Salutations from Riobamba! Today we had the opportunity, and challenge, of being El Lider del Dia, ELLD. When we signed up to be co-ELLDs, we didn’t realize what we had gotten ourselves into. Today was our first CAP delivery day, so it was the first time we got to work on our projects. As you may or may not know, our partner organization is the Instituto de Educacion Especial Carlos Garbay. This is a school made for children with special needs, the only one of its kind here. The school also owns a small farm, which they use to teach their students various skills that they can use later in life– our project is focused on this farm, which they call La Granja.

After interviews with school officials and a seminar we held a couple of days ago, we agreed on three main areas of focus for our CAP: building cages for the farm’s cuys (guinea pigs); completing the structure we started building with them last week, which houses the cuy cages; and painting a mural by the play area. At the beginning of the day, we were all pretty sure of where we wanted to work, so we split off into two groups based on our strengths: a group for building, and a group for painting. Using the materials we bought yesterday, the painting group began by laying a coat of primer on three sections of brick wall, while the building group continued to work on the wooden structure and began figuring out how to build the cages out of chicken wire.


After working for four long hours in the sun, we took a break for a team meeting and lunch, which was provided by Isabel, the chef from Roma Santa. At this time, we discussed any improvements we could make as a group. Soon, it was time to get back to work and put these improvements, which included communication and positivity, into place. We continued to work in our groups until about 5:00 p.m, when it was time to clean-up and head back to the hostel. From there, we had another amazing dinner at Roma Santa, washed all the paint off our arms, had the usual nightly meeting, and went to bed.


Leading such an important day was a huge undertaking for us. Everyone was spread out across the field, and we had to make sure they were not only working hard, but having a great time doing it. Today was one of the few days we’ve had here with sparse clouds, so everyone became tired of sitting in the hot sun very fast. At one point, to make sure everyone was hydrated and healthy, we went around to collect water bottles to fill them at the other end of the farm. It’s little actions like that that really bring smiles to people’s faces during a long day of work. Since the two groups were separated, we both ended up working in each of them. By the end of the day, two thirds of the mural was finished, three large cages were built, the structure was completed (minus the roof), and we were exhausted; but, as a fantastic surprise, our leaders brought us freshly-squeezed orange juice from Isabel’s sister-in-law. We were all amazed by how sweet and delicious it was– it was the perfect way to close out the work day.

Betsy would like to shout out her family, who she misses very much and can’t wait to see in just a few days (your presents are all ready)!! She also misses her friends from Evanston a ton (and Chuckles, of course)!! Also, special thanks to Mom for letting me know that my Facebook got hacked– always remember to log out at Internet Cafes! 🙂

Alva’s shoutout:

Hola, mom, dad, Jose, Kate, and Plato. Los extraño mucho, y no puedo esperar a verlos el lunes. Los quiero desde aqui hasta la luna y las estrellas. Lleven algo picante a el aeropuerto! Pleaseeee! And some horchata.

Our time in Ecuador is quickly coming to a close, and we’re savoring every moment of it, even though some prove to be difficult. We speak for our whole delegation when we say we will never forget our time here, and all the people (and dogs) we’ve had the privilege to meet and help. Riobamba is absolutely breathtaking, from the mountains to the volcano to the architecture. See you soon!!