Living and Giving

The Wisdom of Ecuador (Part Six)

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This is the sixth of an eight-part series on my volunteer trip to Ecuador. This is an unedited account of a personal journey and will be followed by stories from a few more of my international volunteer trips. Many of the experiences on these trips would become the impetus for founding UniversalGiving™. 


The Wisdom of Ecuador

Interesting when I asked some the tribal leaders: “What are the three most important concepts about your culture, history, that you impart to the younger generation?”  In the U.S.  it might range from the benevolent “Do what you’d like to do and follow your dreams to make a lot of money and buy a house and “make it financially.” 

Here, it’s all about provision or homemaking: The leaders would say for the men: hunting, fishing, building huts, learning how cut down thatch, etc.  (They usually have chimpanzees as pets but also eat them. And cheetahs (but not as pets! And I have to tell you that the chimpanzees are a trip.  They look like us, they look at you as if they are human and they know exactly what you are thinking. Their facial expressions look like ours… freaky!!)

This wisdom imparted by the women was cooking; pottery; weaving.  Yes they need to provide on the day-to-day, but it’s not desperate. They have time to work on their other parts of their culture, creating meaningful tribeswear, pottery, bowls.  What’s interesting is that many don’t even have their old traditional dress.  Partly the influence stems from missionaries, but also the war with Peru where the military brought in western clothes.  And I have to say that as we were separated into our groups – we made pottery with the women – I was honored to be able to do a “man’s game” of the blow gun.  A long bamboo pole from your mouth – spit a seed dart – and hit the papaya 20 feet away. I came close but my lip starting bleeding from the rough bamboo.  Toughen up sweetie 🙂


You can take action.  Support projects in South America:

Give $10 to plant a tree in the rainforest
Give $25 to give water to a villager
Give $115 to give light to a villager
Volunteer in conservation in Ecuador
Spend the summer teaching in Ecuador