Today was a day that changed most of the group in the way we see ourselves in relation to world. We visited the barrios, or homes of the children, and saw poverty at it's greatest. We learned that someone living in a one room shack with six children, including ten month old Jon Alexander, and no husband could still find happiness. This shack was the first on our tour of the barrios. It was no larger than 12ft. x 12ft., and had one refrigerator (not even owned by the family), two small beds, a stove (if you can call it that), and a few clothes. This place was on the side of a mountain that took about fifteen minutes to walk to, DOWNHILL. It was made of old brick and was no higher than six feet. It was musty, hot, and full of bugs with a dirt floor. Also, it was hard to face that this place supported a family of seven that had nothing, with a little bit of nothing. The woman that showed us into this house was very small and seemed quite fragile, but she still carried her baby, Jon, on her back the whole way there. Her pride was severely hurt when she showed us her house because she was very ashamed of letting us see her home. This shook a lot of us and really made our view on poverty change.
Today's experiences only began with this one poor woman and her story. We continued on, with the woman, for quite a while and toured one or two more homes. They were all alike other than the number of stray dogs living in each house. These people's lives are centered around a few bricks and a piece of metal overhead. This showed us that our lives and what we take for granted makes us so much more well off than anyone could have ever imagined. The woman that we first visited stayed with us the entire day. We could barely make it up and down the mountains walking as young boys, but this woman did it all with a baby on her back.
As we were walking down one of the mountains I turned to Mr. Kilroy and said "I wouldn't be able to live in one of these nice houses right next to extreme poverty". His response was el mejor, "Whether living right next to poverty or far away it doesn't matter because in the end this poverty will still exist." He was very right and made me realize that poverty will always be there whether we choose to face it or not. This also brings me to a point brought uo in our daily reflections. Heff said that we face poverty everyday whether it be driving through the slums of Jersey City or walking through New York City. It is right in front of our noses, but takes a trip to a completley different country to help us realize this. So in the beggining of our day we were faced with questions of morality, self awareness, and respect for life. It was a long and very eventful day full of fun and serious moments, but definately a life changing one.
On a happier note,a few of us went to a local mall to get something to eat. Something we were happy to see was the large number of native Ecuadorians there to watch the big soccer game. The game was between Ecuador and Argentina and we enjoyed celebrating with the people when Ecuador won the game. It was amazing to see a whole country of people unified in such a amazing manner all due to a soccer game. Seeing all the people in the mall jump up and down screaming each time the Ecuadorian team scored a goal was something we will never forget.
-By Tom Tulp and James Shovlin
P.S. we don't want to forget to say that today we also had a great time with the niños today. Two of them played soccer with us today and were little animals.