Today, we woke up early with a positive and energetic attitude after witnessing the Warriors sweep the Cavaliers last night. After gathering together and walking to Roma Santa, we had delicious marinated beef strips paired with mashed yellow plantains and a creamy hot apple soup. On the side, we had papaya and grapes. The beef was so tender and paired perfectly with the sweet bananas! After a hearty breakfast, we walked back to the hotel for a fun group energizer with Jerry.
Then we walked to Parque Maldonado and watched an unexpected lively parade on the way. Upon arrival at Parque Maldonado, we were greeted by Javier and his group of children. Javier is part of a program called Manitos Trabajadoras, which aims to alleviate poverty by providing children and their families with free food once a week. Through this program, Manitos Trabajadoras has been able to provide kids not only with food, but also another family, offering children the support they need to achieve their dreams. (David is the best!!!) In the afternoon, we were introduced to some of the children struggling with poverty everyday and were able to build a strong connection with them as they guided us through their jobs. Some of us sold bubblegum, bracelets, and candy to the locals, while others learned how to shine shoes! Doing these jobs gave us an insight into the struggles and goals of the Ecuadorean children. We learned that these children are just like us, in the way that they love to have fun and connect with others. In addition to having a delicious lunch with the kids (chicken and rice), we also played some traditional Ecuadorean games, took pictures with them, taught them English, and played soccer with them.
After lunch, Javier told us his story and the vision for Manitos Trabajadoras, inspiring all of us to make a difference. Another activist, Luis, also joined and explained to us how to alleviate poverty in Ecuador. With their lessons and messages in mind, we walked back to the hotel for group self reflections, discussing the factors that cause poverty and the similarities and differences between poverty in the United States and Ecuador. Then, we were introduced to our CAP (Community Action Plan) and discussed potential projects we can do to benefit the community as well as learn that in order to truly help a community, we must listen to the community itself to understand what they need. After our long day, we headed back to Roma Santa for dinner, which consisted of spaghetti with meat sauce, and salad. To end our day, we summarized the day and passed the torch to tomorrow’s Líderes Del Dias, before going to bed and looking forward to our free day tomorrow!
Clifford and Victor