FORMER Leader reporter Jenny Rush, who left us in June to do voluntary work in Ecuador, has signed up for a special charity challenge and is hoping that her many friends and associates back in the Mearns will sponsor her.
Jenny is to take part in a Three Peak Challenge for the organisation that she is volunteering with - Global Vision International.
The volunteer team in Ecuador are to take part in the Challenge to raise funds for their project in Otavalo, Imbabura. The plan is to summit the three volcanoes they see each day from their school which surround Otavalo: Fuya Fuya (4,290m); Imbabura (4,557) and Cotacachi (4,944m). Jenny and friends will also take in the wonderful crater lake of Laguna Cuicocha and the challenge is to do all this in just four days!
All money raised will go towards the following initiatives:
The first is to support the High School education of the seven (aged 12) kids graduating in July 2011 from Larcacunga where Jenny is working.
Statistics show that only 5% of indigenous children go on to complete High School education. It costs approximately $150 to support each student per year.
Secondly the team hope to build a new kitchen at Huayrapungo. At 3,200 metres Huayrapungo is exposed to the elements and the volunteers are looking to provide the kids with a dry and warm place to cook and eat their lunch. This will involve a few hundred bricks, cement and a good coat of paint.
Thirdly they will support the building of ‘cuyerias’/guinea pig houses at Muenala.
Having successfully built houses in Huayrapungo they plan to roll out breeding houses at Muenala. These are 6m by 3m guinea pig pens and cost approximately $450 to build.
They will establish a litter of 20 female Guinea Pigs and it is estimated that each one will provide 2-3 offspring each quarter. Guinea Pig is a traditional dish on the menu in Ecuador and with each selling for $6 dollars, this brings in extra revenue to support the kids in Muenala at High School.
Finally the volunteers will put in place an emergency fund to support the children should natural disasters happen due to droughts/landslides etc.
If you would like to support Jenny on her Three Peaks Challenge, go to her JustGiving page on http://www.justgiving.com/Jenny-Rush.
The challenge is on August 19 - 22, and Jenny says it would be amazing if she could raise as much cash before then as possible. Any donations, big or small, would be greatly appreciated as she gets to see every day the difference it makes.
GVI have set up teaching projects in three local communities and Jenny is teaching at a school called Huayrapungo, which is away up in the mountains and means “Gateway to the Winds”.
It takes an hour and a half to drive up to the school in the morning, along a bumpy track, which gives you an idea of how remote it is.
They leave Otavalo at 7am each morning, begin teaching at 8.30am and the school day finishes at 1pm. As well as education, the GVI projects are also very keen on nutrition, so they provide breakfast and lunch for the children - some of them eat half of it and take the rest home for their families, so it is something that makes a big difference, not just to the pupils but to the wider community.
The school term is over for the summer at the moment, so the volunteers are currently teaching two days of English to high school students, and summer school classes to primary age pupils on Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays. Once Jenny and colleagues get back down from the school, their time is taken up with lesson planning for the next day, or Spanish lessons. She has also been working on gaining her BTEC qualification in team-leading.
She says: “The teaching aspect of the project has been very challenging so far, as it is one thing to try and teach a class in your own language, but when you have to try and deliver it in Spanish, it makes it 10 times harder! The feeling when you teach a good class is great though, and the children at the school are lovely and very welcoming to us as volunteers.
“I decided to get involved in the Three Peaks Challenge, after seeing first hand the difference GVI makes in the communities it works in. The staff who work on the projects full-time are incredibly dedicated and have put in a huge effort to build up good relationships within the communities.
“On a personal level, I think this will be a massive challenge which I am both looking forward to, and terrified of! My level of fitness is not great at the best of times, but because we are so high up and will be climbing even higher, the altitude does have a big effect. As a warm up for the challenge, we have done a couple of climbs and it has been very tough - my legs and arms ached for a week after, so to do each of them in quick succession is going to be very, very painful.”