Members of the Castlegar Rotary Interact Club recently returned from Ecuador where they donated their time in a town called Malchingui.
The club was there to build a cancha, which is a multi-purpose concrete pad that can be used for playing sports like basketball and volleyball.
Some of the club members had done this kind of work before during a trip to Bolivia in 2013, but for others the work was new and they had to learn as they went.
“That was our first trip, so we’d never done anything like that” said Eric Pilla of himself and fellow club member Phil Scheulin.
The park where club members built the cancha was named Parque Castlegar, or Castlegar Park, and each member got to leave behind a plaque with their name on it next to a tree that they helped plant.
“We all got pretty big name placards and we planted a tree, and it was with a student or an adult from the community there, and we got a piece of paper that says we’re both responsible for it but they’re going to take care of it for us,” said Scheulin.
Building the cancha was the first step in building the new park, and the funding provided by the Rotary Interact Club was needed to help jump start the project.
“They didn’t have enough initial funding to apply for grants and stuff like that, and then with the money we brought and what we built, they can start getting all their own grants,” explained Wren Shaman.
The club started their trip off in Quito, home to the Mariscal Sucre International Airport and to an active volcano, Cotopaxi.
“First time in a hundred something years that it was erupting and it was the day that we flew in,” said Svetlana Hadikin.
The club also came across some Indigenous protestors in Quito.
“Lots of the Indigenous people have a problem with the president Rafael Correa,” said Hadikin. “They feel like they’re being treated unfairly. So the protest was actually very gentle. It was really artsy, and there was a band, and they were selling hotdogs. The only part that we knew it was a protest is because it was surrounded by military.”
Some of the kids also got to try guinea pig, which is considered a delicacy in Ecuador. Scheulin even helped prepare the dish.
“Eric and I were asking our host family ‘Do you need help preparing dinner?’ and Eric got to slice some tomatoes, and I got to stuff the head of a guinea pig,” he explained.
Hadikin was staying with the family next door, and she also ate some guinea pig.
“We had ours seasoned, and it was marinating overnight, and then they fried it the next day,” she said.
“They literally just give it to you, and they have the claws on it and everything, and you just kind of have to eat around everything,” said Pilla. “It was actually pretty good. I enjoyed it.”
“We got to meet with all the other Rotarians on our last night there. Just before we flew out, we went for dinner with all of them and they presented us with certificates thanking us for our work,” said Hadikin.
Hadikin, Shaman, Pilla and Scheulin wanted to thank the USCC quilters for donating 50 quilts and pillowcases, everyone who donated clothing and suitcases, the Rotary clubs they visited, their leaders for taking them on the trip, and everyone who supported them on their trip.