Felipe and his brother, José, approached me with a smile. From the looks on their faces, I could not imagine all the hardships they had been through. They were expressive, bright, and openly shared their stories with me.
I asked Felipe and José to tell me about a difficult experience they had faced. They both said that the hardest thing for them was losing their stepfather. Overwhelmed by financial obligations, he took his own life, and the kids were the first ones to find his body.
I also asked the boys to tell me about school and what they like to do on the weekends. Felipe has a mental disability, but he really enjoys going to school because he likes learning new things. During his free time, he goes to boxing to release all the anger and sadness in his heart. José, who is 10 years old, also likes school because it gets him closer to his goal of becoming a doctor. On the weekends, he enjoys helping his mother, Luisa, and studying.
When I asked them about their role model, Felipe and José said their mother was their hero. To Felipe and José, their mother shows them what strength really is. After losing her husband, Luisa and her family moved to a shelter. Sadly, Luisa was sexually assaulted by someone there and the family had to leave. They found a new place to live, but a few months later, Luisa was brutally stabbed at the small shop she owns. This scared many clients away and forced Luisa to close down her business. In spite of all of this trauma, Luisa is strong and resilient.
This single and now unemployed, mother of three, finds support and hope through the Hearts of Gold community. Thanks to our donors and supporters, Felipe and José have a safe and welcoming place to go after school to receive a meal, academic support, and counseling. José, in particular, says he enjoys the support he receives because he “was gifted a pair of glasses to be able to study and they help [him] with [his] homework.’
Both kids have also been gifted with something even bigger, the opportunity to dream. Felipe has always wanted to ride in a plane since he was little. He is curious to see “what it feels like to be up in the sky.” José’s dream is to visit the fire station. He wants to wear their uniform and slide down the fire pole.
There are hundreds of children in our network, like Felipe and José, who face difficult realities every day. Thanks to your support, Hearts of Gold can not only bring hot meals, medicine and education to these kids, but most importantly a home away from home. Help us to fulfill their dreams, and watch these children gain ambition, inspiration and strength. Empower these Ecuadorian children to overcome obstacles and help them see a brighter future for themselves.