42 seconds in which the Earth moved and forever changed the lives of all Ecuadorians

 

After the earthquake of magnitude 7.8 on 16 th April, something that nobody could imagine happened and from then on we were not, nor will we be the same.

Everyone surely remembers what they were doing that Saturday at 18h58, the day the Earth moved and moved us all. Then we begin to understand the tragedy. The whole country showed its solidarity with the victims of the North, of the provinces of Manabí and Esmeraldas and without exception we all contribute what we can to help people who lost a little, a lot and some who have lost everything!

Clara Luna team not could be indifferent to this drama that in many cases has gone beyond materials losses. With the raising of funds to aid the children who are in distress, we made relaxing leisure activities and recreation for our children in the North.

Our plan started from South to North, it took 6 weeks of work to identify and coordinate sites to carry out our planned activities with children. We began our route with the slogan “We are united by the same” and “Fuerza Ecuador”

During the time of our work in the north, we made a delivery of 1200 kits of paper for coloring and colored pencils in the communities visited. In 6 weekends, a total of 30 volunteers, between 5 and 8 people per week visited 25 different sites between communities, refuges and shelters, in the localities of Manta, Portoviejo, Rocafuerte, Tosagua, San Vicente, Bahía de Caráquez, Canoa, Jama, Pedernales and Cojimíes.

Our weekends became life experiences and a real example of people overcoming difficulties. Ecuador, such a small country, but simultaneously so rich in nature and warmth of humanity. We see it can rise from the rubble, work that is by no means easy but not impossible. We will continue in contact with our dear neighbors, taking the deserving children more activities and rest bite from their difficult time. And as stated in Canoa children when we said: “And Colorín colorado, this bridge has broken”

See you soon!

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July at Clara Luna

The month of July for Clara Luna was one of great change and excitement. We celebrated and commiserated the departure of Matheiu, Julie and Ava, our 3 French friends, as well as the always-enthusiastic Will, and the generous soul of Lilly, all of whom shared their own unique character and flavour with Clara Luna over the course of the previous month. But as is always the way at the volunteer house, the departure of one group of great people just makes room for the next, and we welcomed with open arms Romeo and Caroline, a couple of British and Dutch heritage respectively and both settled in fast and comfortable.
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The beginning of the month had the Clara Luna household preparing gifts, games, and a party to celebrate the Día del Niño, or Children’s Day, on one wonderfully chaotic Friday afternoon Club de Niños, and our efforts resulted in an afternoon enjoyed by the volunteers just as much, if not more than the children we were preparing for. Musical chairs, musical statues, pass-the-parcel, and banana cake were the order of the day, as well as smiles shared all around.

A few weeks earlier some of the volunteers had a chance encounterwith a local political figure in the process of promoting the Día del Medio Ambiente or Day of the Environment for the region. The excited conversation that followed resulted in all the Clara Luna volunteers being invited to join forces with another local foundation to aid in the planting of several dozen trees native to the Puerto Lopez area in the area surrounding the town bus station. This was an opportunity to socialise and get to know some of the community figures, as well as a chance to help increase awareness of the impact, both good and bad that people can have on their environment in the local community.
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Outside “officially sanctioned” Clara Luna activity, a few of the volunteers banded together for a weekend’s celebration in nearby surf-party town, Montañita. The details of said weekend were hazy at best, but suffice to say was and enjoyable and team-building experience for everyone involved. In other good news, the Chikungunya epidemic that took it’s toll onthe majority of volunteers faded away into an inside joke, and a light-hearted warning for all the new arrivals.

At the foundation, home visits continued on their course with significant improvements being made by several patients, but more importantly, the entire community begun its preparation for the town Paralympics to be held in the month of July. The dayis the brainchild of our beautiful and fearless leader, Paola, and is the talk of all the patients and their family’s both in and outside of official ‘treatment time’.

That about sums up the previous 4 weeks at the Clara Luna School, but it would be remiss of me not to mention the birthday of our amazing leader and friend, Paola, which, in true Paola fashion, we celebrated with a night of tapas and sangria on the balcony of the volunteer household. Happy 25th birthday Paola 😉

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May at Clara Luna by Will Coley

image1 This month we celebrated the anniversary of Clara Luna, Paola can’t remember which possibly 6 years, with a tapas night, the food was nearly as varied as the month we’ve just had!

The house has been busy with new volunteers, with a particularly French feel, firstly with couple Matthieu and Julie, then Ava and Charles – adding further to my confusion between French and Spanish! Other changes include the arrival of Lilly from the USA, me (Will) from the sunny UK and the departure of veteran volunteer Jordan.

Lessons continue strongly, with our newest student Michael (12) image2making great progress, already having learnt many verbs, topics and now starting to use these in the future tense! Whilst over at the Centro de Salud, lessons with the doctors continue with hilarity and are great fun, with self proclaimed ‘super chica’ Maria and ever keen Leonardo, who mistakenly said he was ‘shitting in a chair’. The lessons are going from strength to strength, now moving beyond just the present tense and with the occasional drop in of a curious paramedic or nurse.

image3Over at the foundation the French have brought a great deal of variety of activities, including a trip to the lagoon at Agua Blanc, a beauty day with Julie and cooking with French cook Charles. Not forgetting Ava who commits a great deal of time and energy to all those at the foundation. Meanwhile Brayden continues to see patients everyday, in and around Puerto Lopez, with notable progress being made.

image4Club de Niños is as ever wonderfully chaotic with up to 40 excitable kids we’ve been kept on our toes! There have been welcome moments of calm instigated by creative art activities lead by Lilly, successfully making masks out of egg boxes, however paper mache was a little less successful and altogether more sticky! The children also made cards, and performed Clara Luna composed song ‘Mi Ma ma Mi Ama’ for mother’s day.

One of the highlights of the month was the visit of the students from America, there trip included the running of activities at a local school, the performance of Little Red Riding Hood puppet show and Maria’s largest ever class! A special note to Maria who continues to troop on with up to 4 hours of lessons a day and whom we all love! The Americans also kindly donated books and art supplies – Thanks!

image5-2Life in Clara Luna was a little shaken by the onset of Chikungunya which at one point infected 5 out of the 7 volunteers and lead to group trips to the Centro de Salud but which now has just become a running house joke! In better news, our weekends have been very memorable and varied with activities including private boat trips, Agua Blanca, Montinita, Isla de la Plata and many group dinners, including one for Matthieu’s birthday – Feliz Cumpleanos!

All in all it has been a very successful and rewarding month at Clara Luna, I will miss it greatly but I’m sure all the volunteers and Paola will continue their fantastic work.

April at Clara Luna by Jordan Davids

This month has seen the arrival of many new volunteers, Lilah and Guy (California) and Dave (England), all English teachers, also welcoming Brayden, a physical therapist from Australia!

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Club de Niños has been strangely quiet as the children are on their school holidays.. But still crazy as ever! This month we celebrated Earth day, teaching the kids how to look after their environment. We made sign posts to put on the beach, the main theme being to look after the earth! We worked together with the Machalilla National Park, at the turtle rehabilitation centre, to show the children about the turtles and the work they do in order to help them recover from whatever injuries or illnesses they might have. The volunteers at Clara Luna were lucky enough to watch one of the turtles being set free back into the ocean after a strong and speedy recovery!

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With the foundation, we celebrated Autism Awareness Day in which the local community were invited to come and learn more about autism. Some children from Club de Niños came and shared their knowledge, speaking to the community and answering questions. It was a fantastic success with many people joining us, it’s amazing to know that people really do care about the issues that surround them! The foundation now have the help from Brayden, who will be visiting patients homes and seeing others at the foundation in order to improve their way of life, what a brilliant feeling! English classes are still a huge success, with 3 new teachers, the students got the chance to learn in completely different ways, progress is being made and every week you can see the difference! There is not better feeling than being able to see the progress in the students! Spanish classes also excellent as ever, Manolo and Maria working hard to share their knowledge and help many people with their speaking. I’m so thankful to them, I couldn’t speak any Spanish when I arrived, but now I can talk to anyone. It’s especially good when working with the kids!

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April has also seen yet ANOTHER engagement!!! Congratulations to Guy and Lilah, there must be something very special about Clara Luna!

 

 

 

March at Clara Luna by Jordan Davies

11081778_10153246046819515_1178315118_nMarch at Clara Luna has been very different.. We said goodbye to so many amazing volunteers, Stephanie and Jared (USA), Sandra (Canada), Anneloes (Holland), Mary (Canada), and Kamila (Poland).. We also said hello AND goodbye to Elisa and Nora, both from Germany who both left to continue their travels! The house has been left extremely quiet, with just one volunteer! Luckily, Adam, who volunteered with us nearly 3 years ago, is now living in Ayampe and so he comes to join in with the Club de Niños fun!! Mary and Santiago were married in March, on the beaches of Puerto Lopez, where friends and family came from different parts of Ecuador, and of course Canada, to celebrate with the newly-weds.. What a beautiful day it was! Just one week later, Jared (our volunteer from the USA) asked Stephanie to marry him, to which of course she said yes!! Who knew the beaches of Puerto Lopez hold so much magic!

