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Features

Friendship sparks special commitment

By Mary Ellen C. Welch

Times contributor

 

Milton’s schools are filled with students who are learning without interruption on a daily basis. Pre-K through the 12th grade always find excellence in the classroom.

Surprising? Not at all. In fact, we make sure that our educational system is top notch for students. No rarity here.

However, there is a rarity, actually non-existence, regarding education for certain kids in Equador. These particular kids have impacted three Milton High School seniors – Ruby D’Amato, Elena Curran, and Sarah Ford – who are expending great time and effort to address this deficiency.

How, you may ask, would three girls from Milton have an inkling of reality concerning the remote existence of the Secoya people on the Lagartococha River?

“We went to camp on the Cape and met Juliana Pallares, who lives in Equador,” Elena explained. “She invited us to come visit her and we learned about her project.”

The project, Beyond Lagartococha, was the initial idea of Juliana, who knew firsthand about the Secoya people. The Secoya, indigenous tribal folks, are isolated in a natural habitat devoid of running water, electricity, plumbing, etc. They have never had a school. They teach their children how to live, fish, hunt, and survive. Handmade items are crafted with superb experience passed from generation to generation.

Juliana traveled frequently from Quito to Manoco village, where the Secoya reside.

“I remember Juliana saying to me that she grew up going to visit the jungle,” Elena said. “She went to where she is building the school. She visited a lot. She would play with the kids who were her age and then she wasn’t visiting as much as she grew older. When she was 14, she went back and all of the kids were still there that she used to play with but they seemed really different. They were not as fun and lively and vibrant as they were when they were kids. Juliana figured out that it was because they weren’t getting the education that they needed. That was when she decided to start the Beyond Lagartococha Foundation. She wanted to give them the education they deserved.”

Juliana’s aspirations immediately inspired Ruby, Elena, and Sarah. The intention of building a school in such a detached location is daunting but not for reasons we would think. It is not a question of importing steel and bricks and heavy construction equipment. Hardly. Bamboo is a material the region grows. The bamboo structure will teach children of all ages in one single room with no separate classrooms. Kids must learn another language ( i.e., Spanish) so they can speak, read, and write what is understood by the multitudes in their own country. Another bamboo building is proposed for a teacher to call home.

Juliana’s family has provided money for a teacher’s salary. We should not lose sight of the absence of running water, electricity, and indoor plumbing. Milton schools don’t have too much of a problem in this respect. Our kids have laptops. These kids have treetops.

Ruby spoke about Secoya lifestyle in connection with the education the children now lack.

“I feel that to be an indigenous tribe and to want to leave and be a part of a culture, you’re going to need social skills and speak a different language that more people are going to understand, so by having this education and being able to learn Spanish, I feel like it gives these kids an opportunity to expand their future and have a wider goal,” she said.

Libraries are lodgings for thousands of books. We walk into libraries, peruse the shelves, take home what we want, and read about any topic we desire. The Beyond Lagartococha undertaking is not looking to build a library, but even one book will be most welcomed.

No doubt bamboo will make fine shelving in addition to a schoolroom, yet supplies so fundamental to us are out of reach for them. Needed are pencils, paper, pens, etc. Chalk or white boards are terrific teaching tools.

Projecting the annual budget for Milton schools includes things relevant to the electronic and digital worlds. This school won’t have to spend money on such items since they have no energy source. Even one PC would be powerless to provide educational assistance. No electricity? We don’t even think of it unless we lose power due to a storm. Then it’s a big inconvenience. Jungle storms won’t disrupt any power of the physical books these kids will love. A whole new world awaits them.

Expounding upon the universe of benefits education offers is not something readily heard. We take for granted that schools are simply up the road. We went to them and our children will do the same. Maybe totally new and different elements in education will evolve along the way. The fact remains that we take education for granted. It is so natural to do so that we can forget the enormity of value an education provides on any level.

Juliana, Ruby, Elena, and Sarah have stepped out of the norm. They have put front and center the extremely important part that education plays in the lives of children. It’s not exclusive to academic subjects such as math or geography or history. What we learn as children forms a solid support system. It increases curiosity, spurs social growth, challenges the resolve to break barriers, and raises self-awareness and esteem. No negative tags are attached to learning.

These three Milton High School students and project founder and friend Juliana are stating their earnest appreciation for education through their involvement in Beyond Lagartococha.

