The Ecuador Chronicles - 2010-35
The Story of Danileito;
Love and Care can do Incredible Things;
Then It Only Takes a Small Amount of Money
This week we have another Chronicle by Shelley Winchester. She is doing amazing good works in Ecuador. This is the story of Danielito........
by Shelley Winchester
I met Danielito the summer of 2008 while working at Casa Hogar Maria Campi de Yoder, a government run shelter in Pusuqui, Ecuador. When he was two months old the police brought him to the shelter because people in the neighborhood reported that his mother was going door to door trying to give him away. More investigation showed that she was mentally unstable. According to the employees at the shelter, he was malnourished and close to death. They had been nursing him back to health for ten months when I arrived.
When a child is received into the shelter it is the social worker’s job to investigate his or her background. If neither parent is deemed responsible to care for the child, the maternal grandparents are next in line. The social worker found Danielito’s grandparents living with extended family in the countryside. They were willing to take care of him, so it was agreed that he would stay at the shelter until he was nourished and walking.
I helped care for Danielito at the shelter for the two months before went to live with his family. On the day he left I accompanied the social worker and psychologist to take him to his new home. He left with a few items of clothing and the new shoes I had just bought him. He was very quiet.
We drove along a winding and rocky dirt road until we reached his new home. The social worker told me his family had just recently gotten running water. Previous to that their water was delivered in a barrel. They live on the food they grow, mostly potatoes, corn, and beans, and cook over an open fire. They also raise a few goats and pigs.
Danielito’s 75 year old grandmother came out to greet us. She took him in her arms and he never made a fuss. He was used to being cared for by numerous adults. We stayed a while talking and looking over his new home. However, I was surprised that we hadn’t taken him for several preliminary visits before leaving him for good. I worried about him feeling safe and at home.
A week later we went to see how he was faring. We found him in a homemade hammock that his grandmother was using as a crib. He was almost asleep for his nap and I was pleased that he was well cared for and happy.
Since then I have given Danielito’s family $40 per month for supplemental food from the donations I collect during the school year. They only live on beans, corn and potatoes. The money helps them buy fruit, rice, sugar and other essentials. Danielito’s grandfather comes to the shelter every two months and when he returns he brings the social worker a receipt for the food he bought. Last winter their roof started leaking and the social worker contacted me to see if we could give him $150 in donation money to fix it. I agreed. When I arrived this summer she gave me the receipt; her written note with his signature, a thumbprint.
Danielito is today happy and thriving. I have visited him each of the past two summers since the day we nursed him back to health and took him to live with his family. He is living in the best environment for him, with his own people in his own culture. This year when we arrived he came running barefoot up a trail laughing and smiling with his two older half-brothers. He couldn’t be a happier three year old.
Caring for Danielito in the shelter. Summer 2008
The dusty road
Growing corn on the land where Danielito now lives
Danielito with his grandmother for the first time
Showing the beans that she cultivates
Choclo, Ecuadorian corn
Drying the corn in the sun for winter
The homemade hammock
Danielito's grandmother and the shelter psychologist
Visiting Danielito the following summer of 2009
With his uncle looking curiously at the visitors
With his grandmother and two half brothers this summer, 2010
Left to right: grandma, social worker Margoth Enriquez and his aunt
The clouds rolling in near Pululagua
Shelley - What an Inspiring Story
Shelley, you tell such an inspiring story in words and pictures. I am almost at a loss for words - which regular readers will know is unusual for me.
I appreciate and admire the practical approach that Shelley takes working hand in hand with the local Ecuador social welfare professionals. She looks at what they are already doing and then uses her time and energy along with the money from donations to add value - to really make a positive difference in people's lives.
Here is Shelley's contact information if you would like to find out more about her work and perhaps make a contribution: email@example.com
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