Pam Gilbert, member of Rotary eClub One and retired math teacher (of 30 years) who has taught around the world (Japan, Australia, Malaysia, Switzerland, China) shares a story of how one person’s chance encounter can lead to a service project that touches many lives. She has traveled to over 70 countries - exploring them slowly, when possible, using a touring bike. Once Pam got lost on a 6-day hike in the Andes and was rescued by two boys from Malingua Pamba. The passion in their eyes when they spoke about the privilege of being able to attend the ‘weekend high school, which involved a two-hour walk each way, inspired her to return to help them complete their education. Fifteen years later, both boys have their university degrees and the volunteer spirit; Lautaro is a teacher in our colegio and director of both the school and our scholarship program
Back in 2003, the community of Malingua Pamba, in the Andes of Ecuador had a one room school house with one (unmotivated) teacher. The students 'drifted' away from attending around age 9. We are very proud to report that we just had our 7th and 8th Universidad Tecnica de Cotopaxi (UTC) graduates. In Ecuador, students are required to execute a thesis project (not just write a thesis). Freddy; our seventh UTC graduate created a 'cactus energy bar' complete with protein, vitamin, calorie analyses. Read on to find out the larger ramifications of his creation. I would like to elaborate on the 'off the chart' achievement of our 8th UTC, Raul.
Raul was born with several deformities, notably lack of full use of one arm plus an 'asymmetrical' face. Remember that our communities are agrarian - having a child who can't work the fields is a real hindrance. On top of that, at a very early age, his mom passed away. I do not know what gave Raul the strength of purpose, but when he heard about the 'new' colegio (middlesenior high school) in Malingua Pamba back in 2004, he made the 2 hr walk each way from Guantualo. He was the only child walking over from Guantualo.
"Who would have ever thunk it" that this shy, introverted boy would now proudly claim the title of "Licenciado" - the title of a university graduate?!! His thesis was the development of a new variety of cheese.
Last year we petitioned for what I thought/hoped would be a one-time funding campaign to help construct a Science Lab. Unfortunately, we did not meet our goal. The Ecuadorian Dept. of Education has granted us an extension to get this built. (We have a Memorandum of Understanding that they will provide the Science Teacher as well as all of the supplies/equipment we 'just' need to build the facility.) Here are some interesting / potential ramifications of a Science Lab with a mini-Industrial Kitchen component:
· biology experiments: very useful for our agrarian communities
· kitchen component can be used to mass produce items such as Freddy's cactus energy bar
which could employ members of the community; hence, an incentive / reason to stay in 'el campo'
making of mortino marmalade (mortino is a native Andean blue currant, an organic and desired
fruit) and, of course,
· the development of interest in science!
One of the students wrote a thank you letter to eClub One. Here is a translation:
Malingua Pamba, October 20, 2017
Dear Pamelita Gilberth
First, receive warm greetings from Ecuador, I send hugs to the States.
Pamelita, I write to tell you that I am in the seventh year of basic education, my teacher is Bolivar. I like to study, do my homework, help around the house. In my house there are a lot of animals. I help feed them.
Pamelita, we know of your generosity, of how good and lovely you are. Apologies if I offend you, but we are planning a field trip with our teacher to the city of Baños, where the teacher says that there is a zoo with lots of animals from the coast, the mountains, the East, and the Galapagos. Also the trip will take us to natural geothermal pools and hot springs created by the Tungurahua volcano, and the Virgin of the Holy Water (waterfalls), which is why we ask you with all our heart to sponsor or support us so that we can journey to that beautiful place. As you surely know, we don’t travel even to Latacunga because we lack economic resources, but we are rich in enjoying this life that God has given us.
May God care for you and your friends. I hope that we meet again very soon in our village. I miss you and we remember your big smile. It goes without saying that I thank you for your understanding and say goodbye to you with much love.
Maira Lorena Fazo Tuaquiza
The opinions expressed in this make-up article do not necessarily represent the opinions of Rotary eClub One and its editorial staff