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I was overcome with anxiety, uncertainty and high expectations 10 years ago when I began working at Children International's agency in Quito, Ecuador. A good friend once told me, “You'll be able to see the side of Quito few know about, or rather, the side of Quito many refuse to acknowledge.” After several years of great joy, deep sadness, tough frustration, I can attest to the veracity and accuracy of my friend's words.
Children International has not only become my workplace, but also a big family — my family.
Quito was considered one of the top 20 tourist destinations in the world in 2013. But few choose to see the tender, more vulnerable side of Quito — the faces of the many children and youth who live in the urban poverty that afflicts a large portion of the city.
The city is a World Heritage site with the largest historical center in Latin America — 370 hectares (more than 900 acres) of tradition and great beauty. However, behind the historic façades live countless children and youth who only know poverty, violence and neglect. This is, without a doubt, the side of Quito many refuse to see.
Initially, the communities in which Children International works prompted me to ask questions such as, “How can they live in these conditions? How could an abandoned mother meet the needs of so many children?” On more than one occasion, I had to be strong and objective when dealing with heartbreaking situations. And yet, I'm still overwhelmed by a deep sense of gratitude when I see how my each and every day is devoted to improving the lives of the children in this city and, naturally, when I receive the greatest reward of them all: a child's smile.
CI has undoubtedly given me the opportunity to get to know and, above all, be a part of a team that proposes solutions and works toward developing children and youth who are more educated, tolerant and dedicated to a positive cause.
I'm sure that, every year, CI gives the city new and better young citizens. I'm aware that it is not an easy task, but we have the support of thousands of committed sponsors whose help makes all of this possible.
I've been fortunate to have experienced different job positions at CI – Quito, from sponsor relations assistant and communications coordinator to my current role as sponsor relations manager. In particular, I've had the great fortune of experiencing both intellectual and spiritual growth thanks to special people who have made CI a trustworthy organization, one that offers transparency to its sponsors, well-being to its collaborators and a reason to never lose hope to its children and youth — things that are only taught within a family.