Friday, April 26, 2013

Our last day of service

Today we made our last trek to Center #1. In the morning Larry worked hard to finish the garden boxes with Iván. They looked great mounted on the railing of the patio and ready to receive potted plants for a container garden. What an exciting addition that will be to Center #1! Amy, Pat, and Callan helped out in the classrooms and in the office until the whole center was ready for a morning goodbye celebration.
The whole center gathered in the main room. Elvita and Pilar came and Elvita thanked us all for our time and effort volunteering. Carlos, Elvita’s husband, also thanked Larry for his work on the tiling and garden boxes. The children from each class were dressed in different costumes, some with face paints. Each class performed a dance. The children were adorable! When they were finished, Callan gave a speech in Spanish on behalf of the volunteer group. It is as follows:
Gracias por la oportunidad de ser voluntarios en su centro. Hemos disfrutado de nuestro tiempo con todos ustedes aquí en la guardería. Hemos disfrutado mucho de todo lo que hemos aprendido, lo que hemos podido enseñar, los proyectos de construcción y el todo el trabajo con ustedes. Llevaremos con nosotros a nuestro país nuestros recuerdos de sus sonrisas, las bienvenidas tan alegres que nos dieron y los días ocupados aquí en la guardería.

Roughly translated, in English it reads: "Thank you for the opportunity to volunteer at center one. We have enjoyed out time at the center and with all of you. We have enjoyed teaching, learning, building, and working with you. We will take back to the United States our memories of your smiles, cheerful welcomes, and busy days."
Then Amy, Pat, and Callan did their own performance of “The Hokey Pokey” and several of the children jumped up to join them. It was a wonderful celebration of two weeks in this amazing center.

Following the official celebration, chaos ensued as we worked hard to feed all the center’s children in one lunch sitting. Normally lunch runs in two sittings. Once all the children were fed and off to nap and the floors were slept, we headed off to lunch.

Having completed all his planned work, Larry spent the afternoon building a window screen for the kitchen while Amy, Pat, and Callan worked in the classrooms and did a final English class with the tías.
We ate dinner together at the hotel and reflected on our volunteer experience.

Entry submitted by: Amy McLaughlin  

Message for the day: “You give little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A beautiful day in Quito

Mary and Linda, who had returned to Quito yesterday, joined us for breakfast and our early morning meeting. We said “goodbye” to Mary and promised to email photos to her. At FUNDAC, the children were finishing breakfast when we arrived. After breakfast, they practiced for the goodbye celebration for tomorrow. Amy and Pat joined in. Larry continued working on the planters for the patio. Lunch was early because Maggie had to leave early. Every lunch has been delicious and today was no exception. We particularly enjoyed the traditional Ecuadorian rum ice cream. After lunch, Pat, Amy, and Callan continued helping in the children’s rooms and then held another English session for the tías. Larry finished the planters and attached them to the patio rail. It was a beautiful day with a clear blue sky and all the mountains could be seen.

Entry submitted by: Pat Joslin

Message for the day: “Life is short, live it. Love is rare, grab it. Anger is bad, dump it. Fear is awful, face it. Memories are sweet, cherish it.” – Unknown

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Making plant boxes

Today we started work on the plant boxes for the outside balcony. Daniel, Callan, and Larry sanded and prepared the rough lumber for making the boxes. The paint on the piece of furniture was still tacky so we continued work on the boxes. We assembled and started painting the boxes. Carlos came in the afternoon and worked on touch-up paint on the piece of furniture.

Pat and Amy helped with the children and worked with the tías on learning English. Everybody seemed to enjoy playing Bingo!

Entry submitted by: Larry Hoopman

Message for the day: "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."  - Anne Frank

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sanding and painting

Today Larry, Carlos, and I sanded a large cabinet for use in the center. The cabinet was old and needed to be fixed. We had to fix the drawers by hot gluing the bottoms of the drawers back into the sides of the drawer. One of the drawers didn’t have a bottom piece. Instead we found a diploma stuck in the bottom. Larry gave me the diploma and said “Here is your sanding diploma.” After that, we painted the cabinet with paint. My mom worked with Tía Ruby and my grandma worked in the 2- to 3-year-old class with Tía Diana. During English classes I got to demonstrate words and the tías also played Bingo to help review their words.

