Dear friends of the Wishi Project,
This week has continued to be an impressive affirmation of the goodness and strength we have in our community. I am so moved by the way that people are coming together, contributing what they can, to help this project forward. Almost as beautiful as the product that we will ultimately create, is the process of sharing, learning, giving and teaching that is taking place to make it happen.
Katie Quinn, an impressive young woman from Massachusetts, is coordinating with her missions team at the United Church of Christ in Medfield, MA to raise funds for the project. Also, she is working with the Sunday School students to collect backpacks and fill them with supplies to give to the children of the community. Sam Frumkin and Joel Tirado have formed an enthusiastic team of University at Albany students who will fundraise and build awareness at the University through various online and print media outlets. Steve Brooks from Albany is helping to build a library by soliciting donations of used books from various sources. Art director Zach Zirlin helped to make a short video about the project and the community, which will be available for viewing from the website soon. Nick Crounse, a journalist from Albany Law, is tirelessly volunteering his time to help with marketing. And, Gary Bowitch is generously hosting a Dining for Dollars potluck dinner as part of the Albany Adventure, Culture and Travel Club to raise funds.
This week we will begin a service learning project with Diane Nickerson de Feliz and her ESL class at Hackett Middle School in Albany. To prepare, they are reading Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson, about building schools in communities in the Middle East; and Eyes of Carmen, by Veronica Moscoso, which takes place in Ecuador. The students will work together to discover a challenge that the Wishi Project is facing, and then design and implement a solution. Illustration major Hannah Walker is developing a collaborative sketchbook for her senior project, to raise awareness and foster participation in the Wishi Project. Also, a class at Parson’s Design School in NYC has chosen the Wishi Project as a graphic media assignment, and will be designing posters and graphics to use for promotional materials.
Meanwhile, in Ecuador things are also moving along. For months we have been working to connect Ramon Vargas (the leader of the project in the Wishi Community) with Mary Bonilla (from Fundacion EcuadorVolunteer). The first attempt was prevented by a massive rainstorm that prevented Ramon from traveling; at the next opportunity, Ramon walked six hours (there were obstacles blocking the shorter route) only to find that Mary was sick and unable to make the meeting; and the next appointment had to be canceled because Ramon had to care for his uncle who had been injured with an ax. Finally, last week Ramon and Mary were finally able to meet in the office of EcuadorVolunteer in Quito. It was a very successful meeting, in which they worked together to produce all of the documentation that is necessary to formalize the project. Now, they are working to get the tools needed to begin extracting and planing wood so that they are ready to begin construction when volunteers arrive in January.
We will be holding a fundraiser on November 5th from 5-9pm at the Albany Art Room, to coincide with Albany’s 1st Friday. I have chosen to call the event From Our Community to Yours, inspired by the way in which we are all working together here to create an invaluable gift for a small village in the middle of the rainforest in Ecuador. (More information on the fundraiser to follow)
Thank you all for your continued giving – whether it be time, funds, or spirit. Remember that everyone has something to offer, and that each of you can make a difference to the success of this project.