A particular company advertises that an experience with its product is ‘pricelss’. Is there anything that is truly beyond a price?
A few years ago a group of my friends pitched together their expertise and their funds to build a community centre/library. Not any library, in any town. This centre is far up the Rio Onzole, deep an Ecuadorian forest. There isn’t a place like this within miles and miles.
Today, is the last day of their 2 month summer break. Today the library is full, this small corner, hums and murmurs with the sounds of children and youth sounding out the words, reading through books. Children surround me; some sit backs pressed against the cool walls, others spread over the tile floor, a few older kids perch on chairs, each person engrossed in their experince. Each being transported on a new imaginative adventure as only a book is able to do. My father, a librarian by trade, loved books. Some of his estate went into this project. Today, this sight, the steady murmer, the sheer joy amply displayed: this is truly without equal, this is priceless!
Whether its Ecuador or Waterloo, Canada, enabling people to encounter the many pleasures and advantages that come with greater literacy is something that we are extremely passionate about.
Whenever it had come up in conversation, I would always tell people that I had never had to spend a night in the hospital. I would say it with that false sense of pride that comes with believing it had more to do with some exaggerated inner strength than just simple luck.
And yet there I was, in a hospital bed with an I.V drip in my arm, right where I had been for the past four nights. That false sense of pride finally, and rightfully, shattered.
The Onzole River Project is one of the projects that the people of Life Change have had the priviledge to kickstart. There have been years of involvement among the long forgotten AfroEcuaodrian communities of northern Ecuador and recently even more remote indigenous people. During this time we have assisted the communities to come to the place where they have a renewed hope and confidence in the future. And they have opened our eyes to so many of life’s realities.
After many generations characterized by neglect, abuse, and maltreatment, and with little hope for change, LCA was invited by local leaders to become involved in making a difference in the Onzole River communities. Partnering with Canadians already resident in the country, we helped form the Onzole River Team. Since 2007, LCA teams have been working diligently with the community to restore a school, build a vocational workshop, and construct the Community Learning Center. Our commitment to resource local leadership, providing them with the help they desire, sees us always aware of the need to transition leadership into their capable hands.
A gem of a camp facility on the shores of the Pacific Ocean provides a context for many children and youth to come out of the chaos, and often danger, of the city to the peace and safety of the beach. It is far easier in this context for people to discover their real value and what really matters in life.
The camp is located outside the community of Bastion Popular, on the edge of the city of Guayaquil. It lies on the Pacific coastline and is called, “Faro de Esparanza” (Lighthouse of Hope). Established in 2003 to serve the youth and families of Guayaquil, this facility has become a safe and welcoming place for many, providing opportunity to reflect on and consider some of the very important and valuable lessons of life. Yearly, during the Ecuador summer season (January – March), we join the camp leadership team and help create an affordable and lively experience for hundreds of youth who otherwise would spend their summers with few if any alternative activities.
Over the years this little school has become a source of life and enlightenment for an entire community and thousands of children.
Bastion Popular has been an important destination for LCA teams for many years. This urban slum area is located in the northern tip of the port city of Guayaquil, Ecuador, and is home to a quickly growing population that exceeds 200,000 people. Our involvement in the community has taken place among families with a particular focus on a school called “Hope of Bastion School”(Grades K-6). Started in 1997, this special place is a safe haven in what is often a sea of bewildering choices providing little reason for confidence in the future. Life can be very hard for the poor, so in this place called “Hope” the children and their parents have an opportunity to discover something about unconditional love. This place exists as an undeniable testimony to the faithful support and encouragement of many.