|Interns join local residents in Daldal, Ecuador, for the back-breaking work of helping dig a pipe trench.|
(Aug. 17, 2012 - by Kathy Lee and Harold Goerzen) Helping with a wide variety of community water system projects in Ecuador was the key focus for five of HCJB Global’s 44 student interns who served on four continents this summer. Other groups ministered in the U.K., Ghana and the mission’s Technology Center in Elkhart, Ind.
Putting their college training to practical use, Renee Lau, Trevor Crane, Ryan Hough, William Pennock and Ian Compton spent nearly six weeks in Ecuador on various water projects. They helped with a topographical survey of the jungle community of Amazonas; a water use study for Hospital Vozandes-Shell; construction of an elevated water tower in Iñaywa in the eastern Ecuadorian jungle; implementation of a chlorine disinfection pilot project; and design of a wastewater leaching for an orphanage.
|Renee Lau helps dig pipe trench.|
They were joined by 12 additional summer interns in Ecuador who stayed with several community development staff in the Quichua community of Daldal for three days of ministry to dig pipe trenches with the people and provide a vacation Bible school event for the children. Daldal, nestled between towering Andean mountain peaks, challenged the stamina of even the young people.
The generous hospitality of the Quichua people deeply impressed the interns. Said Ryan Hough, “The people of Ecuador gave us their best food and service every time we came to their village. It’s inspiring to see the less fortunate who have little, give more than those who have lots.”
William Pennock remarked, “In Daldal I gained new insight into what it means to be hard working. The people there, including older women, far outpaced us in digging the trench!”
The Vozandes Community Development clean water projects team only helps the communities willing to do all the manual work of building their water system; provide local materials; and pay some of the costs. The team provides technical assistance, design work, health and hygiene teaching, assistance in finding funding for pipe and follow-up for those communities to facilitate their success. Intern Renee Lau at first questioned this policy, but then understood why after working in a few communities.
“When they do the work they can come together and take ownership of what they do instead of reinforcing a misconception that the ‘superior, rich North American’ is once again stepping in to show off their knowledge and ability to save the weak, powerless, and poor communities,” Lau observed.
|HCJB Global missionary Wim de Groen (right) gives intern Ryan Hough tips about surveying in the Ecuadorian jungle.|
After reading the book, When Helping Hurts, given to the group by intern supervisor Bruce Rydbeck, Lau said she gained a new view of poverty, ministry and how to help communities. “Their houses are made out of a plastic sheet,” she said. “We sit on tree stumps as chairs, we pass around one cup (which is actually an old sauce jar) for all of us to drink….”
In spite of this, Lau no longer sees these people as poor. “Don’t get me wrong, materially poor, yes … but I love that these people are able to show off their strengths and their home and their resources in ways that I couldn’t begin to imagine if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. It made me realize that trying to solve problems with material wealth can only go so far…. Everything points to Christ being the ultimate.”
Trevor Crane summed up his intern experience by saying, “In all, I would have to say that this has been one of the most effective mission/humanitarian groups that I have ever been part of. Even as an intern, I felt like I had something to contribute and actually be a help rather than a hindrance. I also felt that we were making significant strides in helping these, in some ways primitive, communities in their long-term development, something that is surprisingly rare among missions and humanitarian trips.”
Andrew Mazzella, who oversaw this summer’s internship program, said he was impressed with the high response to the program and the quality of the participants. “They each had excellent academic records, and once they arrived on the field it was clear their hearts were open to all that God was going to do in and through them during the summer,” he said. “We are praying that this will be a milestone in their journey of faith.”
Source: HCJB Global