Education Equals Hope: Good Company in Ecuador
A Travelogue by Tracey Beeker – PART 2
Earlier this year, Good Company had the good fortune to begin working with Education Equals Hope, a nonprofit organization whose mission and passion is to promote education for children in desperate and difficult places. Our charter is to help E=H develop a strategic vision that raises awareness and financial support for the organization. Because cause immersion is a very effective way to inspire nonprofit brand strategy one of our associates, Tracey Beeker traveled to Quito, Ecuador to witness first-hand the inspirational work achieved by the organization. The following is the second excerpt of a four-part travelogue series describing her experience, and the work done by Education Equals Hope and its community partners:
May 14, 2011: Youth World, the Equator and El Refugio
We begin today’s journey by visiting the offices of Youth World, a missionary organization who works to identify, teach and equip leaders to positively impact young people and their families. Youth World has incredible reach in Ecuador and is one of the largest program partners for Education Equals Hope. Cameron, Laura, Sarah and Dana all work with Youth World at various sites and do a remarkable job for the organization. We soon depart the facility and head on an excursion of Quito.
Ecuador has nearly four million people in the country, of which 2.5 million live in Quito. It’s a sprawling city that is full of diversity. As the group learns about the culture and history, we are reminded of the differences between those who colonize and those who are conquered.
Our destination is the Basilica del Voto Nacional, a neo-Gothic cathedral in the heart of the city. It’s an amazing place and was built to honor Pope John Paul II who blessed the building in 1985. The stain glass windows are impressive and many in our group venture to climb the highest turret. I am afraid of heights and prefer the view from the numerous balconies of the church!
Next up is the Central Square or Plaza de La Independencia. There is a festival going on and the square is crowded. There are numerous bands playing and street teams selling their wares – many are dressed in traditional costume. We view the Presidential Palace and local government buildings. In addition, I briefly toured the Church of San Francisco. It’s amazing inside. I am in awe of the workmanship throughout the building and can’t believe the talent of the artisans of so long ago. We break for lunch – you guessed it – chicken with rice and beans! Also visible from the square is the Virgin of Quito statue, which was donated to Ecuador from France. It’s beautiful atop the hill. Next stop- the Equator!
We conclude the day by visiting one of Youth World’s missionary sites, El Refugio, a place of refuge for those who want a spiritual connection to nature and the outdoors. There is a La Red conference of youth leaders going on and Cameron is a guest speaker. The site is beautiful. The air is crisp and smells of eucalyptus. The ground is damp from the rain. There are llamas and cows and a community garden on the property. I venture out for a hike and am amazed at the peace and quiet of the center.
The group attends Cameron’s session and I am delightfully greeted and hugged by Lilly, a beautiful four-year old girl whose parents, Juan Carlos and Courtney are missionaries in Ecuador. Lilly has an older sister and younger brother and she reminds me of all that is open, honest and good in the world. She makes me smile as do many of the young adults attending the conference. It’s been a long day and traveling to El Refugio has been a blessing.
May 15, 2011: A Parenting Workshop
It’s Sunday and this morning we are attending service at the English Fellowship Church, a partner of Youth World. Cameron’s husband, Roberto Vivanco spearheads the music at the church. It’s my first rock and roll service and I thoroughly enjoy how the music is integrated! Roberto has a recording studio and is working to support Education Equals Hope by promoting local talent on iTunes and other outlets to raise funds for the organization. I love the idea of using music as a way to promote and generate funding and will look for his music when back in the states!
We break for lunch and enjoy a yummy bowl of fish soup. The soup is super spicy and includes albacore, jicama, cilantro and onion. In addition, you can add corn nuts and popcorn to the soup per your taste. I love the flavors but know the spice is going to come back to haunt me!
We next travel to South Quito to an impoverished community. Chuck is giving a parenting workshop to a ministry site. When we arrive, I’m amazed at the number of men and women who are here with their children attending the session and we are given such a warm welcome! During the workshop, Chuck reminds us that how we raise our children and set an example will impact their lives forever. Everyone is listening and parents are asking good questions.
The women of the community have formed the work group – they make simple fashion accessories that are brilliantly embroidered to sell for profit. It provides the women with a sense of worth and accomplishment. They bestow upon our group a set of items with such generosity – I’m humbled. The energy doesn’t end there. The youth of the community have come together to teach us a dance – each of us has to select a new partner at each turn of the music. It’s fun. It reminds me of musical chairs but the goal is to continually find a new dance partner. It’s also a great way to meet people and share an experience.
Not to be outdone, our team decides to dance the Electric Slide. Chip is light on his feet. Everyone enjoys the camaraderie. We close the workshop by singing in a large circle. Hand in hand, everyone leaves in a joyous spirit!