Impact Ecuador focuses on supporting the people of Carmen Bajo, a poor neighbourhood in Quito, through the existing ministry of Carmen Bajo Church. Monthly support from Impact Ecuador primarily helps with the daily lunch and tutoring program (both cost of food and associated salaries), salaries for church leadership and scholarships for higher education. In addition, Impact Ecuador is partnering with Carmen Bajo Church in the construction of a new church/medical clinic facility that will expand their outreach in the community as they work towards spiritual transformation among their neighbours.
|Program budget for 2013:||$62,615|
|Income for 2013:||$96,220|
|Expenses for 2013:||$72,624|
|Budget for 2013:||$84,000|
|Income for 2013:||$600|
|Expenses for 2013:||$94,345|
Ecuador suffers economic disparity, with several poor neighborhoods facing high unemployment and social problems resulting from grinding poverty. Carmen Bajo is one such area, a poor suburb of Quito with very low employment. What few jobs exist are low paying and menial. Such poverty and lack of hope causes family breakdown, alcoholism, and other social problems.
Carmen Bajo Church (CBC) began in 1996 as a hot meal and Sunday School program in the garage of Dr. Roy Ringenberger, an American medical missionary. Pastor Fabian Erazo and his wife Grace joined the church in 1999. CBC meets the practical needs of the community by operating a lunch and tutoring program (in partnership with Compassion International), a kindergarten program, youth ministries, family and marriage counseling, addiction support and prison visits.
International Teams is partnering with Carmen Bajo Church to resource and expand the outreach and impact of its ministry to poor children and broken families.
Accomplishments & Highlights
In August a group of 30 women from Carmen Bajo Church traveled to the Ecuadorian coast for a 3 day beach retreat. The women were very proud to be able to pay for the trip themselves after fundraising for over a year (by selling their delicious food, of course!). The theme for the retreat was “A woman after God’s heart” and all the women were touched by the testimonies that were shared. They also enjoyed unforgettable moments together, discovering their hidden skills at a hilarious talent show and seeing the ocean for the first time. They returned with renewed hearts, transformed to continue serving God and their families.
Carmen Bajo 5K
In December, the first-ever Carmen Bajo 5K race took place. The purpose of the race was to be a witness to their neighbours and to raise funds to hold a special outreach dinner for the youth in the community. Over 60 people participated, including 20 children. One of the children, a boy named Kevin, successfully accomplished his goal of winning the first place prize of $40 to be able to help his family who are going through a very difficult time.
The following Saturday, the youth group hosted the outreach dinner and 20 new youth from the community attended. The youth leadership team hope to continue working in the lives of these young people throughout the coming year.
“We are a generation that shines!” – That is the motto of the youth group for 2013/2014. Under the direction of Carolina (a graduate of the Carmen Bajo program as well as a recent graduate from seminary), the youth group has had an exciting past 6 months with a group of 30 to 40 meeting together every Saturday. In November, approximately 35 junior and senior high school students spent 2 days serving in Atahaulpa. Atahaulpa is a community a couple of hours outside of Quito where Carmen Bajo church has been sharing God’s love for the past year and a half.
Where there was a giant hole, there now sits a two-storey structure after 6 months of very hard work and several years of painstaking paperwork. The structural work was completed quickly under the direction of the architect and contractor. The finishing work (doors, windows, painting, interior walls) will be completed little by little by teams and local workers as funds are available. The church members are very involved in this project, holding workdays every Saturday and organizing fundraisers in their community. The new space is already being used for Sunday school and in January over 150 people from the church were treated to a special church-family lunch in the new facility to celebrate and give thanks.
As mentioned in the last 6-month update, Carmen Bajo has begun a new “club” format on Thursdays and Fridays in order to keep the kids engaged and excited about coming to the project. This began as an experiment at the end of the last school year and has now become part of the regular program. The children have the opportunity to sign up for special activities such as cooking, Tae-Kwon-Do, and art class. It has been extremely well-received by the children!
Pastor Fabian and Grace’s youngest daughter Raquel arrived in Canada at the end of November. She is spending 6 months here, learning English, serving in the church and community and deepening relationships with friends at Creekside and Grace Community churches. She has had quite an introduction to Canadian winter and has already become a hockey fan. Be sure to connect with her and hear about her experiences both here and back home in Ecuador.
In July 2013 a team of 14 Creekside young adults headed to Ecuador to serve in Carmen Bajo. It was an eye opening experience. Some of the highlights of this mission included
- leading a VBS program for about one hundred and fifty children in the community
- helping the local church demolition the old building so that a new one could be built
- sharing testimonies of team members during the many times we prayed and worshiped with the community of Carmen Bajo
We had an amazing experience that brought our team closer to God and connected us to the wonderful people we met in Carmen Bajo.
In August 2013 a group of 11 from Grace Community (7 from the same family!) spent 10 days in Quito.
One highlight was spending the day at the park with the kids. It was so much fun just playing with the kids there. They loved the face painting and we played some great soccer that day. We also sat in circles of about 6 or 7 and tried to learn more about each other. It was a little tough communicating, but we had a lot of laughs.
We also had the special opportunity to be at the graduation of 11 young people from Carmen Bajo. It was really great to see how proud they were to receive their diplomas, both the graduating students and their families. You could tell that this was a very big moment in their lives. We were so thankful to have the chance to share that moment with them.
Challenges, Needs & Lessons
After 15 years of giving selflessly to the community of Carmen Bajo, it is not surprising that Pastor Fabian and Grace are physically and emotionally exhausted! It is time for a sabbatical – a period of rest in order to recharge their batteries and refresh themselves spiritually. We are pleased to be able to come alongside them and support them in this. The sabbatical will take place during 2014 and will likely be for a period of 3 months. Pray that the details would fall into place and that this would be a wonderful time of renewal for Fabian, Grace and their family.
The people and leadership of Carmen Bajo continue to be extremely grateful for the on-going partnership with Impact Ecuador. Through Impact Ecuador, the local church has been able to accomplish much more; economically, spiritually and educationally. Thank you for your continued support!