Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ecuador - Summer 2002

This project, run by the Fundación Chiriboga, is split into two different sections. The first couple of weeks, we were involved in reforestation work, planting trees in an area damaged by fire, and also creating an orchid garden. We were based in a place called Chiriboga, which is two hours south of Quito and really is in the middle of nowhere. However, the surroundings are absolutely beautiful and it is very peaceful. We were in shared rooms for four people and all our meals were taken in the main house. One person from the group helped in the kitchen to prepare the meals every day but this mainly involved peeling vegetables and washing up as the cooking was all done for us.

We got up early every day but there was no lack of sleep, as the electricity was only on for two hours every evening and it was turned off at nine o’clock. We worked in the morning, stopped for lunch and then worked again before we were then given culture and history classes about Ecuador and there were also Spanish lessons for those that needed them.

During the second part of the project, we were based in a town called Jipijapa, nine hours away from Quito and near the coast. We were teaching English in one of the poorer schools there that had virtually no resources and underprivileged children. I found this part of the project to be incredibly rewarding, although it was certainly a challenge keeping the children entertained!!! After my first day, I didn’t know how I was going to manage there for two weeks; however, at the end I really didn’t want to leave. The children were absolutely adorable and certainly made an impression on me. The work was interesting and trying to find new ways of teaching them was an interesting task in itself, although I think that we found the key with the idea of teaching them the song words to The Beatles!!!

Two sisters, who are the kindest people you could possibly hope to meet, run Proyecto Chiriboga. They were so welcoming to all the volunteers. I arrived in Quito a couple of days before the project started and was given an incredibly warm welcome. I had told them when I would be arriving and they had organised a taxi to pick me up from the airport and were waiting outside for me when I got there, despite the fact that it was absolutely freezing and the middle of the night! I stayed in their family home before the project started and was told when I left that I could go back and stay there whenever I wanted to. They organised trips for us at the weekends, such as taking us to Otavalo market and the centre of the world, and were more than prepared to answer questions about absolutely anything and provide information. They keep an eye on their volunteers even after they have left. I, personally, went travelling after the project and even then they stayed in touch with me over email to check that I was safe and not having any difficulties.

The people that I met on the project were also fantastic. There were eleven of us altogether, English, French, German, Belgian, Australian and Mexican and we all got on very well together. I certainly made friends there that I think I will probably stay in touch with for the rest of my life and I will be making a few trips abroad to go and visit them in their home countries.

In short, all I could say to anyone considering doing this project is “do it!”, I had an amazing time and loved every minute of it. It is a great experience and Ecuador is a fantastic country and I am sure that if you decide to get involved with Proyecto Chiriboga then you won’t regret it for a minute.

No comments: