Ale Cusme


Name: Alexandra Cusme

Age: 38 years

Profesión: Montuvian researcher

Place: Calceta (Ecuador)

Time in Don Juan: One month

How did you know about Don Juan and A mano manaba?

The first time I visited Don Juan was three years ago.  Back then my brother started construction of the bamboo cottage my friends have there. I went along with my brother to encounter my friends, and I have always returned to this beautiful place. Once the earthquake hit, my first reaction, was to leave Calceta and run to Don Juan in search of my friends. At that time I stayed with them for a month, but I had already been living in Don Juan the year before the quake.

A mano Manaba comes about as a response to the earthquake, its main purpose is to strengthen the social fabric of this community by means of education and culture. Rut and Esteban had been talking about this as their life plan before adversity hit their lives, in a funny way, the earthquake helped consolidate this idea because there are so many friends who now support their efforts.

Tell us something about your experience in Don Juan, how did your contribution help?

The time I´ve spent in Don Juan has always been enriching, with the earthquake it deepened my friendship and collaborative spirit. I saw and felt solidarity from so many people who came to help in different ways, like clearing rubble, cooking, installing latrines, rescuing books from the rain and proclaiming amorfinos, an oral tradition in Manabí.

Would you recommend this experience? Why?

I do recommend this sharing experience in Don Juan because it enables direct interactions with the people of this community. Especially with the kids that are avid of knowledge, with the sea, the fishermen and nature. To live and help in Don Juan sparks purpose into the lives of who gets involved in the two way process of learning and teaching.

How would you describe the people in this community?

People who live in Don Juan are good, generous, hard working and cheerful. They are welcoming you into their house with a big grin.

What about the people who run this NGO?

The people that spearhead A mano manaba are dreamers, they want to make a positive difference in the lives of the people of this community.  They dream with kids than can read and write their own dreams, they dream of men and women capable of living with dignity, they dream of a moving Library.

What would you say to a future volunteer in Don Juan?

I would only tell her to bring a bathing suit, because there is always time to go to the beach.  I´d say they shouldn´t hesitate, they will have a great time, they can do great things with the people, have the opportunity to learn from them and to collaborate with a wonderful project.