In a powerful new way, God is moving to expand Identify's territory and our impact with the impoverished in new communities and countries. Ecuador is one of these. With much behind-the-scenes planning and patience, we are ready to introduce our next steps and vision in mission work.
Today, Identify and you are able to begin work in some specific communities of Ecuador at ground-zero much like we did in Guatemala in 2005. We have specifically sought areas with great poverty and need. We have searched for partners who are already leading in their communities and can benefit from the encouragement and skills of our Mission Teams. Together, we are ready to come alongside and grow with each other.
Using our past and current work in Guatemala as a model, we enter these relationships in Ecuador in the same way. Because passionate community leaders who have vision and heart for their neighbors are already in place, it is easy for Identify to join the conversation and the work at hand. Beautiful partnerships are being formed and release from the chains of poverty is a celebration we look forward to!
In 2015, Identify has been challenged to build interest in 2 specific cities of Ecuador, Guayaquil and Machala, through child sponsorships. With this sponsorship base, our next steps are to build Mission Teams interested in serving these communities.
Will you join us?
Sponsor or find a sponsor for a child in
one of these areas of Ecuador
Consider joining us for an Inaugural
Mission Experience in Ecuador
If you are interested in being a part of this ground-breaking work, we welcome you and thank you for your generous heart. We believe that 10 years from now, your efforts and ours will prove to bring lasting impact and change to the families of these struggling communities.
The coastal region of Ecuador encompasses 18,000 square miles of coast and beaches. The fishing industry dominates the province of Esmeraldas, which is also home to dense rainforests. The Manabi area includes fishing villages, mangrove forests, beaches and archaeological sites. Guayas Province has one of the country’s most important ecosystems, the Guayaquil Gulf, just south of the equator, and six environmentally protected areas.
Families living in the coastal region fear the arrival each year of the rainy season, from January through April, which can bring dangerous mudslides and flooding. Severe weather also affects families who work in agriculture. Year after year, they lose thousands of acres of crops to the pouring rain, and then have to struggle to keep surviving crops and livestock alive through the droughts that follow.
The coastal region, the westernmost part of Ecuador, rises from the Pacific Ocean to 3,000-foot mountains. It is divided into six provinces dominated by the seaports of Guayas and Manabi. The area comprises three types of ecosystems: tropical rainforest to the north, savannahs in the central region, and dry forests to the south.
The region’s beaches, especially those in the Esmeraldas, Guayas and Manabi provinces, are popular attractions, drawing tourists and cruise ship passengers with their markets of handmade crafts, jewelry and coral. The El Majagual Forest in northern Esmeraldas is home to the world’s tallest mangroves. Bananas are an important export crop grown along the coast, along with coffee, cocoa, plantains and sugar cane. Coastal shrimp farms are also important employers and exporters.
Life in the Coastal Region
The west coast of Ecuador borders the North Pacific Ocean. The climate is tropical, but with two very distinct seasons. The summer season, which runs from May to December, is sunny and dry. The winter season, in contrast, brings extremely heavy rainfall. Severe flooding is a constant threat – especially for those who rely on agriculture for their income. Thousands of families lose their homes, belongings, crops, animals and jobs to the rainy season every year. The coastal region accounts for just over half of Ecuador’s total population. Extreme poverty is prevalent throughout the area. Most coastal inhabitants are unemployed or underemployed. Many children are forced to earn income to help support the family, although the government is working hard on this issue and the number of children who work is decreasing.
Children at Home
Most homes are made of cane with zinc sheet roofs, and the primitive construction can’t withstand the effects of severe storms and flooding that occur in the winter. More than one-third of the families in the region live in cramped conditions. In some homes, as many as 10 family members share a 20- to 25-square-foot house. Children in coastal regions of Ecuador frequently suffer from coughs, flu, parasites and intestinal illnesses that result from drinking dirty water.
Community Issues and Concerns
Because of the humidity and proximity to water, coastal residents regularly battle common tropical diseases. Each winter, more than half the population is prone to outbreaks of malaria, dengue fever and skin infections, all caused by the mosquitoes that thrive in stagnant pools of water that remain after winter flooding.
Families struggle with unemployment, and many residents who have jobs must find ways to care for their families on an average income of about $7 a day. Many work in the fields harvesting rice and corn; others work on fishing boats or cattle ranches. Informal markets are crowded with vendors selling fruits, vegetables and handmade crafts. Many families are uneducated about nutrition, and about one-fifth of the residents of the region’s rural areas are malnourished.
Local Needs and Challenges
Parental negligence is a growing problem in coastal Ecuador. A third of the region’s children age 4 and younger are left with relatives, friends or neighbors each day while their parents work. This lack of parental oversight has resulted in a startling increase in child abuse, malnutrition, teen pregnancy, learning disorders, and delinquency. Kids who do not receive nurturing and guidance at home are looking for it elsewhere – and finding very poor substitutes. Compassion is working to fill the void in these young lives.
Schools and Education
Nearly all children between the ages of 6 and 18 have access to a
free public education. While about three-fourths of all students
finish elementary school, only a little less than a third will complete
high school. Classrooms are crowded, with a ratio of 50 students
to one teacher in rural, one-teacher schools.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
Child development centers in the coastal region of Ecuador provide
registered children with a place to learn and grow. While their
parents spend their days fishing and selling in the markets,
Compassion-assisted children attend health classes, tutoring
sessions and Bible studies at the center. They also spend time
writing to and praying for their sponsors.