Day 4 – Kanambu & Don Vargas’ Farm

 

On the second beautiful morning, Ecuador woke us all up to the beautiful sound of birds chirping, wind blowing and rain dripping down from the rooftops. Our ride over to Kanambu was entertaining and needless to say the team was ready to get their hands dirty when we arrived. We all worked our hardest in our short amount of time because we all had a common goal, which was to get as much done to the best of our abilities.

After trying hard to introduce and play with the kids in the community we got back on the bus to get ready for our next adventure to the local farm which produces most of the food that we eat at Minga. The farmer’s story was incredible, motivating and really put things into perspective. We then went into different groups to experience what the workers go through every day. For example, we went to fetch water from the river with jugs, pulled yuka plants from the roots and tried an array of different local fruits as well as a very hot pepper which made some people cry.

Later in the night, we spent our time mingling with the other groups that were at Minga Lodge and got to listen to some WE speakers who encouraged all of us to take the time to realize why we are here.

Today was an amazing second day, from all of the funny jokes to the seriousness of our hard work, our team had another successful day and can’t wait for what’s in store for the rest of this trip.

-Tolani

Day 3 – Kanabo

This morning I woke up at 5:30 because I was so hot and my pj’s were sticking to my skin.  When I woke up I could hear all the animals in the amazon, including the bugs which are so loud, but it was relaxing in a way. We then all got up at 6:30 for breakfast at 7:30, I can gladly say that the coffee I tasted is the best coffee I have ever had. We then left the lodge at 8 to go to a village called

We then left the lodge at 8 to go to a village called Kanabo, to help build a school classroom. Before we got to work though people in the community showed us around. Walking around the community for me was very heartbreaking yet inspiring. Just thinking that they live in such basic structures and we take our lives for granted. We saw classrooms that kids work in day to day. Some students travel 5 hours and sleep in a building where the beds are boards and they have a single desk in the room. It’s heartbreaking, looking at how the children decorate their walls and hang letters it was extremely hard to take in. The worst was if you read the name of the child sleeping in that room, in the room that was falling apart with boards for a bed. Yet it was so inspiring that they travel that distance just to attend school and have an education, it is something we all take for granted every day. Later on, we went to the day care where children ages 2-4 go while their mothers are working or in school. Daisy, our facilitator, was saying a lot of girls in the community marry by 13-15 and are pregnant by age sixteen or earlier and still attend school. The children around the community are so shy yet when one of us waves at them their face lights up with a giant smile.

It’s hard to think that while we are at home back in Canada, there are people struggling to attend school and access basic needs. After we toured the village we then went and started building the school building. Some of the tasks included: moving sand, sifting sand, hammering grooves in the cement, cementing walls, cutting wire, and then bending wire to help build the school. It is amazing how where we all live we just use machines but here we are required to do everything by hand, another prime example of something we take for granted. When we first started work today it was very hot and tiring, later on, it started pouring and it was so refreshing. It’s amazing to see how hard some of the workers in the community work to help build the school.  They try their best to communicate with us and when we mess up they laugh with us and try to guide us in doing it right although it didn’t always work out. Even though I could almost never tell what they were saying I always knew they where happy and having grat fun with a smile on their face. I can say when they said it was time to finish I was grateful in a way as I was so tired but I also didn’t want to stop. It brought me so much joy knowing I was changing people’s lives around me.  Although the situation around us is sad it brings happiness to me seeing the people living so basic yet coming together as a whole community to reach their goals.

 

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– Kaitlyn

Day 2 – Travel to the Amazon

Upon arrival to Quito, I was very skeptical about the area we were staying in. An hour or so later, we arrived at our hotel and I was completely shocked by how beautiful the little old hotel was and the city was that night. The alley was lit by street lights and such that I was completely mesmerized. Looking through my window I could see hundreds of buildings and homes and that is when it truly hit me that I was away from home, but I was in a beautiful country and I was okay with that.

The next day (today) we woke up early to a wonderful breakfast from the hotel with an exceptional view. I couldn’t bother with the food because the view was just too good. Knowing my family, I asked a friend to take photos of me sipping some coffee, I knew my dad would love that. The coffee was so good, the best I’ve ever tasted! (Even better than my mom’s!)

We then got on a bus for our 8-hour drive to the Amazon. I snapped in small bursts but mostly spend those 8 hours starting out the window and looking into all the things I had quickly fallen in love with. The road trip, the boat ride, and Minga Lodge itself are the most beautiful places I have ever been! These past two days have already been amazing and I can’t wait for what the rest of the week has to offer. I’ve truly never been so happy!

