(2015, $300, Puerto Quito) In the month of January 2015, I lived just outside Puerto Quito in a barrio called Luz y Vida, in a little cement house recently constructed by the Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph. My next door neighbors were the Bazurtos, all 15 of which lived in a small wooden house, which had also been constructed by the sisters. The mother of the house, Rosa, has 5 children, including 3 with severe physical disabilities that prohibit them from working full-time. One of these daughters has 2 young children, and another has one. The third has been back and forth to the hospital in Quito for surgery to re-set one of her legs so that she might walk steadily as she's passing through her teen years. A fourth daughter has sever epilepsy and is a young widow with 5 children. When I lived with them, they all lived in the same house, and Rosa was out of work.
As I made my house a home, I included the Bazurtos. Whatever I got for my own house, if they lacked anything, I got one for them, too. Lightbulbs, mosquito nets, a new dresser. And when I saw that two of the kids desperately needed eyeglasses, I was able to take them to the city and fund them as well.
One day, Rosa approached me and asked if I could lend her $10 for food. Later on after giving her the money, I wondered if they regularly needed food. A few days later, I decided to bring home a full grilled chicken and dropped it off with the kids, who were excited. I went into my house and sat on my chair and hoped they would invite me over to eat, because I had nothing to eat in my own house!
About 5 minutes later, I heard a knock on my door: "Jerome, my grandmother says come over and eat!" When I arrived, they set me up with a little table and chair and served me a plate of chicken and rice. Each one of us had some of the chicken, plus a little bit of rice. It was dinner. I realized that if I hadn't brought the chicken, there would not have been dinner.
That began a regular habit of bringing home some food for the Bazurtos - and getting the invite to eat together! It's how we all survived.
As I was leaving at the end of the month, I wanted to continue to support the family, and invited others back home to help if they wanted. Collaborating with the Men's faith group at St Anthony's Shrine in Boston, we raised $300. Since it took about 5 months to raise the money, and Rosa had found work and the family was doing a little better, we gave the money to the Franciscan sisters to use for buying food for the neediest in that area of Puerto Quito.