An Amazonian adventure
A group of 18 Secondary students embarked on a service project to the Amazonian Rainforest in Ecuador to help lay the foundation for new classrooms in the community of Cruz-Chikta.
The students arrived in Quito, Ecuador, on April 7, 2018, ready for a new adventure and to help others. After a day in old Quito, they set off for their main adventure. It took a seven-hour bus ride and a canoe trip to reach their destination; the Minga Lodge in Mondaña, Napo.
Over five days, the girls were at the building site in the morning, helping to bend and cut rebar, mix cement and create minga lines (a zigzag line that is used to lift and carry things long distances) to create the pillars that would eventually support the school.
Not only did they build the school, but the worked side by side with the children, and the siblings of the children who would be using the school.
In the afternoons they immersed themselves in the culture of Ecuador, one day spending the afternoon with Senor Vargas, a local farmer, who told them about their fight for clean water and let the girls taste some locally grown Ecuadorean fruit.
They also visited a nearby cacao farm and followed the process of chocolate making from the fruit to the beans, all the way to chocolate tasting back at their lodge. They also travelled to the Bellavista Baja community and met the women of the local artisan group “Sumak Warmi”, which means “beautiful women” in the local language, Kichwa.
Finally, on their last day in the Amazon, they met a local healerman, José Shiguango, and experienced a traditional cleansing ritual. Their jungle guide showed them how to use Amazonian weapons, such as the blowgun and spear.
It was an unforgettable experience for the girls, and in the words of Y9 students, Lara Backeberg and Kristy Sanchez: “At the end of the trip, we believe that not only did we help Cruz-Chikta become a better community, but they helped us to grow as people and to see the world in a new way.
“During much of the trip we felt like we were in two different worlds. Yet, on the last day, when we were playing soccer with the local school, we all forgot our differences, and we just played and had fun.
“By the end of our trip we realised that even though we are from two completely different cultures, we are not really all that different. We are all kids who go to school, play sports with friends, dance, relax, and most importantly, learn from each other.”