Over spring break four students and three adults from Sparwood, Fairmount Hot Springs, Invermere, Wilmer and Radium Hot Springs embarked on an adventure of a lifetime to the Ecuadorian Amazon Rain Forest, volunteering in a remote area only accessible by boat on the Napo River. The trip was organized by EF Educational Tours in partnership with Me to We/Free the Children and led by Kerrie Purdy. Through hot temperatures, rain and mud the group dug with picks and shovels, making cement, cutting re-bar, and packing rocks to build the foundation for an elementary classroom for the community of Los Rios. Once the morning work shift was over, they returned by boat to the Me to We accommodations to clean up, eat lunch and get ready for the afternoon excursions. The group experienced picking cocoa pods (fruit) from trees, fermenting, cooking, shelling and grinding the beans to create the fabulous dark chocolate. Another excursion was to a fruit farm where the volunteers ate many different exotic Amazonian fruits including Amazon ice cream and helped a farmer fill his water barrels by participating in a water walk. An Amazon experience isn’t complete until you have visited an Amazon shaman. The group was given a traditional cleaning of the soul, and afterwards were taught how to throw a spear and blow poisonous darts. During the evenings, the group took part in language and leadership development sessions led by Me to We facilitators. The group returned home equipped with newly developed leadership skills and the experience and drive to make a difference in the world we all share.
In 2016 EF Educational Tours will be sending students in Grade 10-12 and adults to Thailand. For those interested in participating, there will be a meeting on May 12 at 7 p.m. at Fernie Secondary School’s library.