Emilia Andrade


Name: Emilia Andrade

Age: 28 años

occupation: Speech Therapist

Where: Quito (Ecuador)

Time in Don Juan: Seis visitas de 3 o 4 días

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

After the earthquake hit Manabí, some friends organized a relief campaign for Don Juan. They had chosen this community because their families own a beach house near the village and they had often visited its beaches.

I first heard about A mano Manaba through these friends and their families, they told me about Rut.  But I met Alexandra Cusme first, I had a chance to talk to her, she told me  her job was oral traditions amorfinos, I was thrilled to know there is still people dedicated to this art. In another visit I met Rut who then told me about A mano Manaba and their projects of knowledge exchange, to understand reciprocity and real interculturalism.

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

It´s been great. With each visit I’ve learned some more about the children and the young people who approach our reading project.  I have come to know the women who are involved with A mano manaba activities and about the people that lead their projects. I have gained insight into the simple joys of life, the strength to rise from a devastating catastrophe and the generosity of the people of Don Juan.

My job was to offer the benefits of our picnic reading program to this community. We want to turn reading into a fun and joyful time. Our project creates reading opportunities in unconventional settings as a way of strengthening education and culture. We are active in public spaces in Quito for the last two years and this was the first time we offered our program on the beach.

Would your recommend this experience? Why?

Yes, I would recommend it to anyone that is willing to learn and share.  Volunteering in Don Juan helps you understand the importance of simple things, you get to know, as an insider, another way of living in this community that is so special and magical.

How would you describe the people in this community?

I´ve had only great encounters with the people of Don Juan.  I´m sure that, like any other place, there must be good and bad people, but in an overview of this place people here are generous, kind, outgoing and hardworking. Specially the kids with whom I worked; they are wonderful! They are always welcoming and warm, they immediately make you feel part of their lives.

What about the people who run this NGO?

Rut and Esteban are already rooted in Don Juan and are strongly committed with the wellbeing of the people.  Having said this, they are very clear about the weaknesses and strengths of this community. Talking with them is always a treat because you get involved in  smart spirited debates after a hard day’s work.

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

You should be willing to give and receive, always interact in an equal level with people and enjoy the work.