kindness of the staff will be with me throughout my lifetime. I feel profound thanks to Global Volunteers for their thoughtful process to promote service, peace, and personal growth.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New friendships...

Message of the Day: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” - Winston Churchill

Journal by: Kristina Herman Hill

As I write this journal entry it is late Thursday night and I’m nowhere near sleep as I think about closing our program tomorrow. I’ll back up and recap our full day.

The day began with the fruit, rolls, and juice we’ve become so accustomed to. It was a sunny, clear morning as we departed for Calderon. Susan was dropped off a Center #1 while the rest of us headed to Center #2. Steve is earning quite the reputation as a master painter and finds himself with more projects as news of his painting prowess spreads through the Center. Jessica joined her new Facebook friend Tia Yessenia to help in her classroom. She also pitched in to lend a hand when needed in the kitchen and with feeding the toddlers.

Susan made a new friend in the toddler room at Center #1, where they have received several new children this week. One particular boy was very sad and missing his Mom, but Susan did a great job of comforting and soothing him.

After a lunch of soup, chicken, and rice at Mi Quinta we returned to our project. Susan and I went to teach English at Center #1. She had continued to work with a group of staff children, while I work with Tias Gaby, Ruby, Blanca, Marisol. Both groups are ready to learn and fun. Both groups enjoyed singing rousing versions of “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes”.

After heading back to the hotel, we all got changed and headed to the Jardin Mall for dinner. After running a few errands and making a last trip to Super Maxi, we headed to Crepes and Waffles for dinner. We were all delighted wit the variety of crepes, coffees, and especially desserts offered there. It was a real treat.

We returned to the hotel to make final preparations and contemplate our last day on the project tomorrow. It doesn’t seem real that we’ll be saying goodbye tomorrow as it feels like we’ve just arrived. It will surely be a bittersweet day, but I look forward to celebrating the children cared for, shelves painted, English taught, and friendships made tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thought for the day: "If you are thinking in terms of a year plant a seed, if in terms of 10 years plant a tree, if in terms of 100 years teach the people." - Confucious

Journal by: Steve Bennett

Today began with the typical breakfast, albeit slightly delayed. Everyone seems to be conscious at this juncture of the program that time is fast slipping away and the only a few days remain. As it has been in recent days, Susan and Kristina go to Center #1 while Jessica and I go to Center #2.

Kristina stops by to check on my work and leaves to get some more yellow paint to complete the work on the yellow shelves. They had proved very troublesome. Susan continues her work with the children at Center #1, while Jessica has opted to spend some time in the kitchen today prior to chasing the children around.

The day is sunny and warm. I have an older table that is turned into me to paint after I finish the final coat of green in the morning. I am pleased with the green.

At lunch we all meet at the café and have some tough steak with lentils and rice. For dessert is tasty flan.

Jessica stops at the Tia market on the return trip for some snacks and treats. Jessica will work with the kids while I work on the blue table and then back to the final coat for the yellow shelves. Today my eyes are tearing constantly from the paint fumes. Good thing I am not painting inside.

Towards the end of the day it is apparent that I will need more paint thinner tomorrow. Kristina must think I am mixing cocktails with the stuff. The tias bring me two more tables for repainting. I am overwhelmed with painting.

A leak happens in the blue can which leads to a loss of paint. The wind blows over the plastic brush bucket with the blue brush in it. Mess again!

After arriving back at the hotel Jessica and Kristina depart. Jessica to the mall and Kristina for a walk in the park. Susan and I take a cab to the Indian market. I buy 2 bedspreads, 2 sweaters, and a pair of earrings. I carelessly lose my wallet.

The day ends with chicken for supper and us all sharing our day.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Baby day...

Journal by: Jessica Nysenbaum

While Susan and Kristina went back to Center #1, Steve and I went to Center #2. Center #2 was even more chaotic than usual as Gracia, the tia for the 2 year olds was out for the 2nd day in a row. Yesterday a new tia took care of the 2 year olds but today she was nowhere to be found. I’m worried she may have been scared off and never will be seen again.

While the other tia’s took off with their kids, the 2 year olds were left wandering so I herded them into their room. I was alone with them for about half an hour and just when I was at my wits end Andrea arrived and took the kids to a room for other tia's to watch. I'm sure it made for an interesting day, watching 4 year olds and 2 year olds together. I spent my morning in the baby room. A new baby, Leonardo, only 9 months old had his first day and was crying constantly. I played with the babies, changed diapers, and tried to distract the inconsolable Leonardo. Tia Patti was busy meeting with a woman from another children’s organization. The woman told me that she does home visits with the children once a month. She teaches them proper nutrition, explains when it is that children need to see a doctor, and checks on their development. She was teaching Patti how to do tests in her class to gauge the babies’ development.

After a fairly unpopular lunch of tripe, Steve made some more masapan purchases. Susan explained to Cecelia that her son Andrew would like to get in touch with her son who also lives in Tena. On our way back to Center #2 snack shops were eyed, but we did hold out. Steve returned to painting while I helped with Josseina’s kids while she filled out assessment forms. We also fit in a little English lesson and I taught her Rock a Bye Baby.

Meeting up with Susan and Kristina on the bus, we heard that Susan ended up teaching English to an assorted mix of tia’s children while Kristina worked with the tias. All together we headed to Old Town to visit a historic house museum. It struck me that Maria Auguste, the house’s owner, was like a one woman FUNDAC. She fed 150 kids a day in her house. The group was most impressed with her ornate bathroom. This was especially impressive as in her time everyone else used outhouses. After the museum we had a drink at an incredibly charming restaurant Kristina discovered. It had gorgeous views of Old Town and wider Quito leaving most of us pondering when we could return.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A weekend of relaxation...

Message of the Day: "I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again."

William Penn

Journal by: Kristina Herman Hill

I’ll start this journal entry with Sunday evening, when we reunited for dinner to share about our weekend adventures. Steve went bird watching in Mindo, Susan visited her son who is in the Peace Corps in Tena, Jessica and I went to Otavalo on Saturday, but I hung back to explore the city while she went to Mindo on Sunday. It was great to see everyone again and to swap stories.

Today it was back to the routine of breakfast at 7:00 am, then leaving for work at 8:00. We were greeted with smiles and cries of “Hola” by the tias and ninos. Susan spent the morning helping Tia Olga and Carolina in the kitchen at Center #1, while Steve returned to his painting project and Jessica to help Tia Sandra at Center #2. After a brief stop at Center #1, I went on a search for more paint thinner. After visiting a couple places my mission was accomplished. I certainly didn’t mind the extra walk as it was a beautiful morning and the beautiful white dome of the Cotopaxi volcano was more visible in the distance today.

