When we first planned to come to Ecuador, we weren't sure what we were getting into. We hoped to study Spanish and hang out with kids, but didn't know how that would work out - but it has! Financially, we have maintained a "self-supported" status, in spite of many generous offers, because we felt that GOD had sufficiently provided through our savings and what we were able to sell to begin this journey. However, some of you have continued to feel led by the LORD to help support our mission to love these kids.
As you saw in our previous blog, the foundation that provides for the orphanage held an event to raise needed funds. The joy of Ecuador is that a little goes a long way. We don't know how much the Bingo event raised last night, but I'd be shocked if it was over $500. They went all out for the event and were thrilled by the community response. That money will make a huge difference and will be used for several purposes supported by the foundation, only one of which is the orphanage.
We found out today that not much (if any) of the money is likely to filter down through the administration, etc. to meet the immediate needs of the nearly 100 children and teens living at the orphanage - although they were paraded in front of everyone to raise the funds. It's the harsh reality of organizations with administrative costs, but the kids still have immediate needs that must be met.
Many of you have followed this blog and fallen in love with these kids along with us - and you want to help. First, thank you so much for allowing this to touch you and for wanting to make a difference. We have had many offers for care packages and mailed donations and have been so encouraged by this! Unfortunately, we do not have a way to receive bulk mail at our rural location. However, we can purchase many helpful items in a nearby city, at possibly cheaper prices than could be found in the States (esp. after shipping). If the mail option was available this would be preferred for the personalization opportunities, but it is possible that Geoff and I can purchase/prepare these goods with donated funds and present them to the orphanage as gifts from our "amigos" from the States (and beyond).
As we have considered options for raising funds for the orphanage we have dreamed about dedicating donated funds to a specific project - improving the play area, replacing exhausted bedding, building a safer fence, etc. We are as yet unsure about the best way to use the money because the last time we heard about a need, they were short on food. Obviously, that's the current priority. Any funds we receive will be given directly to the orphanage and those immediately responsible for their day to day well-being, rather than funneling them through the foundation. Today we were able to speak with those who sleep, feed, wash, and love on these kids day in and day out, and will be able to give the funds directly to them, where we know for certain every dollar will be stretched to provide the most possible for these kids. We have never observed the "hands and feet of Jesus" in a more real form than through this handful of people who raise these kids as their own, day in and day out.
In response to those of you who have communicated a desire to help in some way, we are providing the opportunity to donate directly to the kids, here on the blog. 100% of the money raised will go to food, clothing, or specific projects directly benefiting their daily needs. We will be posting a "tour of the orphanage" soon to give you a glimpse of the kids day to day living environment, which isn't likely to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but the smiles on the kids faces (in spite of their circumstance) will! If there are specific areas/needs you feel strongly about supporting, let us know and we will direct the funds accordingly.
We do not want anyone to feel like this is something they need to do out of guilt or any other motivation that is not GOD's leading to donate to this specific need. We simply wanted to make this opportunity available for those who have previously communicated the desire. There are countless needs for financial contributions around the world, and we do not want to promote one over another, as that leading should come only from GOD. HE directs the hearts of people around the world to care for each other as HE needs them to. If HE has created a desire in your heart to help these kids specifically, the opportunity is available, and they will be incredibly blessed by your generosity.
A page has been set up on this site where you can make a donation through our PayPal account, and we will withdraw the funds here and distribute them to the orphanage. We will collect funds through the end of October, to allow time for us to distribute them appropriately before we head back to the States in mid-November. A little goes a long way in Ecuador. An average family can earn as little as $150 a month, working hard for every penny. Every dollar truly does count. Even $5 is a LOT here, and can change a kids life by providing a couple days worth of food, new shoes, or other basic items they need. Thank you for your support through prayer and/or financial support. You're making a difference in the life of a child!