Category Archives: Caring For Dump Kids

Helping Dump Families Thrive One Home at a Time

During heavy rainstorms, the family's previous home would leak terribly.
During heavy rainstorms, the family’s previous home would leak terribly.

By Tim Fausch, ER Communications Director

“We used to pray to God that he wouldn’t send the rain because we had a dirt floor. Rain was our biggest fear.”

It’s bad enough being dirt poor, but when even the dirt turns against you, you’ve reached the bottom. That was the situation that confronted one family in Quito, Ecuador.

"Miners" sort through the garbage looking for recyclables.
“Miners” sort through the garbage looking for recyclables.

Like nearly 300 other recyclers, German Patricio Fernandez gleans his living by picking through the trash at the Zambiza Transfer Station. The station also is known as the Quito Dump, a reference to its days as a full garbage dump. For 23 years, German has been a “miner”, a person who wades into steaming piles of garbage in search of recyclable plastics, metals, cardboard and glass.

While the Dump is safer today as a transfer station, conditions for recyclers remain unsanitary and dangerous. Even worse, their financial outlook is grim. Recyclers sell the materials for pennies per pound. The long hours required to collect and sort the materials help assure that dump workers will remain in extreme poverty.

Historical conditions compound the recyclers’ plight. Many are second- or third-generation miners with little education. They often inherit their parents’ lack of resources, education and hope.

Recyclers once lived in the Dump in tiny shacks.
Recyclers once lived in the Dump in tiny shacks.

Many of the families live in housing that compares with slums worldwide. Prior to the Dump becoming a Transfer Station, families often lived in makeshift housing in and around the Dump. Their tiny homes were constructed with materials found in the trash – scrap wood, cardboard and plastics. These homes were frequently bulldozed as new portions of the Dump were opened, leaving families homeless.

Praying For No Rain

German and his wife, Eva Morocho, had a particularly acute struggle. They have five daughters, a son and grandson. They used to live in a tiny home made of adobe bricks and cardboard. Rain was cause for concern because their house leaked terribly; a thunderstorm would create panic because their dirt floor would turn to mud.

“Before, our life was very sad because we are a nine-person family and we lived in a very small shack,” Eva said. “We all could not fit together and we had to sleep very close to each other. Everything was in the same room, including the kitchen and bedroom.

IMG_0471“Many times water would enter through the roof and from the walls and touch the earth. As parents, we felt horrible seeing our kids in this situation. We wanted to overcome the situation, but we couldn’t because we had to provide for so many kids and could not afford to build a real home.

“We were living in (adobe and) cardboard, in a space about two by two meters,” she added. “All the kids shared a single bunk. We use to have to put pots and pans to catch the water from dripping on our bed.

“At times my wife and I would see each other and begin to cry and say to each other, when will there be a miracle, so that we can have a house for our kids?” German added.

Extreme Conditions Require an Extreme Response

In 2007, the family’s situation began to change. They were invited to hear Jose Jimenez speak at the Dump. Jose and his wife, Teresa, oversee the Quito Family Resource Center and the Child Development Center at the Dump, operated by a humanitarian organization called Extreme Response International. Jose and Teresa strive to encourage the dump worker families by befriending them, helping them meet extreme needs and encouraging them.

Dump Kids.
Prior to ER providing daycare, workers’ kids played in the Dump.

Extreme Response (ER) has been working in the Dump since 1997. Back then ER was comprised of volunteers who saw hungry and dirty kids and simply wanted to provide some nutrition and programming. Fast forward to today. ER now offers childcare, after-school programs, meals, skills training, and medical and dental assistance to the Dump families.

Jose told German and Eva about a program that allows families to qualify to have a home built for them by Extreme Response volunteers. The program is limited to building one or two homes per year. The families must secure land and participate in the construction.

ER’s Paul Fernane, Short-Term Teams Manager – Americas Region, recalled the family’s situation.

“They were living in a very, very small one-room adobe brick house,” Fernane said. “They had a small outdoor cooking grill and an outhouse for their bathroom.”

German and Eva secured land and were selected for the home construction, which was completed in August 2013.

“The family was very excited and immediately indicated they were going to help any way they could to see their dream come true,” Fernane said. “We loved seeing their faces when they saw the first set of house plans.