I spent part of the morning helping out in Tia Jacqueline’s classroom. They seemed to be doing a lot of intakes of new families in both centers, and Jacqueline had two new little ones in her room. My guess is that neither child had been away from their mothers much before, so naturally both were almost inconsolable. One little boy kept repeating, “Mi mama se fue” or “My Mom left me”. Pobrecito!

Jessica was not feeling well so decided to go back to the hotel before lunch. she is feeling better after a trip to the pharmacist in Calderon. The afternoon was spent doing lively English teaching, me with a group of tias and Susan with a group of older children. As we returned to the hotel, the skies darkened and a very loud thunderstorm rolled in. It made for some nice napping weather for all of us.

After naptime we gathered for a dinner of spaghetti Bolognese and more conversation. We discussed plans for the rest of the week and it dawned on me how quickly the rest of our time at Calderon is going to go. My goal for the next few days is to be fully present in the moment and soak in as much of this experience as I can.

Friday, July 29, 2011

End of week one!

Thought for the Day: If the roots are not removed during weeding, the weeds will grow again when the winds of spring blow . -Chinese proverb

Today is a special day for several reasons:

It marks the end of the program for Dean and Sherri. For the rest of us it marks the halfway point of the program. It is also to be a day of celebration at Site #2. It is also the day of our mazapan demonstration.

Breakfast is the usual fare but is lacking fruit other than bananas. The group seems healthy and in good spirits on this Friday. We arrive at Site #1 and Sherri, Susan, and Kristina go off to attend to the children while Jessica, Dean and I head to Site #2. While Jessica and Dean work with the children, I resume work on the painting shelves project.

At 11 am everyone assembles in the great room at Site #2. The children are all seated in their chairs on one side of the room while the volunteers and some of the FUNDAC ladies sat on the opposite side. The 4-5 year olds first performed a song and accompanying dance followed by the 3-4 year olds. Lastly the younger children. All were very cute although many of the children did not quite get it. Sherri and Dean were presented cards and mazapan figures along with appreciations by the FUNDAC woment. Then the dancing and real fun began with first some individual traditional dances followed by a flamboyant lady who danced with Dean and I. It was exuberant, great fun. At the end of it I was exhausted but had so much fun. A woman appears with a mask and then all the volunteers join the two dancers in a square dance like dance as we circle and swing round. Everyone is having such a great time. It ends with the volunteers doing a rousing version of Old MacDonald to the amusement of the kids.

We then got to the mazapan shop for a demonstration of mazapan making by the owner. She makes the intricate creations almost like magic. Seems like everyone makes some purchases as this is a local craft, the lady is associated with FUNDAC and they make inexpensive gifts to take home. Kristina, Susan, and Sherri return to Site #1 while Dean, Jessica, and I return to our work at Site #2. The day ends quickly. Dean and Sherri are now sadly gone and our group shrinks in size from 6 to 4. At supper it seems sad that we only have 4 place settings. For dinner we are served delicious fish with French fries, salad, and rice. For dessert the unusual tree tomato which is served in a syrup. Looking these up on the Internet they seem unrelated to anything and are served in a variety of ways.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another great day...

Thought for the Day: "Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it."

- Michael Jordon

Day 5 Thursday July 28 Dean Sheftel

Our day started off as usual coming to breakfast around 7 am. We had our usual breakfast of various rolls, coffee, tea, fruits and yogurt drinks. At breakfast we heard the usual journal entry and very long quote I just read again by Thomas Jefferson.

As usual we got ready to leave for the sites around 8-815. As usual, first we dropped my Mom and Susan off at Site # 1. Fabian then brought me, Steve, and Jessica to Site #2. As usual, we were greeted by a smiling friendly woman accompanied by a few crying little children who wanted their Mommies. We went in and the kids were just finishing their breakfast. Sandra told me that for the first part of the day her friend Josenia needed help in her room. At first Josenia had me sweep the outside room but then she had me do some drawings for the kids to color, which reminded me that they can’t make copies here.

After that I went back to Sandra’s room where we noticed people starting the sanding and painting on the shelves outside. The kids were fascinated by this. Sandra and I both found itfunny when we looked outside and saw Kristina dancing with one of the women there. After lunch a few people went shopping and as usual my Mom was disgusted by the raw meat in one of the stores. When we got back to the site Jessica and I taught English (Jessica teaching Josenia and me teaching Sandra). Steve went out to do more outside work as well. After that I was dropped along with my Mom at the basketball courts at Carolina Park where I got involved in a game.

When we got back we immediately left again to see amazing sights and go shopping a little. We went to a restaurant called Pim’s. It was an amazingly elegant place with an amazing view. We all enjoyed the food during our romantic candlelit dinner. Our pictures didn’t come out very well of the sites there so Susan told us that we should try to always cherish the pictures in our minds which I decided to do as well. I hope I can remember it as it is already escaping my brain. It was a great, exciting day.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal right of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him." - Thomas Jefferson

Journal by: Sherri Sheftel

We began our day as usual relieved that Kristina felt much better after her illness the previous evening. Dean, Steve, and Jessica returned to Site #2 to continue painting and taking care of the children. Jessica experienced a particularly wild day with the children, at least one child took off her diaper and decided to decorate the room with its contents. We are still in awe of how the tias must skillfully manage the classroom when we’re not there. Sherri continued helping Tia Norma with the babies, as that class seems to be in constant need of assistance. Sherri is still in shock that the children remain safe from potentially serious hazards. The 11 month old continues to present an additional challenge to the tranquility of the setting. Susan seems to have a good handle on her kids and has rapidly discerned many of their individual personalities and idiosyncracies. In addition she prepared a very helpful English lesson to engage the tias. Sherri worked with Ruby who is having great difficulty but is most determined. Kristina even added Stalin to her group of learners. Jessica purchased some souvenirs from the masapan store already. The rest of us are looking forward to doing so.

After work Steve and Dean went to the park, where Dean joined in a basketball game. He seemed to be easily accepted by the other kids. Sherri and Jessica walked to the Supermaxi to enjoy coffee and see the shops.

After another tasty dinner most of us attended the Folklorico ballet with a dapper Martin. Apparently, these amazing performers travel the world and have won awards. Their dances depicted their beliefs, values, feelings, and the story of their typical ways and life cycle. The costumes and dance were very elaborate.

We all returned feeling exhausted from our day. This time everybody planned to go to bed promptly.

