Nine teams will work on 4 projects throughout Ecuador in February, March and April 2016. Teams will live and work with communities for 1 week to build needed facilities for deserving communities.
In 2007, Builders Beyond Borders traveled to the small fishing community of Ballenita in southwestern Ecuador to build 4 classrooms. Builders Beyond Borders has a unique opportunity to return to this project/community to build 2 additional classrooms and 4 bathrooms in 2016.
Building on a previous project is not new to B3; we can see the progress and impact that those original 4 classrooms (2007) have had. And how that small beginning allowed the Escuela Malena to realize its dreams and potential. As director of the school Marisol Santos, told us on a recent visit that B3 made a real difference in the school and community. She and some of her students talked to us about the memories they have from 2007 and it was very clear that they credit so much of their success to the 3 teams that worked in Ballenita that year.
The original school was built with on a piece of land that was donated by an area businessman and was started as a way to teach the adults in the village (mostly fishermen) how to read, write and do simply math. The goal was to learn alongside their children. It has now evolved into a very highly regarded school for about 100 children and we are happy to report that adult literacy in this area has increased substantially since our initial project in 2007.
The new classrooms will accommodate 4 and 5 year old children who will be getting their first exposure to school. There are plans and space to add grades 8-10 in the future. The progress and growth at this small school is incredible. In the eight years since B3 last worked there, an additional 4 classrooms have been built and the programming has come to include computer science and English. Students are graduating from the school and continuing their education; many are the first in their family to graduate from high school.
Ballenita (little whale) is located on the Saint Elena peninsula and is surrounded by beautiful beaches in the Guayas department (state) of Ecuador. The families here rely mostly on fishing for income and are fanatical soccer (football) fans and players. The families support the school and often participate in “mingas” at the school. Mingas is a type of traditional communal work where community members come together for a specific work project. Parents are also encouraged to participate in classes offered by the school and to volunteer to cook or clean at the school.
You and your team will construct 2 large classrooms and 4 bathrooms that will allow the 4 and 5 year olds to have their own space allowing them to learn in the best possible conditions.
While Ecuador 2016 promises to be another amazing year for Builders Beyond Borders, this particular project assures us that working and playing with the children at the school will be a large part of our experience in Ballenita. Your team will be touched by these children and Marisol Santos, and will be inspired as we work together with this community to “build a better world.”
El Tambo is an indigenous community located in the Andean highlands near the city of Cañar about an hour outside of Cuenca. The community is deeply rooted in their heritage and most continue to wear the traditional dress of the Cañari people and speak Quichua as well as Spanish.
Unidad Educativa Mushuk Kawsay is a tri-lingual school that encourages and requires all students to learn English, Spanish and Quichua. There are over 500 students in this unique educational facility that also promotes the importance of embracing the culture, traditions, language and dress of their ancestors. Originally built in 1995, the school is currently overcrowded with 50 students in classrooms designed for only 20-25 students. The school has students from preschool through 7th grade. We will be working with the committee from the school, the local government and your B3 team to construct the first 2 of 6 classrooms in the next phase of the building plan.
About 30 minutes outside of El Tambo is the town of Ingapirca, which is named after Incan ruins that can be found there. Ingapirca is Quichua for “Inca wall”. These are the largest known Incan ruins in Ecuador. The buildings were constructed in the Inca “way” without mortar. The stones were carefully chiseled and fashioned to fit together perfectly. Ingapirca was settled by the Cañari indigenous people, who called it Hatun Cañar. As the Inca Empire expanded into southern Ecuador, the Inca Túpac Yupanqui encountered the Cañari “Hatun Cañar” tribe and had trouble conquering them. Ultimately, the Inca and Cañari people decided to settle their differences and live together peacefully. Each tribe kept most of their individual customs separate. Although there were many more Incans, they did not demand that the Cañari give up their autonomy.
You and your team will construct 2 large classrooms that will help eliminate the overcrowding in the classrooms and allow students the opportunity to study the traditional subjects offered in all schools as well as English, Spanish and Quichua. The school is working towards special certification that will ease the process of attending International schools and universities outside of Ecuador.
