Photos today from Paseo del Niño, a massive 7-hour parade on Christmas Eve
where children dress up and walk through Cuenca, often with floats
decorated with candy, fruit, chips - anything they have on hand.
I've been wanting to get this post out! And here it is...
All of us as a community helped to raise $5,293 for the girls and abuelitas at the orphanage!!!
The monies came from your generous donations, commissions from your online purchases, profits from the sale of these gorgeous journals (thanks to donations by an NYC reader and entrepreneur, Ashley Crouch), and also the matching donation from me and Danny.
We feel so humbled and honored that we could be a part of this meaningful project with you!
The team at Ecuador Cares is hard at work to make sure this money is spent in the most meaningful ways. And I trust them completely (Diane Lenz is a tireless saint and godmother to those girls.)
-Each girl received one new pair of shoes for Christmas!
-A beautiful Christmas party was provided for the girls, hosted by the volunteers with a dinner, decorations, and gifts. We were traveling and weren't able to volunteer to help, but Diane said the girls LOVED it. Also, during the party, the girls kept trying to help clean up or serve food. But Diane and the volunteers had to keep telling them - "No - this party is for YOU. Please sit down, dear ones, and enjoy and let us serve you." I'm so glad the girls could feel special.
-The girls now have sex education classes and self esteem classes by a professional educator!!! This is HUGE, my friends, as unfortunately sex education is not a huge priority here. The Director of the Orphanage says within a few months of turning 18 and leaving the orphanage, the girls become sexually active and generally get pregnant - only leading to more poverty, more vulnerability, and more orphans. So these classes could very well change the course of their lives. The classes began Dec. 19th and the nuns are FULLY in support of this education, which is wonderful.
-The Saturday meals have continued. It's a massive production that requires food for 100 people every week. But it brings nutrition that is very much needed, and teaches them skills that helps them transition to employment when they leave the shelter.
-A team of 35 doctors and dentists in Cuenca have recently committed to provide medical care for all of the girls free of charge. This is simply a miracle. One girl has already received the first of two life changing surgeries that she will need for a cleft palate.
-And, the next level of needs: The orphanage is in great need of physical repair. The building is from the 1600s! So, the roof is caving in areas, as you can imagine. Some walls and supporting beams are in need of replacement. The orphanage also owns some tienda space on the exterior of the orphanage and these are in need of repair (the rent from the tiendas is their only source of income, aside from the donations from Ecuador Cares. The orphanage is not supported by the government.) Diane has been working with a team of contractors to get estimates for the repairs, as this is beyond the scope of the volunteers. The costs will be over six figures. But they will do what they can, in stages if needed.
As you can see, very meaningful progress is happening in every way possible.
THANK YOU FOR BEING PART OF THIS 'VILLAGE' THESE GIRLS NEED TO SURVIVE, EVEN THOUGH YOU LIVE SO FAR AWAY.
We love being a community with you all - and we hope to do more projects like this with you every year.
Much love and gratitude,
P.S. Of course, any further donations would still be welcomed if you are still looking to donate by the year's end. Donations can be sent directly HERE.