The work in Ecuador is slowly taking roots. For details about the past please look at our “Projects” page or at previous posts: Following Peter
The kitchen for elderly (Abuelitos de la Calle) is still being run with enthusiasm and a practiced hand by Josina de Wit but as the number of elderly grows it becomes harder to find the so much needed money – it is not just the cost of the the food but also all the “unseen” elements that are crucial to the running of the kitchen.
Pots and pans that slowly become warped or develop holes, salary for the cook, the oven that breaks down, the fridge that does not cool the food so donations cannot be stored, the cutlery that disappears or gets damaged beyond repair.
Abrazos is helping with food money at this point but we will try to raise funds for some of the other much needed support. The kitchen is now helping over 150 people and it is not planning to stop if at all possible.
For many of them, the plate of soup or rice with a bit of meat and cooked plantain is the only meal they have in a day. Josina always tries to provide a small desert – a piece of sweet stuff or fruit. Some save half of the food and take it home in a little bag to share with a spouse or someone just as hungry as they are.
Once the food is on the table, it disappears within minutes and some of the stronger “abuelos” help with bringing the plates back to the kitchen. Josina has also started a simple breakfast program (coffee, milk, a bun) but it cannot help as many people as the lunch program does…again the lack of money is the main barrier.
The school for children with disabilities (INSFIDIM) received support in the shape of a laptop and a special mouse that can be activated with nose, mouth or chin. This is intended to help at least 2 of the physically disabled children who are unable to use their hands but are smart and able to learn.
The teachers are thrilled with the project and it is a learning opportunity for them too – -hopefully as the teachers become more proficient at using the equipment more children will be involved. The school is also developing their program of teaching children how to participate in activities of daily living and how to help around the house, so that they can actively contribute to family life.
The Foundation Hermano Miguel (FHM) is now receiving our help to provide therapy for 23 children who could not afford it otherwise. The range of disability and age vary: from 3-months to 12 years, from club-foot or slight speech and cognition impairment to severe autism, to cerebral palsy, to Down’s syndrome. Some of the little ones need intensive support, others are now starting to attend a regular school successfully.
Even if the resulting progress seems minimal, for the families involved it is significant: having a child go from needing total support to being able to feed himself or dress herself or walk unassisted is a huge step that frees up time and energy for a caregiver and helps the child become stronger physically and mentally.
There is a lot to do and we are happy to support all those who pour their heart and energy into the work, usually for minimal financial remuneration. It is inspiring to see the therapists at work using their significant set of skills and experience with patience, turning the most boring exercises into fun and games.
We hope to be able to do more, in time, with persistence and with the help from many others – and perhaps from you who are reading this lines as well, if you feel you wish to play a part in these stories.