Over the years, Manitoba to Ecuador has helped youth in their education and simultaneously connected our community in the southeast with people around the world.
Mark Reimer says the project began in 2011, where they worked with Fredy Soto to help the Los Canarios Futbol Club in Puerto Lopez.
"Our main goal was to encourage them to stay in education and to provide alternative role models 'cause they came from difficult homes.”
At the time, they were working with 25 kids, 22 of which were able to graduate high school. Reimer says under normal circumstances, only around seven would graduate.
As they worked with the football club, they also decided to start helping at a daycare.
“There would be five women taking care of up to 50 kids and so we would provide extra hands and support for them in the daycare.”
They also started offering English lessons and brought Ecuadorian kids over to study English for one semester, which evolved into them studying at Providence.
Reimer talks proudly about the kids.
“Jose Joyce was the first to receive a scholarship from Providence, and he graduated two years ago,” he says. “Alexander Cedeno is now a student at Providence on the same scholarship. He's just entered his second semester of studies, and boy is he making the most of it.”
They have also created reading support programs in elementary schools and were able to build a library where some of the kids have never held a book in their hands before.
Reimer remembers having a chance to sit and read with the kids.
“To see their faces as they hold the book and nestle up against me to read. ‘I want to read next! I want to read next!’”
Reimer says it’s very important to support students in Ecuador since the cost of living is much more than the wages they earn.
“When a family earns $10 to $12 a day, it's quite prohibitive to pay $10 a day for transportation to the nearest university. And to pay for the food, and then the clothing and the school supplies.”
Manitoba to Ecuador has helped many people over the years, and the children they helped have grown up into young adults who help others and give generously.
“Alex- I've known him since he was nine. He's now 20. To see them grow up and to see them give back, so many of them are looking for ways to help others which is something that isn't modeled back there,” he explains. “Not because they don't have good hearts, they certainly do, but when you earn $10 a day and you have a family of five to eight, you don't have an extra coin in your pocket to pass onto someone.”
One of their project alum, Joel Jesus, has been working hard in a community in Ecuador that is filled disproportionately with people with disabilities.
“In Ecuador, people with disabilities tend to be hidden and pushed to the back, and so this community has very many people,” says Reimer. “Joel has adopted this community and he's been providing them with clothes, medication and food for the past two years while finishing his university degree.”
Stalin Flora is another one of the alum of this program who has worked hard to give back. He contacted Reimer in 2020 asking Manitoba to Ecuador to help provide people with food during COVID.
"He knew so many people who had no food in their homes,” says Reimer. “We provided food hampers for 150 families on 3 occasions because they were quarantined in their homes and they worked today to earn money for food for tomorrow.”
Manitoba to Ecuador has helped many families over the years, and doesn't plan to stop anytime soon.
They are holding a dinner fundraiser on Saturday, October 22 at Mitchell Community Center. If you're interested in coming to the event or donating to their cause, you can reach Mark Reimer at 204-381-3490 or firstname.lastname@example.org.