When traveling I always seem to do the most reflecting. Looking out the window and hearing familiar city noises brings an odd ease in facing the dark places my mind inevitably seems to wander. Although I was traveling today nothing short of joy, good vibes and pure excitement filled my heart.
We arrived in Ecuador around 1 AM and we’re greeted by Andrea who has worked for compassion international for 10 years. The warmth in her smile and genuine passion for what she does brought inspiration to my heart immediately. Although it was late she was so energetic and managed to inform us of some hard hitting facts about the poverty and situation in certain areas of the country. Most importantly we were reminded to drink lots of water due to the altitude of 4,000 feet above sea level. The luxury of safe running water is something I can say I definitely take for granted. My roommate and I both had a hard time remembering not to brush our teeth with the tap water because as an American I never had to think “is this water safe to use”…have you? After a goodnight sleep and a delicious breakfast we were more thoroughly informed of the serious situations some families were facing in Ecuador.
The facts I found most shocking:
-some places there are no families.. Children are wrnever exposed to the idea of having a mother and father
-men have more than one “wife”
-4 in 10 women are pregnant before age 18
-domestic violence is very high and many times women feel like they must just accept it because they have no other options
-communitarian societies still exist
-high inequity rate 5% of the population gets 95% of the money in Ecuador
-14 million people and 7 million are under the age if 25 making the job market very slim and difficult to improve post graduation
After the presentation we flew to the coast and visited some of the projects. We were greeted with a beautiful testimony by pastor Rosatia who shared with us the many changes she has seen in this area through the work of God. We ate some freshly prepared fruit and then played with the awesome kids who’s smiles could probably turn anyone’s day around. (Especially the cutie pictured below with Gee) We learned extensively about the work that the compassion does and some of the skills that are available for the women to learn. They made the beautiful bracelets below and sell them which is key to the program because it provides them a way to support themselves. Following this was the most eye opening part of the day when we were invited to visit a home (pictured below) I still can not imagine the daily challenges my new friends must face and even though their world seems to be worlds away from mine… With different water than me we all thirst for the same thing. Gods grace.