Dear amazing Rotary family!!!
I hope that you are keeping well and are enjoying the fresh spring weather.
Now that we have returned back from our once in a lifetime volunteer experience in Ecuador, I am honoured to write you this note.
Our 9 day service trip was physically demanding not only from a labour perspective, but also from a travel perspective as 4 full days were spent on planes, buses and boats in order to travel to and from the Amazon region of Ecuador, more specifically the Bella Vista community where the WE & MEtoWE foundation have heavily invested in. Our JPCI CITY team accomplished so much including:
  • Digging 6 massive trenches to be used for the foundation of a School house
  • Placing hundreds of large stones plus mixing and pouring cement in order to stabilize the foundation
  • Cutting and bending rebar in order to create the columns/pillars
  • Planting approximately 50 trees at the WE Agricultural Centre
  • Painting the newly constructed Kitchen/Cafeteria alongside local school children 
We could not have been more proud of our team as they worked intensely and were motivated to finish as much as possible during our stay. And trust me, we have the aches and pains to prove it while we worked under the Amazon sun!
Additionally, our trip was filled with many tangible learning experiences where we connected with local children and families to learn about their way of life, and how they have instituted the WE foundations pillars of Education, Opportunity, Clean Water, Health and Food. Some particular highlights were tasting the delicious and exotic fruits of the amazon, being taught how to create bracelets from local trees and minerals lead by the entrepreneurial women of the community, and experiencing first hand how families have to put forth endless effort and time to get access to clean drinking water.
Intangibly, our team of students were able to truly admire and adore the children and people throughout the entire community, especially the individuals who have given up their lives to improve the welfare of such a remote community. Also, our team reflected on the opportunity and their responsibility they have to improve not only this global village, but also our home town of Toronto. It was an honour to see our team even become stronger and united as the week progressed. The care and emotion they displayed to one another, and us teachers, was a blessing to witness and made me extremely proud to be considered their teacher and mentor. By respecting each other and everyone's culture, our team displayed endless respect and dignity which any adult would have been proud to witness.
All of this could not have been possible without your endless support, encouragement and dedication in making this project a reality which was truly amazing and a unique blessing. The support and encouragement you have showered us not only for this project, but to our entire school over the past 5 years has been so generous. I don't think I have the words to express how grateful I am for your love and care and it will never be forgotten.
Now the journey continues for our JPCI CITY team as they find more ways to improve our local and global community. We will be working on an initiative to provide access to clean water to a community in need before the school year comes to an end.
Please know that this journey, which began over a year ago, could not have been possible without you!!!
We look forward to meeting and presenting to the Toronto Eglinton Rotary team on Wednesday May 1st. 
Have a lovely day!
Rahim Essabhai
Business & Cooperative Education
John Polanyi Collegiate Institute

“Legacy is not what you leave for people, but what you leave in people.” - Unknown