Elena and Rosa are two young women from Colta, Ecuador the AVI met in 2012 at the Promesa Divina installation. Each installation includes 4-6 native inhabitants who are trained as educators and will teach others in their community about using the purified water. Elena and Rosa participated in the education group and attended all the education sessions. This year, because we were doing 2 installations and I couldn’t be in two places at once, we asked Elena and Rosa to teach the education classes at Gompuene. After about an hour of education “cramming” at the hotel in RioBamba, they assured me that they remembered everything from the previous training were very excited to be the teachers.
Their participation cannot be underestimated; it was very instrumental in a successful install! They speak both Spanish and Quechua, thus didn’t need an interpreter. They understand (and live) the culture of the people from rural Ecuador. They can relate to people in ways we cannot and are accepted as partners and respected as experts, where sometimes we are mistrusted. In fact this is exactly what the trainer of trainers model strives for: equipping native people (working us out of a job!) to network to help their neighbors. Not only did Elena and Rosa do an outstanding job of educating (their attendance was way more consistent than mine at Jipangoto), but they also assisted the technical team in training operators. When the trainees appeared confused and non-responsive, Elena and Rosa came to the water room and began translating from Spanish to Quechua and the operators then totally understood the system and how to manage it. Finally, to cap it all off, Elena and Rosa sang with the church choir at the celebration, reinforcing how the community welcomed them and included them as their own.
One last heartwarming note. AVI tries to treat everyone who works on the installation as equals: from the bus drivers and interpreters to the Board president, everyone stays in the same hotel, eats the same food, and participates in devotions. On our last night as the whole team gathered in RioBamba in sharing highlights of the week, Elena tearfully shared what an incredible experience and blessing their participation was to be included and treated equally as team members. She shared that indigenous people are often looked down-upon and forgotten. She told us that she and Rosa had never even spent a night in a hotel before. This for us was the blessing to know that they felt valued and that we all shared equally in the blessings of Christ. A warm hearted thanks to Elena and Rosa, our new AVI friends!