WEEK #69 HOW ARE WE DOING? The first day of school…

Am I moving too fast? Sometimes I have the feeling I am, sometimes I don’t. When people tell me to slow down, I just don’t know what to do. The days where I cycle 100+ kilometers just feel right, and the days of rest in between aren’t that many, at least I think they’re not. Then there are the days of visiting a project, which are always a lot of fun and are very rewarding.

Last week I reached Ecuador, country number 11, project number 9. High mountains, winding roads, awesome scenery and friendly people are the setting, the same as the past few months actually. It’s good to be here, and strangely enough, there’s a certain rhythm in my daily life. OK, cycling, eating, sleeping is the main thing, but there’s also visiting projects, meeting new people, trying new food and discovering what a country actually has to offer. It’s good to change the scenery sometimes, just to keep my mind at rest and clear my thoughts a bit.

One way to do this is hiking up volcanoes. Since I arrived in Guatemala there have been dozens of volcanoes along the road. The first one was Pacaya in Guatemala, after that came Maderas in Nicaragua, Irazu in Costa Rica and this past weekend I went up to Pichincha, a record height taking me to 4700 meters altitude.
There’s something about hiking I really like, the views of course, that’s always for free, and then the physical part of it; the altitude, the breathing and the pace you’re walking. As in cycling, I can get “in the zone” and empty my mind, be completely relaxed and get rested whilst physically challenging myself. Sounds crazy? Probably, but it works for me.

1504115_617555401614517_845612963_n-2The weekend has past and Monday has come. Time to visit the next project, Villa Ticca in Quito, Ecuador. I didn’t really know what to expect, and as with every project visit, I go with no expectations or preconception. Getting a clear view of what is going on, what is necessary and how the overall “feel” is at a project is very important to me.

Villa Ticca is a day care centre in one of the poor neighbourhoods of Quito named El Camal. About 85 children are receiving childcare, education, personal attention, food & drink, medical attention and more. Only the poorest families are provided childcare, this is done by home visits to test this. At the centre there are volunteers from The Netherlands, but Villa Ticca also works with Ecuador locals (who all receive salary).

My first day of visiting the project I was lucky, it’s the first day of school for the youngest children, 2-3 years old. It’s the first time they are left alone, it’s a shocking experience, as we all have experienced with our very first day of school. A cute sight though, children standing, sitting or hugging teachers and seeking comfort. All with tears in their little dark eyes. The day is short though, from 08:30 to 10:00 in the morning the children get accustomed to their new environment. In two weeks the days will get longer, for now they do same I’m doing: acclimatising, they to their new surroundings, me to the high altitude.10712721_730286250341431_7690539107957150871_n

Sometimes I forget how fragile and sensitive the mind of a young child is, so unknown to everything in this world. The purity, the simple and truthful emotions it has. They have not been influenced by the “outside world”.

It’s through programs and foundations like Villa Ticca that children are getting a chance to get out of poverty, to have the opportunity to enjoy a childhood as every child deserves to have.
This week I’ll be visiting Villa Ticca, asking questions, enjoying the company of hardworking volunteers and having an amazing time watching the children.

Follow 99%RIDE and see what’s going to happen next. Together we can make a change. As they say in Colombia: ‘Paso a paso”. Step by step. We will get there.
Be that difference, help us out and see your donation at work. Donate here and follow our progress.

From Quito, Ecuador,

Dirk Spits

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