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18 de mayo

ECUADOR | Thursday, 20 May 2010 | Views [437] | Comments [1]

19 de mayo del 2010

This morning, I went to a market for the first time. All the volunteers, 16 in total for the market program, met at the office and then took the bus to El Mercado de las Cuadras. First, we set up a large tent in a vacant parking lot next to the market. I was in a group of 8, led by Danny. Patti, the other market leader, took a similar-sized group to another region in the market. (The market was huge!) Danny walked through our region of the market to gather all the children. Most of them really look forward to UBECI (Union de los beneficios en la educacion y cooperacion internacional) coming each week. Since we go to a different market each day, these kids only get a break from working with their parents all day once during the week. For some of them, it was difficult to determine the age, because of malnourishment. But I'd say the majority were between the ages of 2 and 8.

In order to participate, each child must wash his/her hands and face in a couple bowls of water we provide, along with the soap and towel. Then it's play time while Danny finishes gathering all the children. This was my favorite part of the day! Part of the job is supposed to be teaching them English, but I think this is more appropriate for the school programs. These kids do not get to go to school because their families either can't afford it or they have to help their moms work in the market. It was heart-breaking to see how they have to live. They were dirty, hence teaching them hygiene, and some malnourished. Not necessarily undernourished, but malnourished. Their clothing varied depending on what their parents could afford. One little girl had on a thick sweater and hat with long pants, not because it was cold, but because this was what they had. She cried most of the time, likely because she was over-heated (and because she had soiled her pants). They were all so cute! This little girl probably would have fit into my pocket.

The first book I saw in the supplies provided by Danny was Green Eggs and Ham. As I recall, this was the first book I read by myself, so I was very excited. The kids didn't seem too interested when they saw it was in English, so I translated everything into Spanish. Due to the repetitive pattern of the book, the kids were saying the words along with me by the time we reached the end. Then, more kids showed up and chose poems for me to read. We practiced the names of colors, letters, and numbers in Spanish. 

We ended up with about 20 kids and sat together, singing songs and doing educational activities. The main lesson of the morning was running away from strangers to your mom or UBECI. We completed a maze where you draw the path from the bad guy to Mama/UBECI at the end of the path. After we finished for the morning, we each took 3 kids to take them back to their mothers. The only difficulty here is that you don't know where they came from, so have to rely on these sometimes very young children to find where they belong. I was certainly lost, but by the grace of God, each child returned safely.

A few of us headed back to El Recreo (or Centro Comercial- the mall) for the break. I was supposed to start one-on-one Spanish lessons today, but that didn't work out, so I just found an Internet station and got to Skype (a big relief)! This is when the discussion occurred about deciding not to stay 2 months. One month completely suffices.

It rained-POURED. There was hail and the streets were all flooded because Quito is the basin in between two large mountain ranges to the East and West. We all got soaked, but then had boning time which was nice.

A little bit about the volunteers: several are them are from Quebec, so like to speak French to eachother all the time. Two girls actually discovered they live on the same street back home! They had never met before. It's a small world afterall.  Rebecca (they all call me Becca now to differentiate, which is what I'm used to anyhow: ) is English but nows lives in Denmark. Daniel and Brittney are from Kansas City, Missouri and are the other two people who don't drink and party all the time. It's too bad they're only here another week and a half, because they would be great travel partners. Hugo is going into medical school at Cornell next year. Eric is on a crazy year-long journey all over Latin-America. He's originally from France. Liona is on a trip around the world for over a year- she just celebrated month 8. Kyle is the class clown. Ally is from New Jersey. Melissa goes to Penn State. Allison and Ellen are from Colorado. *This was really just an exercise for my memory. It makes people feel good when you remember their name and something about them the next time you see each other.*


 I found it very difficult when I returned home at the end of the day to speak Spanish all of a sudden, the result of being with other Gringos all day. Michelle and I sat down for bean soup (something green), cucumbers, and a delicious grilled banana dish. Neither of us could finish, which offends the cook so we tried making her feel good by offering our greatest compliments and how we wanted to finish some more for breakfast if possible.  Keith got home, so he and Michelle discussed all their travel plans in English while I asked to sit and watch TV with Rosa. I explained how I reallt enjoy conversing with her, Erica, and Aisha and how it was more difficult to speak after a day of much English. We striked up intermittent conversations and had some bonding time. I already explained my plans to leave in a month.


So that was today! I just got a shower, still not warm, but who cares. I'm clean, which is more than the kids are privileged to today. Tomorrow I take the voyage to the office by myself. Hopefully all will go well! I'm re-charged after talking to family and am excited to contine service tomorrow.



What a striking day! Straight to the heart! Love you.

  Jen May 20, 2010 8:21 AM

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