“Education is probably one of the most powerful things in the world,” Sarah said. “These kids grow up in a secluded area, which means they don’t get the chance that we would or even Juliana would, so for them to be able to learn Spanish as their native language so fluently and be able to write it and read it is such an important thing because if they ever wanted to leave, they could get through and start their own lives if they needed to or wanted to.”

The Secoya children are terrifically excited about the school they will attend. They are thrilled to see Juliana when she arrives for visits. The kids are filled with expectations and all the wonders of the unknown. Never having had a school in Secoyan history, these kids will be making history within their own culture. However, this can’t be accomplished without assistance.

Ruby, Elena, and Sarah are profoundly immersed in their belief that education is a right for everyone and acting on that belief. Their comprehension of the possibilities learning affords is the driving force behind fundraising and all it can achieve. Their energy and dedication represents a special commitment that is as stimulating as education itself.

The Plate restaurant within The Milton Marketplace will host a fundraising evening on March 2 from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $50. Excellence in Secoyan hand-crafted clothing and accessories will be on display. To learn more, go to beyondlagartococha.com, and for further information about this project, visit their Facebook page, @beyondlagartococha, and other links.

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  • Paying $125m+ town liability, in your video headlines
  • A carjacking and revealing school data: video headlines
  • 15-minute planning survey posted for resident input
  • Frederick Douglass came to town, in the Milton Minute
  • This Glover duckling walk video will make you smile
  • Online petition to FAA over airplane noise/flight paths
  • Summer kicks off in this week’s video headlines
  • Interfaith service June 25 for Charleston, S.C., shooting
  • Town budget policy paper by NU master’s student
  • Many photo-worthy events in town in the Milton Minute
  • Corrected FAA plane noise complaint email addresses
  • Class of 2015 and more plane noise: video headlines
  • Milton cellists to play recital June 13 at First Parish
  • Video – Cong. Lynch burns FAA on House floor: “I’ve got to resort to this”
  • 3-D printers in this week’s Milton video headlines
  • Video headlines: Hill House shooting details emerge
  • St. Mary’s walks for Haiti
  • Mary Erwin dies at home
  • Pair of bald eagles nest in Milton: video headlines
  • Interactive housing market chart: Milton vs. other towns
  • Power shifts at top of town gov’t, video headlines
  • Town Meeting kicks off in this week’s video headlines
  • Mother’s Day Tea
  • Elections, parades, new faces in this week’s Milton Minute
  • The Milton Minute with some of the week’s stories
  • Headlines for the April 16 newspaper
  • Meg Lane issues and more, video headlines
  • Video: Jenna Lotti performs new song “Tonight”
  • Amy Nachbar on this week’s video headlines
  • No news yet in bomb case
  • Suspect in Milton High incident held without bail
  • Sheila Egan Varela runs for School Committee
  • Video headlines: Good news for MHS f’ball, arts and music
  • A big week for headlines with the Milton Minute
  • It’s all falling down in this week’s video headlines
  • Kevin Donahue runs for School Committee
  • LeeMichael McLean seeks school committee seat
  • Take our survey: Which roads have the worst conditions?
  • Amy Nachbar co-anchors this week’s video headlines
  • Murtaugh scores! Video of her double OT shootout goal
  • A look inside the Milton Static robotics team
  • Playoff time for MHS sports in the Milton Minute
  • National Guard comes to town in the Milton Minute
  • MHS robotics ‘Smackdown’ reset for Feb. 21
  • More than just snow in this week’s Milton Minute
  • Finding answers: It’s time to talk about race and change
  • Weather dominates
  • Cheryl Tougias announces run for Planning Board
  • Urgent DPW snow notices: clearing of roadways, trash
  • We dig into this snow in this week’s Milton Minute
