Monday, October 3, 2016

Promises and Unintended Consequences

When I began the Friends in Foreign Places project I had hopes and dreams. It was exciting and I hoped that the project would help settle the anxiety I had of wanting so desperately to DO something to help the people in my new home.

And as the stories came pouring in, the anxiety subsided, and a quiet joy, that I was doing something replaced it. As I read the fabulous stories, some of them poured from the deep recesses of the writer's hearts, my excitement grew. And I made a promise, to do everything I could to make it a best seller. And we promised that all the proceeds would go to help the families on the coast at the Proyecto Saman camp.

Well, when we began our sales a little over a week ago, everyone was on board. Motivations, hopes, and dreams were at a high. But I never dreamed we would hit #1 in two of our categories before the launch party was even over. And I thank you all. All the writers, who wrote such great stories, our proofreaders, artist, cover designer and publisher. Everyone helping with the social media blast, sharing posts and building excitement. Telling their friends and families about the book. To Cuenca High Life and Gringo Tree publications for telling our story. It was pretty emotional. But something else unexpected happened. An Unintended Consequence of magnitude proportions. Even bigger than that 7.8 magnitude earthquake that totally decimated so much of our northern coastal cities.

Sarah Hanenbauer told us more about the families living in the Proyecto Saman camp. You see, this area is one of the most poverty ridden areas of the country. Houses and buildings were substandard construction and it's why they were reduced to dust when the earth shook so violently. She told us, many of the families living in the tent village say they've never lived so good. This earthquake happened where there is no FEMA, no State Farm Insurance, no unemployment, no food stamps. There is literally no help, except donations. And education is a real luxury few can afford. Therefore the illiteracy rate is high.

So, when our friends volunteering at Proyecto Saman, told the families that the extranjeros (foreigners) from high up in the mountains were writing a book to help raise money for the community, the residents wanted something else. They want to learn to read, and they want to learn English.  Because they want to read the book we wrote for them. And at the new learning center at the camp, they are doing just that.

Folks, this has been an emotional time, and I'm not too proud to say I've shed quite a number of tears. But a week later, every time I think about teenagers and adults learning to read, to read our book, the faucet turns on again.

SO, to the people at Proyecto Saman...we will make you another promise. You learn to read. And thanks to Sandra Materi, Karla Sanchez Arismendi, Fannie Villegas, and Sebastian Torres Vallejo, and bilingual volunteers in Cuenca, the book will be translated into Spanish in the coming months. To the families of Proyecto Saman, with love, from your friends in the Andes.

Are you crying with me yet? Well, there is one more unintended consequence. When the Ministry of Immigration heard about our book, they asked one of our Cuencano writers what it was all about. When he told them, they wanted to know when it would be available in Spanish. Because they want to read it. All of them. They want to know about our experiences in their country and as expats. So that maybe they can make the process of living here better and easier for us.

All you need is Ecuador and all Ecuador needs is love!

Thanks again to everyone involved! I can't say it enough. Now, I'm focused on finished Terror on the Bluff, book 3 in the Providence in Ecuador series. #Amwriting

To purchase the book in ebook format Click Here
To purchase the paperback in the US Canada or Europe: Click here
To learn more about Proyecto Saman or donate directly: Proyecto Saman
To join the crowd-funding campaign to buy a bus for the kids to get to school and the adults to work in the city: Big Red is Dead

Abrazos (hugs) from Ecuador,

Loving life in Cuenca!