_ First the bus ride north through the Andes mountains from the Ecuador capital of Quito; then, long ride in a four-wheel vehicle north west into INTAG, a remote ecological area. The road was extremely winding, rough and muddy after rain and fog. At least the driver was confident.
View from Grace's terrace.
_ I was traveling with Grace, a fellow Canadian dedicated to the protection of animals and the environment. She has a house in a quiet valley area overlooking a river, banana trees, coffee plants. Mountains surround and not far down the road there is a thermal spring. It is a paradise.
_ The next day we traveled by horse back up narrow trails in the mountains, across a swing bridge over a river, sometimes through rain, mud, and evidence of rock-slides. At the very top, we found a one-room schoolhouse and, on a slope nearby, a rough wooden shack which is the home of the schools lone teacher.
_ There are 12 students in the school; some of whom hike through the mountains for up to an hour each way, daily, to attend class. One of these is a special needs child.
_ Guests arriving by horse-back created a lot of excitement. After showing us the classroom and introducing each of the children, the teacher led the children in a dance for us. The boys wouldn’t hold the girls hands and, boys being boys, made an issue of it. Caught up in the beat of the Latin music, I joined in.
The challenges at the school are many. Each child as his/her own particular needs, associated with age and ability. School supplies and equipment are limited or nonexistent.
It was impossible to look into the eyes of these happy, enthusiastic children without wanting to help them achieve the full potential.
Those wishing to help children in Colombia and Ecuador are encouraged to connect with the Abeona Foundation via its Facebook page by clicking Here
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