I retired after 27 years as a Public Information Officer in the US Army after multiple deployments around the world. In many of those deployments we were able to interact with the local people and build schools, clinics, provide medical assistance and the list goes on. We also often brought along soccer balls and school supplies to give to local children.
Adventure motorcycling is an avid hobby of mine so after talking with three of my Army buddies we decided to travel to Ecuador and undertake a 12-day motorcycle adventure ride and rent our bikes through a company called Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental.
Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental has joined a global initiative called Pack for a Purpose. It was a very simple and easy way to help communities that we would be visiting. With some extra space in our luggage, we could bring along school supplies for schools along our tour route. We would visit the schools ourselves and distribute the supplies personally.
We had never heard of Pack for a Purpose but it followed the same mantra as humanitarian aid we did during our deployments. Then the ideas started to percolate in my mind. After looking at the list of suggested items to pack in our suitcase and conferring with my wife, we decided to pack musical recorders. My wife is a retired music teacher and music is an international language so it made so much sense.
The wife of one of my best friends is the principal at Janette Myhre elementary school in Bismarck, North Dakota. Their student council was able to provide a $300 donation towards the purchase of recorders. Jacobsen Music, a local Bismarck music store operated by Nate Dahl, generously provided the recorders at a reduced price and we were able to buy and pack 100 quality recorders for schools in Ecuador. In addition, we were also able to take along school packs and many pencils for the students.
My job in the Army is to tell stories and I could not let this tremendous opportunity go unnoticed in our local community. A local NBC affiliate TV station, KFYR TV, sent a reporter, who happened to be from Venezuela, to cover the event. She interviewed some students, videotaped them playing recorders and documented the 300 note card notes the entire student body crafted for me to take to the school children in Ecuador.
Nothing could prepare us for the excitement and joy we experienced when we dropped off the recorders to two schools along our 2,400-mile motorcycle adventure. While the riding was awesome in Ecuador, it was the joy on the children’s faces (as well as the teachers) as they each received a recorder that for me was the highlight of the entire adventure.
We visited the bilingual Algarrobas School in Canoa Beach and the elementary school just outside Vilcabamba. By taking a musical instrument and placing it into the hands of elementary children coupled with a few simple lessons, who knows…someone from Ecuador may become the next maestro!
Here is a short note from Rachel Isser who is the English and Volunteer Coordinator with the Los Algarrobas School
I just wanted to thank you again so much for your visit yesterday and the
recorders and supplies! As you know, we depend so much on donations and
those supplies will be a wonderful contribution preparing for the new
school year! (Our last day of school this year will be Friday and then we
come back in April). Stocking the classrooms with supplies is a challenge
every year so thank you so much!
I also look forward to planning music classes and performances with the
recorders! Our music teacher is also excited! We’ll be sure to send you
some videos when we start to use them!
Please send a big thank you for us to the students who sent those lovely
cards! We used several of them to decorate our rotating poster display in
the library! The kids are curious and are asking what they say and a few
even understand the English.
This letter says it all. Thanks Pack for a Purpose and Rebecca Rothney, Founder and Chairperson, for this wonderful organization. Keep up the great work that Pack for a Purpose travelers do all over the world.