While Ecuador 2016 promises to be another amazing year for Builders Beyond Borders, this particular project assures us that working with the students at the school and their families will be a large part of our experience in El Tambo. You may have the opportunity to learn some Quichua – we learned on our last visit that “thank you” in Quichua is Upaichani (you-pie-chan-nee). Your team will be touched by this community of indigenous people and will be inspired as we work together with this community to “build a better world.” We are confident that you will hear “Upaichani” often during your time in El Tambo.
El Carmen is about halfway between Quito and the coast in the area known as Manabi. A recent mandate from the government in Ecuador is requiring all school districts to begin the education process earlier – all 3 and 4 year old children must be enrolled in formal education. Most schools have little or no space to implement these programs and the government, while mandating that all schools provide this programming, have no funding to offer schools. It is expected that schools “find” the space within existing classrooms. Escuela de Julio Cobo Hernandez is already over capacity and the teachers and families are anxious to have proper classrooms and size-appropriate bathrooms for the smaller children.
This is where your team will be constructing new classrooms and bathrooms for these youngsters. It is exciting to be part of this new wave of education for the smaller children. We are excited to work on this for a number of reasons; most importantly is that we have been able to witness first hand the difference education can have in breaking the cycle of poverty, especially when started at an early age.
While Ecuador 2016 promises to be another amazing year for Builders Beyond Borders, this particular project assures us that working with the students in the Escuela de Julio Cobo Hernandez will be a large part of our experience in El Carmen. Your team will be touched by these children and be inspired as we work together to “build a better world.”
Pitaná Bajo is a rural community located just outside of Cayambe (between Quito and Ibarra) in the northern part of Ecuador above the equator. This indigenous community is in need of a medical clinic. The nearest Health Post is about 30 minutes away. Builders Beyond Borders has been asked to help construct this clinic that will serve not only Pitaná Bajo but also eight additional communities.
The clinic is simple in design with four examination rooms, a waiting area, bathrooms and a small dispensary for medications. It will be built near to the existing community center that the community worked together to build eleven years ago. The community often holds “Mingas days.” Mingas is a type of traditional communal work where community members come together for a specific work project. Families here are regular participants in these workdays and have constructed a communal kitchen and bathrooms as well as the community center.
The closest clinic is 30 minutes away and is not easily accessible. The walk is arduous and buses travel infrequently between Pitaná Bajo and Cayambe. Many families are unable to take advantage of the existing clinic in Cayambe and are eager to have a clinic in their own community where about 200 families live.
Pitaná Bajo is located just above the equator and is close to the “official” Mitad del Mundo site (middle of the world). The site straddles the line that divides the earth’s northern and southern hemispheres and gives the country its name – the equator (latitude of 0° 0’ 0”). Here visitors have the opportunity to stand with one foot in the northern hemisphere with the other in the southern hemisphere and observe first hand how things change moving from one hemisphere to the other. Pitaná Bajo is also relatively close to one of the top ten markets in the world, Otavalo, where beautiful Ecuadorian handcrafts can be purchased/bargained for.
You and your B3 team will construct a medical clinic that will serve not only Pitaná Bajo, but also eight additional surrounding communities. The Ecuadorian government has committed to providing doctors and medical staff as well as equipment and supplies once the clinic is completed. We will work with the President of Pitaná Bajo, Don Jose Marcelo Panchenko and his committee, alongside the members of the community to build this clinic.
While Ecuador 2016 promises to be another amazing year for Builders Beyond Borders, this particular project assures us that working with families of Pitaná Bajo will be a large part of our experience. You may have the opportunity to learn some Quichua – we learned on our last visit that “thank you” in Quichua is Upaichani (you-pie-chan-nee). Your team will be touched by this community of indigenous people and will be inspired as we work together to “build a better world.” We are confident that you will hear “Upaichani” often during your time in Pitaná Bajo.