The Ecuadoran people welcomed us last week with literal open arms. Our trip to Ecuador with World Vision was no less than a life-changing experience.
Meeting the families whose lives have been transformed was unforgettable.
From learning new ways to eat an orange to experiencing the reality of a meal prepared in a home without any access to running water, my respect for the work required to simply live in these parts of the world is higher than you can imagine.
For more on why we were in Ecuador, you can read my thoughts on the Chosen Program.
MEET DIANA – She is the head of her family, mother of two, and she cares for her sick father as well. Since 2016, she has been able to become a small business owner, manufacturing candy in the downstairs room in her home.
World Vision has made this business possible through community sponsorship. Her mother, cousin, and neighbor assist her with the candy making.
Even though her children are not sponsored in the program, their family benefits from the community efforts.
She told us that before World Vision entered their community and began sharing nutrition education, their typical meals might have been yucca (a root vegetable similar to potato), rice, and rolls or bread.
Breakfast was typically coffee and a roll. The area is abundant in oranges for a sweet bite.
Now, many of the families have learned how to grow and cook vegetables, more fruits, and even fresh herbs.
Diana is very proud of her garden and she gave us a tour of everything she’s growing.
Diana cooked a delicious meal for our entire group while we visited with her.
There is no running water in the home. None of the conveniences we take for granted. She was so happy to have us there and thanked us repeatedly for working with World Vision.
MEET YEISY – She was adopted by her grandmother at six months old.
Yeisy was severely malnourished while living with her mother.
She is still in therapy now at 12 to help her continue to grow stronger. Early childhood malnutrition is the cause of some of her learning struggles today.
Yeisy LOVES to dance. She danced the Marimba for us and is learning more dance in her community dance program.
MEET THE DANCE TROUPES – World Vision assists the dance program by providing material for costumes.
Their dance teacher is a World Vision volunteer.
Dance gives the children pride in the accomplishment and pure joy in the dancing itself. The program is a major self-esteem booster for the kids.
It was an honor to have them perform for our visit.
MEET JAIME – He is one of the sweetest, most smiling 12-year-olds that you can imagine.
He’s so cheerful and grateful to be in the program. He is sponsored by a family in Alaska. He showed us all of the cards and notes he’s received from his sponsor and described them as treasures.
He lives in this two-room home with his grandmother and younger brother. His mother had to move to Peru for work and he misses her.
Jaime attends school in the afternoon. He also helps out in his uncle’s electronics store.
He makes jewelry with his grandmother. They sell the beaded jewelry at their community market to help earn a bit of extra money.
Jaime dreams of being a firefighter someday and also would like to learn carpentry from his father.
MEET ANGELA – Her family already benefits from the workshops and generosity of World Vision working in her community.
She was very excited to be part of the Chosen event while we were in Ecuador and told us she was looking forward to choosing her own sponsor.
Angela loves to draw and her favorite class in school is English. She’s one of five children.
Angela wants to be a psychologist when she grows older to help children become more happy and healthy. She wants to give them advice to make good choices.
Her family has a business selling ice cream, as evidenced by the large freezers in each room of their small home.
There is no running water here, but they’ve managed to create a business and there is electricity available to make it possible.
MEET THE WOMEN of this sewing co-op – These women have built a business for themselves by sewing everyday clothing, bedding sets, and special costumes.
World Vision has helped with sewing machines and materials to get them started.
MEET THE WOMEN who built this candy factory – These women make candy in a small building that World Vision assisted them in setting up.
The ladies have improved their working conditions and the products are now made in more hygenic ways.
Child sponsorship benefits the entire community with things like materials for these small businesses and so much more.
It has been life-changing for the women to have the ability to earn a bit of additional income for their families.
MEET THE FISHING COMMUNITY – For many of the families in Ecuador, the family’s income is dependent on fishing.
The men are almost all fishermen and the fisherman’s life is a hard one. They prepare in the afternoon to go out on small boats at 7:00 pm and they stay out on the water all night.
We spoke with Jesús. He is a leader in the fishing community.
He’s been fishing for 58 years and while some things have obviously changed over that time, unfortunately, it hasn’t improved their lives.
The fishermen are sometimes attacked by pirates who might steal everything, even the engine. They might be captured and taken farther from home before being abandoned and left to find a way home.
Despite how hard the fisherman’s life is, it remains the only income option for most men.
In the early morning, you’ll often see women sweeping the dirt paths in front of their homes.
The Ecuadorian people have found ways to make their homes lovely and they don’t take what they have for granted.
Using broken pots, buckets, and plastic jugs, there are plants and flowers in abundance everywhere you look.
The pride in where they live is evident everywhere you look.
THE #CHOSEN EVENT – The children arrived hours early the morning of the event. The stood in line patiently waiting for their party to begin.
Most of the children were dressed in the nicest clothing they either owned or were able to borrow.
The smaller children were accompanied by a parent or grandparent and the older kids chatted with friends while they waited for the fun to start.
The groups played games and sang songs with the World Vision volunteer team while they waited for their turn to choose their sponsor.
Some of the children were excited, many were nervous beforehand, but they were all happy to show us their sponsor’s photo after they made their choice.
It was emotional beyond words to meet the children who chose my family as their sponsor and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to share this with all of you.
I absolutely loved meeting the children who chose your photos.
It is still incredible for me to realize how many lives we have touched through this work.
It was an unforgettable experience to meet the Ecuadorian people and spend time in their homes. If you would like to join with World Vision in helping these communities, there are almost 400 children still waiting for sponsors in Ecuador.
Some of these children have been waiting over a year for a sponsor.
Monthly sponsorship donations are pooled for maximum impact in each community.
You’ll help your sponsored child and other vulnerable children in the community with life-changing things like: clean water, nutrition, healthcare, education, jobs for parents, protection, and sharing God’s love.
As a sponsor, you’re able to write/email with them, send small packages, pray for them, and make extra financial gifts that do contribute directly to that child’s and family’s specific needs.
There is huge power in knowing that someone loves and believes in you.
Every single child we were fortunate enough to speak with told us how much they love to receive notes and small gifts from their sponsors in other countries.
They save every note and trinket they receive. The children took them out of boxes to show them to us and everything was described as a treasure.
It was a very surreal feeling to be in Ecuador visiting some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities and simultaneously promoting the release of The Weeknight Dessert Cookbook.
The fact that we are so very fortunate to have baking ingredients at our fingertips and to have a kitchen that makes it possible to bake, and cook, and chill the dessert recipes in this book is a blessing I may never again take for granted.
I am honored to have worked with World Vision in Ecuador to spread the news about the #Chosen program, but I have not been compensated for this post or my time. All opinions in this post are my own and my prayer is that sharing what I’ve seen and learned will touch your heart as well.
2 Comments Leave a comment or review
Holly N says
Mary, this was beautiful and I loved reading it and following along on your trip. What an amazing experience for you. It’s true how many luxuries we take for granted, especially the simple ones like running water.
I loved following along on your trip and seeing the realities first hand through your eyes. I can’t imagine how powerful it was to have been there and especially to have met the families and to have seen the excitement of the kids on the day of the Chosen event.
Thank you for sharing World Vision and your experience. I am reading through the site right now and the programs and community development they’re providing is wonderful.
Mary Younkin says
I’m so glad that you enjoyed following along, Holly. It really was an incredible experience.