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Together we Can Make a Difference: Manta, Part 1

On April 21 the crew of the ms Veendam took the concept of “Cruise With a Purpose” literally in their own hands.

Cruise with a Purpose is a designation given to shore excursions that give back to the community or serve a higher purpose than entertainment, and today the crew of the Veendam did just that in Manta, Ecuador. Foregoing free time ashore to explore the port, nearly 100 volunteers from all departments on the ship chose to use their “down time” lifting others up by spending the day doing much-needed repairs to the local school; this institution is a day care and after-school care facility for the many hardworking yet lower income families of the city. A lofty goal was visualized to transform the school into a more pleasant and safe environment for the 80 children that are currently enrolled.

While crew from all departments repaired the roof, fixed the plumbing, renovated and upgraded the kitchen, painted the classrooms and playground and ultimately delivered much need educational games, toys and food, the children enjoyed a day onboard the ms Veendam. They were accompanied by parents and teachers and had a fun-filled day including lunch poolside in the Lido, games with the Club HAL staff and a picture with the captain. Weeks of planning, shopping and donations from vendors have made a difference in these children’s lives, and yet again shown that Holland America Line has a goal of replicating our harmonious life onboard in the ports that graciously welcome us to their shores.

With a supplement of 100 crew members, it still took one hour to offload all the items. We needed two buses and two large trucks to take care of all the transfers.

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En route to Manta’s school with two busloads full of Veendam crew.

Veendam crew unloads trucks full of supplies at Manta's school.

Veendam crew unloads trucks full of supplies at Manta’s school.

Veendam crew members take off parts of the school's old roof in Manta, Ecuador.

Veendam crew members take off parts of the school’s old roof in Manta.

Previous to reconstruction, the school's roof in Manta was filled by holes and large gaps.

Previous to reconstruction, the school’s roof in Manta was filled by holes and large gaps.


new roof

Once the roof was fixed, the school's kitchen was revamped, too.

Once the roof was fixed, the school’s kitchen was revamped, too.

The school's kitchen is stocked with new supplies.

The school’s kitchen is stocked with new supplies.


More photos to come tomorrow in Part 2, so check back then!

Bert van Mackelenbergh is Veendam’s hotel director

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