It all started when Taylor and I were sent on a wild-goose chase to find a nearby elementary school where we could possibly hold nutrition classes. Our first encounter with the directors of Chaupitena was brief and rather disheartening.
The director seemed to be very wary of these strange new gringas in the area and a little uncertain of our proposal in general; but we were persistent, and our next meeting with him had a completely new tune. This time, we met with him as well as the heads of Naural Sciences, Vilma and Elvia. The two women were much more open to our idea and were excited for the opportunity to present nutrition curriculum to their students. This was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Since our initial meetings with Chaupitena, our programs with them continue to grow. We completed our first 12-week nutrition curriculum with their 8th, 9th, and 10th in December and are currently holding nutrition classes with their three 7th grade classes. Not only has Chaupitena been an excellent opportunity for the nutrition program, but it has also brought many new faces to the library. We have several Chaupitena students and teachers enrolled in our English classes this quarter, and the teens from our original classes make up the bulk of our teen center participants.
When the older students realized we were finished with the nutrition curriculum they got upset and seemed legitimately concerned that they would never see us again. Luckily we have found a new way to stay involved with these students that we already know and love.
A newly added program with Chaupitena involves our Preventative Health Center Team: Charlie, Watkins, and I. We give monthly health charlas (talks) on topics of their choosing. So far we have had classes about mental health as well as alcoholism and drug addiction. In a future class, we hope to have our friends from the Red Cross assist us in teaching some basic first aid to the kids. These health charlas have been a wonderful opportunity for our preventative health program and also a great way to maintain our relationship with the older students of Chaupitena.
What started as a ‘shot in the dark’ meeting with a potential partner organization has grown into so much more. The teachers and students of Chaupitena have become an integral part of our programs here in Ecuador as well as some very close personal friends.
Elvia and her family came out to support us at the FDR
We look forward to continuing our relationship with the teachers and students of Chaupitena. Coming up in April the Agriculture Program will also be getting involved, giving a PHC Charla on the benefits of organic gardening!