OA's Project Ecuador

Opportunitas Aequa's first project is the collection of new and used soccer equipment to be transported and distributed to the rural province of Chimborazo in Ecuador. The goal of Project Ecuador is to deliver 1000 soccer balls, and 1000 pairs of soccer cleats to some of the most impoverished children in Ecuador.

Location: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada


A quick update

Hey everyone, sorry for the delay, but the project is speeding along toward completion and keeping my time fully occupied. We are in Guayaquil now and totally finished in the Chimborazo region. Today is the last day for PE, and we will visit with a foundation called Niños con Futuro (thanks for the link Lisa), meet with the GM of Maersk to thank her, and close up shop on Project Ecuador. It has been a life changing experience for all of us.

The internet here at the hostel is free, but painfully slow, so I am going to hold off on pictures for now. When I find a faster internet I will do a full blog with pictures - till then, hold tight, I haven't forgotten about the blog.

Sergio heads home tomorrow, with all the footage, to begin post production in Vancouver. This means another YouTube will take some time. If you want to be emailed when it comes out though, just send an email to opportunitas.aequa@gmail.com and we will add you to the mailing list.

Maintain the aim.


The soul of the Project

Sorry for the lack of posts after the video, but we have been hard at work distributing the equipment that we send down. It is the most rewarding experience of the entire project. The look on the faces of the kids when they see us show up with soccer equipment is enough to crack any stone heart.

We have visited over 10 communities and it is impossible to get tired, the energy of the children and their desire to play soccer with us keeps us fueled. Our best experience so far was today at a community called Calshi. This was a community that we desperately wanted to build a field at, but logistical reasons prevented us. Returning there to drop off tons of stuff to their school was emotional for all of us.

Over the next couple days we will finish distribution, put the final touches on the fields at Santa Isabel and Guabug, and celebrate what has been a very successful first project for Opportunitas Aequa.

I would like to extend the entire crews sincere thanks to anyone who has helped us along the way. Distributing equipment has been a powerful reminder of how much support we have had. The equipment has come from schools, soccer clubs, and countless individuals. Everyone who donated anything should feel proud, they made a difference in the world today.


OA Video Journal #2

A writing from Sergio

Sergio, the "viejo chile," our filmmaker, asked me a while ago to let him post something on the blog - I of course accepted immediately. He has become very much a part of OA. We all get along with him incredibly well and could not be more pleased with the work he has been doing, filming and helping us where he can. He has been an assest to Project Ecuador, and I will always be happy to accomadate his wishes.

Asthmatic eyes

My lungs are very stubborn at high altitude, they are tighter in my chest and take their own time to wake up.

At this altitude, every breath seems like a prayer, a poor beggar, a regretting, a surrendering, every step a hallucination. Climbing up hill I can hear a hammer inside my head that, with each intake of oxygen thunders the imaginations of my soul. So, in every step, in front of my asthmatic eyes, there is a water stallion, a little canoe carrying my solitary destiny.

Everything that fits into a vicious circle exists in this land, there is rice, grass, bread, boiled eggs, fresh cheese, sour coffee. A hunger that bites my mind, that makes it slimmer than air, that make it change.

Here, there is the native (el Indio), the Ecuadorian, the Ecuadorian Native. Black eyes, dark skin, long or short hair. Hands of men and women, and sometimes the hands of a blind old man.

They get dressed, they do their hair, milk the cows, eat, and begin everyday life. But here the “Indio” lives to survive the day, having a dream is a luxury, an exuberant radicalism.

There is only time for work, for the cow, the sheep, the alcohol to pass time, the sons, the memories, the tourist, the business.

The native is just a native, they look like a native, but inside them there is a mirror in which I can see my asthmatic eyes and my white skin, with white intentions and a dark glance.

The native inside me rises, stretches like a plant, makes beehive noises, drinks the water of monotony and reality. The native of my mind cooks, drinks the milk, eats the bread and egg, wash the dishes, fixes his hair, wears his messiah hat to change the world and the other natives he has created. The Indio that didn’t know it was an ignorant and poor Indio, until this miserable and white Indio that I am told him: “Your name is “Indigena” and you are poor, I am the white man you can be.”

In that first contact, the natives, the white and the other, got confused, the white one thought that he could transform life, the other one thought that he needed to be transformed.

“Where are you going brother, so far, so lone, so blind?” Change is a plant behind our eyes. The light of truth will make it grow.

