Cindy Gonzalez, 32, is from Venezuela. She is living now in Pisulí, a poor remote village on the outskirts of Quito, with her husband, her mother-in-law, and her two daughters: Isabella, 3, and Ivana, 6 months. Cindy arrived in Ecuador with her family three years ago. Like most Venezuelan migrants in Ecuador, she and her husband have informal jobs, the type of unstable work that makes up a large part of the economy in developing countries. She promotes beauty products, and he sells food items on the street.
There is a saying, supposedly Ecuadorian, which goes, “When one is helping another, both gain in strength.” It is a fitting description of the life I witnessed among AVSI staff, partners and program participants during my visit to the “Republic of the Equator” at the end of 2019. Though one of the smaller South American states, roughly the size of Texas, Ecuador boasts a wide variety of landscapes and climes. It borders the Pacific Ocean to the West, and encompasses the wildlife rich Galapagos Islands, made famous by the legendary explorations of Charles Darwin; while snow-capped Andes Mountains run down the country’s center and are host to one of the world’s highest active volcanos, Cotopaxi.
AVSI’s distance support program sponsors some 24,000 children around the world in educational activities. While children are the first to receive personalized support as they grow, programs also help the whole family. At Fundación Sembrar, mothers like María Elvia, who could hardly read when she first took her son to the educational center, are growing too!