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May 2, 2011

Construction nearly finished!

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August 26, 2010

Education center in Pascuales nearly ready for community programs and classes

After a long summer of hard work, construction on the education center in Pascuales is nearly complete. The finishing touches are being put on the building while Children of Guayaquil works to create partnerships with other local organizations to bring sustainable programs and classes for the community.

The center, which includes an elementary school opened in June of 2009, will now house a library, computer room, medical room, and daycare center.

For more current photographs of the building and upcoming activities with the children, please check back in late September

Final phase of construction underway!

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May 21, 2010

The final phase of construction - including the daycare center, library, and computer room - is well under way and due to be completed by the end of summer, 2010. Please enjoy the photograph below and check back soon for more!
With lots of excitement,
Nicki and Andrea

May, 2010

Sebastian Mahr runs Quebec City Marathon for Children of Guayaquil

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November 18, 2009

Sebastian Mahr, a 21 year old from Bavaria Germany, ran the Quebec City Marathon on August 30, 2009 and finished in an unbelievable 3 hours 55 minutes - but in the hearts of the Children of Guayaquil he came in first place

Sebastian sold every one of his 42 kilometers to family and friends and donated the contributions to Children of Guayaquil

When asked about his inspiration for making such a huge effort to support the foundation, this is what Sebastian described as his motivation for this incredible act of generosity

Last year after I finished school, I decided to go to South America to work. Traveling throughout Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Chile, and Argentina, I had some amazing experiences that changed my way of thinking and changed my life. I was so deeply moved by the poverty and challenges that many people have to face and it was a hard thing to see. I wanted to help.

As it became clear that I had to do something within my moderate means, I thought of running a marathon and selling each of my Kilometers to family and friends as a fundraiser. I wanted to help improve the situation for children and although I know that I will not change the world I hope to make a small step towards it

Thank you Sebi! You are a hero to us and to the children that you have helped to support. We are proud of the time efforts and energy you have dedicated to our cause and look forward to welcoming you to the town of Pascuales!

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July 6, 2009

Written by Andrea Pazmino
19 year old Lorena Lindao is Narcisa´s first daughter. She graduated last year from high school, getting a degree in computers. 5 months ago, both of her parents lost their jobs and the economic situation of their family changed. Lorena and her family do not only face economic challenges, but their house is structurally unsafe. Although they have been trying to get government help, so far it has been unsuccessful.

Thanks to a generous donation last year, Frente Femenino was gifted a laptop, however it was not being used for several hours in the afternoons. Since Lorena has computer skills and already helps children with homework during the afternoons, Children of Guayaquil offered her the opportunity to use the Frente Femenino´s computer and a classroom after school so she would have a better place to work with children of the neighborhood.

The day that I signed an agreement with Lorena, she said that she has dreamed about an opportunity like this, and ran to put a sign at her door:

"Se realiza: papelografos, carteles, dibujos, trabajos en computadora. De cualquier materia"

"Now offering: posters, educational signs, drawings, and computer skills. Any subject!"

MIT-IDC and Frente Femenino have started their entrepreneurial work

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June 24, 2009

Written by Andrea Pazmino
Last week, Lauren and Richard our volunteers from the MIT International Development Consultants team started their work by visiting the houses of the Frente Femenino women and getting to know each of them better - on a personal and individual level. The women were excited to work with them and to learn from these two enthusiastic MIT students.

The team conducted 20 interviews last week. Lauren, Richard and I were surprised at how they have shared very intimate episodes of their lives with us. They have also shared all of their household economics in order for Richard and Lauren to help them manage their finances and improve their quality of life. Even such basic concepts as saving is new and exciting to them.

MIT IDC then chose the 6 women that will work closely with them for the next 5 weeks and receive the most personalized attention. Maxima, Marcela, Fatima, Rosa, Alexandra and Susana will work one-on-one with the MIT team. These 6 women have already started primitive businesses but need technical support in order to create sustainability. We are looking forward to seeing major impact on these first 6 cases!

Adelante Frente Femenino!

Children of Guayquil Featured in Saturday edition of National Newspaper "EL TELEGRAFO"

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June 22, 2009


This article was published on Saturday June 13th, 2009.

Inauguration of our first Schoolhouse in Pascuales and the completion of the 1st phase of construction!

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June 16, 2009


...and After!

On Saturday June 13th, Children of Guayaquil, Frente Femenino, and the community of Pascuales were thrilled to hold the official inauguration of the first phase of construction - Elementary School Camilo Gallegos doors were opened to 58 enthusiastic young students between the ages of 5 and 14.

The community pitched in a hand to get the finishing touches on the building and the land, laying gravel in the school yard and painting the classrooms. The women of Frente Femenino lobbied to get food donations from the local Tia store (the "Walmart of Ecuador") who have since partnered with us, donating not only the sodas and snacks for the event, but 100 new children's desks for the school.

