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.