A Day of Celebration and Gratitude at FUNDAC

The morning meeting of our team’s last day together began with Kirsten and Lily giving us two Messages of the Day and Amelia provided the journal of yesterday’s activities. Maggie notified us the center schedule would be different, with a program of participative “thanks to our team” from the daycare classes beginning at 10:00 a.m. So when arriving at the center we had just over an hour for Katie to complete the “Global Volunteers” and “FUNDAC” lettering on the mural as Kay and Tom and a couple of parents completed touchups. Other team members – Sarah, Caitlin, Juliann, Amelia, Martin, Mia, Kirsten, Lily, Eloise, Michael, and Laurie assisted the tías with the children and helped with preparations for the final day’s celebration.

The celebration began with a blast; really, a booming cadence of Ecuadorian music from one very large speaker! Each tía led her children dressed in unique Ecuadorian costumes or with faces painted like cats as they danced to entertain us. Martin and Mia, in full costume, joined in with Tía Katy’s class! Next the tías, dressed in traditional folk attire, danced to several Ecuadorian folk songs for us – a surprising and very special occasion, as attested by Kirsten and others. And even more surprising to see Martin accompany them, demonstrating facility on his feet.243DSC01392

Following the dancing, each of the members of Team 155 was given a homemade written card or memento from their respective tía and children followed by many hugs and kisses and thanks from our team. We then rendered two actively educational children’s songs as our “goodbye tribute”:  they were “The Hokey Pokey” in English and “Chu Chu Ua”, led by Martin, in Spanish (attached). As we sang, tías were observed mouthing the words to learn them for their classes. Each of us then presented our tías with our own handmade cards and chocolates provided by Laurie – and more kisses, hugs, and a few tears of gratitude and pending loss from the tías, something that touched Sarah and Juliann on this day.

Continuing on with the celebration, Elvita and Pilar initiated a rousing round of dancing (also celebrating Pilar’s birthday!). They got all of the men to dance with them while the men wore an indigenous wool mask of many colors. Lily smiled with surprise as Michael was first selected to hit the dance floor wearing the mask! Everyone got involved in the lively dance frenzy before it was over! Great fun was had by all.DSC_1094


When given a chance for the team to speak to the tías, Michael represented our thoughts very well in providing his acknowledgement to them: “We are humbled and grateful for your commitment to the children of Calderón. Your work and passion serve as an inspiration to us all. You have changed our lives! We are very grateful for your commitment and for allowing us to serve with you.” Maggie translated this for the tías.

Following the festivities, we met with Elvita and Pilar in the office, and presented FUNDAC with donations of puzzles, books, toys, and classroom necessities to use in the tías’ classrooms. With Maggie again interpreting, Laurie gave salient thanks to them with the following:  “Every time I sat down with the kids at mealtime and snack time, every time I helped put them down for a nap, or helped them brush their teeth, and as I listened in or participated in their lessons, I realized how fortunate they are to be in this center. Because of FUNDAC, the children are happy, healthy, strong, and loved. I’ve been teaching for 26 years and I’ve seen a lot of teachers and students working together. It is obvious (and touching to me) how much the children love the tías. The tías and FUNDAC are changing lives every day.” Elvita and Pilar showed their devotion to the children as they tearfully thanked us for our donations and our service at the center, and gratefully acknowledged Global Volunteers and Maggie for her dedicated service. Before Elvita and Pilar took off, we took advantage of the newly completed mural for numerous photo opportunities with them, the tías, and our team.274262

After lunch, and during the kids’ nap time on Friday, it was back to impromptu dancing with the tías showing their salsa expertise, and giving learn-as-you-go lessons to our team. Amelia wisely observed how we were able to build common bonds through our dancing together, regardless of the sometimes vast communication barriers between us.

In the afternoon as the children awoke and returned to their classrooms, we assisted the tías by combing the children’s hair, cleaning their faces, and playing games until their parents came by to pick them up one last time. The tías had informed the children, and they each gave us big hugs, sometimes a kiss, and a “chao” for “goodbye”.  Most of our team children, and many of us, were moved to tears at this loss after a visit to Ecuador that was all too brief. One adorable three-year-old girl was the last one left in her room as we departed – and as we headed for the front gate, she appeared outside of her classroom window, she was seen earnestly blowing kisses and waving to Katie and Eloise through an open window covered by metal security bars – a scene that touched them both and one not easily forgotten.

Back at the hotel we received a different kind of gratitude, as the manager served up homemade piña coladas with our dinner to thank all of the Global Volunteers team for our work here. Our final free time celebration was set up by Martin with Maggie’s dance instructor for after dinner. Fran led us as we sort of shuffled, slid, and moseyed around the room for an hour as we picked up the cha cha cha and salsa basic steps. Then we were wowed by Fran and Maggie’s salsa exhibition. Not to be outdone, Caitlin was seen demonstrating her new salsa moves with the hotel owner – Iowa will never be the same again!


As we began saying goodbyes to our team members scheduled for early departure, we wished those from the first week – Sapna, Rowhan, Shaan, Julia, Manning, and Annie – could have been with us for this special day of celebration and gratitude. Our team jellied into a unique community from disparate areas of North America – and some of us wondered if it would last. We are thankful for each of the families and individuals who participated in this most special giving community.

We checked the beautifully designed and painted mural each day and wondered aloud how long this most visible icon for the children and staff would remain without graffiti. Some of us even wondered if the tías and children would remember us! It is clear to me that the greatest gifts from our team to the children of Calderón were not the newly painted walls, the mural, our donations, the new toilets, or the new tile, but something much more permanent than these: “We’ve only one life that soon is past; only what’s done with love will last.” by Brian Tracy

287Global Volunteers Team 155, Calderón, Ecuador: Mission Accomplished!

Entry submitted by: Tom

Message of the Day – Lily and Eloise: “Don’t follow the path. Go where there is no path and start a trail.”  – Ruby Bridges

I wondered why someone didn’t do something. Then I realized – I AM somebody.”  – Unknown

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply