Today was a busy day. Madre Cindy led us on a walking tour of the Working Boys Center #2. Cindy told us that it is the only organization in Ecuador that works with the entire family as a unit. The WBC is currently serving approximately 350 families. Families at the Center receive three meals each day, health care, counseling, financial education, academic instruction as well as vocational training. There are computer classes, sewing, woodworking, toy making, welding and automotive maintenance.
Center families also help run a store selling furniture and wooden toys, a restaurant and a beauty salon on the grounds of the Center. The Center’s educational and vocational programs ensure that family members graduate well- trained, certified, and ready to work.
After the tour of the Center, we went to the kitchen to help prepare dinner. We made empanadas, cut yucca, squeezed oranges, and cleaned chard. At noon was mass with the children who sang and clapped enthusiastically throughout. While the children ate their lunch, we volunteers went to the Center’s restaurant for a delicious meal prepared by Center families.
In the afternoon, we boarded a bus with Padre Juan and Madre Miguel to visit the homes of three of the Center’s families. It is impossible to describe the poverty seen in these slums. The higher up the mountain side, the greater the level of poverty. One family we visited lived together with their five children in two tiny rooms. The Center is a miraculous place of refuge for families like these. The Center offers poor children and their families not just food and education, but more importantly, the gifts of self-esteem and empowerment.