Sammy Davis Jr was of course far too young to even have heard about Sammy Davis Jr, and this was the case with everybody else present in the room, apart from my lovely wife, of course. We come from the same distant generation, familiar with stars like Richard Burton, Cary Grant, Sir Olivier, Peter, Paul and Mary and other outlived, but eternal names.
La Ronda – famous street in the old city of Quito, we were taken there by our friends from Quito YMCA to have dinner in the evening and we enjoyed this centre for art and folk culture in the very beautiful city of Quito, at times we were above 3000 meters inside the city, and to walk uphill was a real challenge.
We were having very constructive meetings with the National Board and staff of the different local YMCAs, both discussing their programmes and normal activities, as well as a deep crisis for the YMCA in Ecuador. The National Leadership is new, and the President is Geomara, one of the change agents from Ecuador. She told me that the courage to take this responsibility was built on the training and self confidence and understanding of the basic YMCA values obtained though her training as a Change Agent. Wonderful statement. These young people in Ecuador deserve all the support we can give them in a difficult situation. Josue B. Rojas from Bolivia is now the new General Secretary of the National YMCA in Ecuador, and he is standing at the back of the photo above. Geomara is at the left together with her beautiful daughter.
The beautiful plenary hall in the basement, a kind of multifunction room, today being prepared for the birthday celebration of Quito YMCA, where Sammy Davis Jr was invited to throw glamour over the celebration, together with a less known singer from Geneva.
Standing in the doorway Cesar, the secretary, the youth worker, and the girl with the scarf is a recently arrived German volunteer.
And then it started to be really interesting. We were taken to the absolutely biggest food market in Quito, and here there are numerous examples of child labour in all fashion and manners. The YMCA is working against child labour, and the Ludoteca is the method, a relatively modest room inside the market, where parents can send their children in stead of letting them skip school.
Here is the international department for bananas, much bigger than what I could get into one photo.
And here is the room where kids like Jonathan can get out of the misery of child labour. The animals on the walls represent different stations on the way out of child labour, in raising the awareness within the children that they have rights and can get protection.
Later in the day we had a seminar with young YMCA leaders from the four local YMCAs around Ecuador, presenting their programmes and activities.
We were introduced to the advocacy activities in one local YMCA. They had a problem with a very poorly maintained street with lots of water and mud. So the YMCA young people pretended that it was a lovely beach and brought all the equipment for a lovely day at the sea. People from the city helped them to pour more water into the street and making it look more realistic. A visibly irritated mayor made sure that the street was repaired within few days.
The youth worker in Quito YMCA was the first to give a speech at the 55th birthday celebration. (Sammy Davis Jr in the background, as Master of Ceremony!)