Among them were cast members Dave Smith, Agar Yanulaytis, Rachelle Allen and Mohammad Jaffrey from Disneyland Resort and Ian Craig and Toshia Mcgoldrick from Walt Disney World Resort. The group helped build a classroom for a Quichua community in the upper Amazon.
“In Quito, we piled into buses for a seven-hour ride down from the highlands and into the Amazonian jungle,” Dave, pictured above, said. “At the end of a long, gravel road we finally came to the Napo River where we loaded our gear into motorized canoes and headed down the river. By the end of the week, we had completed much of the foundation work, painted an inspiring mural and learned a lot about the Quichua culture and the community’s desire to find ways to get their children the education they need.”
Agar, above left, said, “At the beginning of each day, the children were so happy to see us, play games, sing songs and work with us.” Rachelle, bottom right, added, “The kids spoke a combination of the local Quichua language and Spanish, but as soon as they saw the Disney VoluntEARS Vinylmation I brought with me, they got huge smiles on their faces and yelled ‘Mickey Mouse!’ Mickey Mouse is all it took to break the language barrier and that warmed my heart.”
Mohammad, pictured below, said, “I was presented the challenge of a mural and asked the local children what they would like it to be. They wanted nature, music, books, soccer, and mathematics. I worked hard to make sure that the mural was their mural. The leaves on the tree include the handprints of all 30 Disney VoluntEARS and the locals.”
“It was amazing to be able to work directly with children and families in Ecuador”, said Ian, pictured bottom right. “We did a little bit of everything, from collecting gravel and digging holes to mixing and pouring concrete. Building this classroom helps provide better access to education for many kids and I certainly will cherish this trip forever.”