This week's blog comes from Chet Polson and guess what... it's not about microfinance! I love Chet's blogs about microfinance, mostly because I could never explain the ins and outs of the program as well as he can. I also thoroughly enjoyed reading this refreshing look at life in Ecuador told through the eyes of a wardrobe. Enjoy and cross your fingers that Chet and Mike make it up Cotopaxi (the second tallest mountain in Ecuador) on Sunday morning!

Chet resting atop Pasachoa

"I have a ton of t-shirts. This may not be the most interesting revelation to our readers, but it is something that I’ve had on my mind for the past few days. Sonia and I switched rooms Wednesday to get the PD living arrangements squared away for summer. As I had to take all my current possessions from my old room into the office before finally moving into Sonia’s old room (Erik and Chet’s 'Fort' now) I had ample opportunity to look at exactly what is in my wardrobe.

I have 8 button-down long-sleeve shirts. One each is from Mark and Seth. I have 1 Rumiñahui soccer jersey that I play in on weekends. I have 4 jerseys from other teams (Ecuador, Argentina, LDU Quito, and a YMCA one that is good for hiking). I have a “kick it with Pi-Phi” tank top that I don’t believe I’ve worn since orientation. I have four undershirts and 3 collared polo shirts on top of that (again, two of those collared shirts are from Mark and Seth). All in all, I have 34 shirts here in Ecuador with me.

That is a ton of cotton (or polyester, as the case may be with some). And I have even more shirts sitting in my closet at home. Sure, some of these shirts have very different uses. I can only play soccer in my Rumiñahui jersey, because it is the team uniform. Some of the t-shirts are so ratty I don’t like to wear them outside the house. I try to wear a button down shirt when I’m teaching and wear either a collared shirt or an MPI shirt when I am in the library. But I wear my shirts more than once before washing and do laundry every 7-10 days, so I really have way more than I need.

I’ve learned a lot in my time here in Ecuador with Manna, but something I’m only now starting to pick up on is how to do more with less. Manna already does a pretty good job doing more with less. Of our three children’s English classes, only 2 have boards. But we had enough demand for children’s English that the English profes felt the need to offer a full third class. We have gone from having every PD in the library every afternoon to only having three there to allow us to run more programs and plan for more classes. I hope I can get a clearer picture of how to do more with less in my remaining 76 days. I don’t want to come back with this skill just to be thriftier; I don’t just want to mop my kitchen floor with a little less cleaning solution to save money in the long run. I’m interested in conserving resources because, from what I’ve seen, if you pass your extras along to someone else some really incredible results can spring from relatively small gifts. The art class, which has around 15 kids ages 5-10 coming to the library each week, has had to buy almost nothing because out biggest needs (construction paper and markers) are always being donated. Our English classes couldn’t function without the dry erase markers that get sent down a box or two at a time with volunteers. Some of the clothes I wear most often I got out of the adoption corner.

So thank you donors, and not just my donors, for everything you have made possible this year so far, both in the PD’s lives and the lives in the communities we work with. When I leave Ecuador at the end of July, I want to leave 21 shirts behind. I might even leave more if I can. If another PD doesn’t feel the need to augment their wardrobe from the adoption corner like I did, they will be passed along to Ecuadorians in need. But more than just thanking you for what you’ve already done, I want to encourage you to keep passing along little extras: small monetary gifts, in-kind donations, and even clothing to us (or an organization closer to home) to continue producing incredible results.

Song of the blog: 'Bigger than my body' by John Mayer

- Chet"