As an end-of-term trip, TGS went to give something back to the country that had given us so much. High up in the highlands of Ecuador, in a tiny province named Chimborazo, we got off the bus, eager, ready to help. We were the first group to bring kids from outside of the U.S. and Canada.
We looked around they gave us a tour. They showed us the adobe brick-making machine where they pile dirt recently dug up from the ground into these metal pressers, and press and press it into bricks. They showed us where we were going to be building. Flat ground. Some white lines drawn onto the ground where they wanted the foundation to be built. They told us they wanted it 60cm on the sides and 150cm in the corners.
We went back home, "home" being where we ate, slept, and talked about the world, its problems, and possible solutions. The real work started day two. This same schedule of working for 3-4 hours, going to eat lunch, and either working or having a workshop for 4-5 hours would repeat again. They gave us a beautiful welcoming ceremony into their community, with speeches and dancing.
The digging was hard. My partner and I managed to find the rootiest, rockiest area, and smashing our way through with hoes and pickaxes was amusing. By the end, our muscles were tired, and we were getting short of breath, because of the high elevation.
One moment stood out to me that explained the entire trip: The translator was crouched on the ground, translating from Spanish to English. All the primary children had chairs, and one child stood up, walked to the centre with her chair, and gave it to the translator, remaining standing until someone could find her a chair to sit on. She couldn't have been more than 11 years old.
The people of the community were so selfless, so eager to help, and willing to be helped. The digging was tiring but rewarding, by the end of 3 days we had pretty much finished digging the entire foundation. The bricks were going good and strong, more than 100 bricks made. The mural was almost done at the end, and it was beautiful. The buildings were looking nice and rocky.
This was an amazing experience, at least for me. We gave up time that we could've been doing rafting or zip-lining, and hey, that might've been more fun.
But I think we gained more out of this trip.