As a GCN volunteer you expect to fill the role of giver, giving of your time, efforts, money and heart. During a recent trip to Nepal, I felt more like a wide receiver for a pro football team, with countless blessings being passed my way! It started before I even left with support from a bunch of people, some of whom I don't even know, my sponsors through fundraising.
"Tumbatu offers U.S. Americans a wonderful opportunity to understand what life is like in the moment. We live at a neck breaking speed most of our lives in the U.S., but life in Tumbatu allows us to slow and refreshingly enjoy the power of life in each moment. The richness of it all is right in front of us if we allow it to happen."—GCN trip participant
The GCN Team will be living and working with the Afro-Ecuadorians in Tumbatu, a small community in northern central Ecuador. This community is home to many Afro-Ecuadorians who live a rural, agricultural lifestyle. Africans were brought to the country during the Atlantic slave trade; today Afro- Ecuadorians comprise between 5-10% of the country’s population and remain marginalized from society, especially in the rural region. Tumbatu has invited GCN to partner on a variety of community projects, including creating a community plaza, building irrigation ditches and making repairs to other community buildings. Since 2006, the residents of Tumbatu have welcomed GCN teams and are eager to further develop the partnership and friendships.
After arriving in Quito and settling into a hotel, the team members meet for orientation. The next day, the team can explore Quito, a fascinating colonial capital with extensive markets, historical buildings and museums. The team will travel by public bus for approximately three hours to Ibarra. A member of the host community will then take the team to the community of Tumbatu to meet their hosts. Once settled into their homes for the week, the team will meet the community and plan the project work. At the end of the trip, the team members will return via the same route to Quito, where they will spend the last evening of the GCN experience. Many participants extend their stay after their time in the village to explore more of Ecuador's captivating areas, including the Andes mountains, Galapagos islands and a wide array of flora and fauna.
A Day in Community
A morning starts with the sounds of the community preparing for a new day, kids running off to school and adults heading to work. Goats are led to pasture while women take their clothes to wash in the stream. After a breakfast of eggs, bread, papayas, mangos, jugo de árbol de tomate (tomato juice), tuna (prickly pear) the team gets to work on the project site. The team collaborates on various projects like gardening, painting, laying bricks or playing with kids in the preschool. After lunch, participants may continue on work or teach an English lesson with students in the school. In the afternoon, participants join community members at the sports field for a pickup game of volleyball or soccer, or on a park bench for a chat in the main plaza. Before dinner, the team holds a meeting with their team leader to reflect on the celebrations, challenges and cultural exchanges they experienced during the day. The team members take turns reading from the team journal and preparing for the next day's activities. In the evening, the team may share stories, songs or games with the host families before everyone enjoys a warm soup for dinner and returns to their bedding for rest.
Nearest Hospital: Ibarra (I hour)/ community clinic in Tumbatu
Altitude: Quito-9,252 ft. above sea level, Tumbatu-3,050ft. above sea level
Program fees cover on-site accommodations (lodging and meals), in-country transportation, orientation materials, a donation to the project, emergency medical and evacuation insurance, and a team leader to manage logistics and facilitate your cultural immersion experience. Airfare to/from Quito and costs relating to activities outside of the village are an additional responsibility of the individual participant.