SMS ME to WE Service Trip (Ecuador) 2017 - Updated Monday, September 25

 

September 17, 2017

Hey Everyone! This is Colette and Alix, and we are currently sitting in our hotel lobby, in ECUADOR! We just finished our first day here in Quito, and wanted to give you guys a full report on how the day went, and also how our voyage here to Quito was. Our adventure began at 3:30 am on Saturday, September 16th at the Victoria International Airport. All the flights had gone smoothly, until we reached the last 40 minutes of our flight to San Salvador. We were looking out the window, and noticed a bunch of lightning to our right. However, we thought nothing of it, and continued on as normal. Then, when we got closer to the ground, we began to realize that the storm was travelling towards San Salvador at lightning speeds ;). When we touched down in San Salvador the rain was thunderng down, and lightning was striking every 5 seconds. We proceded off the plane and started heading to out next flight gate but on the way............ The airport lost power and we were left in the dark! The power was only out for about 3-4 minutes to be fair, but it was thrilling while it lasted. With the huge storm in San Salvador, our last flight was delayed for an hour. When we finally took off, everything went very smoothly, and we landed at the Quito airport at 1:25 am. After meeting our facilitators, we boarded a bus where we proceded to eat the best pizza of our lives, and then arrived at the hotel to settle into our rooms and go to sleep. Today, we had a fun filled jam packed schedule starting at 8:30 (very early for someone who went to sleep at 4 am). We started the day with a walking tour of Quito, where we were lead by a man of Ecuadors ancient past. From Germany. (he was an actor on a gap year :)). We visited sites such as Ecaudor's famous churches, convents, and hospitals. Some of us also had the chance to experience caca de perro which translates to dog poop in English. Dont worry though, it was just corn covered in brown sugar :). We then had a picnic lunch at of Ecuador's best views of the hillside, and of course as we are tourists, got some good pictures by the QUITO sign! We then travelled to the centre of the earth (the equator!), and did some cool experiments with gravity and centrifugal forces where our very own Cathy, Ms. Holmwood, and Ms. Ziebart earned diplomas for egg balancing on the equator (it was more difficult than it sounds). We also learned a lot about the different tribes in the Amazon, including the Incas. After this, we travelled back to the hotel by bus. we must congratulate our bus driver Vladmir, for his excellent navigation abilities, as Ecuador has some sharp corners and very tiny streets. We arrived back at the hotel where we rested before dinner. For dinner, we got a taste of some of Ecuadors typical cuisine, including quinoa soup, and grilled chicken with rice. After dinner, we walked back to the hotel, where some girls went up to their rooms for a much needed rest, and we sat down to write this! We hope you enjoyed reading this blog post. Tomorrow we will be traveling to Chimborazo! Check back soon for some more updates on our amazing Ecuador Trip.

 

September 18, 2017

Leaving at eight sharp in the morning, we had a four-hour bus drive from Quito to a small village in Chimborazo. Along the journey, there were a lot of fascinating views that impressed us.  In the city, graffiti-arts on walls are fairly common.  Our bus stopped at a view site, where the whole magnificent view of the city could be seen.  Looking around, the mountains are surrounded by fog and boldly covered by crowded colourful houses.  We took some aesthetic photos together.     After taking a short nap on the bus, we entered the country side.  The country side is totally different than the city.  It was exciting for us that a lot of llamas and cows jumped into our sights.  For the next stop, we visited the oldest Catholic church of Ecuador.  Later, we were attracted by the roadside shop which was full of handmade traditional products.  The ponchos and scarfs are so comfortable that most of us immediately purchased them.   After another one hour driving, we arrived at hotel called Inti Sisa Guest House in Guamote.  We were all amazed by the lovely and artistic design of it. After taking a short break in our cozy rooms, we went to a kindergarten playroom behind the hotel for activities.  During the games, we gained deeper understanding of our own boundaries as well as other girls' experiences.  At the end of the activity, we made a contract about some inspirations and expectations for this trip.   To perfectly end today's tiring travel, we were treated with a delicious dinner and drinks.  The chat we had about Spanish and local cultures also highlighted our dinner.  In order to store enough energy for tomorrow's building tasks, we are all going to sleep early tonight!!  We can't wait to meet the community and make new friends tomorrow!!!! ;) Vicky and Cathy

 

September 19, 2017

Today was our fourth day in Ecuador, and also our first time working in Sablog for a full day. The journey to our community was filled with windy roads and sharp bends, but all thanks to our skillful driver, Vladimir, we made it alive. We also set our eyes upon the beautiful Chimborazo mountain, one of the tallest mountains in the world! Within a half an hour drive, we had began our journey in influencing the lives of many young students. After meeting our community supporters, Lili and Michelle started a Super fun warm up (involving squatting and dancing~).  Our work then began with painting roof tiles and then onto supporting the base structure of the school. Carrying 50 kg bags of cement between three people was exhausting, but seeing a local community member hoist it over HIS  shoulders with ease was a memorable moment. While working, a few little boys and girls walked up to us with smiling faces, eventually after a short conversation in Spanish, we hugged and said our goodbyes until tomorrow!  After a long day of work, we came back to our lovely hotel and relaxed over dinner. Our facilitators did a slight presentation and discussion on the WE community, which inspired us even more to make a difference in the world! Yay! 