“The whole family played a part in the pre-work and during the time the work team was in-country. The parents would work during the day with the team and then work in the Dump at night.

SAM_2797“All the kids pitched in, even little Sammy, who was eight at the time. She always wanted to help mix the mortar and carry the full buckets of mortar to the team members. Even when they looked heavier than her, she climbed up ladders, one rung at a time.

“The family members all poured their hearts into helping, and some of their own resources at times. Their smiles and hard work energized the team every day.”

Volunteers from Nebraska, affectionately called “Team Omaha”, came to Quito to build the home. A foundation provided the funds to build the home, while donors outfitted it with furniture, appliances, bedding and groceries.

“The team loved working with this family and was impacted by their commitment to helping,” Fernane said. “The team members were individually challenged to get out of their comfort zones, even if they had never laid a cinder block before or could not speak the language.

SAM_0378“We had women and men, young and old, who had never done this type of work, but they came together with a common goal of pouring into this family in any way they could. They worked hard every day to help make the family’s dream come true.”

While their modest block home was under construction, ER staff and the team realized the family would benefit greatly from extra space and a separate bathroom. So they modified the plans to include a second story and bathroom. The five girls ended up with their own bunk and bathroom suite.

“Having a house completely changed our lives,” German said. “We used to pray to God that he wouldn’t send the rain because we had a SAM_0394dirt floor. Rain was our biggest fear. Today our kids have their own bed and bathroom. There are no words to explain what we have now.

“Now we don’t live like we lived before. We were suffering. It has been a giant change because we can sleep peacefully. We do not live as we used to in a leaky shack. We are content and we give thanks. We live happy.”

“We are very thankful,” Eva said. “Our home is two stories. The five girls are living upstairs. We have our own bathroom and a kitchen. We only dreamed of this. We thought it would take our entire lives to build a home.”

SAM_0564

“This is our room for my sisters and me,” Leslie (daughter) said. I want to give thanks to all of those who helped us build this house. Here in our room each of us has a bed. We like this room because it is big, we have our own privacy and we can play amongst ourselves or do whatever we wish.”

Fernane said the home-building process has changed the family and the work team.

“The family is coming to ER-led programs,” he said. “You can just see that they have a greater sense of hope and their self-esteem is definitely at a higher level. Their lives are being changed in many ways. We believe they have bigger dreams of what their future might look like.”

“The team was impacted by so much during the construction process, but the day the family moved into their dream home deeply touched the hearts of everyone. There were no dry eyes that day.”

SAM_0352
Paul doesn’t miss opportunities to love on the kids.

Watch ER’s new video on building homes for dump families here.

ER and volunteers will build house number 13 this summer for another deserving family of recyclers from the Quito Dump. In addition to construction teams, we host teams that do medical and dental work, kids programs/crafts/sports, and more.

Read about ER’s plans to help rescue more kids out of poverty here. Learn more about volunteer “Extreme Teams”, internships and career opportunities here.

Providing Hope to the Littlest Ones at the Dump

Dump Daycare kids on stepsExtreme Response has worked in the Quito Dump since 1997, starting with a focus helping kids living in extreme poverty. Our commitment to kids has only intensified over the years. Today, ER staff provide strategic programming that allows these kids to catch up to their peers. They do this by supplying nutritious meals and snacks, teaching life skills and using curriculum designed to help the kids advance. Staff also work with Dump parents to raise their engagement in their children’s development.

By Robyn Wallace, Assistant Director, Quito Dump Program

The recyclers grew up sifting through the trash in the Quito Dump alongside their parents to survive. They had no schooling, no protection, no healthcare, little food and even less hope of a different life. The Dump is now a recycling 2garbage transfer station and the young children of the past are the recycling adults of today.

Extreme Response’s Child Development Center within the garbage transfer station offers the first glimpse of hope to the littlest members of our recycling families. Our program,  which began in 2006 with a daycare, serves children age six months old to four years old, who enter the center five days a week and breathe hope.

Hope to eat. Hope to be clean. Hope to be healthy. Hope to learn, grow and be prepared for a lifetime of possibilities.