  • Free cash to avert override and more: Milton Minute
  • Blizzard takes over
  • Storm Juno: Emergency contacts for Milton residents
  • Police and fire at I-93 protest in the Milton Minute
  • Jenna Lotti’s latest video, “Masochist”
  • DIY rinks, stained glass, 40B in the Milton Minute
  • A new editor and more in the week’s Milton Minute
  • Mysterious philanthropist seen around town…
  • Milton Minute news headlines for pre-Christmas week
  • Heavy flooding on Blue Hill Avenue: Video
  • Milton Minute video news headlines for Dec. 10-17
  • 2015 property tax rates set and more: video
  • Jenna Lotti’s newest music vid: ‘Medicine’
  • Video: MHS vs. Wamps football preview and more
  • Milton crime and more in these video headlines
  • Tobacco law changes in Milton: full text
  • Green Homes Milton hosts energy presentation
  • Milton Veterans Day schedule announced
  • A whole lot of headlines in this week’s Milton Minute
  • St. Agatha School’s Annual Shopping Night, 11/14
  • Drs. Harte offer veterans care
  • Town meeting, ghosts and more on the Milton Minute
  • Milton from bird’s eye, and other video headlines
  • Non-profit calendar
  • Video headlines for the week of Oct. 15-23
  • Last day to register to vote in Milton is Oct. 15
  • Video headlines: What happened in Milton
  • Curry College on alert after on-campus attack
  • Get headlines pre-print with this week’s Milton Minute
  • Green bonds bill advances under Milton Sen. Joyce
  • Milton resident gets prison in Public Storage robberies
  • Citizens Bank in E. Milton robbed
  • Fontbonne runners meet Mark Wahlberg in Milton
  • Senate passes liquor license bill for Milton
  • Milton Board of Health holds flu clinic
  • Hollywood and harvest in this week’s Milton Minute
  • Milton Animal Shelter to benefit from fundraiser
  • Fall sports and more in this week’s Milton Minute
  • Primary results
  • Here’s your Milton Minute for the week
  • Web exclusive: Milton HS football set for opener
  • Milton DPW issues notice on holiday trash collections
  • So who’s really in charge of Ulin Rink?
  • Milton Minute video news headlines for the week
  • Suspect sought in E. Milton bank robbery
  • Public meeting on Housing Production Plan
  • This week’s Milton video headlines
  • Milton Times staff participates in “Town Talk”
  • Something strange happens in this week’s Milton Minute…
  • Headlines in the Aug. 6-13 Milton Minute
  • This week’s Milton Minute news headlines
  • New E. Milton liquor license moves ahead
  • Former Milton caregiver pleads guilty to felony
  • This week’s Milton Minute headlines
  • The Milton Minute video news headlines
  • Milton Fire Department donates bike to local youth
  • Milton Times introduces the “Town Talk” series
  • 1918 document could help save Milton’s Swift House
  • Senate Passes Environmental Bond Bill
  • Milton Minute video news headlines
  • Milton soccer team wins state wide championship
  • Water bill revisions
  • Sheehan asst. supt. at Milton Public Schools
  • Fire on Central Ave.
  • Time Lapse Video: the Abby Park Mural
  • Milton headlines this week in the Milton Minute
  • FY15 budget includes Milton amendments
  • Milton library names next ‘Milton Reads’ selection
  • Your Video Headlines, Your Town – 2 Minutes
  • Schools seek to boost diversity group’s efforts
  • Milton seeks plan to more affordable housing
  • Two-minute Milton news headlines
  • Video headlines in Milton this week
  • Finally! Central Ave. Repairs Are Near
  • Randolph Ave. 40B wins financing approval
  • Milton aviation noise group holds meeting
  • Timilty seeks to protect Fowl Meadow
  • Video: This Week’s Latest Milton Headlines
  • In two minutes, Milton news headlines
  • Video: The top stories in Milton this week
  • Video: This week in Milton
  • First Parish to host Julia Child mini-opera
  • Video Headlines from Town Meeting
  • Is Town Farm a Native American burial ground?
  • Police investigate Curry assault
  • Pine Tree Brook will have dams removed
  • Low turnout for election
  • Milton Video Headlines for the Week
  • Town-wide election results
  • Video: Residents in Fenway Marathon Tribute
  • Survey: Which Milton roads in the worst shape?
  • List of Candidates for Town-Wide Offices
