It can be easy to get bogged down with work and everyday routines. We have so much going on constantly throughout the week that come weekends we can be quite exhausted. Our schedules change; the people we work with and places where we work too.
However, one of the most rewarding experiences we encounter is spending an afternoon at a community members house. Building relations with members of the community is definitely the group's forte and one of the most enjoyed and interesting experiences. The language and cultural exchange is comfortable and casual over home cooked meals, and occasionally, some karaoke in the living room.
This past Sunday the group visited our friend Nancy's home for a afternoon lunch, leaving with bellies full of food and laughter. Nancy's three daughters and son greeted us graciously as her massive mutt Jack (think of Stephen King's Kujo, seriously) into their home complete with a tour of her terraced gardens and small nursery. We played soccer and tossed the football to work up our appetite.
Nancy operates a small foundation near our house in Sangolqui. Along with several other women, she has established Antorcha de Vida as a small but vital institution that offers therapeutic recreation and learning services for children in the area with special needs. Jefferson and myself have been working in the gardens at Antorcha; keeping their garden beds clear of weeds, planting new seeds, and of course getting to know all the friendly folk that comprise the staff. Madeleine also has been a huge help for them, assisting in horse therapy sessions and in the classroom doing other therapeutic exercises.
With only one true singer in group (Joey), we cleared our plates and then our throats for some karaoke. Joey broke the ice with some Allman Bros., passing the microphones to Jefferson and myself who did an groundbreaking rendition of the Weather Girls' "It's Raining Men". Passing the microphone around for an hour or so we had a great time but realized that maybe we should leave the singing to the showers.
This is a perfect example of what being a Program Director is all about; setting our tracks down in the community, using social relationships as the vehicle to learn, understand, and explore a culture that is foreign to us, just as our culture is foreign to them. The term "foot soldier" comes to mind quite often as we are the eyes and ears of the organization. Activities spent on beautiful afternoons such as the lunch at Nancy's house are a fresh reminder of what we really do here in Ecuador and how fortunate we are to be partaking in such an unique experience.
If you or someone you know wants to learn more about the Program Director experience, please visit the MPI website:
Also - we are still accepting applications for 2013-14 PDs. Again, if you know someone who would be interested in such an experience as this, please have them visit the following link:
Thank you for checking in and as always all the best,