Loma Grande – the forgotten community

By | February 9, 2010

Loma Grande is a community that lives 16 km from Patate.  Patate is a village situated in a valley in a very beautiful part of Ecuador, near to the Tungurahua Volcano.

Loma Grande consists of about 40 families, living in extreme poverty.  They are a hard working community.  All of the adults work on the land and farm fruits that grow in abundance.  Their day consists of leaving their house at about 5am to walk 90 minutes down the hill to the farms, work from 7am to 6pm in the fields and then walk back up the hill at night, when it is dark and the path is without lights.  They are paid $7 a day, about £4.

The community work together to support each other, make decisions together and are generally committed to making their lives as positive as they can.  With materials that were provided for them, they built  “una guardaria” a nursery for the youngest children.  The state gave them the resources for this nursery and they ran it successfully for a number of years.  Due to the number of children at the nursery only being 20, not 40, a decision was made to remove all of the equipment and essentially the nursery had to close.  Since then the parents have had to take the children with them to the fields and so they spend the day with them.  The parents recognise that this is not ideal but have no other option, they have to work.  The older children attend the school where they are all taught by one teacher, all levels and ages together.

I decided to visit Patate and Loma Grande and so I and Marielena  (a friend who is a doctor) travelled there on Friday 5th February.  When we arrived it was evening time and already dark.  We met with J2 who is the local fireman in Patate.  He and Marielena have worked together for a number of years for both Patate and Loma Grande.  The fire service do an amazing job supporting the community and are essential to all.  They fulfill several roles in the community, from social work to medical care, to putting out fires. 

J2 took us up to Loma Grande, a steep rocky path, with a sheer drop over the side.  There are no lights and so this journey for these people is dangerous.  On our way up, we encountered a family who had been to buy provisions for the week.  The woman, no taller than 5 ft had all of the groceries strapped to her back and was struggling up the hill with her children.  We were able to give them a lift in the back of the truck, for which they were very grateful.  A lift in  “una camioneta“, a small truck would cost them about $7 each way.  This means they have no alternative but to walk given the amount of wages they receive each day. 

When we arrived at Loma Grande, we had a great welcome.  All of the community had arranged to meet us in the building that was formally the nursery.  The room was full from grandparents to babies, plus a few dogs.  Myriam, has been elected as the president of the community, and she welcomed us and introduced us.  We were able to talk to them about what they need.

The nursery was one of their main priorities.  They feel that this is essential to make the lives of their children more positive.  They acknowledge it is not an ideal situation to take their babies (at just 3 weeks old) and their youngest children to the fields for 10 hours a day where there are no facilities.  They would like to have the nursery up and running again, where some of the mothers would look after all of the children, giving them a safe place and a nice environment during the day. 

Our meeting in the old nursery building

Our meeting in the old nursery building

The Mashi Foundation had been able to buy 20 blankets for the youngest children and during our visit, gave these to the children andd their families.

one of the children with the blankets
 one of the children with the blankets

I found these few hours to be an incredibly moving and a humbling time.  They welcomed us into their community and were incredibly open and honest. 

The Mashi Foundation is commited to working with Loma Grande and its people, to make a difference together.  We will work as a team to make changes that will have a positive impact on their lives.

If having read this, you feel you would like to be involved and help in some way, please contact the foundation and tell us how you would like to help.

You could make a one off donation that could be used to buy the equipment they need for the nursery, you could decide to become sponsor parents and commit to supporting the children at the nursery for a period of time. 

Whatever you can offer will be appreciated and used to directly benefit these amazing people.

children from Loma Grande

children from Loma Grande


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