We landed in Ecuador Friday night – amidst fog and rain – ecstatic to escape Cincinnati’s ruthless winter. Saturday morning dawned to the colorful sounds of Quito’s farmer’s market, our jet lag thrust away by delicious Ecuadorian coffee, and glorious views of Quito. The city, with its peach, yellow, baby blue homes and opulent green slopes of Pichincha, awaited us.

Discover it we did – from the basilica to the restaurants of La Ronda, we huffed and puffed through the steep streets of Quito, eager to devour as much of this magnificent city as we could. The highlight of our day, apart from a delicious lunch of succulent chicken, aji and avocados, was meeting the women of 11 de Mayo. Located just outside of Quito, 11 de Mayo is comprised of forty-two families that joined forces to purchase land and build a community.

As our van rolled up to the lush countryside. a large, triangular structure composed of glass and wood towered above us. Dogs, ducks, chickens and cows welcomed us. A single, hefty door heaved open to reveal Alba, a small tan women, with a gregarious smile and enough determination to move mountains. The structure we stood in, Alba animatedly informed us, was 11-de Mayo’s very own community center. Constructed with recycled materials, this building was the product of a “minga,” a community project in which members come together to fulfill a communal need.  Needless to say, the women of 11-de Mayo powered these mingas.

Moreover, we learned that this was one of many mingas the group had dabbled in, the most successful being a series of organic gardens they had planted and now harvested not only to provide herbs and vegetables for their families but also to sell to local vendors and fund their Women’s Club.

They were interested in building a wood shop; when they learned that the classes to acquire the necessary skills cost too much, they turned to YouTube. As we puckered through the dense gardens ripe with tomatoes, zucchini and lettuce, we were awestruck by the ambition, energy, and fortitude of the women of 11 de-Mayo

Best,Farah and the MedMujeres!