Christmas Celebration Transforms Graciela

IMG_5534 By Robyn Wallace                                                                                                                  Assistant Director                                                                                                                        Quito Dump Project

It’s Party Time!

Why does Extreme Response organize Christmas celebrations every December for the oppressed in Ecuador? How can these parties be worth gobs of volunteers flying into town, the time, the energy, and the money?

Right here is your answer.

ogar de Ancianos Happy Woman
What caused this joy?

This is “Graciela”.  I approached her when I saw her sitting separately from all the other people during the party. She is a resident at Extreme Response affiliate Hogar de Ancianos, a Quito-based home for the elderly who have no one to care for them, no money to pay for care, and are often homeless.

Within minutes of our introduction, Graciela expressed how she didn’t like the other people at the home. In her mind, they had stolen her favorite platter from her. When asked if she had any friends, her answer was, “no”. She said she has no idea where her children are or how to contact them.

Unhappy, bitter, angry, alone.

Somehow, within 30 minutes, Graciela transformed. You’d have had to see it to believe it. The change was set into motion by an invitation to paint her nails. That grumpy face took on a new shape: a smile, a sparkle, a surge of energy.

As Graciela was about to join the nail station, she realized that she was next to play a game. Forget the nails, it was time to show the other folks how to throw a beanbag through a hole like a champ. Check.

img_6651-2Graciela then invited the gal next to her to the nail station. She returned with glittery gold nails and a friend. Being Ecuadorian, it was nearly impossible for her to resist a free travel coffee mug at the craft table. (Their love of coffee has no end in this country!) She and her gal pal decorated coffee mugs and the smile never left her face.

We talked. We joked. We laughed. She was alive and loving it!

Pretty worth it, wouldn’t you say?

Hogar de Ancianos is an ER affiliate that cares for people often forgotten by society. ER staff and volunteers regularly visit the home to encourage the residents, provide supplies, and offer help and hope. Learn about volunteering with ER here.

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