I sent my daughter off on a life changing (or so I hope) trip to Ecuador and Colombia about 10 days ago and we have received a few updates from the trip co-ordinator from Me to We.
The group spelling out ECUADOR…
It was her 17th birthday on birthday on Saturday and we got a great surprise in the evening when she was able to call us for a quick hello. When we placed her on speakerphone we were just as relieved to hear her voice as she was overwhelmed to hear ours. She was very emotional and I thought something was wrong because she was crying… she was perfectly fine she just was so happy to hear our voices. Why am I surprised?… she is so far away and it was her birthday. The first ever spent without us there.
Quickly she told us about how beautiful the mountains are – `they are soooo beautiful mom, you can`t imagine`. Oh yes I can my sweet, I have seen the mountains in Colombia and I can only assume they are very similar. She said the weather was cold in the evenings but warmed up through the day. She loved the children and was looking forward to going to the women`s group where they made sweaters made from Alpaca wool.
Briefly she told us about the rebar that she was working with and the cement that they were mixing. The build was going well but it was a lot of work. I`m sure she is happy she took fitness last semester and built up her strength bench pressing. I know the two semesters of Spanish that she took are probably pretty handy right about now (or so I hope).
Like I said, we received an update today and this is what they wrote:
The group has continued to thrive and grow, and become further integrated into their surrounding Me to We communities. Back at Tortorillas, they have had a blast engaging in, and discussing, an array of leadership activities, from the blindfolded trust walk that they did without the capacity to speak English with a partner, to Challenge Zone, where they explored their comfort zone and how they can best grow and learn on such a trip, as well as playing a newly discovered and favourite night-time role playing game called Werewolf. They also enjoyed planning and participating in Lauren’s surprise birthday party, complete with songs, a piñata, and cake, customs all practiced alongside the local Ecuadorian staff team at our hacienda.
On the build site, the group has continued to go very strong. Digging for foundation walls has been a tiring, but rewarding task where participants can truly see the progress they are making on the new building in Shuid. The other day, the local school children all came out to play, and planned a group game and mini-presentation to present our group with. Everyone was very touched to see how the kids here play. It also reinforced just how smart, funny, engaging, and relatable they are. We have also continued with the now familiar (but necessary) tasks of rebar bending, painting shingles, and mixing cement. The group is looking forward to giving their all to their all tomorrow, their last build day, but are also sad to be saying goodbye for now to all of the children they’ve gotten to know, as well as the adult community members who have become fast friends.
Yesterday, the group made a much anticipated visit to Sumak Ahuana, a local women’s group, and a great example of a thriving and impactful Free the Children alternative income project in Ecuador. In addition to having the opportunity to try shearing a sheep, spinning wool into yarn, and using an array of looms, the group got to meet several representatives of this amazing group, as well as to ask them some questions about their lives, and the impact that this empowering work has had on both them, and their families. Everyone was quite moved, and had the opportunity to support these women by browsing, and purchasing, an array of both handmade wool, and Alpaca products, from socks, to gloves, to ponchos and sweaters. That afternoon, the group participated in the A Day in the Life activity, where they got an inside look into the everyday lives of the women in Santa Anita, and were able to help them with their chores, and household duties. Everyone left this day feeling very proud and hopeful about the work, and the sustainability model they are currently contributing to on their adventure.
I will keep you posted on her adventures… stay tuned…