Fundraising needed to help street kids in Ecuador
Wingate Elementary kindergarten teacher Amanda Watkins has enjoyed several different volunteer opportunities abroad, and wanted more. Her experience living in Hungary and volunteering in Russia and Romania, and lending a hand in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, left a lasting impression. “I knew I wanted to go back,” Watkins said. “Impoverished and Third World countries really call to me.”
Her quest to return to international volunteer work led her to Travellers Worldwide, an international provider of voluntary placements, work experience internships and study abroad courses overseas. They provide volunteers, funding and assistance for over 300 projects around the world in predominantly developing countries.
With so many projects from which to choose, it was difficult to narrow down her selection. Ultimately, Watkins chose to work on the Street Kids Project in Quito, Ecuador, a program that works to provide a safe environment for CAYSaS, the Children, Adolescents, Youth of the Streets and Streetworkers living on the streets of the country’s capital city. She will spend a month from July to August there.
The Street Kids project
“A lot of the kids, depending on their age, sell candy or drugs to survive,” Watkins explained. “The Street Kids Project tries to teach them skills to give them alternative ways to make a living in the future,” she said. These skills range from carpentry for the older children and academics for the younger. The program also offers sports and sports instruction in the afternoons and evenings as a way to provide a physical outlet and to help keep the kids busy with healthier endeavors.
As a volunteer, Watkins can expect to do everything from helping with carpentry, lend a hand in the kitchen, teaching sports and playing them, and providing academic instruction. While fulfilling a variety of roles that include teacher, coach, and mentor, Watkins will also get a chance to get her hands dirty to help finish painting on a new house recently donated to the project.
Watkins will not receive pay for her work, and instead must raise funds to cover her flight, accommodations, insurance and airfare. In return for this, she will be given support, guidance and instruction from Travellers to help the project meet its goals of providing aid to CAYSyS kids. Watkins must raise almost $1,500 to cover the food and accommodations alone.
While Watkins has asked for monetary donations from close friends and families, she is approaching community fundraising differently. “I want to give something in return to those who don’t know me as well, and yet are helping me get to Quito,” she said. Fundraising efforts have included a 50/50 raffle, and she is creating a banner to place on display at Wingate Elementary complete with the names of corporate sponsors. A t-shirt with sponsor logos is also in the works.
Her goal of this article is to garner interest and raise awareness about this worthwhile project. Those interested in supporting Watkins’ project can contact her at Aw65605@gmail.