- People We Love
Meet Rafaela. Sitting on a hill near her house, she almost reveals her beautiful smile, but you can see the uncertainty in her eyes. Poverty can rob children like 5-year-old Rafaela of what should be a hopeful time of discovery and wonder.
In Ecuador, 21.5% of the population lives in poverty — the result of poverty that persists generation after generation. Kids born into destitute situations typically don’t have the skills, resources or knowledge needed to break the cycle of poverty.
Other issues have stacked the odds against kids like Rafaela in Ecuador: Malnutrition can lead to numerous long-term difficulties in their lifetimes. Poor nutrition also affects kids’ abilities to focus in school. Add to that an inadequate educational system with overcrowded classrooms and overwhelmed teachers, and you can see how quickly kids can fall behind and never catch up.
The little girl lives with her parents in a home made from blocks and a concrete roof. Three small bedrooms make up the lower part of their home — four beds for the entire family. Rafaela sleeps with her parents, but, her mother says, it's getting uncomfortable as Rafaela continues to grow.
Rafaela lives in this home in Quito with six other family members.
You enter the front door into the narrow living room. Down the hallway and to the right are two tiny bedrooms.
The family is fortunate to have running water in their small kitchen.
This is the bed Rafaela must share with her parents. The other bedroom houses 2 beds for her siblings.
The second floor of the home is where the family raises their chickens and does laundry.
Rafaela's mother, Rocio, is a housewife; her dad, Segundo, works as a messenger for a small company in Quito. With this job, he makes about $350 a month.
This meager income means their daily meals are simple. "In the morning, I give them milk with eggs," Rocio explains. "In the afternoon when they are going to school, sometimes rice with chicken whenever we have enough." The family gets water from a potable water system provided by the city.
Rafaela is just one of a million kids growing up in impoverished families that face choices no one should have to make.
Despite all these issues, Rafaela is still just a carefree child. Like many 5-year-olds around the world, she loves to sing, dance and play with dolls. Rafaela says she enjoys going to school and coloring pictures with her little sister.
The family is proud to be part of Children International and is thankful for the help Rafaela's sponsor provides. Rocio volunteers and says she enjoys spending time at the CI community center. She hopes to continue giving her children the opportunity to study — she understands the importance that education has in breaking the cycle of poverty.
Breaking the cycle of poverty isn’t easy. But it is possible, thanks to Children International’s caring supporters.