We meet up with Shirley in Montanita, a small coastal town, where she sets up her leather business. Later, we meet a traveling musician.
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- [Stephen] If you had a choice to pack up all your things and paint a picture of the world we live in, what would you do? You ask yourself, what do I have to lose? ♪ Baby, let me follow you down ♪ ♪ Follow you down ♪ ♪ I'm all in pieces ♪ ♪ Just waiting for you to come 'round ♪ ♪ 'Round ♪ ♪ To sing you this song ♪ ♪ Baby, let me sing you this song ♪ ♪ And cigarettes and these hard fingertips are like ♪ ♪ I'll sacrifice to deliver you this ♪ ♪ Song ♪
- [Stephen] We find ourselves living on this planet we call home, yet we are so disconnected from it all. We feel like complete strangers. The pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of love. The pursuit of adventure. The pursuit of freedom. My name is Stephen Friedman and this is the story of Chasing the Sun. Quito, Ecuador is the highest official capital city in the world. The word Ecuador is Spanish for equator. Quito's the perfect example of an old city with a youthful feel. Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. The main reason you need to come to Ecuador is to spend time with the locals because they're really special people. But beyond that, it's a place that will take your breath away from the beauty that is around you. This place has a lot of heart. We are in the capital of Ecuador, a city of Quito and, like you arrive here and you just feel like you're kind of home. Home away from home and it's a really, really amazing destination to come to, and I'm so glad I actually picked out Ecuador, out of several options and yeah, there's still so much more to do and see.
- Ecuador is a little country, just about 14 million persons, the population. We have all the weathers here. We have springtime all the year. Here in Quito, we have the jungle, we have the coast, we have the Galapagos, we have the mountains. And we just about two, three, four hours on car, ride in the car, you are in any place you want. The people just live here, very simple. The way they live is very simple way to live. They have big heart. All the people. You go any place, in little towns, little place, people in mountains, people in the coast, very poor people but they have a big heart. That's the best thing that this country has. The people. The people's the best thing they have. My name is Pablo Davistos, I'm from Quito, Ecuador.
- Yeah, that's also another thing that I noticed about the culture here. It's like, the more they like you, the more they feed you. The more they give you presents and it's great. I love presents and who doesn't love presents but also just, yeah, it's just like welcoming.
- Yeah, that's the way they show you they love you. That's the way Ecuadors love you. More food, more love.
- [Stephen] When you think about moments and certain moments where, what really touches you and Smile Train was that moment, and seeing it and meeting the people behind Smile Train and how they're making a difference. It kind of also just brought me back to that moment when I was in Brazil with the capoeiro and everything was just in slow motion. You're kind of just there at that point in time and it just changes you. It really, really does change you and those moments that make you go to bed at night with a smile on your face. And I got that with Smile Train.
- I never expect a child with cleft lip and palate, but it was my child and it's hard because it starts criticism from family, from people around, and like whispers saying that what did you did wrong, and as far as I know I did nothing wrong. My name is Christine Solano and we are in Quito, Ecuador, South America and it's a lovely country.
- [Stephen] Martin, Christine's first child was born with cleft lip and palate, eight years ago.
- I don't even know what it was. So I start investigating about this, and the more I investigate, the more sad I feel. So when my kid was born and it started a journey of looking for doctors. Thanks god I got Dr. Pablo Davistos.
- [Stephen] Christine's family was in the fortunate position to be able to afford the cleft palate surgery. With all the experience she gained through the process of her son's surgery, Christine decided to quit her job as a graphic designer and become a full-time volunteer at the clinic with Dr. Pablo Davistos. Together the team provides free cleft lip and palate surgery, speech therapy, and guidance to the poor people of Ecuador.
- We changed the lives of kid and the family and our lives. We have the ability to make this kind of surgeries and we had the training and the results, I think, are good results and you see the difference in a kid that really make a surgery or you done a surgery. When all the family is exhausting, 20 minutes of surgery, half an hour of surgery, you has changed complete life of the family and the kids and our lives because it's very amazing. We are feels very happy and all the team that works here in this hospital is really, they put all the soul inside to make the things works.
- It's one of the most humbling things I have ever done, really and I think the biggest lesson, and the biggest thing that I saw was family. Like everyone kind of just seems closer together.
- I think now we are family. At the beginning it was just like, everyone does his job, everyone does her job, the nurse, the pediatrics, the surgeons. But now, I feel like I'm gathering this group, just for one purpose, that is a kid. We don't have an statistic. So many kids we are. One kid represents one person in our heart. So, we know the name of the kid, of the parents. We know their houses. We know what they need.
- [Stephen] What I loved about the whole Smile Train story, was the fact that it was all word of mouth. So, it all started with one family having their child go through the surgery. And then that family told another family that's child was born with a cleft palate about Smile Train. And it was kind of like, a dominoes effect. So eventually by the end of it, they've helped hundreds of families.
