Amy and Adam Robinson wanted to give their two young sons an opportunity to help others, and decided to volunteer in Ecuador with children on the outskirts of the city of Quito. Here, they share their powerful reflections from their time in service and after visiting a family in their home in Calderón, Ecuador. They write about the relationships they formed while volunteering with children in Ecuador.
By Amy and Adam Robinson
Volunteering with Children in Ecuador
I find that I am truly able to lose myself in the needs of the children and I do so gladly. Clayton (age 7) and I jumped right in with the babies this morning in Norma’s classroom. The children are fairly quick to trust new faces, especially when that new face is singing to you and poking your tummy, all for little giggles, when changing your diaper. My goal was to help Norma in every way possible while gathering as many smiles and giggles as possible. Norma was a pleasure to work with and was not shy in asking for help, which was a relief.
Clayton enjoyed getting to know Norma’s younger son, Estiven, and immediately bonded with him over their love of fidget spinners. Both boys entertained and mesmerized the kids with their fidget spinners. We all sang a song about clothes while the babies watched Profe (‘teacher’ in Spanish) Norma and me demonstrate the clothing items in a little dance. We all danced to the music that was playing on the patio and a few of the kids really had great moves for their age.
Loads of Belly Laughs
A little girl named Sofía continued to break my heart throughout the morning because she wouldn’t smile or engage with me or the others, but this just made me try harder. I was able to get her to give me the slightest of smiles when I lifted her and swung her around in a dance. Clayton helped me and Profe Norma serve the banana snack. After snack, the kids were waiting so Clayton and I entertained the kids from our class and another class by playing a game of Peek a Boo. We were able to get loads of belly laughs from both classes, which we loved.
Back in the classroom we took our third potty break and hand washing session. I cut out pictures of clothing items and applied glue so the babies could stick them up one by one of a poster in the classroom. They really seemed to learn a lot and love this exercise. Before we knew it, we were doing another bathroom break and hand washing before heading to lunch.
Getting the Nutrients They Need
Lunch was difficult. The kids have a lot of nutritious food to eat in a short period of time. Norma asked Clayton to help one little boy that is slow to eat while Norma and I rotated between kids that needed help going faster. I was surprised at the garbanzo beans and shredded cabbage that these one-year-olds were ingesting. There were a number of tears shed, but the babies got the nutrients they needed during this meal.
After lunch, the kids were placed in their cribs for the nap. Some were already asleep in the high chair and I helped carry them to the cribs. They made my heart swell to tuck them into their cribs. Clayton helped walk the little babies that didn’t know how to walk on their own yet. It’s incredible to see how my two sons can help out so much, and learn so much, while volunteering with children in Ecuador.
“They made my heart swell to tuck them into their cribs.”– Amy Robinson
My Heart Lights Up When They Look To Me For Love and Attention
After our lunch, the babies were still asleep so we went in and peeked at them sleeping and snapped a few pictures of their sweet faces. Since they were still sleeping, there wasn’t much to be done except mural painting. Clayton was drawing in his notebook and befriended Gaby’s daughter. They came out to the patio so I could keep an eye on them while I helped paint the mural. More kids ended up joining in the fun on the patio as the day wrapped up. I was able to paint all the red items on the mural as well as some yellow and black today. The mural is really coming together nicely. Reed joined the patio fun with the kids and they played Hide and Seek and tag.
The visit to our friend at her bread dough art store was a treat. Since I am a creative person at heart, it was fun to see someone so skilled and passionate about what she does. I think every day becomes my favorite day and I believe it has more to do with the fact that I create new relationships and friendships each day. I know all the children and profes from at least three classes now and have little friends from other classes that I have made on the patio and during snacks and meals. For me, this is the important part of volunteering with children in Ecuador. My heart lights up when they call my name and look to me for love and attention. What an amazing experience.
“I think every day becomes my favorite day and I believe it has more to do with the fact that I create new relationships and friendships each day.”– Amy Robinson
A Powerful Home Visit
As a Global Volunteer, you have the opportunity to speak with an Ecuadorian family from the daycare center. This description is from the team journal entry after meeting a single mother of three, whose daughter attends the daycare center:
Today we met Verónica in the school office, a welcoming smile on an unwrinkled face framed by brown hair with light blond highlights, we all fussed over her baby “niece” and set off to visit her home. At ten years old, Verónica’s son, Camilo, has survived kidnapping, homelessness, political persecution, exile, and abandonment. His mother subsisted for a month on less than the cost of a family movie, and an essential piece of her support system is the school we support today.
This home visit experience and the time we spent with Verónica put into perspective our volunteering with children in Ecuador. Paint a wall, fix a nob, lift a child in the air, wash a little girl’s hands for the fifth time, we hope, in some small way, our efforts help make Verónica’s life, and the lives of her children a little bit better, so that they will grow up knowing compassion. That in this capricious and difficult world, there is kindness in strangers and hope for a better future.
“We hope, in some small way, our efforts help make Verónica’s life, and the lives of her children a little bit better, so that they will grow up knowing compassion.”– Amy Robinson
These children will someday be the politicians, academics, businesspeople, and theologians who will inherit our world. It is their ideas, kindness, and strength that will make the world a better place for all our grandchildren.
“It is their ideas, kindness, and strength that will make the world a better place for all our grandchildren.”– Amy Robinson