 

September 20, 2017

Buenos Noches! This morning after breakfast, we headed off to our service work community in Sablog. Once arriving and playing a game of Simon says to warm up lead by our daily leadership group we got to work. Today we unloaded a truck full of flooring and beams. Then we continued to hand mix the concrete for the water system. After a full morning of service work some of us played soccer with some of the community boys that attend the school.  In the afternoon we got a traditional cooking class in which we cooked barley over a fire of eucalyptus, then grinded it between rocks to eventually sift it to flour. We got to try this homemade flour with traditional molasses and cane sugar water. This was very yummy. Between all 14 of us we hardly made any flour. This made us realize how hard the mom's work for their families' food each day. Following our delicious dinner complete with passion fruit mousse, we had our evening leadership module. During this activity we were split into groups and given a real family with real names. We took their situation and budgeted for the year, including how they would afford everything and what animals they would have. In our situation we figured it out and our family of 3 plus the baby on the way would have $1.20 a day for food.  Tomorrow, in our family groups and speaking Spanish, we are going to buy our meal for our family with only $0.50 at the local market here in Guamote. Hasta Luego! Helen and Eve

 

September 22, 2017

Buenos Noches!!

Lotus and Girija here! Today we really got to experience life here in rural Ecuador! Our day started off with a lucky half an hour sleep in. After breakfast our facilitators taught us a lot about the history of Ecuador (The Hacienda system) and how it has influenced modern day society. The information we learned from this made the rest of the activities we did throughout the day very meaningful. Continuing off of what we learned last night, our first activity was going to the local market where we were challenged to buy a meal to feed our "family" with only one dollar. At first we couldn't imagine that one dollar would buy enough food, but then we came to realize that a decent amount could be bought! (With bargaining of course). The market was very lively; the streets were full of people, there were lots of bright colours and local music. We all got the chance to test out our Spanish speaking skills with the locals which many girls felt proud of. It was a very eye-opening activity as we realized that thousands of families face these challenges daily. On our way back we stopped by the animal market to get an idea of prices of animals that are sold such as chickens, guinea pigs, pigs, and many more! We walked back to our hotel, getting a feel of the city streets of Guamote.

Our second activity consisted of travelling to a nearby community to visit the Girl's Club. There, we got to hear the life story of a very influential woman of the San Miguel community. She was one of the first people to reach out to Me to We to initiate all of the community projects. We then had the opportunity to work alongside the members of the Girl's club, experiencing how they make income making necklaces and bracelets. We were surprised as to how complicated the process of making the jewelry was. It was fun to get to know the girls as we shared laughs at our struggles. We drove back to our accommodations and had a delicious dinner, some of the ingredients being what we purchased today! Then we had our daily evening activities. As a group we role-played how communities assemble to discuss how they will work towards meeting their communities' needs. It was a very insightful activity to learn further about how communities function and how although all needs are immediate, they are forced to prioritize.

Tomorrow is our last full working day at the build site. We are all looking forward to a soccer match against the children at the school, although we know we have no chance of winning.

Hasta Luego! :)

 

September 22

Hola mis amigos!

Natasha and Mary are here to talk about Day 7! Everyone woke up this morning pretty well rested as we were so excited for our last day working in Sablog. We arrived at the worksite knowing that it was our last day there so we wanted to make the most of it by talking with the children in the community. We started working in three groups. One was making bricks, one was sawing metal rods and the other continued mixing cement for the foundation. Making bricks was easier said than done as the machine we were using was quite finicky and it required a lot of patience. The process started with mixing dirt and cement and then pressing it into a mold. At first, the bricks were ending up pretty good but then the machine got a little bit stuck and the bricks ended up breaking before we could move them. We ended up getting a system and perfect consistency for the mixture. In the end we made about 80 bricks!

After working for a bit we played a soccer match against some of the children in the community. We had been waiting for this opportunity the whole week and it certainly lived up to our expectations. We made friends with the little grade 7 girls that were on our team and they were so much better at soccer than us! At first, it was girls against boys but then some of the better boy players joined our team and we actually started to score some goals! The field was right on a cliff and there were definitely some sketchy moments when we thought we were going to lose the ball. At one point, a boy saw the ball fly off the cliff and he didn't hesitate to go after the ball. The game ended up being pretty close and we ended up winning but only because of the amazing little Ecuadorian Messi players that we had on our team. At the end of our game we had the opportunity to talk and take photos with our teammates. All the little girls were very excited to pose for pictures and loved making heart signs. They were also very keen to take photos on our phones of us! We made many connections with the little girls and boys and it made this trip very special and this day will definitely stick with us forever.

The afternoon we spent finishing up all of the concrete and the different projects. By 3pm we had completed the walls and foundation for their water system. This was a huge accomplishment as this was our project goal for the trip. We are so thankful for Patro and all the community members who helped guide us through this work and made it extra special for us. The community members gave us a big thanks at the end and told us how excited they were for the future of the community and their children.

Today we had the opportunity to experience the Ecuadorian delicacy of guinea pig. The process of this tradition is very special. Girls are taught how to prepare this dish, from raising the guinea pigs to cooking it properly in their early teens and it is passed down through generations from mother to daughter. A few of us decided to witness this process. Then at dinner most of us got to try guinea pig for the first time. It was a very unique opportunity and I am glad to have tried it! Tonight we had a deep discussion about the world and how we can help make it a better place, even if it seems like a little piece of the puzzle. This service trip is coming to an end soon however we believe this is just the beginning of something much larger. Thank you for being a part of our journey!

Love from Ecuador,

Mary and Natasha

 

September 23, 2017

Hola!

It's Alix and Colette (again).

Today was our final day in the Chimborazo province and we are excited to give you an overview of all the fun we had. We started our morning with breakfast and a Spanish lesson where we learned different clothing related phrases. Then we got on the bus and headed out to visit Pulingui, a community around 1 hour away from Guamote. We made it about 5 minutes from our hotel before realizing we had forgotten part of our lunch. After finally setting off for good an hour later we finally arrived at the community to meet the Women’s Group. We were divided into three groups which included shearing a sheep with scissors, turning wool to string and finally making different clothing such as scarfs, hats and ponchos with our handmade string. Next we headed inside for lunch which consisted of potato soup and sandwiches. Fun fact: in Ecuador it is customary to put pop corn on top of potato soup! It's also really delicious :).

We then continued our day with the ‘day in the life’ activity with Eucevia. We traveled to her home where we completed some of her daily tasks alongside her. This included shoveling and transporting manure to a nearby field and feeding/bonding with her guinea pigs and rabbits. We learned much about the everyday lives and tasks of a typical Ecuadorian women. While we only took around one hour and a half, women usually work from 5am to 9pm to complete all the household tasks. Following this we headed back to the bus to journey back to our hotel. We had one final activity before dinner which involved a discussion about how we can continue our WE movement outside of our service trip. We had a delicious dinner which even included rice pudding for dessert. After dinner we played some games such as Bob the weasel and beaver slap. We then had a reflection of our trip and all received handmade gifts from the community. We departed the evening with a sendoff from the community with some traditional music and dancing. This trip is something we will all remember and everyone gained experiences and memories that can be used for the rest of our lives. While we are sad for our trip to be almost over we are excited to share our experiences and start our journey to create change.

Thanks for reading, Colette and Alix

 

September 24, 2017

Buenos noches!

This is Ms Holmwood and Ms Ziebart with the final chapter of our service trip blog series.

After a lively evening of music and dance last night, we packed our bags and enjoyed one final sleep in Guamote. We left the guest house bright and early this morning and made our way back to Quito, stopping for some legendary ice cream on the way. Our first stop in Quito was the market, where the girls had a true appreciation for all of the hand crafted goods, especially after our experiences with the Girl's Club and Women's Group. We got to try our hand at bargaining once again, this time with much more confidence and a little bit more Spanish. Hopefully you will all get a chance to see the specialty items, such as alpaca clothing - but we can't promise that all of the chocolate will make it back given we have a full day of travel ahead.

After a restful and reflective afternoon, we made our way to dinner and enjoyed meandering through the streets of Quito. On our way home we were pleasantly surprised to have stumbled upon a parade, complete with multiple marching bands. We of course had to take the detour and follow the parade - it was a perfect end to the evening.

The group definitely has mixed feelings about the trip coming to an end - they are looking forward to the comforts of home but also feel like there is so much more to explore and experience. The journey from me to we is only just beginning.

We want to take this opportunity to thank you all for supporting your daughters in this adventure. It has been an extreme pleasure getting to witness growth in the girls through deep realizations, inspiration, pure joy with the children, and being humbled by the perseverance of the Indigenous community. All of this has led to stronger bonds and new connections within our group, the Service Squad. Tomorrow we leave the hotel at 1am and will embark upon our final leg of the journey. Be ready to hear the tales of Ecuador.

See you soon!

Lisa and Donna

 

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