Impact Ecuador supports the ongoing ministry of Carmen Bajo Church to serve the people of Carmen Bajo, a marginalized neighbourhood in Quito, Ecuador. The community struggles with high levels of teenage pregnancy, dysfunctional families, poverty, child mistreatment, malnourishment, and alcoholism.
Carmen Bajo Church meets both the spiritual and practical needs of the community through three main projects: a children’s nutrition and tutoring centre that assists hundreds of children, the construction of a new church facility to better serve the community, and a post-secondary scholarship initiative. Impact Ecuador is making a difference by reaching individuals, families, and generations of people in Carmen Bajo. The community faces many challenges, but there is much hope!
Detailed Implementation Plan
The Children’s Centre is widely considered to be a refuge for children in Carmen Bajo. Children receive a fresh nutritious meal every day, supplying a consistent diet that is not readily available for many in Carmen Bajo. Staff provide after-school tutoring, spiritual guidance, and a warm, loving environment where children can thrive both emotionally and spiritually. With the start of the new school year in September, the Centre has approximately 340 children registered for the 2016-2017 year. This increases the impact of the Centre in the community! Currently, the Centre operates on four days of the week, from Tuesday to Friday.
The staff have begun daily group devotionals, which are encouraging spiritual development and fellowship amongst the staff.
Some special events were held at the Centre in the past six months, including a celebration of The Day of the Pastor, monthly birthday parties, an Ecuadorian holiday called Dia de los Difuntos, and a family sports day. Each was a very festive occasion that brought joy to the Centre and gave children the opportunity to share their various talents.
Carmen Bajo Church Construction
The church building continues to experience changes as construction progresses at a steady pace. The main infrastructure is in place and three floors currently have full or partial use. A large amount of dirt was painstakingly removed from inside the building to facilitate the joining of the old and new properties. Beautiful wooden doors have been crafted for the interior of the church by a local carpenter who has a carpentry shop on the lower floor of the building. Adult classrooms are near the point of completion, which will allow many church ministries to have their own space. There are plans to convert the largest classroom into a temporary sanctuary by February 2017 to facilitate work in the current sanctuary space. This has been a long construction project, but it continues to be a blessing to the community, evidence of God’s provision, and a source of fair, stable employment for construction workers.
Carmen Bajo Church Leadership
Carmen Bajo Church has a core group of young leaders who serve diligently in various ministries. While Pastor Fabian and Grace continue to spearhead most ministries, their work/life balance has improved dramatically in the past year and new leaders are gaining more responsibilities in daily church life. Carmen Bajo Church is devoted to building up leaders that can serve their community!
Post-secondary education is now essential for young Ecuadorians to reach their professional goals. The scholarships help improve livelihoods and futures for students and empower young leadership in CBC. Recognizing that those graduating from high school in Carmen Bajo cannot afford to attend university or college, Impact Ecuador has already helped some students cover their living costs while studying. Two students currently receive monthly stipends from Impact Ecuador: Liz, who is studying education, and Angelica, who is studying paramedic science.
These scholarships will soon be available to more students! Application forms and a fair selection process have been created to establish a more formal program that will hopefully be implemented in the upcoming semester. Those receiving scholarships are required to volunteer at CBC or Children’s Centre. This initiative will provide much-needed financial support as well as strengthening leadership in the community.
In the next six months, transformation in Carmen Bajo will be supported as Impact Ecuador continues to work in the ways outlined above.
The Children’s Centre will likely host another family outreach event to evangelize to local families. As the Centre improves its interaction with the families of children there will be a greater connection with the community, improved outreach for the church, and a more holistic impact on the lives of children. Minimum wage is increasing yet again in Ecuador, which will improve the livelihoods of the Centre staff. At the same time, with more children registered at the Centre, salaries and food costs will rise in the next six months.
Applications for the post-secondary scholarships will be made available to students, encouraging those currently studying and recent high school graduates to pursue higher education.
This is an exciting time in Carmen Bajo!
Stories of Transformation
Priscilla is a young woman faithfully serving in the children and youth ministries in Carmen Bajo. She attended CBC as a teenager and was one of the first students to receive a post-secondary scholarship from Impact Ecuador, which allowed her to attend seminary for three and a half years. Reflecting on that time, she said, “Parents here don’t have resources for their children. If [the costs] were left up to me and my parents, I would not have gone.” She is now involved in the youth ministry at CBC and works as a tutor at the Centre for adolescents aged 12-18. Using the skills she gained in seminary and her own testimony of transformation, Priscilla engages her students in important discussions about God and provides them with strong spiritual guidance.
One example of transformation in Priscilla’s class is a 14 year old girl named Maria. She has been attending the Centre since she was very young and has a strong faith in God that compels her to serve. The power of God is evident in this young girl’s life. As Priscilla said, “I’ve seen the capacity she has to serve God and the desire she has. God can use the lives of people, regardless of their age. When people are impacted by God, they change.”
Other teenagers are also being transformed by God, like Antonio who recently transitioned to high school. He has had a difficult upbringing and was mistreated by his father. Priscilla is working with him closely, encouraging him to find his value in Jesus. He has a strong attitude, but participates in discussions on difficult subjects. He is beginning to recognize the work God has already done in his life and embrace the process of growing closer to God. She tells her class, “There are people here that know how you were before, and I know how you are now. It is clear that you have changed. It’s a process.”
Priscilla is able to make a difference in her community thanks to the on-going support of Impact Ecuador!
In July 2016, a team of twelve went from Creekside Church to Carmen Bajo where they worked alongside members of CBC in outreach to the community via VBS and ongoing church construction. The cross-cultural experience was profound and more than worthwhile for all participants. A team from Grace Community Church also visited in July. These visits also helped strengthen the deep connection between Carmen Bajo Church and its Canadian partners.
In March 2017, a youth team of sixteen will be travelling from Creekside Church to serve in Carmen Bajo. It will be a time of personal spiritual challenge, along with lots of excitement and hard work.
Two Forge Interns, Adam Faber and Haley Welch, spent ten weeks in Carmen Bajo evaluating the program and helping establish goals for the future. Through daily living, classroom activities, and many interviews with staff, tutors, and church leaders, they assessed the impact of Impact Ecuador and learned about how lives are truly being transformed in Carmen Bajo. This report led to planning conversations with Pastor Fabian and Grace, and partners at Creekside Church, and Grace Community Church, which helped determine specific priorities for the next three years. Overall, the evaluation and planning process facilitated a better understanding of Impact Ecuador’s current strengths and areas for growth.
Thanks to your support of Impact Ecuador, lives are being changed in Carmen Bajo!
|Total Income 2016||$208,055|
|Total Expenses 2016||$214,709|
|Overall 2016 Budget||$198,165|