The Mission School Celebrates 27 Year Anniversary

Last week, the mission school celebrated 27 years of service to students and the community. In honor of the anniversary, the school hosted an art contest for students. Students were asked to create an art piece that represented the school.

Bird’s-eye view of part of the mission school campus as well as El Santuario across the street. The large blacktop area is where many assemblies take place, and where older students participate in physical education.

Many students drew “El Santuario”, the church directly across the street from the school that was founded at the same time. It is an iconic building, mostly known for its dramatic location on the edge of a cliff and beautiful outdoor services overlooking the ocean.

But even more prominent in the students art was the founder of the school, Padre Othmar. Padre Othmar was a priest from Switzerland that came to Ecuador over 50 years ago. He spent his life working in the coastal communities surrounding the mission school, supporting everything from road infrastructure development, to the first medical clinics, to the founding of the mission school. Padre Othmar passed away a year ago, but his memory and influence are still powerfully felt.

 

 

Read more

A new baby, a new scholarship program, and new housing!

We welcomed baby Amelia to our family at the end of June. We have been in the US awaiting her arrival and are grateful Grace and Amelia are healthy. Regan has been very generous in sharing her toys with Amelia. We plan to return to Ecuador at the end of the summer and can’t wait to introduce Amelia to everyone at the Mission.

Regan loves holding baby Amelia

Thanks to the generosity of our donors we launched a Scholarship Plus program for students in need of support on top of tuition assistance. With the help of a social worker assessing family situations, over 100 of our students are now receiving a ‘scholarship plus’. These scholarships cover tuition costs, but also provide school supplies and uniforms, financial help for transportation to and from school, and monthly food distributions.

In our university program, we enrolled several of our students in online English classes to increase employment opportunities after graduation. We acquired a house in Guayaquil that is now home to 5 of our female university students. The young women share how wonderful it is to have a common safe space to live while they focus on their studies.

Read more

Classroom Construction Update

Despite nationwide strikes that impacted all types of labor over the past few weeks, construction on our new classrooms continues. The walls and roofing are complete for the new classrooms that will be located upstairs, and progress continues for completing the downstairs space. Continue to follow our updates here or on our Classrooms for Change Campaign page.

Read more

University Student Spotlight – Cindy

Meet Cindy! Cindy joined our university program in 2022. She is a graduate of the Mission School, and comes from a very rural town in our area. 

Cindy is currently studying medicine at a university in Cuenca. She agreed to share a little about her education experience and what motivates her to study medicine in the interview below. 

Q: Tell us a little about yourself, your family, and your education up to this point. 

A: My name is Cindy Alejandro, I am 20 years old and I am from Sitio Nuevo. I have 6 brothers and sisters, my father is a farmer and my mother stays at home to take care of my siblings. I graduated from the Mission School in 2021. I loved my experience studying at the Mission School because of the values it incorporated into our education. I was grateful to get to know so many wonderful people including my teachers and friends, and I will always remember the experience as one of the happiest and best of my life.  

Q: Why did you want to go to university? 

A: I wanted to go to university in order to be able to study a high-level profession and degree. A university degree opens many doors when you seek employment, which is important for economic stability in the future. 

Q: Why did you want to study medicine? 

A: I am studying medicine because I really enjoy it. I want to be able to serve and help others as my vocation and profession. 

Cindy learning to perform emergency respiratory care in one of her practical labs at medical school.

Q: Until now, how many people in your family have attended and graduated university? 

A: I do not have any family members that have graduated from university. 

Q: How do you feel about starting university this year?

A: I am so happy to have started university and to be studying the career which I wanted to study most. I am very grateful to the foundation for giving me this opportunity. Medicine is not an easy major, but with effort, I know I can succeed and graduate.  

Cindy learning to identify different types of bacteria under the microscope.

Read more

Save the Date! NJ Donor Appreciation Reception

You’re invited to our Backyard Bash, a donor appreciation reception in Stirling, NJ! Join us for cocktails and appetizers in the comfort of the home of a good friend of Mission Santa Maria. Allow us to thank you for your support and share updates on the work you make possible in Ecuador.

Invite a friend and help us expand the mission family! RSVP here, contact us with questions at grace@missionsantamaria.com.

Read more

Our New Desks Have Arrived!

As we previously shared, we hired a local carpenter to make new desks for the Mission School. The new desks were desperately needed to replace broken plastic desks, as well as to correct a desk shortage that the school has been experiencing over the past several years. Due to distance learning as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the shortage did not need to be addressed until this school year, when all students returned to in-person learning. 

The new desks were moved into classrooms over the last month and are already being put to great use. Thank you for helping make this improvement possible for all the students at the Mission School! 

A few teachers meet in one of the classrooms with new desks.

Read more

Classroom Construction Continues!

Construction on the new classrooms at the Mission School continues! Over the last two weeks the team has begun building the classroom walls and roofing. You can continue to follow the progress here, or on our Classrooms for Change Campaign page.

Read more

Classrooms for Change Campaign Comes to an End

Thanks to the exceptional generosity of our donors, we reached our $75,000 fundraising goal through the Classrooms for Change Campaign. With these funds, we will be able to build the classrooms we need at the Mission School. We will continue to provide updates on our construction progress but in the meantime please watch a short message of gratitude below.

Read more

Last Chance to Give to our Classrooms for Change Campaign!

There is only one week left in our Classrooms for Change Campaign and we need to raise $18,000 to reach our goal! Check out our construction progress below and donate today! DONATE HERE. 

 

Read more

Donor Spotlight – Ben Coffey

As we attempt to build new infrastructure at the Mission School through our Classrooms for Change Campaign, we want to highlight a longtime donor to emphasize the importance of their partnership and support. We asked Ben to share his experience with giving to Mission Santa Maria.

Ben with his wife, Allison. Ben and Allison live in Charleston, South Carolina, with their dog, Annie.

Ben Shares:
“My older brother Will was best friends with Pete Bremberg and Jim Campbell growing up in New Jersey. Although my family moved down to South Carolina in 1999, we maintained close relationships with some of the incredible people we had known during our time in New Jersey and Jim and Pete were two of them. I believe the first time I donated to Mission Santa Maria, Pete was doing a triathlon in 2013 to raise money for the organization. I think I had heard about Mission Santa Maria in the months or so prior and was truly amazed at what Jim and Pete and the rest of the team was doing to help out those less fortunate – and in a very big, directly impactful way. At the time I was just a couple years out of college and donated the small amount that I could and didn’t think about it too much.
I moved to London for work for a couple years, after which I  started my own business here in Charleston, South Carolina, with some old colleagues. I remember hearing over those years how the mission was growing and the incredible work that Jim and his team were doing down in Ecuador. At some point I learned that Jim had stopped his career in the finance world, which I am also in, to work at the mission full-time. I was truly inspired and amazed. The more I heard the stories of the mission and the impact on many kids’ lives the more I wanted to give. And the more fortunate and blessed that I have been with the success of my business, the more I want to help. I can honestly say that Mission Santa Maria is the most impactful organization where I feel and see the most direct use of donations to impact lives and help others.
I plan to get down there one day and I will continue to give to such an incredible organization that is helping change lives.”
Thank you, Ben, for your commitment and generosity! And thank you to all our donors that choose to give!
Read more