Updates

Food drives for our families in Ecuador

Click Here to Donate to the Coronavirus Food Drive
Mission Santa Maria is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, all donations are tax deductible. 


Thank you for everyone who has reached out to us with kind messages and wishes these past weeks. We are doing well and spend most of our days inside the Mission Home compound. We are very safe and completely quarantined and having the kids here make the adjustment to the quarantine a little more fun.

As I mentioned briefly in our message last week, we have begun to help families in the surrounding towns where we live. We are entering the fourth week of a strict lock-down here in Ecuador. This means most of the families in our area have been out of work for three weeks and have been running out of food for their families. Even in good times we here of some of our families at the school who can’t afford to buy enough food. One of our fathers told me he was giving his children limes to eat…

We made the decision just over a week ago to help over 100 families that needed food. We drove to the nearest city an hour away and bought food from distributor. To do this we needed a special government permission to be able to drive (cars are only allowed on the roads two days a week) and we needed to show this document at a checkpoint before we arrived to the city. We delivered a majority of the food to one town and enlisted the community to help us divide the food into bags for each family. The rest of the food was divided by boys from our program who delivered them to another town (the poorest in our area).

Yesterday we made another trip, with two pickup trucks and are now helping 130 families. The people are extremely grateful and so I pass on their gratitude to you all. Without you and without your generosity we would not have been able deliver this food.

Some of our donors have been sending us funds specifically for this project. This was not a planned project since we don’t typically help families with food. Therefore we have not budgeted for these food purchases and in order to continue, we need additional help. If you have already donated, perhaps you can help us by helping us tell others of our need. You can do this by sending our website, or forwarding this email, or sharing our posts on Facebook or Instagram.

Lastly, I want to share some thoughts on why we are doing this special project. Two things have been coming to my mind over and over again the past two weeks as we started to help these families. The first is that food is such a basic need that we really can’t accomplish our mission (or much of anything) if people don’t have food. Secondly, the sisters here who care for the children often say a blessing before meals and almost always ask God to bless those who do not have food. These past weeks that has become very real for us. How can we ask God to help people that don’t have enough to eat, if we do not help them when it is in our power to do so?

I believe we are doing our part and God is answering the sisters’ prayers these days.

Jim

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Summer tutoring keeps minds active!

It’s summer vacation in Ecuador, but here at the Mission Home, learning continues! Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have hired part time teachers to provide personalized tutoring to the kids at the Mission Home. The teachers come to the home from 8am-12noon Monday through Friday, and work with groups of kids ranging in size from one-on-one to 12 students. 

The summer teaching schedule is especially beneficial for the children that arrived at the Mission Home never having gone to school before. These children continue to receive reading, writing, and arithmetic classes in an effort to advance their learning before entering the mission school. One of our teenage girls who did not know the alphabet before she arrived at the Mission Home is now sounding out simple words on the path to learning how to read. It is amazing to see their progress! 

In addition, the teachers are working with children who underperformed or had educational deficits throughout the past school year. They have created personalized lesson plans to ensure that next year the children are better equipped for success. 

Finally, the teachers are opening doors for children with developmental or learning disabilities. Resources for children with significant disabilities is limited in our area and most are left out of the traditional schooling system. The teachers provide one on one classes for a few hours weekly to these children in order to work on motor and cognitive skills. You might find them cutting out shapes, putting together a simple puzzle, or matching pictures with the correct color. Not only are these lessons educational but they also make these children feel included. 

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Rolando Graduates!

Last week we had our third student graduate from our University Program. Some of you will remember Rolando from when he came and told his story at our NYC event a few years ago.

Rolando stopped attending school at the age of 14 after his grandmother, who had been caring for him, passed away. He began working on different farms until he came to be at the Mission Home at age 17.

Rolando defends thesis

Rolando finished high school and was one of the first students in our University Program. He was accepted to ESPOL, the best state school in Ecuador. He graduated with a degree in Accounting and Business Management. When he started in the University over 5 years ago, he began with a class of 270. Only 9 graduated with him this past week. This accomplishment is a testament to his hard work and dedication.

We are extremely proud of Rolando. He wanted me to pass on his eternal gratitude to all of you who have helped make this possible for him.

