Arriving in Ecuador was one of the most incredible experiences I have had in my 22 years. My vocation to serve led me to people with fantastic ideals, clear goals and intentions, but most importantly, a heart that is always ready to help.
The Minadores de Sueños Foundation is the second home for each of the children and teenagers who come here. It is the place where they find a refuge to dream, have fun and learn, a warm environment in which to develop, and a group of experts who are ready to accompany these beings on the path to transcendence. The people I surround myself with are all different, but with skills, behaviours and passions that are all focused on the same goal: creating a learning environment that allows children to develop, consolidate what they have learned, correct their mistakes and improve their strengths.
I am very amazed, inspired, full of happiness and did not believe that I would live this dream so soon in my life; to have the opportunity to lead groups of children and teenagers. To be their guide, their motor, so that they don’t give up on their dreams. Their impulse, that things will change and be very favourable for them in the future if they commit to being good people and never give up.
These weeks have changed my life forever and there is no going back. I am so inspired and I realise that the work that is being done does not end here. I leave with the firm conviction that I need to repeat what I have learned in my country, Mexico, where the living conditions are not so different from those I have experienced here.
There are moments in life when you have to pause to give thanks for what you have lived. I do this every day when I go to the Fundación. As I climb the mountain, I see a landscape that makes me feel alive and happy. A coldness that welcomes me and reminds me that as soon as I stand in front of these children, I will feel the warmth of their smiles, of their efforts. I also see animals, cows, pigs, dogs, barking at me and telling me to hurry; not to miss a moment of the children’s arrival.
I go downstairs to help Mrs. Elena cook, learning not only how to cook, but also something about the culture, Ecuadorian spices and, above all, about an intelligent, noble, kind and very brave woman. Also sharing space and time with the teachers, beautiful women, both physically and mentally, strong, hardworking and aware of their important role in people’s lives. They are the root of learning, they are the embrace that can never be too much and they are the wake-up call because they want the best for you.
Finally, I will never forget the living examples that show that the world has hope: the volunteers who have a heart and are always ready to help. Young people between 14 and 20 years old who put their free time at the service of their community, whom I naturally admire and respect. At their age, I would have liked to do what they do, with an incredible attitude and new stories every day, while everyone fulfils what they have to do and a little more, because proactivity is the trademark that defines this foundation. They never stop, never settle until the bad becomes good and the good becomes outstanding.
I thank God for allowing me to live this dream. Thank you to my family for pushing me, believing in me and always trusting me. Thank Mrs. Alba and Mr. Marco for making this foundation grow; inspire and most of all change lives, many lives of children and teenagers who believe in themselves today. Thank fate for bringing me together with these people (minadores) and I will always carry them in my heart. This project does not end here, because education is the basis for the world to change. I will not rest until I have changed the lives of thousands of people, because that is what success is: knowing that someone’s life has changed because you exist.
I leave with three things burned into my memory:
- What matters is not what you know, but what you do with what you know.
- There is no leadership other than leadership by example.
- No dream is too big and no dreamer too small.
I hope you remember me, I will always be grateful for the opportunity and I hope you will rejoice every time you remember what a young Mexican was able to live and feel when he was here. I assure you that you will not regret allowing me to work with all of you, mining dreams.
Alexis Maximiliano Gutiérrez Méndez
22 years old, Mexican
31 August 2021
Translation Nua Nyffeler Cisneros