As I’m confused that the guide books claim Ecuador is rated as one of the least peaceful countries in the world, I’ll end with this quote:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A full day, but a great day!

Journal by: Jessica Nysenbaum

I’ve been a bit of a derelict team member as it’s now Wednesday morning. I wrote in my own journal yesterday evening and then fell asleep before doing this one. Susan and I fell asleep at 9:30 for the second night in a row. Our full days wear us out!

Susan and Sherri went back to Center 1 and Dean, Steve, and I went to Center 2. Steve and Dean got started on a labor project. They were priming a new outdoor bathroom and shower room. I went back to the same room as the day before. Ruben came and shook my hand and it was quite charming. We spent the morning coloring, drawing, and reading stories. It was a lot sietate te! as the kids were expected to stay in their chairs. It’s hard for a three year old to sit still of course and there was no free play time as there aren’t any toys in the art room. I also quickly learned who the group trouble makers were and there’s always one in a class! We had some morning excitement as a a mouse appeared. Anita discovered it and loudly screamed and all the boys wanted to go and see. It got chased into the kitchen where Steve watched the kitchen ladies chase it around until he was killed. At snack and lunch I was that the children weren’t allowed to leave the table until they ate all their food. I can’t imagine getting an entire group of American children to all eat the same thing.

After our lunch we stopped at the masapan store of one of the FUNDAC ladies. She sweetly gave each of us a masapan pin. We also arranged to go back Friday for a demonstration of how she makes the masapan figures. The afternoon English lesson didn’t happen as the tias needed to go supply shopping. Instead I joined Steve and Dean outside. Steve very patiently played foreman training us novices. Dean and I got in a fun conversation wondering if Americans have different accents when speaking Spanish. For example is there a NY Spanish accent and a Boston one? I quite enjoyed working on the painting. You can immediately see the results of your work. Before we knew it the bus was there and it was time to go to Mitad del Mundo.

The museum has a rather odd assortment of displays on indigenous people, including a pretty cool shrunken head. We also saw a shrunken sloth head. Most interesting of course were the displays on the effects of the equator. We saw an egg stand on it’s end, water effects, and took some fun group photos. Unfortunately, Kristina got sick. Luckily she feels better this morning and is ready for another day.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Let the service begin!

Thought for the Day: Although I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as if they were great and noble. The world is moved along not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes but also by the tiny pushes of each honest worker.

Journal by: Susan Weida

Our group met for breakfast before the exciting start of our service program. I felt some anxiety, it was hard to judge whether others felt the same. We celebrated the arrival of Sherri and Dean’s baggage—the tip off was Dean arriving at breakfast in a new T shirt. Unfortunately, their night didn’t end after the airport, they were victims of an oddly blinking light in their room.

The ride to Calderon is beautiful and most of us got the true perspective of Quito as a city nestled in the mountains for the first time. We arrived at Center #1 and entered through a colorful and lively vegetable market-opened a door and there were the children. The ‘holas’ and waves began almost immediately and didn’t stop. Its wonderful how open children are to forming relationships. The one exception was the infant room where some fear of strangers was evident. Lilly, the director of Center #1, toured and introduced us to the tias. I was struck by the cleanliness of everything and by the organization in the classrooms and public areas. The planning to make this program work was evident.

We then walked through more of the market, town, to the outskirts where Center #2 continues to be a work in progress. Pilar (FUNDAC member) took the place of the director, absent today, and spoke about how the partnership with Global Volunteers has allowed them to continue to expand from 1 floor to 2 floors, and next to a third floor for the center. Steve and Dean are to be working on shelving this week, but the materials were not ready. They both showed a positive team quality-flexibility- by agreeing to work in the kitchen/cleaning (Steve) and with children (Dean).

The rest of the day seemed to fly by. Sherri and I worked with infants/toddlers and the 3-4 year olds in the construction room respectively and spent the rest of the morning taking cues from our tias and then assisting. I was struck again with how well the tias have structured activities for the children to make bathroom, lunch, toothbrushing all run smoothly. A nutritious lunch was served and all the children were urged to eat everything. Independence is expected of the three year olds. Then off to line up on the beds, eight children to a single bed, six beds to the room and full sunlight shining in the window. With supervision from the tias all the children were sleeping in 15 minutes.

Lunch break for us-some good sharing-and back to our jobs-for Sherri, me Jessica, and Dean working with the tias on English skills. Dean was especially successful doing conversation practice with some of the teen assistants. Tias had training so those of us at Center #1 helped keep order while parents arrived. It was evident that without the structure from the tias that these children can hit, push, and act silly like their peers everywhere.

Good sharing at dinner about the day’s work-especially enjoyed hearing about Steve making pineapple smoothies from scratch-his smile conveyed his enjoyment working in the kitchen. Though tired we are all ready for another day tomorrow.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Team #143 Arrive in Ecuador!

Journal by: Steve Bennett

Up at 7:15 after a night interrupted by car alarms three times. I am slow to get more sleep and have strange dreams for another night. Altitude adjustment or so they say.

Breakfast is typico with fruit, scrambled eggs, braided rolls, blackberry juice and other goodies. The orientation begins in the commons area on the second floor as our small but enthusiastic team all share a bit of information. I am struck by how everyone seems to be involved either with participation in administering or being a participant in the educational or social services system. When I think about it this should be obvious to me why the FUNDAC at Calderon would have appeal. The introductions are followed by an explanation of our daily schedule and project preferences. Dean and I are the only ones oriented to the construction and this is no surprise. Looks like I will be hanging out at site #2 where most of the maintenance, cleaning, and construction opportunities seem to exist. Flexibility is the order of the day.

Skills of all present are evaluated to see what skill sets people have and how they can be applied. Next is an interesting exercise, everyone makes cards of their goals for the program. Many goals seem to have commonality. Next a break for lunch of potato/ avocado soup with chicken, fried potatoes, and rice. It is tasty carbo-loaded lunch topped with a blackberry whip that some liked and some didn’t. Anxiety continues over Sherri and Dean’s missing luggage with no clear resolution to be seen. Prior to lunch the two ladies from Calderon had made an appearance. You could see in their eyes that their concern was most genuine. I was impressed by the fact that they had made a special appearance just to welcome us.

