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Population: Over 15 million
Government: Representative Democratic Republic
Land Mass: 109,483 square miles
Currency: U.S. dollar
Primary Religion: Roman Catholic
Infant Mortality Rate (per 1,000 births): 19.8
Ecuador is defined by diversity. From its melting-pot population – a blend of peoples with European, indigenous, African and other ancestries – to its geography – divided into three main topographical regions with markedly different climates (the temperate Coast, the icy Andean highlands and the Amazon jungle) – Ecuador is a nation where variety is the norm. It’s also a nation with a rich cultural history, having been one of the first Latin American nations to win independence from Spain, and a place where traditions and customs dating back to the pre-Colombian era are still practiced with reverence in agrarian villages and remote mountain hamlets.
Ecuador’s capital, Quito, is a beautiful Spanish colonial city high in the Andes mountains, wrapped around the eastern slopes of the Pichincha Volcano. This historically rich city of approximately 1.5 million people contains many churches and chapels, convents, monasteries, plazas and museums. But it also has vast slums stretching from the historic old town to surrounding mountain ridges, where the poorest of the poor struggle to survive. Each morning, thousands of men and women – mostly indigenous – make long treks into the wealthy areas of Quito to work as street vendors or domestic help, hoping to return at day’s end with enough money to feed their families. It is in these poor areas that Children International is working to make a difference.
Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, is a vibrant seaport known internationally as “The Pearl of the Pacific.” A draw for tourists and business, Guayaquil is the driving force behind Ecuador’s economy. But there’s another side to Guayaquil…one tourists seldom see. Immense slums packed with ramshackle shacks and masses of desperately poor families scrounging by on little to nothing. Children International has seven community centers spread throughout these impoverished neighborhoods, gradually filling some of Guayaquil’s most downtrodden communities with hope, health and opportunity for a brighter future.
Over 27% of Ecuador’s population lives below the national poverty line.
Ecuador suffered a severe economic recession in 2000/2001 – the effects of which linger to this day – pushing tens of thousands of families into poverty. The recession led to Ecuador adopting the U.S. dollar as its national currency, which has had mixed results.
A strong link exists in Ecuador between ethnicity and economic well-being, with the indigenous minority making up a large majority of those living in poverty.
In recent decades, Ecuador has seen a wave of rural-to-urban migration – pushing the social services and infrastructures of Quito and Guayaquil to the brink of collapse.
The disparities in living conditions between the few wealthy and the masses of poor in the two Ecuadorian cities CI serves are almost beyond belief. Both cities face serious problems with overcrowding, infrastructure, and dire living conditions. Particularly in Quito’s remote slums, where treacherous mountain roads make even reaching the poor extremely difficult.
There are over 33,000 sponsored children and youth in Guayaquil and nearly 23,000 in Quito.
Sponsored children and youth receive vital assistance like free medical and dental care, nutritional support, educational assistance, family aid, clothing, school supplies and uniforms, shoes and more.
Seven CI community centers are spread throughout impoverished neighborhoods in Guayaquil, and five CI community centers operate in and around Quito.
Children International – Quito has a strong list of alliances with local organizations and universities to help serve the sponsored population. A recent Citi Foundation grant allowed CI to enroll hundreds of Quito teens in the Aflatoun program, providing training in social and financial education.
To help serve Children International – Guayaquil’s large population of sponsored families, the agency has enlisted and trained nearly 500 volunteers, including mothers, fathers and other relatives of sponsored children, former sponsored youth and other members of the community, who assist with program activities in their respective communities.
Click on the titles below to watch videos and slideshows or read stories about our programs in Guayaquil and Quito, Ecuador:
Follow three rural families who migrated to Quito seeking a better life, and learn how sponsorship helps them adjust to the surprising reality they found. More...
November 1, 2011 – Tags: rural immigrants in Ecuador, poverty in Quito, rural to urban migration, challenges of relocation
Life on the Guayas
April 13, 2010 – Tags: fishing families on the Guayas River, sponsored family in Ecuador
Sponsorship in Ecuador
November 15, 2008 – Tags: sponsorship video, poverty and sponsorship in Ecuador