Climbing Aboard the Apprenticeship

I’m working with a non-profit organization here called Mountains of Hope or Montañas de Esperanza. I’m doing a variety of work so far. In the mornings every day here I’m helping teach Creative Art in my school, usually from 8am to 1pm. The art class is special because classes like it pretty much don’t exist in any other school in Ecuador. The government doesn’t prioritize creative arts and most kids go their whole lives without being exposed to it. The classes focus on more practical creative arts, as the school is artisan based. It trains girls to work in textiles after they graduate, giving them the tools they need to have a job and thus support themselves and their families. In our art classes, they learn color and design theory, while making projects that my supervisor sells back in the States. The money from those projects is used in the school somehow, in any way that the girls collectively decide.

Right now, for example, some of the girls are making little cloth wallets, one for themselves, and one to be sold in the States. They’re coming out quite nicely. Honestly, some of these girls are so good at sewing and design, I wonder why they’re not teaching me. When my supervisor isn’t here, I help teach English classes. I don’t really enjoy that much because the classes are extremely boring due to outdated teaching techniques and the kids don’t learn anything, which is disheartening to me. Two days a week in the afternoon I go down to a different community named Paragotchi and teach basic English at the daycare there. Paragotchi is a much poorer community than Pimampiro and is definitely in more need, which is why my organization has been focusing on it since its beginning. The daycare literally has no supplies for the kids. They only get so much money from the government per child and all of that goes to pay for feeding them. I’ve been teaching them colors by bringing in crayons and picture sheets. Then they have to ask me for what color they want in order to use it, but in English. The first day, before I started bringing supplies, I was teaching them by pointing to things in the room and saying what color it was. They learn much more enthusiastically with crayons. Every Monday, for a change in schedule we go and hold little simple art projects at the homeless old folks center here in Pimampiro. We hold them before lunch and afterwards help serve lunch and clean up. Most of these people are very elderly without family, without homes and this is probably the most nutritious meal they eat all week. The culture here doesn’t have much a sense of nutrition. What few vegetables they eat regularly, they boil to death. Most of their foods are high in starch and low in vitamins. The other day I went out for lunch and had a salad. When I told my mom what I’d eaten, she was like,

“Oh, and what else?”

“Nothing else, just a big salad with cheese, apples, vegetables, you know.”

“And soup?”


“With rice?”


“Just salad?”


I’m hoping to start a cooking class at my school, with 15 kids or so, once a week. They might not be interested in salads, but I could maybe hook them on some black bean burgers or vegetable stir-fry.

Starting next week, I’ll also be facilitating art workshops with kids in Paragotchi as an afterschool program. My supervisor and I will be going to other communities and doing the same thing, but Paragotchi will be on a regular, weekly schedule. In addition, I have more options as to what I could do from here on out. I know there’s an afterschool music workshop that’s starting next week I could help with, I’m sure.

Mountains of Hope does a lot of work with the families of the girls as well, who are mainly farmers. They teach them organic farming and bio intensive agriculture techniques, as to sometimes double and triple their production, while helping the environment as well.

That’s a general summary of what I’ve been doing/what I’m going to be doing. My work is pretty flexible, though, which I like.

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  1. paul mcmillan

     /  November 2, 2012

    Write more often, we love to here from you.
    Sounds like things are going very well.

    Paul & Terri

  2. I hope in your cooking class you teach something more that making salad! and meat, oh yeah, they’d love to learn cooking meat :)write more


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