Jaime is 11 years old and lives in the La Prosperina neighborhood. He had the happy opportunity to be registered at Jesús es Amor Student Center about six years ago.
Jaimito, as many of his friends call him, is a very joyful, outgoing, obedient and disciplined child. He truly loves his parents and siblings, and most of all he has surrendered his heart to God.
Jaime and his four siblings — Jesús (16), Jonathan (9), Allison (5) and Aarón (3) — live with their parents, Jaime and María, in the basement of a humble house. Jaimito’s grandma on his dad’s side gave the house to the family 16 years ago. It was once a warehouse full of old and useless stuff, but now it is Jaimito’s home.
Jaime’s father doesn’t have a steady job. He’s an artisan who makes plaster layers that are used in roofs in most houses on the coast. Currently, he works at a little artisanal factory. He makes U.S. $40 every week.
On the other hand, María, Jaime’s mother, doesn’t work. She does all the chores at home and takes care of her five children. She would love to find a job that would enable her to sustain her family too.
María graduated as a nurse’s helper a short while ago. She took a one-year course at a local institute.
Jaimito: A Day in His Own Words
Normally, I get up at 6:30 a.m. and get myself ready to go to the center. I wash my face, brush my teeth, and then have breakfast with my family.
My mom usually puts a cup of coffee and a piece of bread or some crackers on the table for each of us. Breakfast is the coolest time of the day because my entire family is there.
After that, I take my medicine — the one that the doctor prescribed. She’s the doctor from the center. She’s really kind and always treats me nicely. She also encourages me a lot. I know she will totally help me to get well soon.
I leave for the center around 8:30 a.m. Sometimes I just wear sports clothes to go there, but I always take my school uniform in a plastic bag. I go to school in the afternoon, you know?
I love spending time at the center because I get to share with my friends there.
First of all, we have a devotional and Sister Wendy directs the worship time. She’s my favorite tutor!
The other day, for example, we sang the song that I like the most: “Bueno es alabarte, Señor” (“It’s Good to Praise You, Lord”). I truly adore singing worship songs at the center.
After that, we take language or math classes. If we find any difficulty in our homework from school, our tutors help us with that and gently explain anything to us until we get it.
We’re also learning to bake bread. Sister Wendy taught us how to mix the ingredients to prepare good dough. We made it and then we baked it. Our bread was delicious!
We’ve also learned a bit about electricity. The other day, I learned how to prevent short circuits. I learn about electricity at high school, too; actually, I love that subject.
Around 11:30 a.m, our tutors take us to the dining room and we have lunch. The food is always yummy! My favorite dish is rice, fried meat, beans and orange juice. I just love it!
Once my tummy is full, I quickly change into my school uniform and then take the bus to school. I go to Vicente Rocafuerte High, and I’m in 8th grade.
My classes start at 1 p.m. and end at 6:30 p.m. It’s a long afternoon.
I study subjects like language, math, science, English, electricity, pottery, social studies, sex education and physical education. My favorite subject is science. I’d like to become a doctor when I grow up and heal people — just like the doctors who are curing me now.
At recess time, I enjoy playing soccer with my friends. Soccer is my favorite activity in the whole world! I also play soccer on Saturday nights with my friends from the neighborhood.
I leave school at 6:30 p.m. and take a public bus home. It’s a one-hour ride so I get home at 7:30 p.m., change my clothes and eat dinner with my family.
Actually, my mom only cooks something like a main course when she has enough money to buy the ingredients. But if she doesn’t she just gives us a cinnamon infusion with a piece of bread or a green plantain omelet.
After dinner I do my homework. I normally stay up until 11 p.m. and then I get ready to go to bed.
I share the bed with my brothers, Jesús and Jonathan. The three of us are sponsored. Before going to bed, I pray first but usually I pray alone.
Every single night I pray for my sponsor, asking God to bless and protect him. I also thank God for giving me such an amazing sponsor who cares for me and my entire family. Then, I pray for my family too. I just want us to be always together.
Jaimito at Jesús es Amor Student Center
Six years ago, Jaimito’s father received a visit from the personnel at Jesús es Amor. They offered food, medical care, school supplies, uniforms, spiritual guidance and other benefits to Jaime and Jesús, who both happened to be the perfect ages to be registered at the child development center back then.
The family’s poor home, the lack of steady income, and consequently the lack of healthy and nutritious food, paradoxically, built the perfect environment for Jaime and his brother Jesús to be registered.
“The thing that motivated us the most to register our children was the spiritual guidance they were going to receive. We were not Christians before, but my husband always respected God.
“We have been through really hard times; there were nights when we went to bed with an empty stomach. But thanks to God, this center came to relieve our burdens as parents.”
The development center is open three days a week and provides all the children with good and nutritious meals (e.g., soup, main course, juice and fruit).
At the center Jaimito receives an annual medical screening, tutorials about language and math. He can use a computer to do his homework and surf the Web for any research for school, etc.
At the beginning of every school year, he receives new notebooks and a pair of shoes.
“This year, my Jaimito was about to be taken out of a class because he didn’t have his book of basic accounting. We didn’t buy it for him because we didn’t have the money (U.S. $11), but thank God the center met that need too,” says María.
Jaimito has received not only the normal benefits of the program but sometimes even beyond that. Sadly, he suffers from acute anemia and as a consequence has needed various medical screenings and treatments.
His prescriptions have included an iron supplement, B-complex vitamins, Ensure® supplements and anti-parasite pills. Eighty percent of his medical expenses are covered by the development center, 10 percent by the church, and the remaining 10 percent by his parents.
According to the center’s records, they have spent U.S.$135 in medical attention for Jaimito during the last two months.
A month ago, he was taken to the hospital and stayed there for three days. The center’s emotional and financial support was very important to Jaime and his family.
Although the center is doing its best to fight Jaime’s condition, some factors are holding him back from a full recovery, such as the difficulty of receiving healthy and nutritious meals at home.
To feed lunch to all of the children at the center, Jesús es Amor Student Center spends around U.S. $80 to $100 a day. It’s because of all this that Jaime’s parents are deeply grateful for the blessings they have received from God.
“I’d like to thank my child’s sponsor for his kind heart. I’m sure God will bless and protect him. No one has ever cared for my son like him.
“Besides the monthly contribution, he has also sent frequent special gifts to my child, almost on a monthly basis as well. We have used that extra money to buy food for the family, which is always needed. We always pray for him.”
Jesús es Amor Student Center is located in Guayaquil, a city on the coastal region of Ecuador. There are 289 children at the center and 224 are sponsored.
Children from La Prosperina neighborhood receive attention here. This is a very poor urban area on the northern zone of Guayaquil. Its 6,000 inhabitants have a low socio-economic status.
In La Prosperina people have serious difficulties finding jobs. The most common jobs are related to domestic service, factory work or construction. The unemployment rate reaches 40 percent.
It’s important to mention that around 70 percent of the children who live in this community have the opportunity to finish elementary school and high school. However, about 20 percent just don’t go to school.
The most typical health problems are malnutrition, malaria, dengue fever, skin rashes, respiratory infections, dehydration, parasites and infections of the urinary tract. Fortunately, there are two health centers within La Prosperina to give attention to emergency cases.