Submitted by Kerrie Purdy

Over the spring break four students and three adults from Sparwood, Fairmont 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 EFtours 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, made cement, cut re-bar, and packed rocks to build the foundations of 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 pod (fruit) from the tree, fermenting the beans, cooking the beans, shelling the beans, grinding the beans and eating the fabulous dark chocolate. Another excursion was to a fruit farm where they 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 isnt 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 well equipped with newly developed leadership skills and the experience and drive to make a difference in the world we all share.