Day 3: Fundacion Cariño & Parque Historico Guayaquil
Hola! We started out this morning (aside from yoga & breakfast) with heading out for a tour to visit another organization that some of us will be working with this week, a daycare, Fundacion Cariño. On our way there Julio took us to a beautiful park within the city overlooking some water. It doesn’t seem to fail with this group that as soon as we show up somewhere with a playground we’re all over it. After we finished monkeying around we went to a supermarket to pick up some supplies (and by supplies of course I mean toys, balls, equipment, craft stuff etc.) for the varying organizations. It was pretty interesting to see how similar it is to ours back home in terms of what they sell.
I found visiting and touring the daycare to be both a positive and a negative experience. We started out by getting an introduction as to the services Cariño provides. The daycare looks after children under the age of 5 during the day providing most of the services they would do in a daycare back home. I think the most important thing that the daycare provides though is food. We were told that due to the poverty some families could not afford to always feed their children. As well, the daycare would make sure to bathe the children and give them clean clothes before going home because again, families may not have a way to do these sorts of things. It truly is a sad situation that these children are in. I couldn’t imagine how hard it would be to be in this situation, but if that’s all there used to how do they know any different? A really hard thing to hear was that the program went from having 120 kids to only having 40 because they didn’t have the funds to host that many children. All the organizations we’ve visited have been struggling with funds and it’s hard to see that these programs that do so much for other people are limited just because of money.
Meeting the children was bittersweet. I love kids (most of the time), especially younger children. When we first started touring around and kind of stopping in each room to see what they were doing, most of them seemed a little receptive to the group of different looking strangers entering. However there were a few standout kids who were really excited to see us. One even showed us some of his favorite toys! I say that it was bittersweet because of how small the children were for the ages. We talked about how the kids we would be meeting were malnourished; but talking about it didn’t really quite prepare me for actually seeing it. We saw a group of small kids being fed, who some of which were crying pretty hard. We were told that this is because they aren’t used to being fed properly in their own homes, so coming here and trying to get them to eat is challenging because their bodies just aren’t used to it. Not having enough food is something I’ve never really had to deal with before, and seeing some of them like that was pretty hard.
After we finished at the daycare, we were told we were going to visit Parque Historico Guayaquil, a historical national park that’s home to many of Guayaquil’s native wildlife. Before actually going to the park (which is located in the bubble), we stopped at a mall for some food in the food court. I bring this up because I think it’s important to note how strikingly similar the mall food court is to our food courts in malls at home. Actually the whole mall had a very similar feel. It’s just really interesting to think how where we were yesterday near Hogar de Cristo is in such poverty, and yet half an hour away it looks like a place in Canada. Again I find it so interesting to how this is just the way those people live, the people who are born into money don’t know any different, so why is it they would be concerned with the poverty going on nearby? It’s an interesting concept.
The park itself was so much fun! I had a blast. I love animals and it was really great to see some of those that we don’t have back home and to learn about the ones who are native to this land. We saw many different animals from parrots (and other birds), to turtles, to monkeys, to bush dogs, to tapir (a large mammal relative to a horse or rhino), to even alligators. My favorite animals that we saw though were definitely the sloths!!! I love sloths! I think they’re adorable, and mildly amusing. I was actually quite excited to see them even though they didn’t do too much. Following the animals the park has some historical buildings of what places looked like in the past. It was interesting to see some of the architecture, but I wasn’t nearly as excited as when we were with the animals.
On our way home from the park we stopped by the artisan market to take a look around and pick up some things. It was fun to go around and to try and barter with the sellers (but man oh man do I suck at bartering – especially in another language). It was cool to see some of the local items that people make here and is definitely a great place to get souvenirs! Our evening was spent mainly just sort of relaxing and doing our own thing. It’s actually a pretty nice break from all the hustle and bustle during the day!
Thanks for reading!!!