When you wake up in Chilcapamba, you are greeted by roosters crowing, dogs barking, and loudspeakers announcing the goods being sold in the passing trucks. You come downstairs for a breakfast of yogurt, cheese, bread, and cereal with the 15 other Mitzvah Corps Ecuador travelers and at least a few members of the Morales family who have been hosting our group. You fill your water bottle and put on sunscreen so you can take a 15 minute hike up to the water filtration area where you will work very hard to help provide fresh water to more houses in the community. The day is tiring, but when you look up, you are surrounded by breathtaking mountains that touch the clouds. When you look to the side of you, you find some of the best people you have ever met: your fellow travelers. You are in Chilcapamba, Ecuador and you feel so lucky to be here.
We have had an incredible first week here in Ecuador. From our cable car ride to view Quito from the sky, to our first days working in Chilcapamba, we have learned so much about this country and its people. Throughout our week, we have not stopped singing and laughing as we continue to get to know each other more deeply.
During our Shabbat service tonight, some of our teens will share reflections on what they have learned so far in Chilcapamba.
“The work we did this week allowed me to better understand the values of the community of Chilcapamba and their tireless work ethic. They welcomed us into the community and taught us how powerful it can be when two communities come together to share their ideas and beliefs.” – Nicole Golden
“All of this work brings us closer to an end goal of Judaism: a world without pain, hunger, and violence. This week has made me feel honored to be a part of this great movement of repairing the world.” – Scott Buksbaum
“I have learned so much about the people here and their culture, while also getting closer with our group. We have made such a difference in this community in a short time, and it has been unforgettable.” – Rebecca Golden
We are looking forward to a weekend of exploring: hiking around a river and up a volcano; going swimming and relaxing on Shabbat; shopping in Odavalo and hearing more about the region from expert presenters. This has been an incredible group to travel with so far and we can’t wait to see what we still have to learn from our surroundings and from each other.
Lulu, Tyler and Fedora
Mitzvah Corps Ecuador 2017 Program Staff