-Selam

 
Waking up this morning was seemingly different than other days. The sunlight streaming in at 6:50 am did not wake the people in my room until someone from next door came to tell us that we had to be ready to go in ten minutes. From then on, the day was a new and unique experience. Starting with breakfast and the most beautiful view from the top floor of our hotel. We then had the chance to wander through the streets of Quito to our bus. Settling on the bus, we readied ourselves for an eight-hour ride with three only three breaks – two for snacks and one for lunch at the most delicious local pizza place.

Looking through the large windows of the bus, we saw lush, green forests, along with stunning, bright flowers. This view surrounded us for the majority of the time, though we also drove through a few towns and got a sneak peak of the local life. Something that was surprising to me and truly eye opening was looking at the houses and schools in some of the more rural areas. Seeing some of the children in the most meticulously clean school uniforms going into one room houses that had large empty holes for windows. This experience brought me insight that I have never gained before. Knowing how little they have yet how they obviously value their education immensely. This continued sight gave me a sense of gratitude, sadness and also an admiration of the local people for taking what little they have and making the best of it.

Continuing on our journey, we finally made it to the Napa river and got on the boat after bringing our bags down to the canoe using an assembly line method. After a ride down the lushest river I have seen in my life, we arrived at the Me to We lodge. Throughout the rest of the day and into the evening we all had the amazing experience of exploring the flower covered grounds and bonding over games, stories, laughs, and fun. Together we watched a stunning sunset and started getting ready for the great time we had awaiting us.
-Natalie

 

 

 

Day 1 – Travel to Quito

We are safe and sound in Quito!

Although Kayes girls slept in because their “alarms didn’t go off”, we all managed to wake up before dawn to head to the Amazon! Our first flight to Seattle was only 20 mins and unfortunately napping on it made us feel even more tired than we were before. I like the Atlanta airport as everyone seemed to talk like funny cowboys, and we discovered McDonald’s sells breakfast 24/7. Our last flight from Atlanta to Quito was beautiful. We watched the sunset from our airplane window and as the moon came up it allowed \us to see the reflection of the rivers below. Almost 20 hours of travel later we are finally here at our hotel and so excited for what is to come! – Meg E.

Zimbabwe — July 18

And they are off!

It has been the most incredible 3 weeks with this amazing bunch of young people. I am so proud of them and how much they have accomplished! Thank you to all the parents for sharing your children with me and Zimbabwe. We are richer for this experience. Thank you to Jared for being a great role model to our students. He was an incredible support to me and I know our team appreciated everything he did. Have a lovely summer with your wonderful children, I miss them all already.

— Mrs. Conroy

 

Zimbabwe — July 16

Today was our last working day at Antelope Park. Our week has been jam packed with service to others.

We ended off our Saturday with helping finish the fence and officially leaving another trace of Shawnigan here in Africa.

This is called the “Shawnigan Enclosure” it was donated by last year’s EDGE trip. They helped build the enclosure that now houses five lions. With out their donation and hard work this enclosure would not have been possible. Thank you EDGE Zimbabwe team 2015!

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To end off our stay at Antelope Park, what better way than an elephant ride.

We will be saying our goodbyes to our new family and heading back to Bulawayo Sunday.

What memories have been made and what a special bond that has flourished with this incredible team.

— Mrs. Conroy

Zimbabwe — July 15

Today was an emotional one. We visited a drop-in centre for street children and saw where they live and sleep. There was silence in our team as we all just gave a word of thanks for what we have in our lives.

On a more uplifting note, we went shopping for them and learned how to make traditional sadza and stew for them. They get a meal twice a week at this drop in centre and rely solely on donations. We served them lunch and then went to play soccer with them. This is the highlight of the week for these children, as they are allowed to forget their street life and just be children for a few moments.

Our students were given $10 each and had to buy each orphan that they adopted for the day, as much as possible. They bargained for jackets and warm clothes at the local markets and found local goodies at the grocery store. Their bartering  techniques are way above par. As you can see in the pictures you can buy a lot for $10 in Zimbabwe.

— Mrs. Conroy

Zimbabwe — July 14

Today we donated our white boards, school supplies and face paint to the Alert Centre.

This centre is a free service to all grade 6 students to teach them about their environment and surroundings in a practical setting. They do six weeks of theory about animals flora and fauna, then get to interact with the lions and elephants and go into the bush and learn it all first-hand.

This is a huge undertaking for the staff at antelope park who operate out of one classroom block, with very little resources. Their success rate is incredibly high and an achievement in its self.

