We woke up bright and early today (March 11) to journey to the school we are working at to began our work with the children. First, second and third graders were on today’s agenda. We played games and engaged them in projects such as making animal masks, crowns and a paper fish tank.
In the afternoon, we visited the Mindalae Cultural Museum of Quito. We saw indigenous crafts, shaman alters and effigies, traditional Ecuadorian attire, pottery painted with human hair and native musical instruments. We were even able to play the musical instruments.
Working with Ecuadorian street children
We closed out the day working at an orphanage for street children. Quito has one of the highest populations of street children in the Americas. The children often end up on the streets due to unsafe living conditions as a result of parents plagued by drug addiction and extreme poverty. When we arrived at the shelter, many of us had tears in our eyes. We strongly felt the gravity of the children’s living conditions. The need for love and attention was extremely evident because of initial defensive postures and interactions. As we slowly engaged through soccer and art activities the children began to soften and open their hearts to us. Like wise they left an indelible impression in hearts as well.
Ecuador weather and altitude
Before the trip, we wondered what the altitude, weather and the people of Ecuador would be like. The change in altitude is impacting some members of our group. They have experienced rapid heart beat and fatigue. Generally, however, we have been able to adjust well to living in the high mountains.
As for the weather, well, it is the rainy season. The rain makes it feel chilly. The rainy season began in October and will end in April. It is similar to winter for Ecuadorians. The sun shines and summer does not waste any time May through September.
We learned that the people of Ecuador are warm and friendly. They are proud of their culture and heritage. We also learned at the museum that what we refer to as the “panama hat” was originally made by local Ecuadorians.
We have trip to Otavalo planned for tomorrow, an indigenous village in the high Andes mountains. We will visit a marketplace and caper with local musicians.