Vientiocho de Agosto

Founded on August 28, 1997, this growing community is based around what used to be an active trash dump. Eleven full trucks each made two trips a day, seven days a week, providing a recycling industry for members of the community brave enough to search for plastics and glass products underneath and within heaps of household waste. Herds of cattle and pigs would feed on the trash and, unsurprisingly, various health problems accompany the ever-present insects. To keep their neighborhood from literally turning into a mountain of trash, the people burned all that is non-recyclable; there are horrendous consequences for general respiratory health. For these and other reasons, many childern living in Veintiocho de Agosto are, on average, three years behind developmentally in terms of normal height and weight for healthy Ecuadorian children.

The 28 community was able to build a two room elementary school (“Escuela Particular Alan Lynch”) and medical dispensary in April of 2003 with funds raised by Rostro de Cristo and activists in Durán. What started as a small cane structure with less than 20 students has now grown into a school that can educate 150 children, grades kindergarden through sixth. Whereas three years ago most children in Veintiocho finished going to school after elementary school, the majority of graduates from Escuela Particular Alan Lynch continue on with middle school and high school education. The last year alone has seen numerous improvements structurally, as well as more involvement from parents and local citizens. Brick walls replaced the former tarp and metal clad boundaries of the school, and all classrooms now have cement floors in place of former rock and dirt floors. Many of these long-term projects have happened with the help of former volunteers as well as retreat group participants.

Because of the overwhelming health concerns, people working in Veintiocho have realized that many school children who attend Escuela Particular Alan Lynch are malnourished and not able to perform up to their full potential during the school day. In the summer of 2005, a lunch program began to provide nutritious meals for the children attending school. Everyday, a group of mothers volunteer their time to prepare and cook nutritious lunches for about 150 children. This has in turn created more parental involvement within the school and community.

The people of Veintiocho are in great need of medical and educational aid. Once a week a doctor voluntarily visits the school to check children as well as other members of the community. This service is focused on the Alan Lynch school but is open to all residents. Escuela Particular Alan Lynch also houses the after school program Manos Abiertas, where kids can work on their homework and projects in a safe and spacious environment under the supervision and guidance of Rostro de Cristo and Ecuadorian volunteers.