  • Next Master Plan roundtable set
  • Two Leagues hold Opening Day
  • Kelly Beckett runs Marathon
  • Bill O’Brien runs Marathon
  • British marathoners set up base in Milton
  • Milton Garden Club hosts lecture at Trailside
  • Transportation bond bill gives Milton $24.4 mil
  • Matt Bergin runs Marathon
  • Greg Gordon runs Marathon
  • ‘I Will Run Again’ final video released
  • Delay in trash collection announced
  • Marathon bib numbers for all Milton runners
  • Good Friday concert at St. Michael’s
  • Video: Milton Minute for April 15-23
  • DCR resurfacing Blue Hills Parkway
  • April 10 & 15 Master Plan Events Rescheduled
  • Exhibit features photos by Milton resident
  • Video: Scenes from the Milton Half-Marathon
  • Milton National Little League opening day set
  • Video: Milton Minute for April 8-16
  • Milton Rappers Release “City Kids” Video
  • Mediterranean Pizza
  • Video: A Marathon Tribute Song Is Recorded
  • Video: Milton Minute for April 2-8
  • DPW announces yard waste collection schedule
  • Master Plan forums rescheduled
  • Video: Marathon Tribute Soloist Speaks
  • Video: Composer/Writer of Marathon Tribute Describes Inspiration
  • Supplement: Local Horticulture Advice
  • Official Release: Jenna Lotti’s “Red Line Love” Music Video
  • Milton Video Headlines, March 26-April 2
  • Plea Entered in 1994 Shooting of Milton Man
  • Milton’s Glinski Nominated for Service Academies
  • Milton Hailed for Drug Disposal Program
  • ‘Healthy Milton’ Discussion Set for Tucker
  • Milton Minute Video Headlines, March 20-26
  • Campo Nominated for Naval Academy
  • Timilty Attends Career Center Day
  • Parks Department to Host Annual Easter Egg Fest
  • Milton Minute, March 12-19, “Red Nation” Edition
  • Live-Tweet Hoops from the Garden, 7:00 p.m. Start
  • Milton Hoops Are South Champions! (Video)
  • Senate Passes $1.5 bil Transportation Bond Bill
  • Fitness Club Hosts Member Appreciation Day
  • Free Celtic Music Concert at Unquity House
  • Milton Hoops Upsets #1 Seed, Bishop Feehan
  • Fatal Heart Attack at Selectmen’s Meeting
  • Hendries Housing Proposal Detailed
  • Milton Video Headlines, March 6
  • Carrera Nominated for Naval Academy by Lynch
  • Selectmen to Hold Special 40B Meeting
  • Civil Service Exams set for April
  • Election Information Program to Air on MATV
  • Area Skating School to Hold Classes
  • Timilty Joins Vote on Anti-Bullying Bill
  • Zoning Issues Top Town Meeting
  • First Parish Host Fundraiser to Repair Organ
  • Parking Enforcement Stepped Up in E. Milton
  • Lynch Nominates Carroll for Military Academy
  • Town Could Get $21.4 Mil in New Bill
  • Cullinane To Hold Weekly Community Meetings
  • Milton Minute, Fresh through March 5
  • MHS Sports Teams in Playoff Action
  • Milton Schools Announce Early Release Date
  • Park Board to Discuss Swift House Proposal Again
  • LED Sign on Granite Ave. Gets OK
  • Joyce Bill Targets Water and Sewer Repairs
  • Town Now Accepting M-Pace Donations
  • Forbes House Celebrates 50th with News Interviews
  • UPDATED: St. Agatha Hosts 3-on-3 Hoop Tourney
  • Upcoming Town Meetings
  • Delay in Trash/Recycling Collection
  • Joyce Joins Vote for Supplemental Budget
  • Milton Named One of Safest Communities in U.S.
  • Next Master Plan Forum Set for March 1
  • Timilty Files Amendment to Fowl Meadow Bill
  • Stoughton Parcel Sale Moves Forward
  • Christiansen Announces Bid for Board of Health
  • Milton Democratic Caucus Elects Convention Delegates
  • DPW Responds to Water Main Break
  • Incumbents Declare for Town-Wide Election
  • DPW Announces Collection Delay Due to Storm
  • Furze Announces Candidacy for Planning Board
  • Transportation Funds for Two Town Projects
  • Location of New Animal Shelter Debated
  • Timilty Holds Office Hours at Town Hall
  • Burglaries Spiked in 2013
  • Schools Consider Budget Cuts
  • Firearm Permits Surge, Police Eye Bow-Hunting
  • Fire Station Study Begins
  • More on Sewer Payments
  • Bent’s Cookie Factory Finds New Ownership
  • Town Ponders Sewer Payback Plan
  • Town Takes AG to Court
  • Teachers Win Contract
  • David Howse Honored
  • Teachers Protest Lack of Contract
  • Town Meeting Backs Selectmen
  • Blue Hills Bank Set to Open Branch