To friends of the Wishi Project,
Thanks in no small part to all of your support, hard work and enthusiasm, we are taking real steps toward the construction of this school. To see what you are achieving – people of all ages, backgrounds, and connection to the project – is truly inspiring and humbling to behold.
Last week, the project was officially formalized with the Fundación Ecuador Volunteer, and we have begun making concrete progress in Ecuador. The community found a teacher, Luísa Chundi, who is professionally certified, and is fluent in Spanish and in indigenous Shuar. They are temporarily using one of their huts as a classroom, and this week we transferred funds to buy supplies and books to get them started until the school is built. Ramón tells me that she is well liked by the children, and that they are already seeing progress in their reading and writing.
On Saturday, my friend Gary Bowitch held a very successful Dining-In for Dollars fundraiser at his home in Castleton-on-Hudson. It is based on the Dining for Women model, in which guests bring food, enjoy a meal together, and then donate the money they would have spent eating out to a charity. In this case, it was a beautiful evening, with great people, and raised over $500 for the Wishi Project. Thank you, Gary.
I visited the students at Hackett Middle School yesterday to hear of their progress on their service learning project. They have done some incredible work: they made posters to hang at the school; are designing a flyer to distribute in the community; are planning a speech to read over the morning announcements; and are working on a brochure to distribute to the whole district. And all of this comes from their own innovation and volition. They are truly great partners to have in this effort.
The missions project at United Church of Christ in Medfield, MA has been officially approved. They will be contributing funds to fully furnish both of the classrooms, purchase 75 books for the library plus shipping, and to pay the teacher’s salary for one year. The kids in the Sunday School will be holding a supplies drive, where they will collect backpacks and fill them with the necessary supplies.
Finally, I’d like to share two great and truly humbling honors that I have received this week. First, Diane de Feliz invited me to join her to see Greg Mortenson speak at SUNY Oswego. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Greg Mortenson, he is known for his book Three Cups of Tea, and his expansive and influential work building schools throughout the Middle East. His first project: he ended up by coincidence and accident in a small village in Pakistan, found that they were without a school, and became determined to help them to build one – a story not unlike that of the Wishi Project. It will be an incredible gift to hear him speak. Second, Ramón’s sister Yolanda had a baby boy this year, Alexánder. They called me last night to tell me that Yolanda wants to name me as Alexánder’s madrina – his godmother. They will wait until I get back to have him baptized so that I can be at the ceremony. A truly beautiful honor.
On November 5th from 5-9pm we will be holding a fundraising event at the Albany Art Room, 457 Madison Ave, Albany, NY 12210, From Our Community to Yours; more information to follow. I hope you can be there.
All the best,