My Edifying Equatorial Excursion

March 1, 2013
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“Grab your bags Sam, It’s time to go!”

That was my mother telling me that I needed to hurry up in order to make it onto the plain to Quito, Ecuador. I had not seen my oldest brother in six months, since he left the U.S. and traveled to South America to volunteer as a coordinator for an orphanage organization. My family and I were going down for nearly three weeks to aid him in taking care of the dozens of orphans under his direction.

On the plane ride over there I could barely stay seated.

The first day in the orphanage I learned how to take care of the children, and the regular routines of the kids.

After the first day, I went right to work. The babies almost immediately accepted me as another helper and flocked to me when I entered the playrooms, calling out, “Samuel! Venir a jugar con nosotros” (Samuel! Come play with us).

One boy known as ‘stinky’ Pete always ran around with his toy truck and asked me to play airplane with him. I would then pick him up by the waist and put him over my head while running around, and he would always make airplane sounds, “whoosh… whoosh…” this always made the other kids laugh and want a turn. After an hour or so, when I could no longer lift my arms above my head, we moved on to other, less physically strenuous, activities. I loved these kids.

We woke up every morning relatively early and did virtually the same thing as the day before. We washed the kids hands and faces, made sure they ate the little food that was provided for them, and did our best comfort them. This soon became a typical day while we were in Ecuador.

On the first Saturday, we had the opportunity to go and visit what they referred to as SKB’s. This was short for special kid boys, or special needs children. This was a truly humbling experience. Instead of working with younger kids I could not easily relate to, I was with kids my own age that were mentally and physically handicapped, and that wanted nothing more than to be normal.

Jonathon, one of these boys, had a muscular dystrophy disorder, and knew he was going to die in a matter of years as his body slowly deteriorated.

Trying to put that aside, my brother had told me he loved to have the wind in his face and be pushed super fast in his wheel chair, so my brother and I switched off doing our best to be the best possible friends and helpers to Jonathon. He would always yell in excitement “Rapido! Rapido, Samuel!” He was happy. And that made me happy too.

My outlook on life changed rapidly as I took care of these children in South America. I began to form bonds with these kids, and to think of ways that I could aid them and other orphaned children like them. I found a love for service that had not always been at the forefront of my life, but was now quickly moving up on my priority list.

While these are just a few of my experiences with the orphan children of Ecuador, there are many similar stories that together had an astronomical effect on who I wanted to be in my life then and in the future.

I have tried my best to remember my experience there, as it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, which has changed the way I view the rest of the world, and myself. I strive daily to be kind to those who are less fortunate than I am, and to remember that in this world I have it pretty darn good.

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