Having so many volunteers from all over the world means we can share different experiences, this month at Club de Niños, we had a winter sports day, which included makeshift snowball fights, skiing, ice skating and more, the activities had the children using their imaginations to the max as they tried to picture themselves in climates so very different to Puerto Lopez in summer!11130054_10153246017019515_1236192095_n

Spanish and English classes are thriving, with students learning more and more everyday, it’s amazing to see such progress and to be a part of it too! Finding fun new games or songs to keep the children interested in learning is a skill that all of our teachers have! Intercambio never fails to make us smile, with local people coming from the town to share their language skills with our volunteers here and vice versa, it makes for a great, relaxing atmosphere and of course very enjoyable!

11072853_10153246017859515_341311614_nEveryone at the foundation is continuing with their fantastic work, despite losing physical therapists, Steph and Jared, and intellectual therapist Anneloes! Seeing patients on a regular basis to keep up with progress the foundation is helping so many people to improve their quality of life not just in Puerto Lopez but also in surrounding towns! For the foundation it’s been a very busy end to the month as they prepare for Autism Awareness Day (2nd April), many things to look forward to!11088242_10153246017404515_1953480907_n

February at Clara Luna by Stephanie Littman

February has been an exciting month with fun new volunteers, Carnaval events, and plenty of learning and playing at Clara Luna. Gabriel from the US joined us to help with Clara Luna as well as Anneloes from Holland to assist with the Foundation. Its great to have so many different personalities and talents working together. DSC_0709

This month at Club de Ninos we had a wonderful talent show which included a hip hop dance, gymanstics performance, “home made band”, and beautiful artwork. Who knew there were so many talented kids here in Puerto Lopez?! We also learned new games such as NINJA SPLASH which quickly became a house favorite and Queso/ Pan which had everyone laughing. This week we had a great “wedding theme” day as we all prepare for our volunteer Mary’s wedding. The kids learned how to make decorations, cakes, serve food, and throw bouqets. It was a blast!  DSC_0596

The Foundation held two meetings this month, one in Puerto Lopez and one in Salango, to inform the public about future plans and prepare for the rest of the year. We have started seeing people twice a week at the foundation for physical therapy exercising and will hopefully install more equipment to better serve people in the near future. Home visits from volunteers for physical and intellectual therapy have continued throughout the area and are progressing well!
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Our weekly language exchanges are always fun and helpful for people on all levels. Last week we practiced our Spanish or English by making up stories about very random objects we pulled from a paper bag which turned out to be hilarious for all.

English and Spanish classes are continuing and going strong. Students are showing good improvement and enjoying the classes as well as the games that make learning more fun. We have quite a few creative teachers here at Clara Luna.
Until next time…..

January at Clara Luna by Mary Moore

2015 year started off very successful here at Clara Luna!
We were sad to say goodbye to Gus and HELLO to Stowe (USA), Flor (Argentina), Freda (Germany), Jordan (England), Sandra (Canada) and Alex (England).

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DSC01584We had no time to catch our breathe once Club de Niños started again- it was trail by fire for the newbies! January led to record numbers of participants and a few moments of scrambling find the space to make the magic happen. As always, we found a way to make it work and everything was fine!
January’s Club de Niños featured some musical numbers, co-operative art pieces, card making for “Grandparent Day”, a “games day” on the beach and even a series of short films!
Two videogIMG_2072raphers from LOLA were at Club de Niños program the first week back to collect some footage to show a gap-year project that Clara Luna will be taking part in later this year. Karen and Estevan were nothing short of a pleasure to have around and we look forward to working more with LOLA (https://loveoneloveall.org/gap-programs/)

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We had two Argentinian friends, Sophie and Sebastian, stay at the house, help with Club de Niños and provide two workshops on quick and easy games we could use in program. The coupe gave the highly successful (and super fun) workshop to other community members that work with youth.

Finally the morning patrols paid off with the end of January leading to some eggs hatching! Our volunteer Jordan was just in time to catch the last of about 50 hatchlings making their way to the ocean and notified our partners, Machalilla National Park and Equilibiroazul to help in locating the nest and helping the last few stragglers in the right direction. What an experience!

