Recently, a colleague of mine walked into my office and after a bit of work talk, my sticky notes piqued her curiosity to ask about “the dream”. My usual response is “Island Life” but I thought it would be nice to share the motivation behind my project.
When I travelled around Ecuador, there was one prevalent theme that ran strong which was the obvious presence of pre-teen, not teen, mothers. Children carrying children and children breastfeeding children. It was such a heart wrenching sight and of course, got me asking locals what they believed the driving force behind this epidemic was.
Some believed that it was religious beliefs and trust me, I heard “it’s God’s will” so many times that it sounded like more of a cop out than anything else. The disparity of wealth in Ecuador was obvious, but a lot of the young girls seemed to be enslaved in a world where they didn’t believe they were worth anything and it was their life to take care of the house and children for the rest of her life.
I had the pleasure of having the company of an ex-pat who is married to a woman in Guayaquil as my guide in Baños. When he settled in Baños 25 years ago, being a young “gringo” was such a big deal that the ladies would view him as a hot commodity and an exit strategy of sorts to get to a better life (even if he didn’t stick around). He recounted one girl telling him that if he leaves, at least her child would be half gringo. Wtf. He firmly believed that societal pressures of being “more western” are in heavy conflict with the traditional religious beliefs of the Catholic views within the household. Even in the present day, his friends would make fun of him for not being “macho” because he wasn’t hooking up with tourists or other locals. Even more disappointing, he told me a story of his friend who got pregnant, forced to marry young and would give her wages to her abusive husband as he would use it to buy drinks for other women. He tried to encourage her to leave and even offered to help, and she would look at him blankly and say, “Not this life.”
So, what’s the dream? I’m not looking to change the world. I’m looking to provide someone a chance, an experience or the hope that one day they can look in the mirror and believe that they are someone special.
NGO’s are awesome, but a lot of the donations get caught up in the administration expenses. Unfortunately, I can’t provide a tax slip because I’m just me. I’m making the best of what I can craft. With a minimum $10 donation, the donor will receive a bracelet as a symbol of my gratitude. FYI, all bracelets are made with positive vibes and I keep $0. Every dollar I collect comes with me to my next destination, I scout for local charities, families, orphanages and buy materials, food, etc. for a direct donation. In addition to that, the donees receive a bracelet as well to show that a complete stranger on the other side of the world really does care and is sending positive vibes. If in fact the donees are comfortable to take a pic, that pic will go to the respective donors when I get back home 🙂
Seems complicated, huh? Also, I’m launching this project starting July when I head to Colombia and I am hoping that this works out well. Nothing cuter than happy kids and families. #showsumlove
This is only one step to achieving the bigger dream which will remain in my scribble book for now.
For those who are travelling and may happen to cross paths with me in Colombia, there’s a way for you to help out too 🙂 Stay tuned for those details (late June/early July).
Family, friends, strangers, everyone.. if you want to help out feel free to reach out to me.