During the ceremony, the children sang and Professor Quinonez cut the ribbon, officially opening the doors of each classroom for the community.

We are proud of the hard work over the past 3 years that has gotten us to this point, and are happy to celebrate the successes, while keeping an eye on the goals for tomorrow.

MIT International Development Consultant team visits Pascuales for the 2nd year in a row

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June 16, 2009

Lauren Vegtar (MIT '11) and Richard Mancco (MIT '11) arrived to Ecuador on June 8th and will spend the next 6 weeks with the women of Frente Femenino teaching classes on entrepreneurship - motivating the women to brainstorm small business ideas and helping to connect them with small amounts of funding to get their ideas off the ground. In addition, the entire IDC team (including Vasudha Gupta, Grace Liao, and Juan Diaz) have prepared lesson material and workshops to help all of the women obtain a savings mechanism for their family's income.

"I have never met a more enthusiastic group of students in my life," said Lauren. "They are motivated, energetic, passionate, and hard working. And, they are fun!"

Both the women and the foundation are excited to welcome the MIT IDC team back for a second year in a row, and we feel very lucky to have such motivated and inspirational partners.

Construction report from week of May 18th

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May 18, 2009

During the past 2 weeks our construction engineer Vincente, along with his 8 workers from Pascuales, have finished the water and electrical connections. The walls on the second classroom were painted and the floor was put in place. It was also decided to build a provisional food area for the children so they can avoid eating inside the classrooms. The toilets and sink were put in, and the table for the "Food Service" area was finished. Vicente also put a sink in the food service area to allow for easier cleaning.

The windows were put in on Monday and we have decided to install mosquito nets in order to keep them open at all times. Although school started on Tuesday, Vicente continues to work on the outside areas, cleaning up all construction leftovers and re-enforcing the fence.

Finishing touches, painting, and outdoor decorations will be a full community effort continuing through the next 3 weeks.

Plans for the official inauguration celebration of the schoolhouse are set for Saturday June 13th at 10am!

Our excitement just can't be contained!

Construction report from week of May 4th

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May 18, 2009

The walls are plastered and most of them have been painted. The ceramic for the floor and restrooms have been purchased, as well as the front door, which will be put on Thursday. The women of Frente Femenino along with three students from USFQ have helped with the painting of the study room and one of the classrooms. Their creativity is beautiful!

Construction report from week of April 20th

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May 18, 2009

During the last week, Vicente and his workers finished the main walls and put up the roof. They also worked on the electrical and water installations. This coming week they plan on plastering the walls, as well as cleaning the inside area in order start the floor and painting.

Construction report from week of April 13th

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May 18, 2009

Construction engineer Vicente Murillo has now hired 8 other men from Pascuales. They have already finished the base structure and are starting on the main walls. Profesor Quiñonez and his wife (the two school teachers who will be developing their programs in the new schoolhouse) visit construction every morning. The women of Frente Femenino bring water and refreshments to the workers during the days, and two volunteers from the community, Marcelo and Ronaldo, guard the land and materials at night.

Construction begins on Phase 1 of Construction! Elementary schoolhouse set for completion in May

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May 18, 2009

Construction report from week of April 6th

During the first week of construction, Pascuales construction engineer and head worker Vicente Murillo started by taking out the school´s old structure and building a provisional storage room for construction materials. He hired 3 other men, also from Pascuales, to start building the base structure and columns of the classrooms.

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May 28, 2008

My apologies for the delay in updates. It has been a busy 2 months - both in Ecuador and in the States - but here are the brief highlights in anticipation of the big July mailing that is currently in the works... if you are not yet on the mailing list, email me at to join!

I left Ecuador at the end of April to take care of some personal business, but I was very pleased with the goals that we achieved during the 4 months (Jan - April) that I spent in Pascuales.

- After 1 year and 3 months we got the Final Signature for land purchase! Andrea has an appointment in the municipality of Guayaquil this Friday at 9am to hand deliver the check

- On April 28th we broke ground on the retaining wall

- Using the logistical system we organized for them, the community has been overseeing the start of construction and reporting back with weekly emails and updates

- Andrea will be spending the next few weeks in Pascuales evaluating the community's work and critiquing the progress of the foundation to prepare for improvements and revisions to our procedure

I am working on a complete update mailing which will be sent out in July with photographs and details of the many challenges we have faced recently, as well as some of the solution we have engineered. We would love to hear your feedback and suggestions so please keep an eye out for the mailing!

~thank you for your ongoing support~

"Que todo sea por los ninos de Pascuales"

Festival of Science and Art!

