Letters lead to the trip of a lifetime in Ecuador
During November of 2012, Lise Bazoian was able to scratch a long-time goal off her wish list: travelling to a small village in Ecuador with her brother Gilles to visit her sponsored child Roger, 17, and his family.
In Ecuador, more than 25% of the population lives under the poverty line, and over ¼ of young people do not attend secondary school. Plan has been working in over 1,000 communities across this developing country, since the 1960’s – helping uplift children and entire communities through programs like Child Sponsorship.
Lise has been sponsoring Roger since 2004, helping improve his access to crucial rights and resources, such as education, while also fostering a meaningful connection. Lise and Roger have also enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about each other’s lives by writing letters back and forth.
Lise with her sponsored child Roger, 17, and his sisters, Julexi and Dayana.
“When you write to somebody for so long, you sort of dream of meeting them one day,” says Lise. “I’d developed an attachment to Roger and to the idea of seeing his home, and meeting his family.”
The beginning of an unforgettable journey
After arriving in the nearest city, Lise and Gilles met with Plan staff and set out on a lengthy drive to reach Roger’s remote community.
Along the way, the challenging circumstances of life in the country’s rural villages became apparent to Lise, but she would soon encounter a bright spot of hope as the eager smiles of Roger, his parents and two sisters awaited her.
Lise was overwhelmed with the warm welcome.
“I was told by the Plan driver that Roger was very excited about my visit and that he wanted everything to be just right,” shares Lise. And it wasn’t just Roger’s family that made Lise and Gilles feel at home: many relatives and neighbours also stopped by to greet the visitors. For this remote village, this was a rare and exciting event!
Lise, her brother, Gilles with sponsored child Roger, his mother Leonarda, father Wilson, and sisters, Julexi and Dayana and Plan staff Daisy and David.
A translator provided by Plan ensured that conversation flowed smoothly as a flurry of questions and answers were happily exchanged. Roger’s home sat at the top of a small hill and was equipped with important basics like a cook top to prepare food.
A platter of fresh local fruit like granadilla, taxo and guanabana was offered to the guests as chicks and piglets scurried about the yard. Roger’s mother served a traditional Ecuadorian meal of aromatic chicken and rice that they had cultivated themselves. This self-sufficiency through livestock and agriculture, demonstrated to Lise that Roger and his family were doing well.
“He stood there by my side the entire time and kept asking questions – making sure I was happy,” says Lise.
Roger proudly informed Lise of his good grades in school and the fact that he is excels as an athlete in both soccer and swimming. He also shared his dream of continuing his education and becoming an agricultural engineer, so he can work on finding a sustainable solution to the ongoing poverty rural Ecuadorians like his family face.
While this community’s main livelihood is farming, Lise learned that Plan-supported infrastructure and initiatives – like access to healthcare, schools, skills training, microfinance and emergency relief – were helping to bring stability to Roger and his family and neighbours.
“When you sponsor a child you’re interested in learning more about the impact your support has on the child and the community. You want to see the changes and improvements that Plan is bringing to them. Personally, it was very rewarding to see what is happening in the community and to know that I am helping in the process,” Lise shares with pride.
Lives forever changed
Lise’s trip to Ecuador reaffirmed her years of sponsorship with Plan Canada. She saw that her support was providing a young man with the chance to reach his full potential, while also bringing fresh hope and possibility to his community. Upon her return, Lise also decided to sponsor Roger’s younger sister, Dayana.
Back in Canada, she fondly recalls the many positive interactions she had and is happy to know she can continue to help create brighter futures for Roger, his sister and those around them through Child Sponsorship.
“Our visit meant a great deal to them, just as much as it did to me,” she says, reflecting on how the relationships and experience has changed her life for the better, as well.