As our course winds down on the breathtaking island of Isla del Sol, we have begun reflecting on our experience both as a group and individuals. After our delicious breakfast of eggs and warm, fresh bread (what a treat), the group took a small hike up to the peak of the mountainous island. Here, as the sun rose higher in the sky, we each sat alone. I happened to reside next to a few donkeys, and wrote about what we wanted to gain from this experience. I spent time looking over the cliff at the small village below, and as the sun reflected off the water, I began my own reflection on this journey. Among all the physical and emotional challenges that I’ve experienced on this trip, the most significant to me has been the resilience I have witnessed firsthand, both from the Rio Beni Health Foundation and the people of Gredal. When we arrived there, which seems already like years ago, we were welcomed in like family. After our strenuous and long journey upriver, the people of the community brought us refreshing coconuts. Only later did we learn that this year, Gredal’s crops were washed away by a flood, leaving them with minimal food and zero products for market. When Leo (the village leader) told us this, with a grim face that soon turned back into a smile, I wondered how they even continued their lives happily. I realized that the people of Gredal are happy despite the circumstances because they spend every day with their families in a beautiful place. The hardships they face day-to-day are ones that I have never had to consider and this allowed me to gain a greater appreciation for the resilience of the people of Gredal. As our experience living in Gredal fades into the past, I know that we will never forget the lessons that we learned there.
29th of June, 2014