Mol ich

Celebrating Santa Isabel

With only the finishing touches to be put on our first field at Santa Isabel, we celebrated Sunday by playing a game against the community. It was a good game of soccer, only one card (Brownlee), and plenty of goals.

It was such an incredible experience for all of us - to actually play on a field, which we had helped build, in Ecuador, against a rural community team. Never would I have ever imagined that everything could come together this well. The game, the field, the community, everyone in OA, and most importantly everyone supporting us back home - everything has been amazing.

While talking with Andrew on the bus into Riobamba he was talking about an good metaphor for how everything has gone so far. The metaphor he used was Brenden's performance in the soccer game. With easily the least amount of soccer experience but the most heart on the field, Brenden was the player of the game - as voted by both teams. Just goes to show what a little hard work can do. It is amazing what you can accomplish with not much experience but a whole lot of passion.

After the game the community prepared a special ceremony to thank us. It was very thoughtful and more than we could have asked. We received medals and a little momento to remember the community by - it was a nice thought but we won't need it, we have enough fond memories to last a life time.

After the ceremony the community had a small party and a feast. We were repeatedly offered shots of what Breden has lovingly nicknamed "firewater." As you can see from the picture, we were all a little hesitant to accept. The food was excellent though, and the company even better.

One field completed, one more to go. Our distribution begins tomorrow - the soul of Project Ecuador. The fields have been amazing, but the equipment was the original mission. We can not wait.

* I had a disagreement with YouTube, the video will be up today, but if I have to restart the upload one more time I may go crazy.



Relief does not do it justice. At 3:30 AM last night (morning?), Gavin, Roberto, and a Maersk truck arrived at the doorstep of Casa Condor. After battling for two straight weeks, OA´s Guayaquil boys had returned home - successful.

Everyone pitched in to unload the stuff and pack it into our humble home in Chimborazo. At first glance everything appears to have arrived in excellent condition. We will do a complete inventory to double check before beginning distribution on Monday.

It is getting late here in Riobamba and I get the feeling the internet cafe wants me out, so I will leave everyone with a cool story surrounding the equipment.

When we packed the boxes, back in Victoria, we taped a Loonie to one of the balls we sent down. It was a very symbolic moment for all of us to open the box and find it staring back at us. Thousands of kilometres of travel, and our little Loonie made the journey. A piece of Canada to keep us company here in Ecuador.

One week left in Project Ecuador, and we have arguably the biggest hurdle left to clear. Wish us luck.

* a quick update on the video ... power outages all over Chimborazo have slowed things a little, but hopefully it will be up in a couple days.


Keepin' on, keepin' on

Sorry for the space between updates but work at the field is keeping us away from the internet. I have a few quick updates, but life here has settled into a nice little routine of work, sleep, and eating guinea pig (not by choice).

We are working hard at Guabug (site of our second field), it is in an incredibly beautiful location and things are going well. Work at Santa Isabel is nearing completion, the community is just finishing putting gates on the fences. We will have a game with the community on Saturday, and tilling and seeding will begin immediately afterwards. Pretty cool.

Things have been decidely less cool in Guayaquil. Gavin and Roberto send frequent updates on how frustrating the process of getting our equipment has been. Ecuador works at its own pace, and what was once this past Monday, has turned into hopefully by the end of the week. I will let everyone know the second we have all the stuff in our posession, until then, everyone go back to crossing your fingers for us.

But because I hate to leave the OA faithful with bad news ... expect the second YouTube video to be up for the weekend. We are spending what spares moments we have putting it all together. A little behind? Yes. A work of cinematic genius? Probably not. But, are you still excited? You better believe it.

Keep your ear to the ground, we will be back for the weekend.


El Nariz del Diablo

Just back from the Devil's Nose (pictured above), and thought I would fill everyone in quickly on how amazing Ecuador scenary can be. It is impossible to do the train ride justice here, but I will do my best.

We woke up at 5:30 am to secure solid seats on the train, everyone rides on top of the cars so it can be a bit of a mad house. After the typical Ecuadorian delays we set off on a very beautiful tour of the countryside. Brenden, Duncan, Andrew and myself watched in amazement as the vegetation changed from mountain greens to desert tans. Very cool.