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March 30, 2008

The children waved their masks and roared like Wild Things!... jumping up and down and gnashing their teeth. Today was the Children of Pascuales' first play production. They worked all afternoon on their costumes, meticulously decorating paper plate masks with feathers, yarn, beads, and other art supplies donated by the Rockville Arts Center in Maryland. And after hours of flowing creativity and excitement, they performed "Where the Wild Things Are!" one of the most celebrated children's books of all time.

This week was full of excitement. We had two visitors from the states who planned a festival of Science and Arts - teaching the children about common daily physics and sharing experiments - then lighting fire to their creativity with art projects and acting experiences. Below is a small taste of this week's adventures in Pascuales...


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March 10, 2008

This Sunday Doctor Xavier Cruz visited Pascuales to give a talk on Sexual Education, one of the topics in most dire need in the community. The women of Frente Femenino organized for the visit, delivering invitations to all their neighbors, and the turnout was huge. Over 65 adults and adolescents filled the tiny bamboo schoolhouse where the event was held. Dr. Cruz spoke for an hour and a half and was bombarded with questions. He stayed after the talk to take the blood pressure of the elderly members of the community and has offered his services to return and continue teaching in the coming weeks.

Thoughts from Andrea

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March 2, 2008

After 7 months of paperwork, we are now only THREE signatures away from completing the land purchase...!


Besides the paper work, Nicki found last week the architect and construction supervisor for the project. I can not believe that the next time that I am going to be in Pascuales, there is going to be a fence and hopefully the walls of the community center.

After two years of hard work we are getting so close to the begining of this great adventure. I say it is just the beginning because you can just imagine what it is going to be like and the new challenges we are going to face when we have the community center up and running.

It has been exciting to look at the pictures of the last two months. Watching all the familiar faces wearing the Children of Guayaquil t-shirt, sitting in the computer classes has been wonderful. It is all thanks to the technology that has aloud us to get a peek into what is going on in Pascuales.

I get extremely happy every time I get and email from Marcela, Verónica, Bertha or any of the ladys from Frente Femenino. I am proud of them but it is extremely difficult not to BE there, physically, to share in their every day experiences. I feel like catching a plane after every time I talk to Nicki.

While Nicki is visiting the municipality every single day to push the paper work, getting together with engineers and architects, and participating in the Frente Femenino meetings; I am trying to concentrate in my school work in Georgetown and arranging some presentations to spread awareness about the project. It is so hard to be part of this team, yet be away from Ecuador.

Andrea Pazmino

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February 24, 2008

At 3:30 the women of Frente Femenino started arriving for the weekly meeting. One by one they took their seats until 4PM when the little bamboo schoolhouse was full. Right on time. This meeting was already a far cry from just 1 month ago when a meeting time of 4PM signified most arrivals would be between 4:30 and 5:30. The women have learned to respect the clock and have seen the powerful results of how quickly things get done when their meetings are able to start on time.

President Marcela and Secretary Antonia stood at their places at the front of the room to command attention. "Puntos del dia," began Antonia, reading the minutes from the last meeting and the agenda of the day.

In just 35 minutes, the women of Frente Femenino had achieved all of the goals of the afternoon. They were updated by member Bertha Icaza on a new program of government loans to start small businesses, they voted to hold a raffle fundraiser (clock lamp donated by Marcela who received it as a gift), and they voted to organize a security talk aimed at youth in the community in preparation for security awareness of the community center building we are working towards.

And the business manager, Beatriz, collected $0.10 from every member in return for the first fundrasier of the year, a suprise raffle. Prize: a new pair of scissors and a pack of gum.

That first $3.00 they raised at the Frente Femenino meeting on Friday signified more than 30 women with one dime and the spirit to collaborate. That $3.00 represents a dream that each of these women is fighting to achieve for the advancement of Pascuales and brighter futures for their children.

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February 18, 2008

This update will be short as I am about to run out the door to meet with Frente Femenino in Pascuales but I wanted to let you know that the team of architects and engineers has been united down here in Guayaquil and we are moving forward quite a bit faster than I anticipated. Yesterday they visited the land to take soil samples and analyze the septic system. We are going to clear the land to prepare for construction while we finish getting the rest of the permits in the next few weeks. It is an unbelievable feeling to be working with people who have even more energy than I do. When days get difficult or frustrating, they give me the confidence and motivation to pick back up and keep going. This is a team effort 100%.

Les dejo, pero como dice our new head engineer... "AL ATAQUE!"

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February 11, 2008

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February 3, 2008

The month of January has been a wild ride, full of excitement, disappointment, adventures, frustrations, and small victories that continue to motivate and energize me.

Nisha completed her computer class and left for the United States Sunday morning. On Saturday afternoon she held a graduation ceremony for the 23 women that successfully finished the course. It was an amazing experience to watch them progress in just 3 weeks from fearing to touch the mouse (they didn't understand how touching the mouse moved the cursor on the screen), to sending emails with attachments and doing internet research.

