First-time volunteer Sandi Tsai was so inspired by her experience in service that she decided to organize an event to fundraise for Global Volunteers’ program in Ecuador once she was back home. In Quito, Global Volunteers partners with FUNDAC, an organization of women that runs two early childhood development centers for disadvantaged children on the outskirts of the city. Sandi volunteered in Ecuador for two weeks, working with the children and teachers at the center. Back home in Chicago, she organized a fundraising event to continue her support for the program in Ecuador. Read on for details on her inspiration.
Volunteering at FUNDAC
During her two weeks in Ecuador, Sandi worked in two different classrooms at the early childhood development center assisting the teacher in educating, feeding, and taking care of eight or nine little ones at a time. The children at the center are among the most impoverished in Quito, and their full eight-hour days at the center ensure they eat four nourishing meals or snacks and receive early childhood education. Sandi helped the children with their classroom activities and played with them each day. While in Ecuador, Sandi said of her experience, “The teachers at FUNDAC are inspiring women. It is amazing to me what they do every day. I didn’t expect such a strong connection with the kids I have been with for these two weeks, but they have definitely resided in a part of my heart! I’ve looked forward to seeing them every morning.”
Sandi wrote in her team journal from her second day at the center, “As we walked into the daycare center this morning, we were greeted with the same sweet faces as yesterday. I felt more at ease remembering all their names in my class from yesterday and being more familiar with their routine. I was surprised they also remembered me and showered me with so many smiles, laughter, and affection today. I was so touched by their changes in mannerisms towards me in just one day!”
“I was surprised they also remembered me and showered me with so many smiles, laughter, and affection today.”– Sandi Tsai, Ecuador volunteer
Sandi Reflects on Her Experience in Service
At the end of her time in Ecuador, Sandi reflected on her time in service:
“As the second week comes to an end, I am not going to get into the daily routines anymore. These last two weeks weren’t about getting day-to-day routines done, it was about the entire experience of the life in this town and its people… And I have to say this has been a multi-faceted amazing experience. I have been surprised by so many things… the love these children possess with having so minimal, the teachers and their love and effort, the reality of the children’s families, the attachment to the children I have acquired in such a short period of time, and so much more. I feel inspiration, a full heart, and an open mind. My life realizations have been elevated.”
“Tomorrow is our last day with the center. I am excited to share with the teachers what we have all gotten out of this experience and our appreciation for them, but I am also brokenhearted to know I have to say my goodbyes to these children I have grown to love and look forward to every day. I know I will not forget them and I will cherish this time I had with them. I have not had another experience or connection like this before, for this will have a part of my heart forever. As I part ways at the end of the day tomorrow, I look forward to keeping in touch with updates of the children and FUNDAC. I also know that I am leaving more fulfilled, inspired, and knowledgeable of what the world is, and what its possibilities are.”
“I also know that I am leaving more fulfilled, inspired, and knowledgeable of what the world is, and what its possibilities are.”– Sandi Tsai
Fundraising for Ecuador
One of the possibilities that Sandi thought of was to organize a fundraising event to both share her experience with her friends and raise money for the centers in Ecuador. As soon as she returned home, Sandi started organizing. She found a venue, created information sheets on the children she worked with in Ecuador, had bracelets that said “FUNDAC” and “Global Volunteers” made, and started getting her friends involved. Many of her friends donated items to be used in a raffle, with the money from the tickets sold going towards the fundraiser.
Sandi talked to us about how satisfying this experience was for her: “In April of 2019, I volunteered for Global Volunteers in Ecuador to support FUNDAC. That experience in itself was inspiring, heartfelt, and life-changing. Over the course of two weeks, the children at FUNDAC won me over! To be honest, I was not prepared to be so taken away by these children. They are adorable, sweet, smart, and full of laughter and love. As our two-week program came to an end, us volunteers were showered with love, appreciation, presents from the kids, and a show by the kids. I was speechless and overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude. It’s true…some of the most satisfying things in life are the least expected.”
She continued, “Before my time ended in Ecuador, I was already thinking about the next time I could come down and volunteer again. However, I still wanted to be able to help these children out somehow in the meantime. After chatting with my Team Leader, Maggie Bjorklund, about different ideas I had for when I got back to Chicago, I was inspired to throw a fundraiser! I had the connections, the people, and the drive to help make a difference!” Indeed she did. In September, Sandi held the “Cocktails for a Cause” event and raised over $3,200 for the Ecuador program. Sandi commented that it was a great time with her friends to share about her experience in service and continue her contribution to the work with the children and families in Ecuador. She said people were immediately asking her if she was planning on holding a fundraising event next year as well. Sandi added, “My friends were thrilled to donate to such a worthwhile cause.”
“When I got back to Chicago, I was inspired to throw a fundraiser! I had the connections, the people, and the drive to help make a difference!”– Sandi Tsai
Sandi talked about her own gratitude for this experience: “It felt so good to be able to make this event happen, my wheels are already turning about planning one next year! I am so thankful for these opportunities… the opportunity to volunteer in Ecuador for FUNDAC and the opportunity to host a fundraiser to help FUNDAC and raise awareness for their cause.”
“It felt so good to be able to make this event happen.”– Sandi Tsai
The funds Sandi raised through her friends’ contributions will go to supporting Global Volunteers’ program in Ecuador through materials for labor projects at the centers, classroom supplies, and educational toys. We thank Sandi for her service in Ecuador and for her continued support of the program through this fundraising event. Thank you for being the change you wish to see in the world, Sandi!