My fellow travelers, Edna, Joan, Jeff, Kim, Nicholas and I were invited to a minga. In the indigenous South American Quechan language minga means “communal workday.” When people form a minga, they come together and work toward a common goal that benefits those involved, similar to a barn raising in the US. We went by city bus early one morning to the home of Mariana Escuntar and family in a neighborhood of Quito. They are building a third story for their home, brick by brick.
This communal workday included moving the key ingredient to the mortar, sand, from the sidewalk to the third floor landing using sandbags. We counted over 200 sandbags carried up to the family member laying the bricks. Morecio, the nieto (grandson) of Mariana, filled all the bags. This was back-breaking labor for us city folks! While moving the key ingredient for the mortar, we also provided the key ingredient for the minga, coming together with the family and working toward a common goal. This not only benefited the family, it widened our circle of care and compassion, thanks to our new friends in Ecuador.