After lunch everyone complained of wanting to take a nap and seem tired. We persist and go through an extended Spanish session to practice and learn common terms that may be needed. I struggle and feel that I am far and away the most challenged. I am muy bien happy when this is over. Martin, a tour operator next appears to explain spare time options. He elaborates to a great deal on some points but then seems to leave out important points. He does offer a fairly wide arrangement of different options to do. I am concerned with my energy level for some of these things after working a full day in the sun. We shall see. I follow Kristina, Jessica, and Sherry down to the mall and split up and go over to the park. It is around 5:30 pm and the park is packed with families enjoying their Sunday interspersed with young beaus enjoying each other. The park seems alive and from another time and era. I felt that this strong bond and joy of doing simple things like playing soccer, riding paddleboats, horses, or just strolling as a family was lost in America. The park rather than just occupying space was fulfilling a valuable social need. I was also charmed to find monkey puzzle trees of good height. I return to the mall and withdraw some money from the ATM with success. I am pleased.

Back at the hotel Sherri and Dean have still no word on their luggage. Dinner is roast chicken with a vegetable soup starter and a filo dough creation for dessert. Everyone is stuffed. Sherri persists in trying to line up activities for every day but I am worried until I see how this goes and flows. Tomorrow the adventure begins.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hard to believe it is over!

“Caring about others, running the risk of feeling, and leaving an impact on people, brings happiness.”

-Harold Kushner

Journal: Kaitlyn Henry

Our last day of service was fantastic! The tias dressed in traditional clothing and the kids wore costumes and performed several dances! The farewell celebration ended with upbeat music and the entire group, including the volunteers, dancing. A few weeks ago I was unsure if I would take this trip but I made a spontaneous last minute decision to join team 141 and I am so glad that I did. This has been a very humbling experience and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to meet new friends, explore a new city, and help where it is needed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Team #141--so many laughs!

Quote: Michelle Holker

”What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

-Albert Pike

Journal: Kaitlyn Henry

The morning of June 23rd started off like any other. We had our breakfast at the hotel and took the bus to Calderon. As we made our way through the market the group separated in its usual way, Allen and Beth headed to Center #2 while Irene, Elena, Michelle and I stayed at Center #1. It was a typical morning in Center #1, with Irene in the kitchen and Elena helping in the classroom, Michelle and I headed to help in the baby room with tia Norma. With the biggest trouble maker absent for the day, the baby room was very tranquil, that was until I heard one of the kids yell "tia hace chi chi." Not thinking anything of it, I continued to play with the kids until I noticed the one guilty of "hace chi chi" was indeed on my lap and had left me with a wet pant leg. After I cleaned myself up I continued the daily activities in the classroom; singing, dancing, feeding and caring for the kids. A few hours later the tired group enjoyed a nice lunch but we kept one thing in mind, Panderia Alex. After lunch the group didn't want to break our habit so naturally we stopped at Panderia Alex to get dessert and Michelle and I did some more last minute shopping which was not necessary but we somehow found a way to justify it. After the long lunch break we headed back to do more work, Irene and I helped with Spanish tutoring which is a huge challenge when you lose your voice.

The afternoon was filled with laughter as Irene and I helped pronounce words and the tias gave us funny looks as if to say "that's what I said." After a successful day we headed back to the hotel to rest before our last dinner. A combination of laughing so hard I cried and almost choking on my dinner because I could not stop giggling made our last dinner at the hotel the highlight of my day.

As the group reflected on our day of service we discovered that the painted piece of art I bought for my dad resembled an urn and we could not stop laughing at the idea of presenting his gift, an Ecuadorian urn. As we continued to laugh at the “urn” I bought, which came with dust so it was sure to fit the part, Michelle warned us to be careful not to choke on our dinner but she did mention if you are ever in a situation where you must perform CPR you just need to think of the song “staying alive.”

This spiraled the group into more laughter and as I pondered “what do you do during the most upbeat part of the song that says ‘staying alive staying alive’” Michelle was quick to read my mind and said “you don’t actually do it to that beat.” Thankfully Michelle cleared up the staying alive CPR technique and they all decided that if they were in need of CPR they would not want me to be around because I would most likely start dancing and lose sight of the fact that someone actually needs resuscitation.

The giggles and outbursts of laughter continued and eventually the smiling group left our last dinner, in hopes that we didn’t cause too big of a distraction for the other guests. After dinner Beth, Allen, Michelle and I walked to the mall to go to the bookstore and to the Supermaxi to get some Ecuadorian goodies to bring home. Upon arrival to the hotel, the group parted ways so that we could get a head start on packing and some rest before our last day of service.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A reason to celebrate!

Quote: Kaitlyn Henry

“Life is precious and time is a key element. Let's make every moment count and help those who have a greater need than our own." -Unknown

Journal: Irene Thomas

Wednesday June 22 started out like any other day. Then it all changed in honor of Allen’s birthday! A cake with eight birthday candles and the happy birthday song. The journal was read and the starfish story was related. Following breakfast we boarded the big yellow bus to Center #1. Michelle, Elena and Kaitlyn and I stayed while Beth and Allen headed to Center #2 where another birthday party was held—Allen received beautiful card saying he was a “good man.” How right they are; another candle and song.

Back at Center #1, there was remodeling being done and a new window was being installed. The kitchen called my name-with cucumbers to be peeled, onions to be sliced and dishes to be washed at breakneck speed because the next meal was coming. With those chores completed I helped the “mop lady” sweep until she said “Irene, sit down!”

The day was capped off with a trip to the equator with some fun experiments, pictures and a wonderful dinner at El Rincon de la Ronda with excellent Ecuadorian food and another cake, song and hat for Allen.

I was touched to see the trust and joy on the children’s faces during their outdoor activity. My hope is that this trust will not be betrayed as their hopes is the future. Faith is believing in what you cannot see and hope is in that belief.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Saving starfish...

Tuesday June 21,, 2011

Quote: Irene Thomas

"Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn't dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean. As he got closer he called out,

"Good morning! What are you doing?"

The young man paused, looked up and replied,

"Throwing starfish in the ocean."

"I guess I should have asked, why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?"

"The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don't throw them in they'll die."

"But, young man, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can't possibly make a difference!"

The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said- "I made a difference for that one." –Anonymous

Journal: Elena Ferancy

Tuesday June 21 started out like the usual. All six of the teammate’s met downstairs for breakfast at 7:30 and were off to the daycare by 8:00. The 30 minute ride seemed like 10 because everyone was so used to it and all fell asleep. After waking up to find we are at daycare Center #1 already, we stumbled our way into the daycare to see the kids.