We raised enough money to donate 18 white boards to enhance their learning, as well as some face paint to have a little fun with. They children had just learnt about tracking animals and their spore markings. So our students took the time to draw their favourite animals spore on their faces. This was a great activity for all involved. We finished the day off by painting their entrance hall to welcome all the children and guests. The saying on the wall we chose is in Shona (the local language), translated means “we welcome you with open arms.” The staff at the Alert centre were very grateful for the donation.

 

E.T

Giving — verb: to give

To give is to receive. By giving not only do you impact another’s life, you gain a emotion and connection that will surely stay with you for the rest of your life. This rewarding action can be provided in a number of ways, whether it be emotional or physical. Also, to give is to understand another’s suffering and react in order to aid and help relieve this person or persons of that suffering. Not only does giving improve the lives of those assisted, it thoroughly enriches the life of the person aiding another. This selfless action is the essence of EDGE Zimbabwe.


Madi C

M – Making others lives better (and in turn our own)
A – Amazement (that comes from experiencing how other people live and finally knowing what true, utter, genuine gratefulness and happiness is)
D – Don’t want to leave (but also I miss my mommy)
I – Impressed (by the commitment of the teachers and volunteers)
S – Sunrise horse round up (being able to ride horses and work with them in Africa)
O – Obvious pride (in our teams accomplishments and the accomplishments of Antelope Park)
N – Non-stop fun (no matter where we go or what we do)


Barbara

B- Breathtaking
A-Antelope park
R- Realizing how lucky we are
B-Beautiful sun sets
A-Appreciation of our quality of life
R-Remembering the kindness of the people
A- Amazing experience


Tobi

From painting an amazing mural on the wall of a preschool to the humbling experience of visiting a disabled school, this trip has exceeded my expectations. Every day we do something different. This place never fails to amaze me. I love the community and energy of the people who live here. They make the work we do seem more like play rather than work.

Over the course of this past week, I have more paint on my body that I will probably ever have in my entire life, given high-fives to about 100 school children, eaten so much delicious food and have gained the experience and realization of how much a country filled with amazing people can completely change my ways of thinking.

I will miss the way the children run after the bus as we drive down the streets, the way women with buckets on their heads and babies on their backs wave with massive grins on their faces and the genuine niceness we receive from the staff of antelope park and the people of Zimbabwe. This trip is difficult to encapsulate in words but is rather an experience that I will keep with me forever.


Ethan

As I gazed out the window of the team mini bus, my eyes lit up like fire when I first saw my first glimpse of the lions in Antelope Park.

I could write many upon many paragraphs on the wildlife, such as the lions, that Antelope Park has to offer. Instead, I’m writing on what this amazing park defines itself as to me as well as the team.

My first impression of Antelope Park was that this is one of the best wildlife and research parks in Africa. Being here for five days now, that impression has not only stayed the same, but has enhanced my opinions even more — whether it be the outstanding food for every meal or playing soccer with the workers and some locals. It is difficult to put this place in one definition because it exceeds many aspects of this journey. Antelope Park is the place you go to experience African wildlife and culture, but because of the happiness and spirit of the people it enhances your journey to so much more.


Avery

A-Africa
V-Victoria falls
E-Enriched culture experience
R-Rare experiences (horse therapy with the disadvantaged children)
Y-Yesterday


Hannah

H – humbling (this entire experience)
A – admirable (the children at the disabled school)
N – non-stop smiles (from us,staff&the children)
N – new experiences (everyday)
A – astonishment (towards our achievements)
H – heart warming welcomes (from antelope park)

S – sad goodbyes (along with see-you-agains)
M – milkshakes (too many)
I – infinite memories (to be kept forever)
T – time elapsed (so quickly)
H – horse therapy (amazing experience)


Maddi J

M – Miracles can happen
A – A single heart that can be the cause.
D – Dreams come a little closer to being a reality.
I – I can become we.
S – So take my hand, and together;
O – On the path to change
N – No one is left behind.EDGE is something that happens when a group of people whom have hearts filled with compassion and courage, heads filled with hope come together to work towards a cause for the aid of their fellow kind. And after experiencing it nothing has ever felt so magical and life changing.

