Reporting On Our Holiday Service Project 2015

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.)

So far…

-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.


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.

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  1. Anonymous December 29, 2015 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    What you've accomplished with this community!
    The celebrations you've seen (mesmerizing pictures..).

  2. Dorene December 31, 2015 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    Just curious, have you ever thought of adopting from an orphanage? Those kids are so cute!

    • mara December 31, 2015 at 8:28 pm - Reply

      Hi Doreen, in Ecuador we've been told it's impossible to adopt a certain child from a certain orphanage. If someone wants to adopt, they would go into the system and get the next child available for adoption in the country. Though the foreigners would only be able to adopt the children that are at a high risk for not being adopted by Ecuadorians due to health issues, age, etc. Also, unfortunately the process would take a very long time. Currently we aren't in a position to pursue adoption and so the desire to do so is lower. Right now is a time of acceptance and a time of trying to live a good and giving life.

  3. Alyaka | Ineke Perfumes January 2, 2016 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    You are very admirable. That is a wonderful and colourful parade, but what struck me most is your effort to extend your love for those cute little angels in the orphanage. I hope that you the best for 2016. Keep up the great works!

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