We Broke the Bed

We went, seven Compassion sponsors, flush with excitement, filled with the desire to help, hearts ready to connect. We went to Gladys’ modest home in the mountains of Ecuador to learn about her world and the Child Survival Program. We went with the best of intentions. And then we broke her bed.

A steep hike up the dusty hill brought us to single-mom Gladys, her 18-month-old daughter, Nayely, and her two school-aged children. Ecuador’s thin air at 11,000 feet left our little group gasping.

gladys and family

Or maybe my breathlessness stemmed from the poverty, so obvious in the tiny two-room cinderblock building where Gladys lived on borrowed time. She said her uncle might reclaim the house at any time, and she and her children would have nowhere else to go. Maybe that’s why their few belongings were crowded into one room.

We were invited to crowd right in too, to see how Child Survival specialist Flor Pacheco conducted her weekly visit ensuring the health and future of little Nayely and her mom.

“Sit. Sit!”

We sat. Three on one bed. Two on the other. A few stood.

In the midst of introductions (“Hello, I’m …”) came a loud crack. The bed suddenly slumped. Three startled women jumped up. Surprised. And mortified. Gladys had so little. A near-empty house furnished with only two beds. And we had just broken one of them.

“Sorry! We’re so sorry!” One of us reached under the broken frame and lifted, hoping to defy gravity and repair the damage. The frame sagged. Nope.

“Maybe we should take this outside,” our translator suggested tactfully.

Gladys forgave us for breaking her bed. Then she demonstrated Nayely’s weekly exercises that help the little girl overcome developmental delays resulting from lack of nutrition in her earliest months.

We clapped each time Nayely kicked a green plastic ball. We oohed and aahed over Gladys’ workbook, full of lessons to work her way out of illiteracy, her name written a hundred times. We applauded to see the pink poncho drying on the fence, a product of sewing classes Gladys and other CSP moms were taking through the program. We cheered to learn that Gladys’ older children both had Compassion sponsors.

After hugs, photos and a fervent prayer, we left. And still felt guilty about that bed.

Grey clouds parted as we walked back to the church that partners with Compassion to help children, moms and babies in the village of Pulingui. My spirits lifted to see sunshine on snow-capped Chimborazo, a looming volcano and point of local pride.

We said goodbyes and shared final hugs. Meanwhile, our trip leader quietly got an estimate on the price of a sturdy bed frame.

How happy we were to chip in! The last-minute collection came to three times the cost of replacing the bed frame, so the Compassion program director would see that Gladys and her kids received even more help from the overflow.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Liz Duckworth manages our copywriting and editorial team, the folks who proof our blog posts before we publish them. She recently observed her five-year anniversary at the ministry.

8 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Ruth Bray August 25, 2020

    I really want to make sure the two I sponsor have beds and mosquito nets How do I find out the costs. Also, I wanted to sign up with a family that didn’t have any sponsors for any of the kids. They said only one child from a family could be sponsored. This article said others in the family were sponsored. Asking because It would be better to sponsor a family who doesn’t have any other sponsors. Can a person give to a family just for a family gift if without sponsors?

    1. Shayla August 25, 2020

      Hi Ruth! We do have a gift fund where you can donate to give children in need a mosquito net. This gift will not go directly to your child, as this fund is used for the neediest child in our program. Regrettably, we do not have this same type of fund for beds. I have attached the link for our mosquito net gift fund at the end of this message. If you would like to bless your child and their family directly, you can give a monetary gift to them either online through your web account or by calling us at 800-336-7676. I encourage you to write to your child and see what they might need. When the family and child receive your generous gift, they will assess what they truly need and use the funds you send for that need. We are not able to guarantee what they use the funds for so that we are not controlling them. All the children listed on our website are without a sponsor! That is a great way to sponsor another child. You are not able to sponsor a family, however, if multiple children in that family are registered and do not have a sponsor, you may sponsor as many of the children that you would like. While you cannot directly give to a family that you do not sponsor, some of the gifts in our gift catalog do benefit the family as well as the child registered in our program. If you have any other questions, please send us an email with your inquiries!


  2. Rachel Garcia June 15, 2016

    Hello! I know this probably isn’t the place for this, but I am having a hard time finding where it would be.

    My name is Rachel Garcia and I am a 25 year old American living in Ecuador. I am currently an intern for GoInternational.tv, and beginning next month I will be on staff as the Short-term Missions Director. I am excited about this opportunity, however it has always been my dream to work with Compassion. I have been a sponsor since I was 16, and became a Child Advocate not long after that. I am conversationally fluent in Spanish and already live here in Quito, and that must be helpful somehow, right?
    My question is if you would be able to pass my information along to someone who might know of an opportunity for me. I can also send along my resume if given a place to send it to.
    I know you have no obligation to help me, but I would be incredibly grateful if you could. Thank you so much for your time.

    -Rachel Garcia

    1. Amy Hawbaker June 16, 2016

      Good morning Rachel! Thank you for the work that you are currently doing in Ecuador and for your commitment to Compassion for the last 9 years! I am sending you an email with some additional information regarding employment with Compassion.

  3. Vicki Small December 20, 2013

    Great story! I would also have been mortified, if I had broken something, and oh, so happy to pay, or to help pay for a replacement. So great that you all chipped in so much more than was needed to replace the bed; perhaps Mom can learn that God can take what seems bad at the time, at turn it into great blessings!

  4. Jacquie Parella December 20, 2013

    What a great post Liz!!! And, this is one of my fears going out to the field, that I am going to break something.

  5. Linda T. December 19, 2013

    A few years years ago, I, too was on a sponsor tour to Ecuador. We were in Guayaquil and our group crowded into a one room house built on stilts over the water. I wanted a picture with the family and then everyone else wanted to be in the picture too. We all gathered in one spot while cameras were passed around. And then we experienced that loud cracking sound and scattered. Nobody fell in and there was no gaping hole, but I’m sure that the floor needed to be repaired…

  6. Stephanie G December 19, 2013

    Liz, thanks for sharing this. Your description is amazingly similar to the home visit we made in March to a CSP mom’s home in Ecuador…also rented, with the possibility that they could be asked to leave at any time. She had 4 children and only one bed, for the 5 of them. The mom we visited also was illiterate but learning skills, and helping her baby to develop physically and intellectually. It was a privilege to be invited into her little house and an honor to see the ways in which she is making it into a loving home, to raise all of her children to be who God intends them to be.

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