Meet Isabella and Sofia.
These sisters live in Puerto Ayora, the principal town of Santa Cruz in the Galápagos Islands and theirs is a heart-warming story. The language of the Galápagos Islands is Spanish, but most of the tourists that flock there every year are from North America, which means that English is a very useful skill to have on these islands that rely on tourism for their bread and butter.
Unfortunately, English is not taught in the local schools and to acquire any kind of proficiency in the language requires tuition – which costs around $70 a month for an hour a day, after school. Isabella and Sofia’s mum couldn’t afford that much – her only income comes from selling home-made cookies which she sells door to door.
Then, in November last year, something happened that changed everything for Isabella and Sofia. A family from the United States began taking Spanish lessons during our two-week Toucanto Galápagos Family Adventure program. The couple have asked to remain anonymous, so I will just call them John and Jane. They enjoyed their Spanish lessons so much that they diligently practised their Spanish whenever and wherever they could.
As they travelled around the town, they soon noticed that the people that spoke English tended to be employed in the better paying jobs in the tourism industry. They began to really see how the ability to speak the language of the majority of the tourists in Galápagos could transform the employment prospects and life opportunities for these young Ecuadoreans.
Before the end of the program, John and Jane had made up their minds to do something positive to help; they spoke to Carol, their Spanish teacher and the owner of the language school and told her they wanted to sponsor an underprivileged child to learn English.
When they told us about their plan we were deeply touched by their generosity, but we were even more surprised when we heard that the Language Academy are already supporting a couple of other children from the community. They have even opened a classroom in Bellavista, a town a few miles out of Puerto Ayora, because the families there couldn’t get their children into town as well as pay for the lessons.
“There are lots of deserving cases,” Carol explained to us, “but there is only so much we can afford to do.” After talking to Carol about the fees, John and Jane committed to sponsor TWO children, and left it up to Carol to find a couple of deserving cases. It so happened that Carol knew the mother of the two girls already, because she had visited the school a couple of times to ask how much English lessons would cost but went away disappointed that she couldn’t afford to send her daughters.
Just sixteen days after they left Galápagos, true to their word, John and Jane transferred $1000 into the account of the Galápagos Language Academy so that the girls could begin their studies.
When the girls’ mother heard the good news from Carol that her children could start English classes the following Monday, she broke down and cried, so happy was she that her girls would have this potentially life changing opportunity.
We know that not everyone is in a position to make such a generous donation, but we felt inspired by John and Jane’s incredible act of kindness and have been talking to Carol about ways our friends and other families can contribute even very small sums in the future. Carol has agreed to investigate setting up a funding page on the internet where anyone can pledge as little or as much as they choose, and we will publish the details in this group as soon as they are available. Below this post you can find a list of school supplies that can be expensive or hard to get hold of in the islands but are cheap and plentiful in our own countries. It is our sincere hope that when families join us on our program, or are travelling to Santa Cruz independently, they might consider bringing with them a little something from this list.
If you feel that you can afford the financial commitment of $70 per month to support a disadvantaged child from Galápagos to take up the life-changing opportunity of learning English, please email us at email@example.com.
The last thing I want to say about this right now is how much it means to us personally that the program we set up during the dark days of the pandemic to create an experience that connects our travelling families with the amazing people from the Galápagos community has borne fruit beyond our wildest expectations, and we feel humbled and privileged to have had the opportunity to meet all of you incredible people who have shared this journey with us so far, and excited to meet those of you who are yet to come.
List of required School items:
· WHITEBOARD MARKERS
· COLOUR PENCILS
· GLUE STICKS
· WATERCOLOR PAINTS
· PAINTBRUSHES (ROUND AND FLAT)
· ENCOURAGING STICKERS FOR LITTLE KIDS AND YOUNG KIDS
· A4 ASSORTED COLOURS CONSTRUCTION / BRIGHT /CARDBOARD PAPER
· EDUCATIONAL BOARD GAMES (FOR KIDS AND /OR YOUNG ADULTS)
· PLASTIC A4 LAMINATION SHEETS
· BLU TACK
· READING BOOKS FOR CHILDREN (EARLY READERS)
· FOLDER DIVIDERS
· COLOR MARKERS