GringoPost | Ecuador: Recommendation for Hogar Esperanza, charity

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Recommendation for Hogar Esperanza, charity

Did you know that there’s an organization here in Cuenca dedicated to helping Ecuadorian families who are coping with cancer and HIV/AIDS? It’s called Hogar Esperanza and was founded in May 2016 by Canadian Garry Vatcher, who had been visiting Ecuador since 1987 and lived with an Ecuadorian partner for 12 years.

Vatcher said he started the foundation when he realized the stigma associated with HIV, that many of the sick did not have moral support or access to social services.

On Sunday, December 10th Vatcher and volunteers organized “Sonrisas de Esperanza por Navidad or Smiles of Hope for Christmas.

Prior to the party, participants entered the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for a special mass. Vatcher was touched by the willingness of the clergy to do this as it was a departure from traditional protocol such as baptisms and holy communions.

Fifty families from the Amazon, Loja, Machala, Guayaquil and Santa Isabel where paired with sponsors who paid for shoes, clothing, toys, and a month’s worth of dry food. In all, there were about 250 Ecuadorians and some 120 expats and volunteers. Transportation alone cost $800; some of the participants who were disabled were brought to Cuenca by van and taxis. The fire department pitched in to provide ambulance service, the American College provided the paramedics and performers came from the Universidad Católica de Cuenca. Chicken and rice was served thanks to Mujeres con Exito and Tutto Freddo donated ice cream.

What was so unique about the experience is that expats had a chance to interact on a very personal level with a family. Many make less than $100 a month, especially in remote villages. The shrieks of joy among the children who delighted in the performances and new gifts showed their inherent gratitude.

Vatcher says there was a $2000 shortfall. Why? A deposit of $900 to a local restaurant was lost when the establishment closed its doors and the city was going to provide tents, but reneged the last minute and so tents and tables had to be rented for $1500.

What’s his vision going forward? “To more thoroughly develop a food assistance program for the sick and unemployed and we are going to have to move to a bigger space,” noted Vatcher. Another idea is to have core funding where expats commit to monthly donations.

Down the road, it would be ideal to start an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign. Vatcher says for those who are already infected, the government provides all HIV medications for free and you do not have to be a citizen or a resident.

If you’re here on a shoestring and still want to help, stop by the Hogar Esperanza thrift shop on Tarqui 11-36 (between Mariscal Lamar and Gaspar Sangurima) or contact Garry Vatcher directly if you’d like to donate or volunteer at 096 896 2015.

Address: Tarqui 11-36 between Mariscal Lamar and Gaspar Sangurima

Contact information:  096 896 2015

Recommended by Lynda Moore: snewz@mac.com