My second host family, which I shared with Jessica, revealed its courage and determination over the two days we lived with them.
My second host family, which I shared with Jessica, revealed its courage and determination over the two days we lived with them. Their home, built “poco a poco” (little by little) by the dad and likely by many a “minga” (community work day) overlooked a spectacular vista of mountains of patchwork green fields with the Cayambe volcano behind us.. We were warmly welcomed by the dad and three children and were shown to separate rooms. We quickly surmised that there was only one bedroom remaining for the five family members but were firmly told everything was fine.
When we returned later in the evening, we were welcomed by Jxxxxxxx, the oldest, who is thirteen. She let us know that her parents were working in Quito and she and her two younger siblings were to be our hosts; and gracious hosts they were. We spent a wonderful hour or two talking about our different lives with Jxxxxxx, while the younger two looked on with innocence and disarming smiles in response to any glance in their direction.
In the morning a breakfast of eggs, a bun and cafe con leche were waiting on the table and Jxxxxxxx attentively made sure we finished everything and accompanied us to a neighbours house for a ride into Cayambe. The following morning we had breakfast with all five family members and learned more about the living situation, which clarified why the children were living on their own and why they were so responsible and sweet.
The family, originally from the Santa Isabel area on the side of the Cayambe volcano, had moved to Quito many years earlier and recently built this house to return to their extensed family and a more quiet, healthy lifestyle. But to afford the purchase of the land and the building of the house, the father has to travel all over Ecuador doing construction work and the mother to continue her work as a domestic in the home of a wealthy Ecuadorian family in a suburb of Quito for less than the minimum wage of $290 a month. This necessitated that the children live from Monday to Friday on their own, which they accepted because it held the promise of a better future. The host mom shared that she had moved to Quito at age twelve to work as a domestic and therefore ended her education at that time. At one point she said with disarming candour, “My children know that we are working this way so they will have an education and a bright future. They have to be responsible and study hard.” The two oldest smiled and nodded assent when we looked their way.
As I board the plane at 6:15 am for Miami I am aware that the host mom and dad of this family are already on their way into Quito by bus for their upcoming week of work. The three children are on a separate bus into Cayambe for school. Everything they shared with us about their life was said with either an expression of acceptance or a big smile implying that this is their life. I have never faced the choices they have as parents and of course I have many questions but what I witnessed was a beautiful family, parents committed to a better future for their children and willing to make the necessary sacrifices without any apparent resentment and three children who are fully aware of this sacrifice and are responding in a responsible way, remarkably grateful in the face of some big challenges, commitments and loss of innocence.