To Ecuador with Free the Children–Part I

November 29, 2012 at 1:57 pm 1 comment

In April 1995,  news broke in Canadian newspapers of the death of a child labourer, Iqbal Masih, in Pakistan. The news so moved twelve-year-old Craig Kielburger, a student in Richmond Hill, Ontario, that he stepped into social justice action that would impact many children around the world, and later cause many more volunteers  to join hands with the organization and become involved.

Craig went to the library in search of information and discovered that child labour was common in some places. He had such compassion for this child’s situation that he wanted to do something. What could he do that would make an impact? Could his actions lead to freeing other children from bondage?  When he asked his classmates for help, Free the Children was born.

The organization has grown in those seventeen years and is active in countries around the world. It has built momentum in schools, and that’s where my niece, Alex, and her friend Alys come in. They, too, wanted to be involved in such a mission and participate in activities that would help other children. Children helping children, where it all began.

The beginning of this journey is best told in the words of my niece, Alex, and how she came to be on this trip:

“We Day was first brought to my attention through a school club I was involved in called Students Without Borders. It was here I learned more about global issues and social justice, and through our work raising money for various Free The Children campaigns, we were given tickets to participate in We Day. It was here that I really found the passion I needed, and I desperately wanted to go on a youth volunteer trip. So, two years prior to my Ecuador trip, I signed up and began fundraising.”

Initially, her family had concerns about her going to Ecuador, but they were assured that the students would be supervised and kept safe.

After much fundraising—bake sales, yard sales, silent auction and spaghetti dinners— Alex and Alys, high school students from Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School in Ontario, had finally raised the money they needed.  And I might add, they had great support of family, church and community to raise such funds.

Finally, with all the orientation behind them, essential vaccinations and careful packing, Alex and Alys were off to Ecuador. The students who went on the trip would help to build a school, and dig a trench for a water system for a community. They would also have an opportunity to see the Amazon.

And this is the story Alex brought to St. Philip Lutheran recently about her mission trip to Ecaudor. She brought passion and enthusiasm, many pictures and stories. She had our attention.

Alex and Alys, among a large group of youth aged 12 to 21, arrived in Quito this past summer. They took a little time for orientation in their new surroundings, including getting used to the altitude.

The view of Quito from a nearby extinct volcano

The Madonna statue standing guard over the community
First the volunteers worked on the water project in La Pampa. Students worked together to dig a trench where pipes would be laid so that water could be carried over the mountains.
As Alex shared, people from the community pitched in to help with the digging, even a grandmother with a baby strapped to her back. For if the citizens were to benefit, they felt the need to help with the work.
Alex and Alys with a fellow volunteer ready to dig
Digging in the trench for a water system
This  shot gives a scope of the height the crew was working at in relation to the surrounding area
After the students had done their work in La Pampa, they moved on to San Miguel where they would help build an addition on to a high school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painting of roof tiles

 

Alex and Alys building a wall on the school addition project
The group of student workers in front of addition in San Miguel–this is what they are building.
Students often have to travel an hour or two just to get to their high school. It was getting crowded and needed more space to accomodate the students.
September photo of San Miguel project–It was good to see the completion of the school they had worked on, along with other groups who had also worked on it!
Come back soon for Part II, the students’ trip to the Amazon and other pictures of interest
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Entry filed under: community, Missions, photography, social justice, travel. Tags: , , , , .

Speaking to Kiwanis and Learning from Them To Ecuador with Free the Children–Part II

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Diana  |  November 29, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    What an inspiring story. And the photos are great. The finished school looks really nice.

    God bless your niece and her friends and also you, Caroline, for sharing their story

    Reply

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