Thursday, May 29, 2014

El Dia de la Madre

Another Update from Salasaka – read on if you want to find out more about which Mum won the 'Madre del día' competition and whose egg could be balanced the longest on a spoon in your mouth!

What? Sounds like fun, and it most certainly was. 

On Friday, May 23, volunteers as well as kids and their families joined up at Escuela Katitawa to celebrate together the day of all mothers. What first seemed to be a foggy cold day turned out to become a splendid day of sunshine, which boosted not only the general mood but also helped to carry out the whole program as planned.

Before the official program started, volunteers and kids together danced the Macarena to welcome the visitors. The children were having so much fun dancing that we ended up dancing a little more.

After this little icebreaker, Rufino, headmaster of the school, opened the program with warm words of welcome and respect. He talked, both in Kichwa and Spanish, about what we have been doing at the school lately and introduced 
Marta from Spain who would 
charmingly led the audience through the program. 

After the words of welcome ended, Marta announced the first point: the goodbye-celebration of our eldest alumni, Wamari Masaquiza, as he is of age to enter the
 'colegio' by next year. 
We followed him through the process of passing on his duty as Katitawa's flag-bare to Kevin.

Following the flag procedure, all kids got together and sang the national anthem in both languages, with all their heart. Some volunteers did a good job in joining them, even though the Kichwa words still give us a hard time.

Later, Michael (France) and Ard (Netherlands) joined Renato and the kids with their guitars. They delighted the audience with a sample of various songs they practiced during school time and also showed off their skills on aerophones. 

Once they finished their last song every kid surprised its mother with a self-made card accompanied with flowers. Hugs and cuddles were distributed and the smiles on their faces warmed all our hearts.

Before ending the program with games brought up by each one of the volunteers, a very special competition took place on stage. Nitin from Spain prepared little paper sheets to be picked by every Mum; amongst many “Feliz día!” notes you had the chance to pick the ‘Madre del día’ with which you won the game. Raymi's mother turned out to be the lucky one and was presented a sash to wear for the rest of the day. We also prepared a present for our special ‘Madre del día’!

To finish the official part we decided to end it all with fun group games. Kids, mothers and volunteers lined up for wheelbarrow races. We crawled into sacks and jumped as fast as we could, trying to reach the other side before everybody else did. In the end we had an exciting showdown between Rufino and one of the mothers, which after a close race was won by Malko's Mum.

Eggs were balanced on spoons held with your mouth and, in pairs, we tried to transport them as fast as possible to the other side. Next to some broken eggs on the floor, a surprisingly large amount made it safe and sound across the line!

Kids danced to music around chairs, trying to get a seat once the music stops. When people started to slowly leave by mid-afternoon, empty stomachs were replaced with a big smile and music in their ears.

musical chairs photo musicalchairsgif_zps735d88a2.gif

By the time the sun came out, and everybody was catching their breath after dancing the “Baile de los tomates”, lunch was ready and we made our way down to the kitchen area. Parents and other family members had already prepared a rich 'almuerzo' which we all shared outside in a circle. For desert – and in order to celebrate the mothers once again – we all had delicious cake.

It was a beautiful day and we couldn't have wished for nicer weather. We are grateful for every person who contributed to the program and made this day a joyful day for the members of Escuela Katitawa! 

If you would like to watch a short video of the children preforming a dance 
for their mothers, press play below!

Blog by: Andi Keller & Agnes Pechlaner, Photos by: Andi Keller & Mary Knipfer

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Salasaka Cultural Tour

experience the culture of the indigenous communities of Salasaka and Patate!

We would like to invite you to join us on a cultural tour to a part of Ecuador that is overlooked by most tourists to Baños.   Salasaka and Patate.

Salasaka is a small indigenous community located in the Andean Highlands, between Baños and Ambato.  Patate is a small city located in the fertile Patate Valley.

