MAR AND RUBEN
We started traveling with the hope of learning from different places and different people. This involved getting involved in projects that worked with the community.
We searched a lot and one day ... It appeared! Do you know when intuition expands your chest and says "Hey! Stop here, this is interesting"? That happened to us when we read about the library project. So here we planted almost two months ago.
Why do we decide to help in this project? Why would someone decide to work on a site without charge? You just need to meet Ruth, Stephen, Miriam and the children and their environment to find the answer.
Do you remember when they learned having fun? When did they find a teacher who explained things in a different way and the fact of learning was not a burden linked to a system of notes?
The principle of the library goes in that direction. A safe place where you are respected. A place where learning does not mean repeating, but creating connections that make logic work.
No one is obliged to come or stay. However, half an hour before the opening, there are already children outside asking you "Are you open yet?"
This project gives you the opportunity to get to know the people of the town in depth and not walk like a tourist anymore.
Another of the things we value most was the fact of having a private space as a couple.
In addition, Ruth and Esteban included us in their plans, so that we felt part of the family and that we knew more about the country.
We certainly recommend that you stay as long as possible in this project, you will not forget it!
VALENTINA AND RAFAEL
Italia / Argentina
During our trip, we were thinking of doing some social volunteering and we found the profile of the foundation. At first, we doubted a little because did not know if we were able to contribute something important and useful, then in the interview with Ruth and Esteban, she told us that we all have something to teach from our life experience and so it was. We discovered our facets that we did not know, we learned a lot and we could leave something real, a small seed that germinates in each girl and boy with whom we have shared these two months. This is not just another volunteer, it challenges you, it puts you to the test, it is tiring ... but marvelously real, it changes you as a person and is an unforgettable experience.
There is a before and after of this volunteering, and that after is incredibly rewarding.
If you are hesitating to do so, stop hesitating and give it forward that you will not regret it!
Big hug Ruth, Esteban and Myriam !!! Until the next meeting!
HSUEN AND EDUARDO
Taiwan / Mexico
Our experience here way exceeded our expectations. The program is small but well run so volunteers have plenty of freedom yet with clear directions. We learned so much from the work here and especially from Rut and Esteban, who are truly caring and inspiring human beings, and actually fun.
The library is not a classroom, and I think that's the best part of the program. Much of the work, besides maintaining the library, was to try to spark interests in the children, whether to read, to draw and paint, or to be curious about the world, rather than just teaching them things. The children love the library so much that often you'd find many waiting outside for a good half an hour for it to open.
The mural was an extremely rewarding experience, to see the children really fall in love with painting. Some learned to be more patient, some learned to take initiative and be more creative. Rut and Esteban are very supportive of what the volunteers do. Even with a lot of initial difficulties they cleared the way to make this happen.
We loved it so much that we already made our itinerary to come back in February.
GAIL, ANDY AND SON
Our experience was unforgettable! Rut and Esteban welcomed us at the library with open arms and showed incredible kindness. They went over the top to make our son who is seven feel accepted and he made so many friends while there. Their mission and values are so important to this small community and it was a very special experience to be part of it for a little while. The children and community members in Don Juan are so fun and engaging. We shared many laughs and memorable moments with everyone there. The work is challenging and you should be prepared to truly give it your all, but it's also very rewarding. We will definitely stay in touch with them in the future and hope to return someday. Thank you Rut, Esteban and Miriam!
I love this project, I love children, I love people and I love Manabí. A few days ago I finished volunteering and I miss you all! I was with Rut, Esteban and Myriam for almost 3 months and it was without a doubt the best experience of my trip. The space is nice, the volunteers are great and the work is well organized. All very well thought out so that everyone can feel good and convey the good vibes to children and the community. It is an incredible and very important project for the people.
I am going to miss the children very much waiting at the door of the library, the English classes with songs, the food, the sunset on the beach, the snacks where Calerito, to sing "Calm" with the boys and all these beautiful people who filled my heart with love.
Thanks for everything and see you on the way back!
My stay at Don Juan was not so long but in spite of that I cannot emphasize enough the beauty of the library and the children that come every day to learn. It is very rewarding work and Esteban gave us freedom to think about our own activities for children every day, as well as the opportunity to go to the local school and do English classes. If you want an authentic experience of Ecuador and a rural community, that is the place for you, I felt really involved in this charming town and with its inhabitants. The beach is very beautiful and there is plenty of time to enjoy the surroundings. The space for volunteers (with our own kitchen) is great after a long time of constant movement! It is also an excellent way to practice Spanish. I will miss him very much and all the children. This project is truly amazing, it is an honor for me to have volunteered here, thank you very much Esteban for welcoming me so kindly, I am already thinking about my return!
My experience in the Library has been, without a doubt, the most uplifting of my seven months of traveling through Latin America.
My stay in Don Juan was two months full of emotions, personal lessons, reflections of ethics, ... For me the cultural shock was total and most interesting. From day one, Ruth, Esteban, neighboring Mirian and the children welcomed me with great affection, so after two months I had the feeling of abandoning a second family. The library is a very nice place where time does not seem to pass as elsewhere (in fact, nobody uses a watch!). The town is also fascinating: among its almost virgin beaches, its inspiring sunsets, its houses of a simplicity as big as the heart of its inhabitants (who will invite you to share meals and other moments of your life, if you wish) Don Juan has much to offer to those who are not looking for anything.
Rut and Esteban's project is ambitious and simple at the same time: to suggest changes in the extremely patriarchal dynamics of the people through education. Reading, games, art, along with a lot of patience and tenderness are its resources. Virtually inexhaustible resources, which are also available to all the people who revolve around the foundation.