Since November 2010 we have been providing a daily meal in school for children in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. The children come from Ojacoto, one of the city’s poorest suburbs, and the food they receive plays an important part in encouraging them to come to school. Zeljka Markic, a Mary’s Meals supporter, visited Ecuador two years ago and has helped to set up the project, which is run by a community of nuns. “The nuns drive every day from house to house, collecting children and bringing them back home,” she says.
While Mary’s Meals is the main source of the daily meal, the nuns and their pupils also aim to make the most of Ecuador’s favourable climate and grow crops when they can. As well as primary and secondary school, the project, Cristo Missionero Orante, serves as a shelter for homeless teen-aged girls from the Amazon region.
Some have escaped after they were sold by their parents, or faced the prospect of trafficking – a serious problem in Ecuador, where children are often sold within the country, or sent to neighbouring states such as Venezuela to become street vendors, domestic workers and prostitutes.