Along the way we stopped in a couple small towns and passed by some very candid scenary - including kids bathing in a large cement tub, women working, and children playing games. The colour of life made taking pictures pretty easy.
The actual section of the train which gives the ride its name is a crazy switchback down a mountain face. If you look very close in the top picture (of the Nose itself), you can see the track cut into the side of the mountain. Looking over the side took you breath away (below). Pretty intense stuff.So with six hours of riding on top of a train that felt like it could tip at any time behind us, we are going to head back to Casa Condor and rest up for tomorrow. Back to work for OA.


Stress and relief

Well, we knew it wasn't all going to be smooth sailing. After struggling with Ecuadorian efficiency in securing the last of our needed fence for Santa Isablel, we ran into further problems. The fence is not going up as we had hoped, and we are of differing opinions than the community on how best to fix it. It is causing us all repeated headaches. We are progressing though, and things are righting themselves, it just took a lot more work than we expected. I'll update how it looks when it is all set up.

There are bright spots however, Andrew Brownlee is back from Guayaquil and our equipment will be out of customs on Monday. Gavin and Roberto are still there waiting to meet it. This is a huge relief to all of us. We could not be more excited to begin passing out equpiment. Seeing the expressions on the faces of the kids when we hand them a soccer ball will be moments we all remember for the rest of our lives.

Other good news that we have been saving ... work has begun at the second community we are working with - Guabug. The field is progressing at an incredible rate and we could not be more pleased with the results. Starting Monday we will be splitting up and working at both Santa Isabel and Guabug. It is very rewarding to see the progress we are making with the communities. Expect more pictures soon.

Tomorrow is Sunday, Chruch takes priority around here and work tends to get put on hold ... so the four of us in the Chimborazo region have decided to explore a bit of the country we are living in. We will take a famous trian known as the "Devil's Nose," and take in a bit of scenary before returning to work on Monday. I will let you all know, pictures included, how it went, and show of some of the scenary that we work in everyday.

Wish us luck.


Life at Santa Isabel

Sorry for the delay between posts, but the blog was blocked for some reason - thankfully blogger has sorted itself out and we're back. Earlier, I put up a post that I had made a few days ago, a quick update on that; the guys in Guayaquil have been fighting the good fight, our equpiment is safely in the hands of Ecuadorian Customs, and should be ours by next Monday, the 12th of March.

Dunc, Brenden and I have been living at the community where we are working, Santa Isabel. Life is good, but a whole lot different than we are used to. Food has been especially interesting, guinea pig, oatmeal drinks, and lots of potato soup, but we can't complain. We sleep on the floor of the school, and wake up each morning to kids peering in through the window, staring at the "Gringo Aquarium."

We have been very hard at work on the field, all the poles are cemented in place, and we spent yesteday building up a corner of the field with sod (pictured above). It was back breaking and exhausting but we loved every minute of it. It was a perfect example of us working with Santa Isabel's community to make this dream a reality. Next step, putting up the fence and tilling the field. We could be finished by the end of the week - awesome.

New pictures on Flikr, follow the link, and check them out.

Maintain the aim.


What's going on?

Hey everyone, just thought I would spend my precious internet time keeping you in the loop, so enjoy.

We are hard at work down here building a soccer field at Santa Isabel. We have been working side by side with the community which has been as rewarding an experience as the actaul construction. The last couple days have been spent making cement, digging holes, and scrubbing dirt from our aching bodies. Don't get me worng though, none of us could be happier, getting our hands dirty is exactly why we are here.

Gavin, Roberto, and Andrew are in Guayaquil now to (hopefully) meet up with our equipment. It has been a major source of stress for us, we are all just anxious to see everything arrive safely. We had so much help from soccer clubs, schools, and many passionate individuals in collecting equipment, that we feel we have everyone's hopes locked up in that container. Everyone keep your fingers crossed.

A couple more things, let this be a lesson to everyone, don't tempt fate. After reigning victorious over technology in figuring out how to embed Flikr in the blog, I lost my USB key. The only thing I can assume is that technology has evened the score. So, I apologise for the lack of images in the post but hopefully you will all forgive me.

And, thanks Tom for the video reply on YouTube. It was really cool to hear from you, and thank you for the kind words. We are thinking of everyone back home as well.

So, as Tom said, we are just going to keep on keeping on. Everyone back home do the same.


Ha. Take that technology.

Check out our Flikr!

While I beat my head against the computer trying to embed Flikr into our blog, I will let you all take a peak at what we have posted so far.

Just follow the link: http://www.flikr.com/photos/projectecuador/

Hopefully I can figure out what I need, or if anyone can help me ... please feel free to email.

Maintain the aim.