This past spring, the precious little ones we serve suffered alongside their families in an internal conflict among recycling leadership. Fear, hunger and constant closures challenged the hope we have been sowing. During that chaotic period, ER was able to provide food to our families on three occasions.

Dump Daycare

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Jostin

 

 

 

 

 

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Dump Restrooms for Kids

 

 

 

 

School is back in session! Lesson plans are written, music is playing and building blocks cover the floor once again. We even have the addition of shiny new bathrooms that adorn our center, thanks to a short-term mission team in May. These restrooms will provide extra security and hygiene.

We march on. Hope is waiting.

Want to learn more about helping kids through ER? Read founder Jerry Carnill’s blog on rescuing more kids here, or visit our volunteer page.

Robyn WIMG_5534allace and her husband Brian have been serving in Quito, Ecuador,  since 2014. They work at the Zambiza Garbage Transfer Station, also known as the Quito Dump, where they help care for the nearly 300 families who work as recyclers.  Robyn has been instrumental in identifying curriculum and testing so the kids in the Dump Daycare can enter preschool and kindergarten at levels on par with other kids. Brian oversees the medical and dental clinics, which address families’ physical needs.

Help Extreme Response Rescue More Kids in 2015

At the Quito Family Resource Center, kids of Dump workers receive after school tutoring and a meal.
At the Quito Family Resource Center, kids of Dump workers receive after school tutoring and a meal.

Extreme Conditions Require…an Extreme Response

By Jerry Carnill, ER President and CEO

I write this blog feeling immensely inspired and challenged. On one hand, ER is helping more people in more places than at any time in our 17-year history. We’re seeing tremendous success in changing the lives of people living in great poverty. See our Impact Report for a few highlights.

Beaufort west gril team from july 2014 Feeding program
Kids in Africa are especially vulnerable to hunger and poor nutrition. Feeding programs help change their futures.

On the other hand, we’ve encountered more extreme needs this year than we are able to meet. From the fragile families working for pennies in the Quito Dump to street boys in the Manila Children’s Home to victims of the Nepal earthquakes, we’ve stretched ourselves across 10 countries and three continents to provide hope and help.

As we approach the halfway point in 2015, we are facing a budget shortfall of $150,000. We simply don’t have enough funds to help all the people, especially the children, who we set out to help this year. Yet, we are not discouraged because we’ve seen incredible generosity among ER supporters time and again as we’ve made needs known.

Dan McCann, an ER volunteer and supporter, outlined our challenge this way:

“It’s no secret that children bear the brunt of poverty. From abuse to abandonment to hunger to human trafficking, children are just plain vulnerable. I’ve personally witnessed kids in the Quito Dump go from dirty, sick and hungry to clean, healthy and thriving. I’ve seen Filipino street kids who are embraced and loved at the Manila Children’s Home be restored and reunited with their families. 

“I’ve also visited some of the bleakest slums in Africa – where kids are living in deplorable conditions, and Nepal – where girls are being lured into human trafficking. The good news is ER and its partners are giving these kids hope for the future. But there is much more to do, which is why I’m personally invested in ER’s growth.”

Zambiza girl face painted
ER’s Extreme Teams bring nutrition, education, recreation, health and Christmas to kids in poverty.

Dan and I are inviting you to join us in helping ER change the destinies of a generation of children. We can turn their lives from desperate and dire to hopeful and inspired.

Would you consider making a generous donation to ER in the next 30 days to help us meet these needs? With your help, we can rescue many more kids this year.

To help, please visit ER’s secure Website: www.extremeresponse.org/take-action/make-a-donation. Or, you can send a donation to Extreme Response International at P.O. Box 345, Snellville, GA 30078-0345 in the U.S. and Extreme Response Canada at P.O. Box 1013, Simcoe, ON N3Y 5B3. Please designate your donation “Mid-Year Gift”.

During the next 30 days, we’ll post updates on our Facebook page so you can see how these needs are being met. Thank you for caring about at-risk kids and for supporting Extreme Response!

Please contact me to discuss any of our programs, projects or relationships. I would love to share the way we are changing lives and how you can make a difference!

Serving Together,

Jerry

Jerry Carnill, Extreme ResponseJerry Carnill co-founded Extreme Response in 1997 and now serves as President and CEO. Contact Jerry at jcarnill@extremeresponse.org.