Beth and Allen made their way to Center #2 while Kaitlyn helped Tia Gaby for the first time. She had never realized kids could have so much energy. Elena worked with the babies and Tia Norma for the first time also. She learned that not all kids are potty trained, even if they are out of diapers. Irene spent her day in the kitchen peeling potatoes and washing dishes. She later got a break while teaching English to a very enthusiastic Tia Gaby. Beth spent her day with the babies she knows and loves at Center #2. Allen realized his true artistic ability and probably does not want to see and ‘8’ or piñata for the rest of his life. Last, but not least was team leader Michelle. Between her other tasks, she spent the morning at Center #2 with the crazy but loveable two-year olds. After lunch she stayed at Center #1 and helped with the babies.

When the bus picked everyone up at 4:00, the team headed back to the hotel. Beth, Allen, Kaitlyn, Michelle and Elena started getting ready to go to the Church of the Society of Jesus of Quito, La Compania for a 6:00 mass and Irene made some phone calls. Due to traffic the team arrived at 6:10 to be told that the mass was almost finished and that the next one was only for a school. After finding another church, the Catedral, everyone was able to sit, pray and admire the beauty of the church for a couple of minutes. When dinner came at 7:15, the whole team enjoyed delicious food, while at the same time talking about hair washing, and breaking out of jail. (Just two of many different topics!) In the end, Tuesday was a great day filled with laughter, fun, and the occasional scary story. Just to say, I think everyone checked underneath their bed that night.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Another good day....

Quote: Elena Ferancy

“I don’t work here because it is easy, or fun or comfortable. I work here because it is good. Maybe the outside of it doesn’t change. And sure, there are a thousand heartbreaks. But the inside is changing in a some of them. They have hope.” –From the book The Swan House

Journal: Allen Church

Monday morning and the day started with brilliant sunshine. This is a follow-up to the Sunday afternoon rain showers that provided a run-off in the Quito streets. Most of our reduced team size of 6 visited two of the major cathedrals in the old town region during the afternoon showers. Some of the rainfall continued until a little after dinner and left leakage spots in the hotel serving area.

The Monday morning drive to Calderon was under nearly cloudless skies through Quito. The mountain tops were fully visible and the air pollution was gone.

Calderon was not as fortunate. The evidence of precipitation was barely visible.

The team deployed with Irene and Elaina; Michelle and Kaitlin in the first unit. Allen and Beth returned to the second unit. The children were just as vigorous and vocal as they had been when last seen on Friday. The children had a generous half-hour outside play period. Our lunch in the downtown restaurant was quieter than when the other two families, including the youths, were with us.

We six returned to our assignments for the afternoon. Beth reported that one of the babies had a vomit event. Allen found four of the six students from his class in the classroom and took them under his care for the afternoon. Bus pick-up at unit 2 at 4 p.m. and we returned to Sol de Quito.

Our dinner was a repeat of the taco meal that was so successful last week. Another good day!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Enjoying Ecuador!

Quote: Allen Church

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

-Nelson Mandela

Journal: Beth Harrison

Saturday kept the busy week rolling with an early morning and a long bus ride to the large Indian market in Otavalo. We stopped by many places along the way to take in the gorgeous scenery and take some pictures. Once in the market we separated for four hours of shopping and buying more than we should—all justifiable of course. That night we decided to order some pizza and ended up with tons of pizza boxes and some interesting choices. After dinner some of the team starting packing up while the kids enjoyed Youtubing hilarious videos about stalking cats, guilty dogs, and outrageous wedding proposals. We then had to say goodnight to the Brown family as they were headed home in the morning and also to the Huffs as they left for the Galapagos.

Sunday came as a lazy day as our team dwindled down to six members. While Irene and Elena went to the internet café, Michelle and Kaitlyn went out for a walk, which gave Michelle a wonderful sunburn as she discovered later that night. At noon, Irene, Elena, Allen and I went to the Indian market because we simply had not gotten enough yesterday. After a lovely, fancy meal in the food court in the mall  we all walked through the heavy rain to look inside the church in the Old Town made out of 7 tons of gold. Once we were cold and soaked, we returned back to the hotel and snuggled up to watch a movie together. After dinner and a nice conversation about scary occurrences and giving blood we were all ready to sleep in preparation for the week ahead.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Time flies when you're having fun!

Quote: Michelle Holker

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

-Mahatma Ghandi

Journal: Nani Grenell

Today seemed to be a wonderful blur of activity and accomplishment. A new foundation for Center #2 washroom and no more graffiti on the courtyard walls at Center #2. It was cool and overcast-perfect for painting outdoors.

As usual all of the ninos were happy and well cared for . My biggest impression today were the tias. They are so unbelievably committed to those kids. We are there for an hour here and an hour there, laughing and teasing the ninos, but they are there day in and day out for all seasons. How do they do it? Compared to what we are used to, their pay is minute but yet they are joyful and do their jobs well. They have set an example for me to carry home.

As for our team? We have become workers in unison and friends-we dine and play together. We complain about our aches and pains and how we don’t like concrete block construction. And please, what were those noises on the bus today?

I am overwhelmed by this volunteer experience. It is a very simple and uncomplicated task, but there’s so much to think about and take home.

A few things I am thankful for today:

-The tias

-Meeting all the ninos

-Pan de Yuca-now that I have tasted them

-Not helping with the concrete blocks!

-Making the kids smile with a snapshot

-Cecilia’s masapan

And last but not least, Abby & Doug for bringing me along for this entire adventure.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ecuador team #141- ready to serve!

Quote: Anna Huff

“Love cannot remain by itself—it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that act is service.”

-Mother Teresa

Journal written by: Lisa

Our first day as team #141 began with team members sitting at separate tables attempting small talk with new acquaintances, with jokes about difficulties remembering names. After, we met with team leader Michelle for Global Volunteers’ team building session. We were surprised at how quickly we could actually learn each other’s names: Michelle, Evan, Nani, Emma, Allen, Kaitlyn, Abby, Irene, Beth, Michelle, Toby, Elena, Doug, Leo, Lisa, Christie, Amanda, Terry, Anna. We also met the lovely leaders of FUNDAC and learned a little about the projects we’ll be working on.

Next, we each came up with our goals for the next one to two weeks, which included learning about a new culture, working or our Spanish, helping others and having fun! The younger members of group got together for an energetic game of ‘Egyptian Rat Screw’ and by lunchtime we had merged our several groups into a true team, sitting together at one big table. After lunch we explored a bit of Quito and got some shopping in at a market in a large park. The day ended with a tired group looking forward to our first day at FUNDAC.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Week in Review

Friday, April 15, 2011 Journal Entry

Thought for the day: “Life is like a bowl of cherries – with all the pits!”

Barb did a week in review to see if we reached our goals. I believe the answer was yes from all. Charlie was recognized for his excellent work with a marzipan llama.

