First service day…


“Where you end up isn’t the most important thing. It’s the road you take to get there. The road you take is what you’ll look back on and call your life.”

We began our first service day with breakfast and a brief meeting. I’m proud and surprised to report that we departed on time at precisely 8:00 am. The trip through Quito to Calderon was uneventful except for the fact that our van was the size of a large shoebox. The daycare center is located right off the local market thorough fare. Needless to say, the area is very poor. Our arrival commenced with a briefing from Lilly, the center’s director. We were given a brief tour. Much to our delight, eager and enthusiastic faces greeted us with shouts of HOLA! The team, led by Lilly, took the 10 minute walk to center II. Scott, the rooftop guard dog announced our arrival. Once again, the warm welcome was a complete joy. All the smiling faces and waves and shouts of HOLA make us all that more eager to start working with the children. In fact, some team members, (Brittany) were getting a little impatient to start. After our tours of center II, we headed back to center I. We quickly sorted and catalogued the donated goods, then headed off to our “rincones,” Laural with the babies, Rim in Lecteurs, Brittany in Art and myself in Construction. The children rotate “rincones” in 30 minute intervals so we had the opportunity to work with a wide age group of children. At 12:00, mayhem broke out as it was lunch time for the children. Thank god the children are the most cooperative, helpful, independent little sours. If it weren’t for their easy nature, feeding 40 kids would be a lot more difficult then it was. The children willingly line up, use the bathroom, wash their hands and carry their chairs to their assigned tables. Truth be told, you would never find this degree of cooperation in Daycare centers in the states. I was surprised to see that the “Clean Plate Club” rules here. The children must finish all their food! After lunch, the stuffed and exhausted children nap 6 to a bed. The equally exhausted members of team #132 headed off for lunch. At 2:00, we returned to help clean. Everyone pitches in, floor sweeping, bed making, mopping, dishes, even taking blankets outdoors to wash the old fashioned way. After clean up, the children must be spruced up; hairs combed, hands and faces washed and clothes straightened, all in anticipation of parent arrivals. At this point, Mari was waiting to transport us home. In the sprit of Ecuadorian warmth and generosity, Mari gave Lilly a ride to her destination, only to drop her off and pick up another passenger, only to drop her off and pick up yet another fare – but the most important – her 7 year old son, Ronnie. Upon arrival at our hotel, some of us rested while others ventured out to the mall and SuperMaxi, a very special outing for Rim as living as a single New Yorker, she never actually sees a grocery store.
Dinner was followed by a “38th” birthday celebration for Rim. She wished to celebrate January Birthday in Ecuador but couldn’t. So….better late than never. The evening ended with all going to sleep with the happy faces of the children in our memories. What an extraordinary impression they leave on us.

Written by Roberta
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