Posted by: calloftheandes | March 25, 2010

Working Together in the Andes as Christ’s Voice and Hands

Several days of working together, eating together, laughing together, planning together and living together in the high Andes of Ecuador produced tangible results.

Project results, yes, but more importantly, relational results.

The sacrifice of digging trenches for water pipes means clean water will soon be available 24 hours a day to the Quichua community of Lirio San José (Lily of St. Joseph). Additional reservoirs and the replacement of the pipe distribution system are needed to complete the project which will provide clean spring water to each home.

The new water system is well under way as Lirio San José joins a growing list of comparable Ecuadorian communities assisted by HCJB Global Hands. For its part, Vozandes Community Development invited workers from Radio Station HCJB in Quito: a studio operator, a journalist, an accountant and several others.

“Older women, younger men—everyone was represented,” reflected working visitor Maria Slater, a newcomer to Ecuador. She had been in the country just weeks when she accompanied the community development team to the village in late February.

“It was completely a community effort,” she wrote,” with Bruce (Rydbeck) and his team acting as instigators and consulting with the people, then stepping back and allowing them to take charge.”

For the Ecuadorian broadcasters on the team, getting their hands dirty during the five-day outreach was an eye-opening experience. In a classed society such as Ecuador’s where labor costs are low, professionals readily hire out manual labor. So the week was, for the urban office workers and the rural Quichua alike, a bridge that crossed a cultural divide and challenged an economic assumption.

Other walls of separation needed to come down, according to hygiene worker Tannia Lascano whose ancestry is mestiza (mixed race). “I ask that you pray that this humble attitude of mutual service between Quichuas and mestizos brings healing not only to those who participated,” she wrote to her friends, “but also to the Ecuadorian nation as a whole.”

The radio professionals from Quito worked side by side with the Quichua farmers, impressed by the community effort of Lirio San José. “It’s impressive how they work together,” said Ambar Paredes, “to see an entire mountainside, a line of people one after another passing water [for mixing concrete] to the worksite at 4,000 meters (13,000 feet), to be able to work there. We learned a lot from them and received many blessings from God.”

“I was convinced I needed physical training to work as hard as they do,” added Ernesto Guachamín. “But what I saw in Lirio San José is that they´re very anxious for someone to visit them not with just things, not just to help out, but to learn just what the Bible is and how to teach it well to men, to women and to children.”

“This is the first of more similar trips,” said Anabella Cabezas, director of media for HCJB Global Voice in the Latin America Region.

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