And it was even more incredible to see the pride in their faces when they received - for the first time - an official certificate with THEIR name on it. These women are fired up and already asking for the next class to begin - which they hope to be English.

I think as proud as they were, we were even more proud of the effort they put in. It was not easy for them, as most students came to every class and every practice session just to work on their hand eye coordination or study the letters on the keyboard. The group even collaborated, donating $.50 or $1 each to make a personally engraved plaque for Nisha in thanks for her time and efforts on their behalf.

In addition, I am very pleased to report that after a few hiccups at the beginning of January, the paperwork in the municipality is moving along quite nicely (thanks to the support of the Vice Governor). Although it is never easy, I remain cautiously optimistic as we continue forward.

This Monday and Tuesday was the celebration of Carnaval which is like a water fight - but where the ENTIRE country participates. I left the house every day with my water gun loaded and layers of clothing to peel off as they got soaked through. I am writing this update very content, slightly sunburned, and drenched from Carnaval, so I'm off to clean up!

Un abrazo fuerte desde Ecuador...

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January 28, 2008

This week I have been in the municipality every single day working on the land purchase paperwork and making contacts with people who may be interested in collaborating with us to further the success of our projects. Nisha has been venturing to Pascuales on her own each day to give the computer classes and I have not seen the women or the children for nearly a week. It is difficult because, after all, they are the reason that I am here. Alas, I have important things that must be taken care of in the Municipality before we can continue advancing in Pascuales.

Today I was working and Nisha took off again to Pascuales. I was feeling quite a bit frustrated and things weren't going as well as I had hoped. Sometimes it is easy to loose sight of the motivations behind the frustrations. Sometimes it is easy to forget why I am here and what I am fighting for when my head is lost in paperwork.

Well today as I was getting into a little slump when an EMAIL arrived. This email came from a woman who until 2 weeks ago, had never so much as touched a computer. Since Nisha started her classes, this woman has come to every class and every practice session totaling 6 days a week and over 14 hours. She even went so far as to borrow a machine from a neighbor to practice typing in order to learn the placement of the letters on the keyboard. She has worked hard on her skills and this is the first time Nisha, Andrea, and I have seen the results.

This is what arrived in my inbox:

Mucha Suerte En Todos Los Tramites
Querida Amiga

Uste sabe cuanto la queremos y le apresiamos por todo el sacrificio que hace por toda la comunidad.
Gracias de todo corazón que dios la proteja.

Days like today remind me of the importance of our work, the real personal stories hidden behind the piles of paperwork, the power of the hope that Children of Guayaquil brings to an entire community, and the strength of the friendships between people of two totally different worlds bound by the commonality of being, simply, human.

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January 21, 2008

Nisha and I got to Pascuales about an hour early on Saturday. Many of the women arrive before the computer class starts at 3:30 and we want to make sure we are there to greet every one of them as they come through the door. We were next to the Cyber cafe buying some water from an outside stand when we heard our names being called. Beatriz, the most senior of our students and one of the most enthusiastic learners, shuffled over to us and laid both hands on our shoulders.

"While it is just the three of us," she started, "I want to personally thank you for this class. Both of my sons have their own computers and I have never even gone so far as to touch a mouse, but your class has inspired me to learn and I find computers so interesting now that you have brought all this to my attention. Some people tell me that I am too old to learn but I am proving them wrong. So thank you."

Life here is not easy, the mosquitoes are fierce and last night I woke up at 3am with a cockroach on my head, but Nisha is feeling successful in her work, enjoying the adventure, and most importantly, she is really impacting the community.

Computer Classes in High Demand!

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January 15, 2008

The women crowded into the tiny bamboo school house. Chatter was loud and energy was bursting. Some brought babies that played in the corner, others brought older children that sat with anticipation, hoping that there would be room in the computer class for them too. Today was registration day.

One by one, women took turns to sign their form, have their picture taken, and be given the class schedule. There were far too many people in the room than we could accommodate in the computer class, and although it hurt to have to turn down the children, whose desire to learn was so strong it brought tears to me eyes to think about the opportunities they had never been afforded, the women of Frente Femenino must be given priority.

As one lady came up to me and told me how bright her daughter was and how much she wanted to take the class with us, I explained the idea of passing down knowledge. I explained to her that if SHE learned, then she would have the power to teach - not only her daughter - but all of her 6 children. This concept was foreign to the young mother who never felt that she had much to offer to her children, but a smile formed on her face as she realized what that meant for the future.

Within 45 minutes class registration was full and the women left the schoolhouse excited about the possibilities and looking forward to the first class on January 15th.

Stay tuned for more coming soon...

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