Last day – Bob and Charlie went to Center #2 while Mary and Barb stayed at Center #1. Charlie worked with the kids getting ready for our last day festival. Bob worked with the 2 year-olds learning words and drawing circles.

Barb created another work of art with the numbers 1 to 5. Mary sang with the kids and had a great day. At 10:30 a.m., they headed to Center #2 for our goodbye party with a stop at the store for some treats for the kids.

The party started with some nice words from Lily and a speech by our leader Barb. The little kids danced to music or should I say the teachers danced and the little ones moved some. The next group of older kids did a very nice dance for us. We really enjoyed it. The teachers performed an Ecuadorian folk dance next. At the end, they dragged all of us onto the floor (including Charlie) to dance with them.

Mary and Charlie asked the kids to sing Happy Birthday to Gary – Mary’s husband and Charlie’s dad. The kids sang in both Spanish and English. Charlie recorded it and emailed it to Gary.

Each of the volunteers received a figurine and a beautiful thank you card all decorated and framed. They also received an even larger thank- you card for the team decorated with flowers and handprints. Hugs and kisses and then back to Center #1 for final goodbyes there.

Last lunch and meal together – hamburgers, fries and ice cream. Charlie was a happy camper.

Final goodbyes for the teammates... It’s been a great week!

Signed: Volunteer Bob

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Life is like a mirror...

Thursday, April 14, 2011 Journal Entry

Thought for the Day: “Life is like a mirror. Smile at it and it smiles back at you.” – Charlie

We are the only ones at the hotel now so we had breakfast served to us. Our morning “jugo” had us all stumped and we were surprised to discover it was tomato juice.

Bob and Charlie went to Center 2 this morning in hopes of more work projects. In their efficiency, they put themselves out of work. They got to play with the children instead. Bob, aka, Richard Simmons, got his exercise dancing with the little ones. Charlie put his germ fetish aside and helped feed the babies.

Barb and I worked in Center #1 in our usual places. I was able to do a few extra activities with the children, like lacing yarn through holes in paper and reading, in an effort to keep them busy. The children behave quite well when they are engaged.

Barb got to exercise her inner artist today by making a poster of the vowels. She was the pawn in an art competition between the teachers! At least she didn’t have to draw any more dead chickens.

Lunch was soup (4 for 4, Chomp), rice, potatoes and meat. I think we’ve got the gist of the Ecuadorian food now. All that’s left is the guinea pig.

Barb and I joined the boys to see their handiwork. We may be some of the select few to ever view this sight. Barb and I were duly impressed. Charlie and Bob stayed at Center 2 and played with the kids and filed papers. Barb and I finished the day at Center 1. I taught the remaining children how to make paper airplanes and Barb engaged the ninos in a photo session.

The sky didn’t cooperate, yet again, so we weren’t able to go up the gondola to Pichincha. I guess we’ll have to come back to Quito on a clear day. Instead, we went back to the hotel for a rest before our celebratory dinner.

Martin picked us up at 6 p.m. He took us to a hoppin’ part of town called Mariscal and a restaurant called Mama Clorinda. I happily had a salad while Charlie got so involved in his dinner of ribs that he needed a bib. We were entertained by musicians while we ate and celebrated a week of work well done.

Written by: Volunteer Mary

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Full Day of New Sights, Tastes, Smells & Smiles!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 Journal Entry

Thought for the day: “All who wander are not lost.”

We started the day with a quick breakfast meeting and a taxi ride to Center 1 where Charlie and I stayed to work. Barb and Bob headed to Center 2 to prepare and purchase supplies for the tile project. Barb returned to Center 1 to work and Bob accomplished a great deal of trimming and weeding in the garden at Center 2.

I requested that we take the children out to the deck to play with balls. The tia in my group let us and the kids loved it! The boys particularly benefited from some running around. Sadly a few girls didn’t want to try playing and opted on sitting under a table. When the star on my soccer team kicked the ball over the fence, never to be seen again, we returned to our room.

The children are broken into groups by age. They start as young as five months and go until 5 years. Some of the tia’s own children come to work with them so I have a 6-year-old daughter in our group of fours and five.

They are learning about the cycle of life. Since there aren’t photocopiers available, we have been tracing pictures of the life cycle of plants & chickens for the children to work with. Today, they glued quinoa on the egg portion of the picture of a hatching chick.

The children follow lunch with a siesta. Since there is only so much space, they are lined up across the bed in a row. Siesta is our lunch time. We will eat at La Quinta every day and Charlie is laying odds that every meal will start with soup. So far, he’s two for two.

After lunch, we had a little time so we purchased a sweatshirt for Charlie and a new ball to replace the one that went missing in the morning soccer match. For a change of pace, we went to Center 2 and worked in the garden. The sun even made an appearance today so our walk over and back and the gardening was quite pleasant. Charlie had a bit of trouble because he tried coffee for the first, and possibly the last, time.

Walking to Center 2 is about a 10 to 15 minute walk through town. Center 2 feels more rural as it has outdoor space and abuts cornfields. Entering Center 1, however, one feels rather stealthy. It is hidden behind a barred gate in the outdoor food market, between two vegetable stalls. One must watch their step and head to safely arrive.

We finished our workday in Lily’s office with a game of ball with her 2-year-old daughter and met her 14-year-old son. .

Martin gathered us in his gray van in hopes of clear skies to ride the gondola up Pichincha. We were optimistic but the closer we got the darker the sky, until it finally opened up. As a consolation, we stopped at our favorite mall for lattes. With mixed feelings from the group, Martin decided to take us to the Old Town in Quito. Traffic was painfully slow, but we were able to see the beautiful streets lit at night.

As we visited a baroque church, the opulence of the interior, grand architecture, and the clear soprano left little impression for Charlie next to the excitement of detecting a potential pick-pocketer eyeing Bob. The streets were empty and the restaurants packed since Quito’s futbol team was playing on TV. We heard rhythmic banging as we awaited our dinner. I thought it might be Barb locked in the bano, but upon further discovery, there was a folk dance performance outside. We were able to watch a few dances with traditional dress, moves and music. We should have had another diploma for Bob as he tried (and enjoyed) goat!

On the way home, we had a quick stop at the main square for a photo shoot and view of the palace. We were able to see the basilica on our return, as well.

It was a full day – full of new sights, tastes, smells and smiles. I believe we are all enriched as a result and will sleep soundly. In face, everyone else already is so now it’s my turn. Good night!