Family Overcomes Hardships, Helps Quito Dump Kids

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By Tim Fausch, ER Communications Director

At one point, Carrie and Josh Bower dreamed about moving to a foreign country and working to change the lives of people living in extreme conditions. The future seemed wide open for the couple, who reside in northwest Indiana.

Their first daughter, Maddie, was born in 2005. But their dream took an unexpected turn with the birth of their second daughter, Lila Grace, in 2007. Unfortunately, Lila Grace died the following year from severe health problems. Then their son, Jude, was born in 2009 with stomach issues. The bills for hospitals, doctors and medicine piled up.

In addition to the emotional stress, the Bowers faced a mountain of debt. The opportunity for them to serve people in a developing country appeared bleak. Doors appeared to slam shut. Better to simply let their dream go, right?

The Bowers chose not to give up.

Bower animals“We began looking for a way to raise money despite being in our financial situation,” said Carrie. “We started down a new path. We got a bunch of chickens in order to sell eggs and use the money to do good works. At one point we had 70 chickens.

“Then we got into goats, starting with two females. Both goats gave birth to triplets and, before we knew it, we had eight goats.”

World changers

While the Bowers paid down their health expenses, they used the extra money from the farm animals to donate to organizations caring for at-risk people, including Extreme Response. But they wanted to do more.

“I was looking for a way to help connect the kids in our church to the needs around the world. I had the idea to connect our kids with the kids of the workers in the Quito Dump,” Carrie said.

“We wanted to teach the kids personal responsibility. We wanted to teach these young people to be world changers.

“I shared the Extreme Response YouTube videos showing what life was like in the Dump. I asked the kids to imagine living like this. I said, ‘Let’s try to change the Dump kids’ situations.’ There was an immediate connection among our kids.”

The children in their church now receive regular updates and donate money that goes toward helping feed and care for the kids whose parents work in the Quito Dump. Even more importantly, they are learning to be world changers by responding to the needs of people living in deep poverty.

“I can do more than this”

Although they were raising awareness and funds through the kids and farm sales, Carrie felt challenged to go even further.

“I looked at what we were doing and I thought, ‘I can do more than this.’ I have a photography business and knew I could use it to promote ER and raise funds.

Carrie Bower Photo Shoots“So I posted on Facebook that I would do family photo shoots on a Saturday and all the money would go to ER. Three people immediately jumped on the opportunity.”

The reaction of Carrie’s Facebook community was powerful. “People were super excited. We raised $420 in one afternoon by shooting family portraits. And all these people now know about ER. Now we’re trying different locations, networking with other friends.”

Getting started

Becoming “doers” has not been a solo act. The Bowers drew strength, support and creative ideas from their friends.

“At first we spoke with our friends and brainstormed,” Carrie said. “We used a team approach to formulate and polish ideas. You need more than one person to come up with ideas that will work.

“We used a simple Facebook link to the ER Website to generate interest. It was that easy. The pictures did all the work. How can you not want to respond when you see all those faces?”

Carrie also created a contest to promote ER. Every person who “liked” the ER Facebook page, shared it with their friends and relayed that information back to Carrie was automatically entered into a drawing for a free family photo shoot.

“It worked really well. I had 20 people like the ER Facebook page within the first 24 hours.”

The Bowers have continued to experience challenges with the deaths of two others in their family circle, leading to more life decisions. And yet, they continue to help others in spite these obstacles.

“If we have been incredibly blessed despite our struggles, why not bless others as we have been blessed?” Carrie said. “It’s not about me. It’s about helping people, helping to change their lives.”

ER-logo-Mobilization-full-color-landscapeInspired by what the Bowers are doing to change lives? ER is mobilizing people through short-term teams, volunteering, internships, fundraising, leadership development and Christmas celebrations. Learn more: http://www.extremeresponse.org/take-action. Or, email Ruth Arteaga at rarteaga@extremeresponse.org.

Tim FauschTim Fausch is Communications Director for Extreme Response International, as well as a long-term volunteer. Do you have an idea for an ER-related story that we can use as a blog or social media post? Contact Tim at tfausch@extremeresponse.org.