Your generosity has changed the trajectory of Rolando’s life forever. We are excited to see what the future holds for him!

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Jenny’s future changes with a university education

Jenny is one of our university scholarship recipients who came to the mission home when she was 14. She says that when she came to the Mission, she felt like she finally had a true family who loved her. After graduating from the Mission School, Jenny stayed at the mission working with the high school girls. Jenny took the university entrance exam and was eligible to receive a free university education in Guayaquil, but had no way of paying her living expenses. One of our donors sponsored her and she became our 5th university student at Mission Santa Maria. Jenny is 3 years into a 5-year Occupational Therapy degree.

Jenny says she wanted to become an Occupational Therapist when she met two children with special needs also living at the Mission Home. She saw how these children needed specific help and how hard (almost impossible) it is to find help for poor children with special needs.

Our University Scholarship Program was created to help young men and women like Jenny. The existing programs at the Mission all help poor children (most from abusive situations), but when they are 18 years old, they graduate from the school and must leave the Mission Home. Many children each year pass the college entrance exam and are eligible for free tuition at state universities, but can’t complete their university education since they have no money to pay for their living expenses. This means that they most likely will find part-time work with low salaries at best. The poverty that has been passed down from generation to generation continues…

Four or five years in college can change their lives forever. After graduating college, it is possible for these young men and women to find a very good, stable job, not only lifting them out of poverty, but their future families as well.

Please help us sponsor more young people like Jenny and change their course of their lives forever.

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Your monthly donation will be matched!

A donor has decided to match all new monthly donations we receive during our three week campaign. They will match new donations for one year, so your impact will be doubled!

If you are an existing monthly donor, any increase in your amount will also be matched for the year!

Please help us reach our goal!

$25/month funds school fees for a child two children!
$40/month funds school fees and supplies for one child two children!
$250/month pays for one boy two boys to live at our boys’ home and attend school!
$500/month pays for one two university students!

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One of our boys tells his story

I met Manuel six years ago when he first came to the Boy’s Home. He is a great young man and is currently taking a driving course in a nearby city. We hope to enjoy his message!

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Help us reach our goal!

Gabriel is one of the 81 children currently living at the Mission Home. His mother fled Venezuela from the economic crisis. She showed up to the Mission home a few months ago with Gabriel and his baby brother begging the sisters to take her children. The sisters told her she had to go to the police (all the children come here through the state programs). But when they told her this, little Gabriel pleaded with them to let them stay. Crying, he said he just wanted to eat and have a place to sleep.

We are kicking off a three week campaign with the goal of increasing monthly donations by $3,000. This money will help children like Gabriel live at the Mission home and go to school.

Where your donation will go:
$25/month funds school fees for a child
$40/month funds school fees, uniforms, books and supplies for one child living at the Mission home
$250/month pays for one boy to live at our boys’ home and attend school
$500/month pays for one university student

Please help us reach our goal! Click here to become a monthly donor

You will be happy to know that Gabriel is one of the happiest and kindest children here. We hired a tutor for the children who have never been to school and he dedicates himself with enthusiasm everyday. The other day he walked into the house where the Missionary Sisters live and hugged one of them. When I asked about it, she said he is so happy that she cares for his little brother he often comes to say hello and visit his brother. The kid is a sweetheart!

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Volunteers help create Emergency Food Fund

Volunteers who come to the Mission typically spending their time help care for the children, since the 7 missionary sisters are overwhelmed caring for the 78 children who live here. The volunteers help feed the children, care for the babies, play soccer, help with homework, get the children ready for bed, etc. The missionaries (and kids) love having volunteers! Our recent group volunteers went even further to help organize an emergency food fund.

The Mission home relies on a combination of donations and government programs to care for and educate these children. A government program pays about $6000 a month for food for the children. Recently the government has been late sending the money for food. The orphanage eventually receives the money, but late payments mean the orphanage can’t afford to feed the children while they wait for the money to arrive. In April, the government was four months late and the orphanage had no money to buy food for the next month.

Some of our volunteers raised $5000 for an “Emergency Food Fund” to cover the cost of the food until the government payment arrived. Thank you to our volunteers and new donors who raised the first $5000 and to all who have donated for this special project! We are so grateful!

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