Our bags our packed and our anticipation is ever increasing because, in two days, we will be flying to the beautiful country of Ecuador. We will be spending eight weeks in Archidona, partnering with the non-profit Fundación Runa to help build gardens and guayusa (a tea-like plant) nurseries as well as teach classes in first aid and hygiene, nutrition, computer literacy, and English. Fundación Runa is a new organization, but they have made leaps and bounds in helping secure increased and more stable incomes for farmers in the Napo valley. Through their partnership with Runa, a for-profit company that is trying to create a greater market for guayusa, they have been able to fashion a fresh and so far effective model for social entrepreneurship.
Although we have a plan for this summer, we understand the importance of being flexible and fulfilling the actual needs of the community rather than trying to force an ill-fitting agenda. We are not there to help but to empower. We hope to give those with whom we work some tools to improve their own communities and create the foundation for a self-sustaining environment. Fundación Runa began their project by recognizing the strengths of the Kichwa people with whom they were working, and they used their own knowledge to create an organization that would help share and preserve indigenous knowledge while alleviating poverty in the area. We hope our summer exchange will allow for both parties to learn and grasp new understandings.
Thank you for following this special journey; we cannot wait to share our adventures with you.