Our work in the Foundación day club was put on hold while some restructuring was done within the organization, but the home visits to help with stretching and other physio-exercises was carried on by a few of our volunteers.
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Classes in both English and Spanish have been FULL. We had to add an additional Children’s English class to accommodate the 20+ kids between the ages of 6-12 who have made the commitment to attend. Spanish classes have kept Manolo, Genesis and Denisse calling for back up teachers to provide classes. What a great ‘problem’ for our little school to have!

Intercambios have kept everyone coming back for more, with contributions by Paolo, Kamila, Mary and Flor.
Looking forward to another successful month: here we come, February!

Volunteer Experience: Lucy

Name: Lucy Rogerson
Nationality: GermanIMG_8254
Age: 24

How did you find out about Clara Luna?  

workaway.com

What attracted you to working with Clara Luna?
The opportunities that Clara Luna gives to the kids and the volunteers.

What do you think your best skills are for being a volunteer?
Spontaneity, attentiveness, fluent English and team work skills

What is your current volunteer role with Clara Luna, briefly describe your typical day.
English classes on Tuesdays, Thursdays
Spanish classes in the first couple of weeks
Club de Niños on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Helped with physiotherapy exercises with a little girl, Angie.
Turtle Patrols

How long have you been volunteering with us? (eg. 3 weeks out of 6)
8 weeks

How long did you end up staying with us at Clara Luna?
7 weeks

Describe in 3 words what makes a good volunteer
Creative Spontaneous Open
Did you speak Spanish prior to volunteering with Clara Luna? un poco

If Yes: Do you think it is important? If no:  Did you find it difficult?

It makes it easier to work with the little ones.
 About a 3/10 on a scale of necessity

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What was your level of Spanish when you began volunteering with us? 2/10


What was your level of Spanish when you left Clara Luna?
 4/10

Describe in 3 words your experience here at Clara Luna
Eye-Opening, Fulfilling, Rewarding

Volunteer Experience: Manuela

Name: Manuela
Nationality: French
Age: 2410983063_10205926380017408_1532364910_o

How did you find out about Clara Luna?  
workaway.com

What attracted you to working with Clara Luna?

– The diversity of the possible activities to wok as a volunteer.
– The flexibility
– The location
– The price

What do you think your best skills are for being a volunteer?

Adaptability and optimism

What is your current volunteer role with Clara Luna, briefly describe your typical day.

I was visiting the home of a 7 year old boy to help with physiotherapy and a teenage girl for support with homework and help with physiotherapy. With the girl, I ended up being more of a social support.
I tutored kids in the community
Helped with Club de Niños
Went to The Foundación to work with people with disabilities

How long have you been volunteering with us? (eg. 3 weeks out of 6)

13 weeks

Describe in 3 words what makes a good volunteer

Open-minded, Motivated, Flexible

Did you speak Spanish prior to volunteering with Clara Luna?
Yes, as I have Spanish nationality

If Yes: Do you think it is important? If no:  Did you find it difficult?
I think it helps a lot to share deeper things with locals. But actually, smiles, sounds and open-mindedness are probably enough.

Has your Spanish improved since volunteering with Clara Luna?

My Spanish didn’t exactly ‘improve’ but the ability to adapt to latin expressions and ways of speaking (no more “z” sound!)

Describe in 3 words your experience here at Clara Luna

Meeting new people Freedom Responsibility

Volunteer Experience: Carolina

Name: Carolina
Nationality: FrenchOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Age: 31

How did you find out about Clara Luna?  
workaway.com

What attracted you to working with Clara Luna?

La fundación: personas con discapacidades

What do you think your best skills are for being a volunteer?

Sonrisa, sociable, comunicar con los demás

What is your current volunteer role with Clara Luna, briefly describe your typical day.

todos los dias no son equal!

How long have you been volunteering with us? (eg. 3 weeks out of 6)

3 meses

Have you volunteered before?
No

Describe in 3 words what makes a good volunteer

Ambiente con otros voluntarios
Vivir en una comunidad
Encontrar a gente del pueblo en el trabajo

What difference do you feel you have made so far?

Work to help the city and people
Saber vivir en comunidad (limpiar sue cosas, compartir, etc)
Dar ideas de trabajo
En la fundación: adaptar las actividades a la posibilidades de la personas con discapacidades.

Did you speak Spanish prior to volunteering with Clara Luna? Si

If Yes: Do you think it is important? If no:  Did you find it difficult?

Es major saber hablar espanol para si no hablas espanol esta muy bien a dar class de ingles o estar en Club de Ninos para aprendar y practicar español

Describe in 3 words your experience here at Clara Luna