Thursday, December 27, 2012


Mom has been very busy the last couple of days trying to get caught up on writing letters to her sponsored kids.  She still has three letters left to write, but I told her maybe she should stop doing that and help me write a blog entry instead.  So she said I could tell you about the two girls in Ecuador that she just finished writing letters to.  Frankly, I'd rather blog about some exotic dog breed, but sometimes I don't get to do what I really most want to do.

Anyway, Ecuador is the only country where Mom is sponsoring two kids.  Well, except for the U.S., where she is now also sponsoring two.  The girl Mom has sponsored the longest in Ecuador is named Xiomara, and she is 16 years old.  Mom started sponsoring her 9 years ago.  The other girl is named Daniela, and she is 11.  Mom has sponsored her for 7 years.

Both of these girls live in a big city named Guayaquil, but there are lots of people in that city, so we don't think that Xiomara and Daniela probably know each other.  The population of Guayaquil is 3.5 million, which makes it one of the largest Pacific coast cities in the Americas.  Guayaquil was founded on July 25, 1538 by the Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Orellana.  He named the town Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de Guayaquil, which means Most Noble and Loyal City of St. James of Guayaquil.  Of course, there was already a native village on that spot, but the Spaniards always liked to think they were doing something totally new and different.  Luckily, the city's name got shortened to Guayaquil, which is still hard enough to spell and pronounce, if you ask me.

View from Las Peñas; photo by MalenaN
I'm not going to tell you the rest of the history of Guayaquil because it's long and full of conquests and revolutions and stuff, just like most South American history is.  I will just say that the city kept growing, and it became a really important port because it was located on the west bank of the Guayas River, which flows into the Pacific at the Gulf of Guayaquil.

Guayaquil slums; photo by Michael Shick
There are a lot of slums in Guayaquil, and a lot of poor people live in the slums.  Children International, the organization that helps Mom sponsor Xiomara and Daniela, has been working in this area for 21 years.  Some children don't have enough food to eat because their parents don't have jobs.  Also, kids can't go to school if their parents can't afford to buy them uniforms and books and other school supplies.

Xiomara's family is doing better than some.  They live in a house with concrete walls, a concrete floor, and a concrete roof.  The house has a kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms.  The family cooks on a gas stove, and they have electricity.  They also have running water, use a latrine for their bathroom, and sleep on wooden beds.  Xiomara has a younger sister and brother.

Every month, Xiomara's father makes around $480 as a day laborer.  Her mother is a homemaker.  Right now it's summer vacation in Ecuador, but most of the year Xiomara goes to high school.  Her favorite subject is art.  She has a dog whose name is Loba, which means "she-wolf."  We don't know if Loba is a big, scary dog, or if she's just a little cute thing.  Xiomara's sister has a pet rabbit.  The family used to have some chickens, but they don't have those anymore.

Daniela is in middle school now, and her favorite subject is math.  She has a cat named Michael, a dog named Dulce, and a rabbit named Rabit.  Daniela lives with her father and stepmother because her parents are divorced.  Her father is a daily worker who brings home about $250 a month.  The family lives in a house with concrete walls, wood floors, and a corrugated metal roof.  There are three multipurpose rooms in the house.  There is electricity, a gas stove to cook on, a latrine, and wooden beds.  The family gets water from a delivery truck, and the water is stored in a barrel.

Mom would like to go to Ecuador sometime to visit Xiomara and Daniela.  Also, Mom would like to go to the Galapagos Islands to see all the strange and wonderful animals and birds.  I'd like to go to the Galapagos Islands, too, because I'm thinking that some of the strange and wonderful animals might be tasty to eat.  But Mom says you are just supposed to look at them and not eat them.  And besides, those big, giant tortoises have shells that are too hard to bite through.  So now I'm thinking maybe I don't want to go to the Galapagos Islands after all.

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