Saturday, November 26, 2011

UGA Volunteers

We dropped off our first group of short-term volunteers at the airport yesterday morning. The group of five UGA girls arrived late last Saturday night and spent the week exploring Quito, helping us with some manual labor, and visiting our programs. Sunday was spent hitting the tourist highlights of Quito with a visit to the Panecillo (the huge statue of the Virgin which overlooks the city), climbing the steep ladders of the Basilica, and shopping in the artisan market. On Monday they gave the library a much needed paint job, covering scuffmarks and dirty hand prints with a lovely shade sea-foam green. We moved around our usual Tuesday Morning Meeting to take the girls on a hike along Rio Pita to see the waterfalls and experience a bit of nature. They survived their first camioneta ride (gracias Joshua) along the bumpy roads of Sangolqui, and tested their lungs hiking through the woods. Although the trail was flat (más o menos) the girls were still hiking around at an elevation close to 9,000 feet, no easy task when you are used to living close to sea level.

They’ve spent the afternoons hanging out in the library, getting to know the niños, and sitting in on our classes. They helped us put the final touches on our plastic-bottle Christmas tree and practiced their Spanish while playing Egipto with the kids. The girls raised money for the trip to go towards some of our program needs. We took advantage of this extra funding and the extra sets of hands to build some new, sturdier aerobic steps for the women’s exercise class. The volunteers came up with the new design, took a trip to Hiper Market to get the supplies, and spent Wednesday hammering and gluing away. The steps are a huge improvement from the ones we made a few months ago, and now we have enough for a full class.

After the centro closed on Wednesday night we all hopped on a bus to Quito for some Great Indian Food (their cooking is better than their creativity) and the girls got to experience a little salsa dancing in the Mariscal. Some of the volunteers got to see the Chaupitena nutrition class, and accompany the kids on a fieldtrip to the Añamisi’s organic garden. Others stayed at home finishing up the steps and helping to prepare our Thanksgiving dinner (round one for the PDs). We were all feeling a little homesick being so far away on the holiday, so it was nice to come back from the centro to a home-cooked feast. After dinner we all sat down to de-brief and to get the girls’ perspective on our programs and the Ecuador site overall. It was a great chance for us to chat about the experience, discuss some of our challenges, and remind ourselves of the many rewards. The week flew by for us in a busy blur, but we want to thank the UGA girls for their positive attitudes, suggestions, and hard work.

The UGA girls painting the library

Camioneta ride to Rio Pita

We finally made it to the waterfall

Building steps for aerobics class
Manna Thanksgiving (part I)

No comments: