There are few things that warm the heart more than helping people in need, especially children. Being a member of a Rotary Club in Quito, Ecuador gives me the opportunity to indulge my paternal and humanitarian sensitivities.
Three recent visits have fed my continuing enthusiasm.
Visit # 1 Quito - North
It was Children's Day (el dia de los ninos), and I went with friends to a nursery school in a poor area in the North of Quito to give treats and a puppet show to a group of 70 kids aged 2-4 years. At first, I was amazed at how responsible they were. They repositioned their own chairs and seemed remarkably orderly. However, the puppet show enlivened them - jumping up and down - dancing. When we handed out balloons, all hell broke loose. They were bashing each other with balloons and sometimes, accidentally, with a hand. A few teachers rushed about wiping tears, giving hugs and writing children's names on their bundles to avoid disputes while others began cleaning up, signalling that the event was coming to a close. Evidently, the whole thing was a success because every child left with his/ her gifts and a smiling face. I left, content with our contribution to the children and appreciation that I was not a nursery school teacher.
Visit # 2 Cayambe
My second visit was to a daycare center located in Cayambe, about one hour away from Quito. The people living in this area rural area work on farms producing either milk or flowers. Their work day is long and hard.
As they can't take their children with them while they work, there are “substitute” mothers who take care of children from 3months to 5 years old.
Built by the community about 8 years ago, the facility could not be finished due to a lack of funds. As in most communities in the Ecuador countryside, willing spirit and helping hands are free, money to buy material resources is what is often absent.
The existing centre was a unpretentious cement block, metal roof structure with uncompleted adjacent kitchen and dining room walls. The roof of the main structure leaked, and the flooring is of rough cement.
How to help move this project forward ?
I spoke at several Southern Ontario, Canada, Rotary Clubs seeking support. One club rose to the occasion and contributed $ 1500. This was sufficient to make significant advances toward the completion of the kitchen and dining area. - A Herculean "Thank You" to the Dundas Rotary Club !
The photos below show the school and the kitchen and dining areas before and after work was completed. Still rough, it is considered a significant step forward. Numerous hugs from a local lady told me that the level of appreciation was, indeed, great.
There is still work to do. A refrigerator is needed; the roof in the dining area has yet to be sealed; and the floors of all areas need to be tiled. A plan, with priorities, is being drafted by residents and I will, again, be looking for the needed financial support during my summer travels.
Visit # 3 Guaranda
Fundacion " Su Cambio por el Cambio " has the objective of caring for seniors, often the most vulnerable in society.
It has a farm with about 70 senior residents representing a variety of cultural groups from the surrounding area.
Self- sufficient, it grows its own food with gardens and farm animals. Integrated into the local economy, it operates a micro-bank to help the locals who pay back in cash or farm product to be sold.
Because of poverty, without support, many local children would not get sufficient daily nourishment without the help.
About 70 children are collected and delivered by bus Mondays to Fridays to eat wholesome meals at the site.
With the help of other Rotary Clubs, we purchased a machine that produces soya milk. Operated by trained Foundation staff, this provides an addition boost to the daily nutrition of the children and seniors. Flavorings made from local fruit enhance the taste.
When not devouring lunch, the children enjoy a play structure, one of many that our club is installing around the country.
What are you doing in your community ? There is need everywhere and only a few minutes of your time could be truly meaningful.
In every part of the world, clubs and other organizations exist in which those who care work together to do charitable work. I encourage you to find one that you will feel comfortable with and join it.
For expats living here in Ecuador, the people continue to demonstrate the warmth of their hospitality. Should we not give back ?
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