Elizabeth always wanted to have 6 children. Now, she can complain any more because her marriage gave her 4, but life and vocation gave her over 35,000 children.
Behind this personal story is Elizabeth Orellana, Principal of Children International Foundation of Ecuador (Guayaquil), who gave us a warm interview where we learnt more about the generous work that this institution has been doing for more than two decades in our country.
Elizabeth began her story telling that in 1936 Children International Foundation was born in the town of Bethlehem (Israel). Following the bad situation that gripped this country, a group of widows had the initiative to establish this center to sponsor children affected by war at that time.
The founding concept was simple, a child signs (through their legal representative) and the foundation looks for a sponsor either in the country or outside it, in order to give the child the chance to receive not only financial assistance but also moral and emotional support from a generous person.
Elizabeth says the reward of this work is the chance to see his/her “children” grow; they cease to be sponsored to begin a life as responsible adults aware of their mission: to cut the circle of poverty and improve their own community. In many cases, young people and college graduates are not without a very close link with their sponsors, even though the institution ceases to sponsor them once they reach 19 years old.
Today, Children International helps over 56,000 children and young people with limited economic resources. In Ecuador we have two Children International Agencies: one in Guayaquil lead by Elizabeth, which currently sponsors 34,569 children and youth, and the other one in Quito lead by Monica Montiel, which benefits the 23,105 children and adolescents. Guayaquil is the largest operational agency in the world that serves more than 35,000 sponsored.
Through health programs, education and training sponsored and parents, Children International offers them the chance to become healthy adults, educated, self-reliant, and socially responsible. The monthly fee payable by the sponsor to the institution is $ 22 with which the agency is funded based on a plan to cover payments to doctors, trainers, and other services (shoes, school supplies, clothes, etc.) that the Foundation provides to their children and youth.
Sponsored teens attend seminars on social awareness, art, culture, sexuality and reproduction. However, they are not the only ones with tese benefits. Their parents are also trained, with family counseling, leadership, nutrition talks, and other topics.
To Elizabeth, the performance and progress of each of their children is very important during their growth. She and the parents of all sponsored children and youth made a commitment with an annual report of their grades.
Thus, both the foundation and its sponsors have a control on the evolution of the sponsored. Touring Children International main office in Guayaquil, we realized that everything is very quiet and clean. People is friendly and courteous to any concerns. Already in the sponsorship Relation department of Children International, one of the founding partners comments on the important role played by translators in this institute.”We translate the letters that are going to be sent from godparents to their godchildren and vice versa,” told us Miguel in a very friendly manner.
But Children International’s work is not only about sending letters between godparents and godchildren. The 12 community centers, both in Quito and Guayaquil, have administrative offices, medical and dental offices, training rooms and library, with an exclusive team of the Foundation.
From 2 to 9 years, children’s legal representatives can sign up to start living the change process of this nonprofit institution to make them good citizens for our society. As requirements they need to be within the established age, live in areas where Children International provides its services to accomplish a home visit to complete a data sheet about Social housing, construction materials of the house, employment status of parents, number of children, and thus determine the degree of need of the family and see if they have access to sponsorship .
Countries like Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Chile, India, Philippines add to this admirable work for the development of young people with aspiring ambitious, without the ambition of being rich, in exchange there is only the commitment of the family of the sponsored children and their desire to progress in life.