Director Rodney Williamson and his wife Monica opened a new chapter for Project Ecuador by expanding to the 4th coastal Province of Esmeraldas.  Please read his report below.  It is a great accomplishment!  Director Gaby Munoz got the call from SNR requesting our help.  Project Ecudor is now in all coastal regions!  Enjoy.  Paul Dunning


Lifeguards and friends of,

This past weekend Project Ecuador was invited to Esmereldas by Jorge Estupinan, Director of Tourism, to provide a weekend of training for the Esmereldas City lifeguards. My wife Monica and I hopped a bus and made the 12 hour red-eye north. Sr. Estupinan met us at the bus terminal and along with his family showed us tremendous hospitality for the entire trip.

Esmereldas is a vibrant place. The landscape, architecture, and general vibe of its people remind me of a cross between coastal Brazil and Ensenada.

The lifeguards are very experienced, with service ranging from 3 to 20 years. Included in the group are those that also serve as Police and Firemen.

We began the training Saturday morning in a classroom at city hall, covering basic lifeguarding and medical procedures, with the use of powerpoint, videos, and handouts.

Powerpoint Training at City Hall

Powerpoint Training at City Hall

After lunch we visited Atacames, a beach just south of Esmereldas, which has its own group of lifeguards who train along with Esmereldas City lifeguards. Here we attended a meeting of lifeguards representing coastal regions of the country as far south as Salinas. They discussed their plans for a national association and Project Ecuador was invited to explain how we can help. As with all groups of lifeguards, it’s a lively bunch! This day they were deciding on a logo for their association, and I was given the great honor of making the final choice! 34

That evening we visited Atacamas. If you have ever been to Montanita you know that it is one big party during Carnival. Well, times that by 10 and you have Atacamas! I know that it will be an amazing place to lifeguard this coming year.

Sunday morning was the beach training. The lifeguards are skilled and well organized. They have well constructed towers and their operation is modeled on agencies in Spain and Central America. But they have done this from afar. This past weekend was the first time they had an on-site consultant. Many recommendations were made and eagerly accepted. The most pressing issue that is quickly correctable is that of physical conditioning. Although some of the lifeguards are very strong, they tire quickly during the swimming and running exercises. Starting immediately, mandatory workouts have been implemented and monthly trainings are scheduled.75

On Monday we attended a civic ceremony in the central plaza of Esmereldas. In addition to hundreds of observers there was a military guard, a police guard, a brass band, beauty queens, and mariachis! They really know how to have a meeting.

Project Ecuador was publicly recognized by the mayor and local media covered the event. Project Ecuador uniforms were donated to the lifeguards at this event. Project Ecuador has committed to providing rescue cans, radios, fins, a four day lifeguard academy, and volunteers for carnival. In return the City of Esmereldas promises to provide lifeguards with uniforms, a unique logo, regular employment with pay, and an application for entry into the ILS.8

This is a new chapter in the development of professional lifeguarding in Ecuador. We hope to use it as an example to inspire other municipalities to do the same.

We have now added Esmereldas and Atacames to the list of beaches that will need volunteers for Carnival 2011. We are especially looking for females for this assignment, as the City of Esmereldas wants to promote lifeguarding as an occupation not only for men but also for women.9

In addition, the city is now working on creating a lifeguard service for swimming pools, which is a first in this country! Tremendous progress is being made and we thank you for your interest. 


Rodney Williamson