Last week I blogged about the efforts made to help the schoolchildren of San Pedro, an indigenous village near Cotacachi. For that event the expat community here really went all out with giving of their time and resources to help the school and it was truly amazing to take part in.
Unfortunately there are far more needs in this area than can be met by the expat community. San Pedro is not the only village or town that lacks for school funding and most of the people who live in the rural areas live a very basic lifestyle and just scrape by. Take for example our friend Diego’s family. There are five school-age children in the family with Diego being the oldest. The family lives in a very basic adobe house that is approximately 500 square feet in area. I think there were two windows in the entire house which made it very dark inside. When it rains heavily water floods the floor and the roof is in disrepair. You can see a photo of the exterior below, but there was not enough lighting inside to get any good photos there.
There is no indoor plumbing, only an outhouse and an outdoor sink which is used for washing dishes, clothes, and I assume people.
Here is the kitchen.
Now this is pretty standard housing in the villages and the family is accustomed to making it work. The real hardship for this family is that the father cannot work. His eyesight is failing and he has a few other health problems which prevent him from doing manual labor. The mother works twelve hours a day making handwoven bracelets and belts, but the income she brings in is not enough to provide for the family.
There are times when Diego (19), Edwin (16), Jonathan (14), Ester (12), and Jose (10) only receive one meal per day because they do not have enough money for food. They each have a couple changes of clothes and very little else. Edwin who attends the local music school has a small electronic keyboard and a guitar that my son Justin gave to him. David and I have been helping as we can, but we can’t afford to support our family and another family of seven.
However, I do have a thought. When we lived in the U.S. we donated to various charitable groups because we wanted to help those less fortunate than us. But, it always disturbed me that a large portion of our contributions went towards administrative fees of the various charities and only a small percentage reached those who truly needed it. I know I’m not the only one who is bothered by this either.
So what I can offer now is an alternative. If you would like to directly help this family or the school in San Pedro you could do so through me. I already have a few friends who are working with me to help out and here is how it works. Money is sent directly to my PayPal account and then every penny is spent on food, clothing, or school supplies. I keep track of every donation that comes in and itemize where every penny was spent for all donors to see. Nothing goes to me or administrative fees of any kind. Because I am not an official charity contributions are NOT tax deductible, but they are making a difference in a real person’s life. I can’t afford to fund these projects on my own, but I can give a bit of my time and effort to help out free of charge.
To get an idea of how far a donation would go here are some examples of what supplies cost here:
10 lbs. flour – $4
20 lbs. potatoes – $3
4 avocados – $1
6 large tomatoes – $1
8 medium carrots – $.50
1 whole chicken – $7
1 pair of jeans – $10
1 pair of sneakers – $40
This is just a small sampling of costs here, but it does give an idea of how far money can go. Food is quite cheap while clothing is on par with or a little more expensive than in the U.S.
To be clear, I m not soliciting donations or endeavoring to guilt anyone into helping. I’m simply trying to offer an alternative to those who would like to help those in need while seeing none of their funds eaten up by business costs. A struggling family or school (feel free to specify where you want your funds directed) benefits, and you know that you made a real difference in someone’s life. Win-win.
If you would like to help or have questions for me please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to go ahead and make a donation you can do so at PayPal using the same e-mail address as listed above.