The Salasakans have a very colorful past and the history is portrayed in a unique museum in the center of town.  The work on this museum took many years  and opened its doors to the public in 2013.  It is housed in the tallest building in Salasaka and is open every day from 9:00 to 5:00

You are welcome to visit this unique museum on your own, however to enhance your experience we have put together  this Cultural Tour with the museum as its centrepiece.

We would also like to acquaint you with the Katitawa Projects, which includes a school, library and plant nursery.....And now a Cultural Tour.

The Katitawa Project began in 2006 and is not part of any government program.  It is also independent of any special interest group. It is an unique organization with only three people who are paid....And that money comes from voluntary donations.  The rest of the work is done by volunteers from all over the world....And that includes the head volunteer who is a resident of Ecuador.

The Katitawa motto is, Sumak Kawsay Yachay.  A Kichwa phrase meaning....Beautiful, Life, Education.  The logo is SKY....The acronym in Kichwa or Spanish doesn't mean much but it does work well in English.


08:30...Orientation breakfast at the Posada del Abuelo.

09:15...Depart for Salasaka.  This 45 minute trip will take us through Pelileo and on up to the home of the Indigenous people called the Salasakans.  The elevation is 2900 meters.  This town is a parochial of Pelileo, but is autonomous in almost everything.

10:00...Our first stop will be the Museum.

After spending as much time as desired in the museum, you are free to visit the artisan market which is located across the street from the museum. 

A short distance up the street you will find the Katitawa Nursery.  This is part of the Katitawa Project that includes the Katitawa School and the Rosa Maria Library.

11:30....Depart for the Katitawa School which is located on a hill just three Km from the center of town.  On school days, you will have lunch with the children.

12:45....Say goodbye to your new friends and depart for Patate, a picturesque town where they are famous for their arapes and chicha de uva. 

14:30.....Depart for Baños.

15:30....Arrival....Mas o Menos.


Just one block from the bus station.  
Reservations can be made at most Hostels or Travel Agencies. 

Or contact  Wonderful Ecuador Tour Operator

Oriente & Maldonado

Baños - Ecuador


Blog by: Andi Keller and written by Robert Jeffords
Photos by: Marge Fabro, Pauline Thureau, Jenny Horton

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Eighteen More Days

(really this time!)

Because we were unable to complete the work necessary to move in by the beginning of May, we were able to extend our stay at Pachamama until the end of the month. 

Our projected move date is for May 31st!

Currently at the new dormitory we are in the process of completing the electricity and water!! We are completing the plumbing and should be hooked up to the hot water heaters by the end of next week. We started plastering the bathrooms rooms on Friday and all four will be ready to tile soon. There will be at least one working bathroom and shower in the dormitory as well as the bathroom and shower that is available next door at our library.

We are working on completing the cement work on the walls within the building. When this is complete we will be able to install the windows! The frames for the windows are already complete and inserting the glass should be relatively easy!

The kitchen is still empty....But we do have plans. If it is not ready by June 1st, we will use the kitchen above the library that any volunteers who were here in 2010 will remember very well.

At the current volunteer dormitory we do own two of the bunk beds and one of the single beds in addition to all of the mattresses. We have been selling bunk beds online to put in the new dormitory, and have managed to get donations to purchase four more bunk beds. We are attempting to get donations to buy two more, but in the meantime will be beginning the construction on the last two! If they are not 
completed in time, some volunteers may have to be sleeping on mattresses on the floor until they are completed.

With all of that being said, keep in mind that for the first month or two it will be a bit like camping, so volunteers that are arriving in the months of June and July, come mentally prepared!

If you are interested in making a donation to help us complete our building, 
click here to be redirected to our donations page! 

Thank you again to our volunteers and the people from the community you have been working extremely hard to help us meet our deadline!

To see some live action of the volunteers and people from the community working on the casa comunal, watch this fun video below!

Blog by: Andi Keller, Photos by: Andi Keller & Marge Fabro