Written by: Volunteer Mary

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day One in Quito

Journal Entry for Sunday, April 10

Team 140 to Ecuador gathered for breakfast at 9-ish in the charming dining room of Hotel Sol de Quito. Fresh fruit, croissants, eggs, blackberry juice – delicious.

Orientation commenced with hellos and a “getting to know you” session. We are a team that’s small in number – 4 – but big in energy, dedication and talent.

* Bob the engineer (my hubby) whose worst-ever job was picking strawberries and whose best job is his current consulting work.

* Charlie, age 13, a sports enthusiast who is discovering a new interest in math and who enjoys phy ed and his involvement in a community service club in his hometown (Woodside) near San Francisco.

* Mary (Charlie’s mom) is a dedicated teacher and homemaker who shared her journey from college to family with four kids with stops along the way in Australia and Switzerland. We later enjoyed hearing about her “horseback” journeys in South Africa and India. Wow! She’s also done the GV Peru program with one of her daughters. It’s a family tradition to take each child on a volunteer experience when he/she turns 13!

* I shared my background with newspaper work, GV, our terrific kid and more!

This was followed by reviews of Global Volunteers' policy – health and safety issues and a pleasant visit with Elvita, Pilar and Marujita, representatives of FUNDAC, our host organization, who described the work projects, the community of Calderon and more.

Then we commenced to team goals and team-building exercises. Our goals include: learning about the culture, land and people; serving the people and making a difference; and improving our Spanish.

We decided on the following Characteristics of a Good Team:

1. Not giving up and always trying hard in what we do.
2. Not complaining - having a positive attitude.
3. Respecting teammates’ needs and wants.
4. Communication.
5. Tolerance and respecting the local culture.
6. Diligence.
7. Working together well with the team and the local people.
8. Sense of humor.
9. Perserverance.
10. Having fun and enjoying ourselves.
11. Engagement – “being present” in the moment.
12. Flexibility.
13. Sharing a common vision and goals.

Martin Miranda visited us after lunch (chicken, rice, salad, soup- good!). He described possible free-time activities for our short week and he also assisted with a basic language session.

We wound up orientation around 3:30 p.m. or so and Martin kindly agreed to take us to Parque Carolina and the Reptile House. There we saw awesome snakes, turtles, frogs and iguanas. Charlie stuck his neck out and wore a “cobra scarf.” Brave guy!

Then we went to the park’s Botanic Garden. Lovely! I was so impressed with the lush foliage, the meandering stream with paddleboats and the gardens and more in this wonderful park!

Later we walked to Jardin Mall, a very sophisticated mall filled to the brim with families. Then back in the hotel, our dinner was delicious – flank steak, chicken cilantro soup and rice and veggies – all finished off with custard for dessert. Good company, good conversation, good night!

Signed – Team Leader Barb

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Donors Made My Service Possible

Last year, through the Global Volunteers website, I raised enough money for my trips to both Peru and Ecuador. The only thing I ended up paying for was my flight on both trips. How'd I do it?

I put a letter in my church bulletin and received an overwhelming amount of supplies that I was able to split between both trips for donations. I ended up bringing at least one extra suitcase on both trips filled with supplies for the children. When I signed up for the trips, I wrote a letter explaining what I was doing and why, asking for any sort of donation. I sent the letter to all my family close and extended as well as family friends, neighbors, teachers, distant relatives etc. I received an overwhelming response and received donations up until the week before I was to leave to Peru on my first trip.

I took the semester off from school last fall, and when I found Global Volunteers, it was a perfect fit. I found out about the program through a girl at my school who had done a trip to Brazil with her mother a few years ago. The fact that Global Volunteers provided me with the means to create a fundraising page was very helpful. It was perfect for me to fundraise through. Global Volunteers is the only volunteer program I found that allowed you to fully fundraise all of your costs and helped you in doing so. All other programs were much more expensive and more of a volunteer 'vacation' rather than a strictly volunteer trip.

This has been a wonderful, fulfilling memory for me. I encourage you to do it.
-Meagan Minott

Monday, March 14, 2011

Former Volunteer Posts AMAZING YouTube Videos!!

We at Global Volunteers are privileged to work with so many wonderful volunteers, partners, and supporters each and every day.

Last week, one particular volunteer, Graham, truly knocked our socks off when he shared a 9-part video series he had created about Global Volunteers and posted on YouTube!! These videos feature the travels and experiences of numerous Global Volunteers (particularly one tight-knit group from New Jersey) and we welcome you to take a look at these exceptional videos by using the link below.

Thank you, Graham!! And for the rest of you... ENJOY!!

Global Volunteer Retrospective Video (Ecuador):

Friday, February 25, 2011

UPDATE: Volunteer Opportunity Available April 9-16!

Calling all Global Volunteers!!!

The children of Calderon need you and with the help of a few dedicated volunteers, we have been able to save our April service program dates from APRIL 9 - 16. If you are able to volunteer for one week this spring, please contact our Volunteer Coordinators as soon as possible at 800-487-1074 to discuss joining this team!!

If you're curious what you'll be working on in Calderon, Ecuador (a suburb of Quito) please read on:

The spectacular ancient Andean culture, with its haunting music, expressive dance and vibrant dress, is matched only by the enchanting landscapes and hospitable people. In Ecuador, eleven distinct cultures weave harmoniously together to unite past and present.

As a Global Volunteer, you experience Ecuador through her children, their families and care-givers. Extreme poverty is the reality for the children you'll serve in the Quito area, but you can help improve opportunities in these young lives. Our service program enables you to provide direct, hands-on care for pre-schoolers through an amazing grassroots organization. No matter your background, your personal efforts improve these youngsters' well-being. What's more, through your service program fee, Global Volunteers is able to purchase materials directed to the children's imminent needs.

The daily needs of the economically impoverished children we serve in Calderon, Ecuador are simple, and you represent an important resource for education, recreation and basic social development. The childcare centers built and expanded through the assistance of Global Volunteers teams provides safe and stimulating environments for mothers to leave their children so they can provide a better future for their families.

Our Ecuadorian host partner needs your help in these areas:
Childcare - infants and pre-schoolers.
Construction - a new child care facility.
Physical labor - landscaping, painting and masonry.
English language skills - informal one-on-one teaching

Please call or e-mail us TODAY if you are interested in joining us this April. Your time and skills are needed in Calderon, so why wait?!?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Calling All Prospective Ecuador Volunteers!!!

