Message for the Day: “Although I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as if they were great and noble. The world is moved along not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes but also by the tiny pushes of each honest worker.”  -Helen Keller

Journal by: Susan Weida

Our group met for breakfast before the exciting start of our service program. I felt some anxiety; it was hard to judge whether others felt the same. We celebrated the arrival of Sherri and Dean’s baggage—the tip off was Dean arriving at breakfast in a new T-shirt. Unfortunately, their night didn’t end after the airport; they were victims of an oddly blinking light in their room.

The ride to Calderón is beautiful and most of us got the true perspective of Quito as a city nestled in the mountains for the first time. We arrived at Center #1 and entered through a colorful and lively vegetable market, opened a door, and there were the children. The ‘holas’ and waves began almost immediately and didn’t stop. It’s wonderful how open children are to forming relationships. The one exception was the infant room where some fear of strangers was evident. Lili, the director of Center #1, toured and introduced us to the tías. I was struck by the cleanliness of everything and by the organization in the classrooms and public areas. The planning to make this program work was evident.

We then walked through more of the market and town to the outskirts where Center #2 continues to be a work in progress. Pilar (FUNDAC member) took the place of the director, absent today, and spoke about how the partnership with Global Volunteers has allowed them to continue to expand from one floor to two floors, and next to a third floor for the center. Steve and Dean are to be working on shelving this week, but the materials were not ready. They both showed a positive team quality – flexibility – by agreeing to work in the kitchen/cleaning (Steve) and with children (Dean).

The rest of the day seemed to fly by. Sherri and I worked with infants/toddlers and the 3- and 4-year-olds in the construction room respectively and spent the rest of the morning taking cues from our tías and then assisting. I was struck again with how well the tías have structured activities for the children to make bathroom, lunch, and tooth brushing all run smoothly. A nutritious lunch was served and all the children were urged to eat everything. Independence is expected of the three-year-olds. Then off to line up on the beds, eight children to a single bed, six beds to the room, and full sunlight shining in the window. With supervision from the tías, all the children were sleeping in fifteen minutes.

Lunch break for us, some good sharing, and back to our jobs. For Sherri, Jessica, Dean, and me, that meant working with the tías on English skills. Dean was especially successful doing conversation practice with some of the teen assistants. The tías had training so those of us at Center #1 helped keep order while parents arrived. It was evident that without the structure from the tías that these children can hit, push, and act silly like their peers everywhere.

Good sharing at dinner about the day’s work – especially enjoyed hearing about Steve making pineapple smoothies from scratch – his smile conveyed his enjoyment working in the kitchen. Though tired, we are all ready for another day tomorrow.

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