Entry submitted by: Callan McLaughlin

Message of the day: “People are created to be loved. Things are created to be used. The reason the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used.” – Unknown

Monday, April 22, 2013

Quito is a colorful place

Monday began with spats of rain and a slightly slower start. However, everyone managed to be at the morning meeting where Callan shared the message of the day from George Washington. Then on to Center 1 where Pat stepped into helping with the feisty 2- to 3-year-old group, Larry spent the morning finishing grout in the bathrooms and repairing tiling on the pathway to the patio, and Amy and Callan traced worksheets for the children and created English worksheets for the tías’ afternoon English classes. In the afternoon, Callan worked with Larry on beginning to sand down a bed that requires re-finishing, Amy spent time working with Tía Ruby’s group and reading to the class in Spanish, and Pat remained with the 2- to 3-year-olds. The day at the center closed with English classes for the tías that included a game of bingo to test word recognition and practice pronunciation.

The journey back to the center proved to be more exciting than strictly necessary when a cement truck decided it wanted our place in the traffic jam and cut in extremely closely knocking the passenger side mirror off the bus. Fortunately, we all made it safely back to Quito minus one mirror. The good news is the mirror didn’t shatter so no seven years of bad luck for us. Or would it be bad luck for the cement truck driver? We did see a newly unveiled mural at the side of the road and the man who breathes fire for tips at red lights on our way home. Quito is a colorful place.

Entry submitted by: Amy McLaughlin

Message for the day: “It’s wonderful what we can do if we’re always doing.” – George Washington

Sunday, April 21, 2013

More adventures in the cloudforest

Sunday dawned slightly cloudy with the potential for rain. Larry stayed in and spent a relaxing day reading, Linda and Mary headed to the Galapagos Islands for four days, and Pat, Amy, and Callan headed to Mindo with their guide, Juan Carlos.
On the way to Mindo, Pat, Amy, and Callan took a refreshing walk along a stream in the cloud forest where they saw many species of orchid, a turquoise jay, and an intrepid humming bird. Fortunately, Juan Carlos went first and carefully moved spider webs out of the way. Even so, Callan almost fell into the stream trying to avoid passing too close to a web. From there they went on to Mindo where they visited Le Quetzel Chocolate Factory. The factory makes organic, hand processed chocolate. The tour included the opportunity to taste test the chocolate combined with ginger, hot peppers, and lemon grass. The factory is owned by an Ecuadorian-American couple and the American touches are obvious in things like the espresso machine (very rare in a country that prefers instant coffee) and paper towels in the restroom.
After lunch they followed in Larry, Linda, and Mary’s footsteps and visited the butterfly, humming bird, and orchid center and then stopped by the Center of the World on the way back to Quito.

Entry submitted by: Amy McLaughlin

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Free time in the cloudforest!

After a quick breakfast we all set out to see some sites of Ecuador. Pat, Amy, and Callan went to the big market. Linda, Mary, and Larry were off to Mindo Cloudforest. On the way we stopped at an old volcano site and looked into the crater where people are living. In Mindo we saw the caterpillars, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Then off to test the safety of the cable trolley, and see the waterfalls. A good workout for us old folks, but we had no problems. On the way back to Quito, we stopped at the equator to check that out. We had a very informative tour guide and we all had a wonderful day!

Friday, April 19, 2013

End of Week One of Service

Today we continued with the tiling of the walls. We finished installing the tiles, but ran out of grout at 4:00 p.m. This leaves a small area we will have to finish on Monday. Callan helped wherever needed and also helped teaching English. The ladies of the group continued helping the tías with the children and clean up. The ladies also are teaching the tías English.

We said farewell to the two special sisters of Group 149, Linda and Mary.

Entry submitted by: Larry Hoopman

Message of the day: “A life not lived for others is not a life.” – Mother Teresa 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Visit to Alejandro's home

Despite our late night on Wednesday, we all managed to hustle this morning and be on time for our meeting. We discussed our afternoon trip to visit on of the centers' families and agreed to contribute five dollars each to a collective shopping trip so we could give them a thank you gift for hosting us. 

Now that we are used to the center’s routine, the morning moved by rapidly with Larry making great progress on tiling the wall with his local helpers. Callan joined the demolition crew and started chipping the paint and cement off the walls. It was wonderful to see how much larger and brighter the main room looks with the new white tiles.

The highlight of our day was a visit to the home of Alejandro’s family. They were very gracious and welcoming and we all squeezed into their living room. They have a total of four children: Alejandro is two and a half and goes to the center, two children who are 11 and 12 and go to school, and an 18-year-old who works in a textile factory. Alejandro’s parents are caretakers at a private school with sixteen rooms and they live on site. Like many people here, they have a dog for security. While their living quarters were small, they were more spacious than I expected and they had a laundry machine and a refrigerator. It was wonderful to hear that they have had three children at the FUNDAC center and have found the center a great help.

