Today Hearts of Gold had the pleasure to visit the home of the Torres family in Chilcapamba. Three children, Mandie, Andre, and Jennifer, and one grandchild, Paula, of the Torres family attend CETAP-Lucy to receive academic assistance, early stimulation therapies, and psychological therapies.*
We visited the family to learn more about the challenges that the children and families of CETAP-Lucy face every day. The mother, Brenda, has five children and five grandchildren, who all live together in a small group of homes in very poor condition.
We took the dirt path up to the home, and saw the smiling faces of two toddlers playing in the grass, sitting on an old mattress on the lawn, one with flip flops on the wrong feet. Behind them sat the home of the family, cement walls in crumbling condition holding a life of love, patience, and hope.
A tour of the home revealed a combined dining room and bedroom for the mother, Brenda, that has much water damage. The family’s most pressing need is repairs on the pipes in their home. Their recent water bills have been $60 per month, and realistically the price should not exceed $10 per month. Repairing the pipes or replacing them would be a great way to make a huge impact on the cost of living for the family. The walls are wet and weak, and shake if you touch them gently.
The floor of the kitchen is made up of rocks of all shapes and sizes. On the table sat lunch for 5 children and 3 adults, just a small bowl of lentils to be shared. The closet-sized bathroom left enough room for a toilet and cold-water shower. Another room downstairs lie empty with just one chair and a floor made up of rocks. Generous donations provide the family with a stove and refrigerator in the small kitchen. The children share a couple of bedrooms, and they were proud to give us a tour of their personal space.
The mother and an older son, who has a wife and three children of his own, provide the sole income for the family. The family’s father and eldest son moved to the U.S. three years ago, but upon arrival the father became ill and since then has not been able to work. Thus the eldest son is left to work and pay of the $24,000 debt it cost for these two to arrive to the U.S illegally.
The oldest son living in Cuenca works construction whenever he can get work, and is the only one able to pay the $250 monthly mortgage for the crumbling home. The mother, Brenda, works sunrise to sunset making straw hats at home 6 days per week. With one week of hard work she can produce 3 hats. She then travels to 12 de Octubre market and begs craftsmen to buy her product, among a crowd of other campesinos in a similar situation. Brenda receives $7 per hat, totaling an income of $21 per week for the family, not including the cost of the hat materials. The family lives on $75 per month.
The poverty that the Torres family endures is a daily reality for many families that attend CETAP-Lucy. The family is kind, gentle, and grateful for the generosity of CETAP-Lucy and Hearts of Gold’s caring community of donors.
After paying the bills for the home, electricity, and water, the Torres family is left with pennies for food.
They eat only rice at home – no vegetables, no fruits, no proteins.
This has led to very poor malnutrition of the children, where 13 year old Andre has stunted growth and measures at the size of an 8 year old boy, and leaving 14 year old Mandie with cognitive delay and a speech impediment.
Last year the children were all enrolled in school, thanks to the support of individual sponsors that support the school tuition, uniforms, and transportation so that they may receive an education. This year, we hope they can receive the same.
Even Mandie will start a new apprenticeship to learn how to manufacture clothes after school. This is a great opportunity for the future of the sweet girl, who has much trouble reading and writing.
CETAP-Lucy is a place where the Torres family, and many other families just like them, have the opportunity to receive unique support thanks to the child sponsorship program.
Without sponsors Mandie, Andre, Jennifer and Paula would not be able to receive life-changing therapies to confront personal emotional and physical challenges.
CETAP-Lucy provides the environment for these children to develop, to flourish and to be loved by teachers, therapists, and a corps of committed volunteers. It is a space with open doors where all children are equal and all children have the chance to break the cycle of poverty. Attention to psychological well-being, physical therapies tailored to their disabilities, and nourishment care for their bodies and health. Specialized academic assistance and tutoring give these children a chance to excel in school and move up grade by grade until they graduate high school. Maybe even a chance to go to college and embark on a career away from the impoverished campesino lifestyle.
Without support from YOU, these children would not be able to call CETAP-Lucy a second home. YOU are empowering this community from within. YOU are giving these children a chance to grow into themselves as confident, educated, healthy Ecuadorians. YOU give these families a glimpse of hope when there is darkness and despair.
We thank you for being part of this giving community that believes in the potential of every child, and for allowing Cuencano families like the Torres’ be part of the Hearts of Gold and CETAP-Lucy family.
*All names have been change to protect identities