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In June of 1997, the world and the leaders of Ecuador were aware of the coming El Niño storms but failed to prepare during the subsequent months. As a result, the heavy rains and rising sea levels from December 1997 through April 1998 prompted widespread flooding along the country’s Pacific coast, forcing 30,000 Ecuadorians from their homes. Two hundred and eighty-six people died, many from infectious diseases triggered by the flooding. Pacific Ocean fisheries were depleted. More than $1.5 billion of agricultural production were wiped out, and infrastructure damage amounted to $830 million. The total cost of El Niño-related destruction came to nearly 15 percent of Ecuador’s Gross Domestic Product.
In order to prevent a repeat of 1997, the community leaders in our region along the coast have begun to prepare for the storms predicted by over a 95% chance to begin in November 2023.
Ecuador suffers the wrath of El Niño, 1997
Spirit of Wellness is a 501 c (3) non-profit recognized in the United States.
Our mission is to create a nurturing environment where children have access to educational programs, health and nutritional resources, and leadership opportunities to achieve their dreams.
We strive to promote a culture of growth and development that inspires and equips the youth with the necessary skills to thrive and lead successful lives.
Through our efforts, we aim to make a positive impact, enabling children and ther families to realize their full potential and contribute to society.
We are currently working in the Santa Elena Province on the north coast of Ecuador where we collaborate with organizations supported by the local communities that work to improve areas aligned with our mission.
In January 2023, the Olón Foodbank increased it’s roster of families by 42%, providing each family a variety of nutritious staple foods and hygiene items during each food distribution.
January 2022: 21 families
January 2023: 30 families
In July 2022, the weekly Olón Senior Luncheon Program celebrated the service of it’s 10,000th hot lunch meal.
Every small business owner and his/her employees are eligible to participate in the FREE English language classes conducted by a licensed language educator.
100% of the Leadership Academy’s first class of 17 small business owners from the community of San José completed the course, learned actionable marketing concepts and received funds to implement their ideas.
Individual community members received one-time assistance to ensure their special health needs were met. For example:
· A seven-year old child with Cerebral Palsy was provided with a wheelchair enabling her to participate in school activities.
· A mother and son who suffered 3rd degree burns were provided with medication to speed the healing process.
· A two-year old child was provided with an arm splint to ensure her broken bone healed properly.
A community library where children have access to books, learning material and internet service has been established in the center of Olón.
The elementary school in Curiá received a donation of 4 laptop computers enabling the children to learn computing skills with functioning equipment.
The high school in Olón received a donation of household furniture, appliances and kitchen equipment to furnish their hospitality program.
Four complete restrooms and hygiene stations were constructed at the Little Stars of Knowledge Learning Academy in San Pedro serving 42 primary learners, their parents, teachers and staff members.
The inaugural group of four interns successfully completed the first phase of their internship course progressing from training to leadership roles in the operation of the community foodbank.
Each of the 70 families that applied to receive nutritional support via the Olón Foodbank received an in-home visit by the Spirit of Wellness outreach team to assess their living conditions and learn of their support needs.
30,000 people, consisting of 80% indigenous groups,
live in the Manglarato Paroquia where Spirit of Wellness operates.
23% of 5-year-olds suffer from malnutrition.
40% attend high school, 9% attend higher education.
96.5% of homes do not have internet connection.
Rural inhabitants do not have access to clean drinking water.
Spirit of Wellness office interior Olón, Ecuador
The community of Olón has an overwhelming desire to develop programs designed to brighten the future, but the reality is, they can't do it alone.
With support, their community members can achieve higher levels of nutrition, education, and health while building the infrastructure necessary to promote personal growth that leads directly to future success.
Our primary areas of focus are:
•Nutritional and Health Education
•Language Education for Entrepreneurs
•Business Training for Young Adults
•Leadership and Mentorship Programs
•Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Education
English Language Courses
Business Classes for Entrepreneurs
A LETTER FROM OUR VOLUNTEER CARRIE WHO EXPLAINS THE NEED TO HELP THE STUDENTS IN OUR COMMUNITY:
"Ecuador has “free” education but that doesn’t mean that education is without cost. It means that every child is allowed to walk through the hallowed doors of learning. In other words, when the doors are open, any child may enter the school. However, in order to participate in class or be permitted to take a test, there are financial costs involved.
So, I’ve asked myself, “what does a child need to actually participate in school?”
Each child (parents) must provide their own school supplies based on a list provided by the school. To purchase all items on the list, it requires an average of $40.00 to $50.00.
In addition, each child must have two complete sets of uniforms along with two pairs of shoes. The black shoes alone cost $24.00. The total school expense for each child often exceeds $100.00, an amount unattainable for families where the average weekly unskilled-labor wage is between $50.00 to $100.00.
So, what is the consequence?
The children do not attend school. They drop out before obtaining a high school diploma resulting in the denial of work opportunities and even a driver’s license.
The cycle of poverty continues into the next generation.
Last year, Spirit of Wellness received a generous one-time donation of approximately 30 back-to-school packs that included back-packs and all the requested school supplies. This enabled each child whose family was enrolled in the Foodbank to receive the necessary items to attend school. In addition, knowing the need and the importance of ensuring as many children as possible returned to in-school learning after the pandemic closure, the same generous donor provided funds to purchase both pairs of school shoes for every child.
This year, we are so grateful that the same generous donor has provided book bags for each child.
Hard work is required by all who attend school, even those with comfortable homes and reliable transportation. Imagine how substantially more difficult school would be with no running water, no table or desk at which to perform homework or even the shoes needed to walk to school.
Many of our children live in such conditions. Running water is not present in many homes. Most do not have space to perform home work. And, due to the absence of school buses, all either walk to the local school or take public transportation.
THROUGH SPIRIT OF WELLNESS,
WE ARE ENSURING HOPE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
ONE ACT AT A TIME.
Wellington studies during daylight at a wooden crate/desk in his family's one-room home.