The Tumbaco region of Quito is an area in which some of the poorest Ecuadorians live and work. Our group visited a church there and surrounding neighborhoods on Thursday, March 17, 2011.
But first, a visit to the home office of Compassion International. Stella, myself and the rest of us were split into four groups and given tours by the staff. The director, an affable man who spoke excellent English, gave us a welcoming talk, and explained a bit about how their programs work. This director was once Minister of the Interior, in charge of all military and police in the country. A coup on the government led to his dismissal and his eventual path to human service work.
Our next stop was a project where a church service was taking place. Many mothers and young children were there; we took pictures of many of them. The project is called CSP, or Child Survival Program. After the service, we all met the children and their mothers in the courtyard outside.
We were divided into more new groups to do home visits. Our small group of five went with Leda and her young son Andy to their modest house about a half mile away. The house was in a poor neighborhood, with stray dogs ambling by and older cars parked near the curb. We had to watch our heads while walking under the bent metal roof on the pathway to Leda’s house. It had two rooms; one for eating and cooking, the other for sleeping and living (two beds, a love seat and a padded chair). All were covered by clean but worn looking sheets.
We were seated, then took turns asking Leda questions via an interpreter.
Our food was delivered in Styrofoam boxes – another nice lunch of chicken, rice and vegetables. Coca Cola was served as well; one year old Andy drank freely from a 20 ounce bottle. After lunch we continued our questions. One was, how can we pray for you? Leda’s answer: Please pray that my husband (a construction worker) finds steady work and can make more money for all of us. As we were leaving, a second son, Christopher, was walking back to the house. He looked about four years old; too young to be strolling the neighborhood alone.
Back at the church we watched the children singing and dancing in traditional garb. Then we attended four informal, stand up CSP workshops before the mothers gave us each a scarf for a souvenir.
At the hotel, we had dinner in a private room, and listened to three young women discuss their experiences with the Leadership Development Program. They were all college students, and received help from sponsors through Compassion International. We were touched by their stories, as well as the fresh memory of the earlier meetings with moms and kids. It was a fine and meaningful way to end our day.