Entry submitted by: Pat Joslin

Message of the day: "We must be the change we wish to see in the world."   – Mahatma Ghandi

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Laying tile and teaching English

Day 3 at Center One

Today the team all made it to the morning meeting at 7:45. We were proud of ourselves. Our day started off with the daily message and listening to Mary read Tuesday's journal. The bus ride to Calderón was a lot faster this morning - there wasn't as much traffic on the road. We arrived promptly at 8:30 and we walked through the market, which was open again today.

Larry cut and laid tile all along the front wall to keep out the moisture. There are a lot of problems with moisture in Ecuador. Sealing the wall and then cementing tile on the wall stops mold.

Linda worked with the two- to three-year-olds who are like most two-year-olds. Everything is about "me, me, me." Mary worked with the adorable little babies. She also spent time reading in Spanish and Tía Norma read in English. The kids thought they were weird. Mi abuelita worked with the 3- to 4-year-old class. It was fun to watch her and mi madre dance on the porch with the children. Mi madre and I worked with Tía Ruby and the other 3- to 4-year-old class. We enjoyed them a lot. They were cute and wanted lots of attention, but didn't climb all over me. I also had fun helping Larry mixing cement and cleaning a broken tile. I liked teaching English class at the end of the day most because it is fun and we laugh a lot. 

We finished our day with a big splash of color and music when we went to "Jacchigua es Ecuador" after dinner with the whole team. This was a two-hour folkloric dance show. My favorite dance was called "The Deer Hunt." Their website is at

It is hard to believe we're halfway through the first week. I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Entry submitted by: Callan McLaughlin

Message of the day: “Teams can come in all sizes and combinations, but teamwork has only one representation and it can be observed. Team 149 is a team with teamwork.”   - Linda Usrey’s personal observation  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

There is no time like the present

Despite our group’s rough start today by missing our morning meeting, I feel like the day was incredibly positive overall. At our first team meeting we set goals and defined the characteristics we would need to display to achieve these goals.

Together with the entire staff at the Our Lady of Carmen center, we proved that with flexibility and a spirit of cooperation, a great deal can indeed be accomplished. Larry and Marcelo did an amazing job on making progress on the new walls. We volunteers and all the loving staff were able to care for and have fun with all the children despite the disruption in the routine. Linda’s efforts to keep things tidy was a big plus!

Amy reminded us this morning to always be present and I think today we took her message to heart! Spending the last hour with the tías was a delightful learning experience for all. We look forward to mañana.

Entry submitted by: Mary Brown

Message for the day: “There is no time like the present.” 

Monday, April 15, 2013

First Day of Service

Our first day at FUNDAC. Before we started helping, we visited the newer building in Calderón. Two dogs barking on the roof and a heavily fortified exterior greeted us. Inside the building was a mass of beautiful little faces. We toured the facility and were shown all the improvements that Global Volunteers had made. We learned much about the new government regulations that are affecting these care centers.

Next we drove to the older building in the center of Calderón. What a greeting! More beautiful faces and smiles and lots of “holas.” After a tour of this facility, we were split up to work in individual rooms with the tías and Larry went off to begin work tiling the walls.

The children’s day is so well organized that it is impressive. “Baños” trips, handwashing, lunch, coloring pictures, and trying to understand these visiting Americans who were trying to speak a few words of Spanish. What a day – for them and us! 

Entry submitted by: Pat Joslin   

Message for 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

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Team #149 Training Day

Training day for group #149 to Ecuador.

Tasks at hand to be accomplished ranged from introductions as Ohio, Oregon, and Minnesota met and got to know Illinois and an Ecuadorian transplant from Minnesota, and then to setting of our goals.

Our Team Goals:

1)      To learn and practice Spanish
2)      To experience and appreciate Ecuadorian culture
3)      To help and to serve the tías and children of Calderón
4)      To have fun and enjoy our time in Ecuador with new friends
5)      To have a nice change of routine

Important, too, were a listing of the characteristics we need to reach our goals.

Our Characteristics of an Effective Team:

flexibility                     outgoing                      brave              
listeners                      active                          open-minded  
happy                          patient                        friendly          
kind                            giving                          attentive
cooperative                 willing to make mistakes

Safety and security concerns we need to be considerate of were also covered. Taking the plunge to immerse in the language, culture, and idiosyncrasies of Ecuador led to some good laughs and relaxation.

It was a great day of food including popcorn for our soup and discussions of politics from corruption to some politicians’ grandiose dreams. A final “See you in the morning. Can’t wait to see the kids” ending our opening day in Ecuador.