- What exactly I'm doing, is telling the parents that this is not the end, or this is nothing wrong with their kid. That they have to be happy because this little baby came from something to change this situation. When Martin was just one and a half year, we had a notice that the news that Anniaye was coming. And we felt, oh my god, what is going to happen? And we went to the doctor and said what probability it is, are that she comes with cleft lip and palate. And doctor said, it's a high probability. I said to my husband, if we have gone through with Martin why don't with Anniaye? And thanks god she came completely perfectly well. As you know, she's the rock of my kids. She's the one that has strong skin when someone bullying at him, she says, "Martin you don't have to let them do that. You speak well." She says, "you are a warrior," to him. So she gives strength to Martin. As I went through that, I encouraged mother to be, mothers of the kids at the hospital, that they have to be more confident with this. They are the ones that are pushing her kid, or they are the ones that are letting their kids stay where they are. It's kind of sad to say, but when they say, when families see exactly what cleft lip and palate they said like, "oh, poor kid." And kid is not a poor one, he is a kid. He doesn't the pity of no one. So, I said to moms that they have to stop that, and said, "no my kid is not a poor kid. My kid is going to be well, he just needs surgery and he needs love."
- This patients, they see this hospital, don't pay nothing. They are just free in everything. And that's one of the important ways that all the populations, that this patients, they know that he is no any kind of fee, anything, they have a lot of love, they have a lot of warm, love hearts, and that's the way they going to just live very happy.
- If Martin wouldn't be have been born with cleft lip and palate, I would be another person. I am a better person since my son was born.
- [Stephen] We left the capital and drove to Montanita, a small coastal town in the province of Santa Elena, plus minus 560 km from Quito. Translated as little hill, Montanita is considered one of the best beaches on Ecuador's south coast. Basically, Montanita's a party town with really good waves to surf. ♪ Maybe you're still looking for the reason ♪ Yeah, it's kind of like being in a big city, and then kinda getting lost and being in Neverland. Like, one of the Peter Pan stories and the two transitions from city life to now this, it's pretty surreal. In the 1960s, Montanita was a place where many foreign travelers came to link up with the hippie movement. They fell in love and decided to settle here forever. Only recently has Montanita developed into what it is today. Basically this place started as a surf town, and a friend of mine came here about 10 years ago, and she said it was literally like five little houses on the beach. And 10 years later it's developed into this community of travelers, surfers. ♪ Maybe you're still looking for the answer. ♪ ♪ When the answers looking out for you. ♪ ♪ Maybe you're still hoping for some action. ♪
- Montanita made me confused all the time, like, but I know a little bit of Ecuador and different places. And Montanita made me feel that this one is another country. It's like every people is happy here, every people is relaxed, everyone. And you can do whatever you want in this place. It's no rules, nobody told you anything. It's everyone is happy, it's just enjoy. Sometimes I just wake up, and I say, okay, this one is the day that I'm gonna leave Montanita. But I just go into the beach. And spend all day there. Or I do another stuff, and its just everyday, everyday here. My name is Shirley Gomancho. I'm from Columbia. Columbia is really beautiful place, but I just decide to travel around, so Ecuador is the first stop.
- [Stephen] Shirley is an interesting individual. She's a person that literally travels around, makes leather bags, wallets, book covers. And the only reason she does that, so she can get money, so she can go from each place to the next place, but her real passion is journalism and photography. And the combination of the both. So, she's 27 years old, and you can just see, she's a person that cannot be in a place for too long.
- We make everything by hand. We make all by hand, so even the tools we make in the house. So yeah, we was, I choose this idea to travel, and I take my stuff, and I was working a little bit. I working in Manta for a while, so I make a little money in Manta. And I came here now to work too. And it's really heavy to take all that stuff with me. It's heavy. I make in every place that I can. It's difficult to find a good place because the first thing is open the skin. So all the skin is really big. So you need a table for doesn't get dirty, the leather. And the first thing is try to find a good space for cut. And after you cut you can work your hands. I have like, my little table, it's just a piece of wood. So I just work there. And now I choose to start to make small stuff, like books, or wallets, or this kind of thing. But really small, because you can't sell like a backpack on the street. It's really expensive, and it's all natural leather, it's not this kind of leather that you can buy from a sheep. So yeah, I choose decide to make smaller stuff, something that you can sell like tourist people. And it's more this kind of like people that really appreciate the hand craft, or because not everyone wants to pay like my work. Like, I think my work costs. So, yeah, it's really nice, it's really beautiful work. After you finish, it's like oh my god, I made this with my hands. So it's really nice. I tried to survive with leather. But I'm a journalist, so I choose to go around and write some stories, and take, and I look photographies. And I have a blog, so actually that I really, really like, is that. It's write and take photos. But, I eat thanks for the leather stuff. So, I still working with that. I decide to go around Latin America. So I already have like a big, a long way.
- [Stephen] There's that point in time, where you basically make a decision in your life. You want to rather put yourself in a course where you want to make a difference, you want to make a change. Or you're basically, just for yourself, and it's hard to find a common ground, really.