Thursday, August 16, 2007

Guayaquil to Quito

The mountainous air of Quito feels especially dry, light and unsatisfying after waking up yesterday morning breathing the moist, chewy air of Guayaquil. Extra breaths are common. I’m told my body will adjust soon.

Last evening we had a nice meal with some of our Ecuadorian hosts: Andrés, Pamela, Pedro and María. They are naturals at hospitality. Andrés is our communications coordinator, (meaning he helps us find stories to tell), and Pamela, Pedro and María are in Sponsor Relations. If you sponsor a child in Quito and ever have an opportunity visit you'll more than likely meet at least one of these three.

They explained that when sponsors visit the field, meet their sponsored children and see the programs in action, they are unanimously impressed and more committed than ever to their child and Children International. As this trip is my first to the field to see this movement in action, I can relate.

I have seen with my own eyes the transformative power of what sponsor make possible:
-Sponsored mothers have shed tears of gratitude as they relay how relieved their son or daughter’s sponsorship has made them feel.
-A charismatic dentist made children crack up as he administered a fluoride treatment.
-I’ve met members of Guayaquil’s more than 50-strong Youth Health Corp and sat in on a lecture as three of them taught other youth about important issues they will face.
-I’ve observed children who come from dark and dusty places painting the prettiest scenes full of optimism.
-At one community center the medical clinic was drawing blood samples from some (somewhat distressed!) children to test for diseases and anemia.
-Youth tutors were helping younger children with their studies.

If a child is sponsored in Ecuador, the family affixes a two-foot by two-foot piece of painted wood by their front door. The white sign is carefully painted in blue brushstrokes and features a Children International logo, the child’s name and the service area centers information.

Since addresses and phones are not too common, this sign allows the hundreds of volunteers (who travel on foot), to communicate and reach sponsored children more efficiently. These signs are also a source of tremendous pride for families. They affix them to the left of their front door, to tell all who walk by that they are a part of something -- something important, something valuable and something good.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Last night at our Friends of Children International meeting in Kansas City we had the pleasure of seeing pictures and hearing a report from a CI staff who had just returned from the opening of the new CI center in Lusaka (Africa). As he told about the community schools that CI has been sponsoring there I was struck by some of his comments. Public school costs $20 a year for each child. There are only 2 public schools in the city. Those public schools can't even serve all the children in the city. Most troubling was the fact that the children living in the slums, even if there was room in the public schools for them, couldn't afford the $20 per year to attend. What a is hard to grasp that $20 can change a life so significantly! How often do we "blow" $20! It gives real food for thought and reflection on how we prioritze things in our own lives.Food and medication are needed for survival, but basic education is what gives real hope for a future beyond poverty.

I hope that people read these inspiring and heart wrenching blog stories. Being "in the field" must be draining, but also inspiring. The human spirit is lifted by each of us helping in whatever capacity we are able. Change a life - become a sponsor!

Thank you to all the staff and volunteers who get out there where the rubber meets the road. Thank you for sharing the stories of our sponsored children. Keep up the great are amazing!