Tuesday, April 8, 2008

By Nicole Duciaume, Documentation and Sponsorship Support Officer

Today we ventured a few hours south of Quito to the Province of Cotopaxi, which derives its name from the volcano of the same name that towers over the Province and CCF’s program area. The larger ChildFund group will be visiting these programs next week. Today’s mission was to ask some questions, think through some presentations and help them prepare for the visit.

The day was long, but since it was spent surrounded by children, families and community members, the time passed without complaint. Even the briefest moments talking with families, playing with children and seeing development programs first hand is transformative for me. All too often in the course of a normal day, I get caught up in spreadsheets, analysis, reports and paperwork. But the moments in the field, in the action, connected to the very core of our job – the children, families and communities –are both refreshing and inspiring.

Throughout the day we met with staff, volunteers and families. We learned about the issues affecting children and youth and the area programs and projects addressing those issues. We also learned of the balance between rights and responsibilities within these programs. For example, children have the right to access education, but they also have the responsibility to study and learn.

One key component leading to sick children is the lack of access to safe and secure water. The families identified this problem and the root cause. They then identified what is their right and what is their responsibility. Everything in this CCF community is identified collaboratively and then analyzed against their rights and responsibilities.

Towards the end of the day, as the sun was beginning to sneak behind the Andes Mountains, we received a request from one of the communities to join them in inaugurating their water filtration system. After descending a soggy hill we stood atop the tanks and joined them as they spoke of the importance of water, how the system was constructed and the difference it would soon make in the areas of water security, agriculture and the health of the children. Standing atop the tanks, we faced the community and children who called for a resolution to a problem, then designed the project and devoted time, energy and resources to construct the system. From our vantage point, we could clearly look at both the empowered community and their accomplishments.

We were proud to stand with them as partners in their success. They then asked the National Director to say a few words. He in turn handed us a small grade-school pair of scissors and asked us to do he honor of cutting the ribbon and saying a few words. I can’t recall exactly what I said, but I am carrying a piece of the ribbon in my camera case. Despite the ribbon and the photos of the event, nothing begins to capture the moment or the pride that wafted in the air as the day concluded and we began our trip back to Quito.

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