Study Abroad

To Build a Stove

May 21, 2018

Lasell students begin second service learning project in EcuadorThis day has been, by far, our most active day. We started off the morning with the typical breakfast of Ecuadorian children, which is barley flour mixed with water steeped in some kind of plant or herb, and brown sugar. It makes a sort of paste that resembles brownie batter, but unfortunately does not taste like brownie batter. For families in these areas of Ecuador, you eat what you have on the farm, or what you could afford at the market the week before. Most of these families can only afford to eat this same grain mixture for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Today, because of this, we have decided to make hamburgers with fresh meat and veggies from the El Sinche farm for the local town's school children (an American experience with an Ecuadorian twist). When the children came for the burgers, they also sat in our courtyard for a presentation on dental hygiene, after which we handed out toothbrushes and toothpaste to the children, a commodity that they don't necessarily always have.

Lasell students working in EcuadorI did start this off saying this was our busiest day so far, so naturally that wasn't the only thing we were up to today. Immediately following breakfast we began carrying stacks of bricks, dirt, cement and other materials up the river to the homes where we would begin our second service project. Today we laid the foundations for brick ovens, that we should hopefully finish tomorrow. We used skills we learned at our last service project making the tiles to make the mud or "chocote" as the mortar for the bricks, and had several groups going collecting stones, dirt, water and mixing cement. When these things were prepped we were able to build and fill the four layer base for our ovens. While we were doing this other students also made their way over to the school to work with the kids before lunch. We wrapped the days work up at around 9:00 pm, and we enjoyed dinner and cake in celebration of Daniel and Dalanna's birthdays. Xavier's family put together a fire and piñatas in the courtyard for us to celebrate further, and we stayed up late playing card games, laughing with the sticky sweetness from the candy, and practicing our Spanish with our supervisors from the project that day. The night was overwhelmingly fun and warm, and I can honestly say I wouldn't want to be on this trip with a different group of people.

Lasell students in EcuadorOf course, while I'm on the topic of how wonderful my time with 13 strangers has been, I want to touch on the authenticity and wholeness of these people especially regarding how we have faced challenges. I mentioned in my first blog about luggage issues, for the sake of briefness I'll just say that three bags failed to be transported from our connected flight in Miami. The airline is in the process of getting them to our destination, thanks to the persistence of Professor Guzmán and Xavier, but unfortunately this means that two girls have been without their luggage and clothes for three days. When we realized that it may be a while until the bags would be able to reach us, everyone in our group was offering up their own belongings and clothes to compensate for what was lost. Not only was I impressed by the overwhelming support our entire group showed for our companions, but also their own perseverance and optimism in this situation. A change of clothes is a necessity on a trip like this, especially one so physically taxing and messy, but I still have never heard them complain once. They rolled with the hand they were dealt and continued to be positive and focused on the reason they were here. Instead of fussing and worrying about a situation out of their control, they were the first ones to dig their hands into mud, to hoist bricks back and forth between our house and the homes we were building ovens for. I think this stands to show the perseverance, kindness and maturity of this group that their families and Lasell should be proud of.