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Cali Bamboo employee Karlynn Andrade’s trip to Ecuador

img5Since my first day working at Cali Bamboo, it has been obvious that this ecologically-minded company is not only dedicated to the overall well-being of the planet, but is also genuinely concerned with the people who inhabit it. I approached Cali Bamboo owners, Jeff and Tanner – experienced world travelers and humanitarians at heart – with a request to fulfill a personal dream of mine. I wanted to participate in an international volunteer project, El Centro de la Niña Trabajadora (CENIT), a non-profit organization in Quito, Ecuador that helps working children overcome poverty.

img3Most of my work with CENIT took place in a street outreach program encouraging children, specifically girls, to pursue their education. I spent a lot of my time in an outdoor marketplace called San Roque in southern Quito where I taught the children of local workers who sell items at the market. Since about 60 percent of Ecuadorians live in poverty, many children are forced to work to supplement their family’s income, leaving little time for them to attend school and enjoy childhood as we know it.

img1Ecuador is known for its bio-diversity, specifically its crown jewel – the Galapagos Islands. Despite international attempts to preserve these biologically diverse islands, the air on the mainland is still thick with pollution, litter lines the streets, and there is no sign of recycling bins anywhere. I am still struggling to understand how there can be such a strong disconnect between the highly-protected Galapagos Islands and the densely-populated areas where the air is barely breathable.

img4But there are signs of hope. Quito relies heavily on its public transportation system, the Trolebús, which runs entirely on electric power. Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest and most populous city, incorporates the beginnings of a formal recycling program along the Malecón 2000, the city’s recently re-constructed riverside promenade. The entire coast of Ecuador makes use of the indigenous bamboo species called Guadua, that thrives in the area and provides locals with a low cost, durable building resource. I also love that Ecuadorians reuse their glass beer and soda bottles to, as Cali Bamboo would put it, “saving the planet one beer at a time”.

img6Now that I have returned to San Diego, I am grateful for the opportunities, choices, and abilities I have in my life. The opportunity to go to school and get an education; The choice to purchase environmentally friendly products and to live green; The ability to teach others to consider the environment in their daily decisions.

img2My unforgettable trip to Ecuador has given me a sense of pride in my country and the company I work for. I am pleased to know that Cali Bamboo is part of the green movement with their sustainable building products and because of their membership to 1% for the Planet customers can be part of it as they build with Cali Bamboo products.

Karlynn K. Andrade

Sales Associate and proud “Bamboo Lady”

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