Morning: For the morning, my partner Kinsey and I woke up around 7:00 am and rolled up our sleeping bags and mosquito nets. After we got dressed, we would join our host family for breakfast (usually soup, oatmeal, or little biscuits but almost always something hearty).
After breakfast we packed up any materials we would need to teach our camps (markers, paper, posters, purified water, etc.) and head down to the school where we met the kids. We got weekly themes from our partner agency PLAN International, two representatives came up during our camps to talk the children about their rights and leadership. These camp session usually lasted for two hours Monday-Friday. On Saturdays and Sunday we would wake up and spend time with our family and go see soccer games or go to market.
Afternoon: In the afternoon, we would have lunch with different members of the community as part of our rotating meal plan. I really loved doing this because we got to meet so many more people this way! We would talk about so many different things during lunch like our life in america, farming, our project, their families, etc.
After lunch we would head back to the house and we took sometime to write in our journals and plan for our camps the next day. Usually there would be kids running around that wanted us to play soccer or ecua-voli with them. Towards the end of our trip we began to spend more time working on our Community Based Initiative with the adults (a public bathroom) On the weekends we would try to get a bath in. In order to bathe, we needed to heat the water over a fire, put some of it into a medium sized tub and pour it over ourselves with a measuring cup. Because bathing took such a long time and it was so cold, we only bathed evert four or five days.
Evening: Once it started getting dark my partner and I would walk back up to our house, usually after playing with the girls who liked to dance in the church. We would eat diner with our family in the kitchen and talk about what we did that day, what we would do tomorrow. I would usually have several servings of the food because it was so good!
Then our host sisters would come play cards with us on our beds. Our family loved the game Go Fish! In our community, everyone spoke Spanish and Quechua so we teach our sisters words in English while they taught us words in Quechua. BEfore we went to bed we would put the clothes that we were going to wear the next day inside our sleeping bags so they would be warm when we were getting dressed.
Highlights: The highlight of my experience as a volunteer was, our third encuentro (all the volunteers in ecuador meet up and talk about our projects). My partner Kinsey and I wrote the kids a song to perform called "El Futuro Es Para Mi". She played it on her ukulele and I wrote the lyrics, The song basically how they can do anything want to and were capable of great things. They performed it really well in the encuentro but I think the best part was that they kept singing it after the encuentro, all the way back to the community in the back of a pick up truck under a tarp (it was raining). They just kept singing and singing it made me so happy that they liked the song that we had written for them.
The experience as a whole, had a lot of great moments, it was also the most difficult thing I had ever done. The highlight was the feeling of accomplishment I felt at the end matched with all the steps we had to take to get there. I also loved being totally cut off from my own culture (sure, I got letters from home and one phone call during midterm, but other than it was all ecuador all the time). I got to experience life in another persons, home, community, and country. One things that I never thought I would do was eat guinea pig, which I had the opportunity to do in Ecuador (it was actually pretty good!). I think I left part of myself in Ecuador and it left something with me, I think about it all the time and I desperately want to go back!