SUNDAY, MARCH 27, 2011
LIFE STORY – MY JOURNEY TO ECUADOR – BY NIKKI PROCTOR
I often feel God’s presence in my life. I had planned my trip to Ecuador as a requirement for my university degree. I had no idea, when I went, the immense gift it was from God that I was able to go and be with the children I was with. I went to share compassion and give of myself and yet I came home feeling as though I had been given a huge gift.
I went hoping to enhance the lives of some children in a slum in Quito and came home with my life transformed. While I was there I prayed a lot. I prayed I would know how to handle the challenging situations that arose at the day care where I was a volunteer. I prayed for the safety and health of all the children in my care.
And I prayed for patience while figuring out the way a day care centre worked in the global south. It was so different than here – I am a qualified day care teacher so it was hard to be ok and meet them where they were, so to speak.
Some of the children broke my heart – I heard the stories of their lives and all they had endured in their few short years and it tore me apart. I also learned of a country that did not have a school system which helped children succeed.
I went, wanting to hug the children each day… and what I ended up with the privilege of doing was – laughing with them, playing with them and learning from them. Watching children grow and develop is always a passion of mine. But seeing these children’s small successes despite the insane poverty they lived in was a daily miracle. I often still pray for them and hope that they are doing well… the chance of them staying in school and not ending up working on the street is slim.
I cannot begin to describe the privilege I felt being able to spend time with them. I am very aware of my privilege. I do not ever take it for granted. It is what makes me so passionate about helping other people. This experience showed me that in the face of despair and poverty God’s love can shine through.
It showed me never to give up on those who need me the most and to never stop believing that even when all you can see is sorrow – there is joy to be found. I found it on the faces of those children I spent a month with 3 years ago.