July 17, 2007 – Reflections on the 100th Team in Ecuador

As I reflected back over the past week and a half to decide what to write about in my journal entry, two quotes came to mind. The first occurred last Friday during the home visits from Camp Hope. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk with the mother at the first home. As she held her baby daughter, I told her how beautiful all of her children are. She graciously said thank you, and then told me something that I will never forget. She said, “Above all, I try to teach my children respect t. Everything else is good, but respect is the most important.” This comment touched me so much because if I lived in a home with seven people sleeping in one bedroom, I am not sure I would have the strength of conviction to place “teaching my children respect” as my top priority. I do hope, however, that I never let myself forget the courage and grace demonstrated by this mother to her children.

The second quote I felt best reflected the attitude I hope to take with me when I leave this country came from one of the women in charge of FUNDAC in Calderon. She was explaining to us their goal for the new space we are building to add onto the space of the existing daycare center #2 building. She said, “We are so grateful for your help because every time we have to turn a child away due to lack of space, our hearts break”. This is a woman who does so much for so many and she is constantly thinking of what more she can do for the community.

I think her words echo the thoughts of all those working at the two host organizations as well as my fellow volunteers. I have yet to (and am sure I will not) hear a volunteer say, “OK, good two weeks. Now I am going to go back to the States unchanged.” I am pretty sure that statement would be impossible. Instead, the conversations I have witnessed are filled with plans to sponsor a child, or plans to save a bit more money to donate each month, or even plans to immediately research another volunteer trip. I am incredibly lucky to have had this experience at such a young age. I will never forget the people I have met on this trip who have taught me that these two weeks are simply the beginning of all we can do for these children in the future.

Final Thought: “The highest reward for a person’s work is not what they get for it, but what they become because of it.” – John Ruskin

– Valerie N.

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