If you think you are too small to make a difference, you have not spent a night with a mosquito.
I wake up at 5 a.m., I pretend not to see cockroaches running through my mini-bathroom, there is no light you could turn on and no door you can open but a swinging piece of material you pass through to start a new day. The sun is rising upon one of the poorest districts in Ecuador, located at the outskirts of Guayaquil. The sun is there for everybody. I walk to the school through streets made up of rubbish and earth, passing homeless dogs and homeless kids. After the rainy night the earth turns into sticky mud and you get completely dirty and completely fed up after making few steps. One step forward, two steps back. I arrive at 7 a.m., it is hot, I am sweating, I am tired, I am dirty up to my knees, I am hungry and I want to go back to have a normal home in a sweet & cosy Europe. And than the doors open and the first children come into the school backyard, they scream and run towards you to give you the warmest and the most innocent hug you have ever received. And than it all doesn’t matter anymore: the fatigue, the insects and the heat all fade away with the happy laughter of two hundred small human beings starting the first day of the rest of their lives.
Being a volunteer in the school in Balerio Estacio is everything but not easy. The doors are missing also in the classrooms, the blackboards are in pieces, kids lack basic equipment to write, most of them do not have breakfast at home so at 9 a.m. their heads start falling down. There might be plenty of stuff missing at the first sight but there is one thing we have in abundance: love. The teachers work for a ridiculous wage and sometimes for no wage at all. Still, they are here, every day, full of motivation and always with open arms. I have never seen so many people having literally nothing but wanting to share absolutely everything. For people like me, it is a great school of uncomplicated happiness and natural generosity.
So how can it be, that we, people from the First World, have so much and share so few? Why do we lack this natural human instinct of unconditional help for the ones that are weaker? Did capitalistic system and overflow of money turn our hearts into stones?
And it is not easy being white and blond here. People from the slum have never or rarely seen girls like me in their whole life and so every few meters I am listening to disgusting comments and whistles. It makes me angry, who gave them the right to treat women as a piece of meat passing through? In the Third World it is not only money that is missing, the respect toward females is dramatically missing as well. There are so many children everywhere. Children wondering through the streets, selling drugs, looking for somebody to steal from, or maybe just for somebody to hug. Sad, sad world. And still, in the patio of my school we sit together and we keep dancing in the rain since for that moment, we are safe.
That were my days from Monday till Thursday. In Ecuador I did travel every weekend using only couchsurfing and my tongue to get information about everything. It was like taking a deep breath after each intense week. I visited Banos, Cuenca, Cajas, Quito, Quilotoa, Puyo and last but not least, Galapagos Islands. Travelling alone in this country requires some extra safety measures and lots of luck but for me it was a great experience filled with unique individuals and amazing landscapes. Ecuador is a small country that combines four totally different worlds. The coast, the mountains, the rainforest and Galapagos are all fully different ecosystems with different climate and different kinds of people. The nature is breathtaking and for mountains lovers there is nothing better than approaching the local volcano collection that reaches up to 5800m.
So what I learned in Ecuador? I did learn to appreciate every meal, to love cooked bananas, to listen to the stories of people fighting for survival and of children facing so much injustice and violence in their daily life. I learned to smile in the heavy rain and to wait for the smile that comes back although you feel the most powerless person in the world. I learned that chaos might be beautiful if there are enough colours and sounds that come all together to fill the life we have, since this is the only one. And yes, looking at all the people who keep keeping on, I believe we are exactly as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be.