It’s early November and Hogar de Esperanza’s major fundraising event of the year is due to start in a little over 1 month.
The Hogar team is in full-blown planning mode. Some are organizing logistics, others are talking about a marketing plan to ensure enough local businesses will be attending. This event needs to be a success if Hogar is to hit its fundraising goals. Failure isn’t an option and the sense of urgency is palpable.
And bam. Another COVID outbreak along with more incoming regulations for public events from COE. The fundraising event would not be going ahead.
Naturally, this left the team scrambling. Scrambling for alternatives, scrambling for answers and ultimately, scrambling to bridge the large financial gap that they’d be left with if they can’t figure something out.
Oh, and all this had to happen ASAP as they needed the funds for their Christmas-related activities. For many local families, the Hogar-funded celebrations are their only source of Christmas cheer.
This article is dedicated to what happened next.
“Yesterday, the reality sunk in that for some of these children, this will be their last Christmas”Garry Vatcher, Founder Hogar de Esperanza
What does Hogar de Esperanza do?
Hogar de Esperanza is a non-profit that helps some of the most vulnerable Ecuadorians. In many ways, they act as a refuge of last resort for those with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
They also operate the following from their location at Juan Montalvo 8-18 in Cuenca’s El Centro:
- Thrift store: Lots of clothes and household goods. Given this is where many expats choose to donate, it can be a great place to grab some gringo-sized clothes.
- Expat help: They offer support to expats on general day-to-day matters such as paying bills or booking medical appointments.
- Food Bank and Soup Kitchen: Providing food for the vulnerable since 2017.
The Hogar team did it
The steady stream of social media posts that followed over the next 6 weeks provided many soul-enriching moments. Watching the team hit goal after goal with their backs to the wall reminded me why it’s important to celebrate Christmas and the hope that it brings to many.
I’ve provided a sampling of some of these posts below, mainly so you can get a better idea of the types of work that Hogar does and the people they help.
Hogar hosted numerous Christmas parties. They needed to have multiple so they could accommodate the maximum number of guests. I believe they ended up hosting 6 or 7 different parties. Check some of the highlights in the video below:
Garry’s original post: “Two more days of parties and gifts! They say to hold off on the applause until the end. I see so many posts of… OH, look what I did!!! We will get to thank everyone at the end.
But, for now, I want you to see the beautiful and amazing children. Every picture we post is of a child who is living in a crisis situation and I want you to see their smiles, their expressions…dirty faces and all! Our team has worked hard to bring together some of the most desperate cases.
Yesterday, the reality sunk in that for some of these children, this will be their last Christmas. Helping children in crisis is our specialty and thank you for your support of them. Next week, we will be going to Naranjal and other communities.”
Special day for 10-Year-Old with Cancer
Hogar organized a super special day for little Joshue. It’s hard not to be touched by the generosity of the entire community in giving Joshue his special day.
“So many children have no hope. The lucky ones are referred to us. 10-year-old Joshue has no idea what is about to happen for him. This boy has been battling cancer for a long time and sadly, he is not getting better. He loves soccer, he always dreamt of being a soccer player but his chances are slim.
Today, his Christmas Gift started. One of the popular soccer players from the Cuenca Soccer team sent him a personal message. He has no idea why. Tomorrow we go and pick Joshue up for a day of excitement and surprises. A day he will always cherish.”
Guitar for 19-year-old with kidney failure
“They make a wish, we make their dreams come true.
19-year-old Nixon has kidney failure. He is on the transplant list. From a rural area outside Loja, his family only has an income of $250 per month. That makes it very difficult for them to make frequent trips to Cuenca for treatment, so SOLCA donated him dialysis equipment, and his mother provides the dialysis at home.
Nixon has gone from one crisis to the next over the past few years and although suffers from severe depression, he is determined. He cannot do things other boys his age does, and it is frustrating, but he loves music and wants to learn to play the guitar. He hopes to be a singer one day.
So today, thanks to a donation from Varsi Padayachee, we brought him a guitar. This will make such a difference to him and will give him the inspiration to keep fighting. We look forward to the day when we can go see him in concert!”
Young woman with cancer + support for numerous other families
“Christmas is not over yet at the foundation. Today, Marilyn took a young woman with cancer out shopping for clothes she wanted for Christmas. We helped one of the families with financial assistance toward a headstone for a little boy who died before he got his Christmas gift. In Naranjal, we helped 17 families with children with severe disabilities.
An elderly disabled woman, in a wheelchair, asked me for a chicken, so I bought her one. We visited a man in critical condition with diabetes and provided him medication. We also visited a young woman who is severely disabled due to a medical error. She was a delight to visit.”
How can you get involved?
Just writing this article started to pull on my heartstrings. I know there are lots of deserving charities and I also know that COVID has been difficult for many families. If you are able to help with financial assistance, you can rest assured that your funds are going directly to those that really need it.
They also occasionally put a call out for volunteers to help with certain projects. If you think you have something to offer, I do encourage you to reach out to them.
Unlike many charities, Hogar doesn’t have a large marketing arm to help gather donations.
With your support, Hogar de Esperanza can continue to provide help and hope to those that little of either.
Image credits: Hogar de Esperanza & Scott Cushing