Jess

J- joining hands with the children
E- establishing lifelong connections
S- singing national anthems, Canadian and African
S- seeing the faces of the children as they proudly- and repetitively- beat us at soccer
I- impact made not only by our contributions to the communities, but also by their welcoming open arms and excitement to help and get to know us
C- creativity portrayed by the entire team towards painting classrooms and teaching young students
A- admiration towards everyone we have met here, for their passion and dedication towards everything they do

Anika

A – art (the hours spent bonding and transforming white walls into colorful masterpieces)
N – nemfaro (“with happiness” in Shona, the way I have felt when taking on any new project or experience)
I – involvement (everything from horse therapy to building fences)
K – kindness (what comes from everyone I have met and every smile and wave when driving down the street)
A – attitude (the refreshing positivity, creativity and willingness to always help that comes from the team)

Anastasia

I never want to leave Africa, and more specifically, Zimbabwe. The people here have made me happier than I’ve ever been in my life. Lately, Ive been catching myself thinking about how easy my life is compared to the people here and in other parts of the world, but somehow how so many of us aren’t happy with our lives.
Now, simple things like driving to and from Antelope Park make me smile more than I have before. I am definitely so much happier now than I was before, and I didn’t even realize what I was missing. Every encounter with the locals has been enchanting. We are always greeted with smiles, big waves and warm hugs from the smallest toddlers to oldest seniors. I almost always have a child hanging of my arm or touching my hair wherever I go.
I always thought Canadians were friendly, until I met Zimbabweans. They are so incredibly warm.
The past few days have been filled with service and it has definitely been my favourite part of the trip. We have painted at least four murals at different places, and at least 30 children’s faces — not including our own.
I have struggled a little this week with some of the standards people have to live in. Not because I feel sorry for them, but more so that I have often been ungrateful for small advantages in my life that I have always taken for advantage. If there is anything I have learned from this trip is that family and friendship are far more important than any materialistic things I could ask for.
The other day we spent time with the sweetest kids at a school for special needs. Many of the kids lived at the school, and although they weren’t born with what is viewed as the “ideal”, they were the most heart-warming and kind children I have ever come to know. We have also spent time with kids at their schools, and even very small preschoolers that sang- mostly belted- their prayers and songs before lunch.
I can’t begin to wrap my head around the fact that we are leaving in only a few days, but I am confident that because of this trip I have changed for the better and I hope that I have impacted something or someone in the same way while here. I will always hold Zimbabwe close to my heart and I hope to one day see the country and perhaps volunteer here again.

Thomas

Africa is the second largest continent both in the area and population. Unfortunately it is also the poorest. However, in many ways it is the richest.

It contains more natural resources than other continent but yet is often mismanaged and not operated to its full potential. It is also very rich in its own unique culture. Its music, dances, foods and arts are all very incredible and its people are some of the nicest I have ever met. The various beautiful landscapes and millions of amazing animals that can be found here are the another half of why it is such a beautiful place. In conclusion Africa is a land beauty and a land of development, it faces a wide range of problems but contains the most amazing landscapes, arts, animals and people in the world.


Chandler

There is a certain look people get when they talk about something that they love. This is my favorite interaction to have with people, unadulterated passion. Yet as all teenagers do, we wait desperately to be looked at like this, we hope to be the reason someone is so full of love. This EDGE team came into this trip craving this, and it is safe to say we have all come out both giving this look and having it returned to us.

It makes me incredibly proud to say this about the 16 people I have been living and working with for three weeks. The amount of raw passion that has been exchanged in between us and anyone we have come in contact with has given me a happiness I never knew existed. Yet as I reveled in this communal accomplishment out of nowhere, something ruined it. It sunk in that it has taken me 17 years to figure out love is the most readily available resource we have in this world.

Like a spoiled child who will not accept the best of treasures, I hated that I had not capitalized on the power of love. I have been waiting so long for it to be focused on me I was blind to the fact how much others wanted or needed it. Now with hundreds of memories, thousands of smiles, and a million looks given we are at the end of our trip, and oh so in love. With the kids who gave us their whole hearts and took ours humbly, the animals that wow’ed the thoughts out of our heads, the land that has given us a new home, but most importantly we learned there is a love out there for all of us. Even if it took traveling thousands of miles and years to use love to its full potential, we are the EDGE Zimbabwe team that did it. We are the ones who found out the secret to love is giving it to others first.

 

Zimbabwe — July 13

Today we donated our fence for the game park and spent the morning installing it. We raised enough money to buy a kilometre of fencing to start securing the game park and prevent animals from escaping and prohibiting poaching. It is an intricate balance between saving the animals and educating the locals on ways to preserve their own environment. This is something Antelope Park strives to reach an equilibrium. While we were at work, the four resident elephants decided to join us and give us a spectacular view while we worked.

In the afternoon we were fortunate enough to participate in a new program with the disadvantaged children and horse therapy. Our team was amazing with these children, giving them an afternoon of pure fun as well as a chance to ride and interact with the horses. Our Shawnigan students keep blowing us away more every day. We are privileged to work with such incredible people.