"I have felt the stress that sat in my chest from my problems with my job and family loosen over the past week, and I have been reminded that I need to count my blessings. Edith (our team leader) told us this morning to recognize the times which we are happy, instead of always feeling that our happiness is in the future or incomplete. And to name those moments by simply saying 'I am happy.' Two weeks ago I would not have been able to say that, but right now, I think I can honestly say - 'I am happy.'” ~ Cara, Ecuador Team Journal August 2009

Come and treat yourself to those moments of happiness on our Global Volunteers service program in Ecuador beginning April 2, 2011 for one or two weeks. If you are looking for a spring getaway that will leave you feeling inspired, this may be for you.

Join our development partnership in the outskirts of Quito, helping a grassroots women's cooperative organization keep their Daycare center running, and make a difference to the children and families in this impoverished area. You will be amazed by the people and the beauty of Ecuador and will have an opportunity to make a real impact on their lives - and your own. Our partners welcome families with children 8 years of age and older. I have attached further information about the work project, accommodations and free time activities. You'll find even more information, video and blogs from previous team members on our Ecuador webpage at :

We just need one more volunteer to make this program a "go", so come lend your heart and your hands to this inspiring community - you'll be an important resource regardless of your background and skill level. In the words of the Mothers' Cooperative of Calderon "We send our never-ending gratitude to the many generous volunteers and the Global Volunteers directors and coordinators who work every day to make sure the children's needs are met. It's like a miracle."

Be a part of the miracle in April, or if that time frame doesn't work, we have teams starting on June 11th, July 23rd, or October 15th. Be the difference in 2011!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Journal Entry from Fall 2010 #3!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

This new day started out pretty much as usual with breakfast and some amazing reports from the massages the night before. Steve read his journal of Wednesday and Carl had announcements for the group.

We eventually arrived at our work destinations for the morning. At center #1, Joanne was honored with a farewell time by all of center #1 with dance and a card.

Lunch was enjoyed with fried chicken. On our walk back to work we stopped by Ceclia’s marzipan shop for some quick last minute shopping.

Carol reports doing “Five Little Monkeys” with finger puppets. By today, the children were able to do it with her. Also, she acted out the “Billy Goat Gruff” story. The children played outside for half an hour this morning on the terrace and admired the mural done by Bonnie and Jane.

When we returned from lunch the four tias were dancing (practicing for the program tomorrow). I went to the baby room but no one was there. I found the babies all in their high chairs watching the dancing.

Cora’s babies joined two older groups in the morning with dancing. In the afternoon they enjoyed watching some dogs with a dog house from the second floor.

Jane says the mural at center #2 and the baby changing table need to be finished.

Steve reports some touch up work was done on the table stands and the painted gates for the propane tanks were installed. It was a good day!

The changing table is an ongoing project for Steve, Jane, Bill and Sylvia. Bill’s highlight was working with his beautiful wife!

Carl was busy today with other business. We hurried home to get ready to go out for our farewell dinner at Café Mosaic. It was a beautiful evening looking out over the city with lights and good food.

Thought for the day: “All the fold in the world has no significance. That which is lasting are the thoughtful actions which we do for our fellow man.” – Adolpho Prieto

Submitted by Kathleen Olson

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Journal Entry from Fall 2010 #2!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

We started the day with the usual breakfast of eggs, fresh tropical fruit, freshly baked rolls with butter and jam, and lots of café con leche. The morning meeting consisted of discussion of the possible free time tours and the daily report from Steve Peterson.

The team boarded the bus at 8:30am sharp to leave for Calderon. The discussion about being prompt at the Sunday training session must have worked because this team is on time!

After picking up a ladder needed to finish the mural at center #2, Bonnie and I got straight to work. Bonnie is teaching me a thing or two about fine art skills and I am reminding Bonnie about our audience that really doesn’t care about perfection – we make a great team.

Bonnie and I felt happy to be outside painting and throughout the day we watched Kathleen scrub a rug with a broom and Janice and Joanne wash sheets with bar soap and cold water on a cement wash board.

We also watched through the window as Kathleen picked up crying baby after crying baby. Carol continued her time at the center teaching the children songs and handing out lots of hugs.

Over at center #2, table construction, or should I say reconstruction, continued. After completing several table tops, the two Steves and Bill found them to be unstable and had to make adjustments so they would be safe for the children.

Cora and Stacey were once again inside with the children, wiping noses, washing hands, and lining up for pee pee and po po trips.

Tonight, several of us are off to tour La Ronda in Old Town Quito.

Thought for the day:

“If we have the opportunity to be generous with our hearts, ourselves, we have no idea of the depth and breadth of love’s reach.” – Margaret Cho

Monday, January 3, 2011

Journal Entry from Fall 2010!!

Day 2 – 10.11.10

Today was the first official day of the work project. We began as an eager bunch enjoying another lovely breakfast from Sol de Quito. Steve began even earlier with a run around Parque Carolina, clearly this was before he realized how much energy would be necessary to make it through the day!

After our morning meeting we made our way to Calderon where we were able to tour Centers 1 & 2. The tours were a small glimpse into what was to come, some children lively and excited, others crying and already tired or hungry. Finally after Lilia’s tours we were assigned to our first work projects.

In Center 2 – Bill and Cora went with the babies. Steve P. went with the 3 & 4 year olds and I went with the 4 & 5 year olds. Fox ended up with KP duty! At Center 1 Jane and Bonnie began work on murals while Jan, Carol, Kathleen and Joanne went to work with children.

Some observations:

* The children are incredibly well behaved with the tias, less so with us.

* The tias are incredibly busy with teeth brushing, hair combing, face washing, bathroom monitoring, tear and nose wiping, feeding…all the while doing art projects, teaching songs and reading stories, yikes!

* Cocina duty looks tough and may have to be avoided.

* Fox looked incredibly busy peeling and chopping yucca and washing an endless array of dishes. Thankfully he finished the day with all of his fingers.

* Cora was able to handle 11 babies at one time with no tia and there was NO BITING!

* Steve found he had many previously unknown talents…from scaring the boys to sleep to magically repairing batman’s cape – all while supervising 13 children on his own!

* Bill, on the other hand, found a new appreciation for Jane. He is also rapidly improving his Spanish including learning all the necessary bathroom terms. However, it is not quite up to par as he lost his first contest with Sylvia!

* I learned it is true what Lily said…the children are like any other children; they want attention and hugs, lots and lots of hugs. If we do nothing else here perhaps we will be able to offer love to the children and a rest for the tias.

Happy hour and stories of the day were enjoyed before and during dinner and after dinner…I am exhausted, time for bed! Tomorrow hopefully we will hear from Center 1!

Thought of the day: “I expect to pass through this life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again” William Penn

Submitted by Stacey Peterson