By Samantha Ballas, Mitzvah Corps Ecuador 2017 Participant
These past weeks with Mitzvah Corps Ecuador have been filled with incredible experience after experience. The most impactful has been the opportunity to work with our local community on clean water initiatives. Each morning during the workweek, we wake up, have breakfast, and come together for some morning stretching and our group prayer. We then head uphill for our .7 mile walk to the work site.
Each day, we have walked up this hill without knowing exactly what we were going to be doing, but knowing the work had a purpose and that we were ready to participate. We had bucket lines to remove water and dirt. We shoveled trenches and made cement. We laid new tubing for clean irrigation and drinking water. Each day, something else was completed and this has been so rewarding. We had to do everything by hand, unlike at home, where most work is completed by machines. Through our own hands and hard work, we completed projects piece by piece.
To be finished is a bittersweet feeling. On one hand, it is satisfying to see our piece of the projects completed, to see the progress we have helped to make. To complete our projects, though, is to move forward and onward. We completed a fraction of the work and there still is more to do, but we won’t be here to help see it through. Nevertheless, working these past weeks has been absolutely inspiring. Day after day, we focused to ensure that we set the right intention for the work we would be doing. The people of Chilcapamba were kind to teach us and be patient with us.
What struck me the most was the early morning announcements about a minga (when the community comes together to work on a collective initiative) being held, then realizing when we made it up the hill at 8:30am how many members of the community were there to work together and see this project through. We were all so impressed to see everyone come out to work and it was amazing to watch how much progress could be made in so little time. While we worked side by side, we became part of something bigger and something more important. For all of these things, I am beyond grateful.