Christmas at Refugio de los Sueños
Since many years SOLEQ.travel has been supporting the day care center Refugio de los Sueños (“Refuge of Dreams”), a social project for neglected and socially disadvantaged children in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. This year 120 children and 15 Ecuadorian and international helpers attended the Christmas celebration. And the team from SOLEQ.travel was also invited. Several times a year we visit the Refugio de los Sueños. For me personally, this was my first time there.
What is the Refugio de los Sueños?
At the Refugio de los Sueños, children from difficult family backgrounds not only receive a warm meal. They also receive medical care, psychological support. The project provides access to a loving place, where they can feel safe, welcome and cared for. In addition, within the framework of various projects, they learn handicraft and creative activities. These projects could help them in their later choice of profession, for example carpentry.
Arrival to Refugio de los Sueños
The arrival at the Refugio de los Sueños was a real challenge for us. The location of this social project is in one of the highest districts of the capital of Ecuador (and at the same time in one of the poorest) on an extremely steep road. The exhausting ascending and descending of these streets is part of everyday life for the people who live here. Also for the children of the Refugio de los Sueños.
Around 2 pm we arrived at the Refugio de los Sueños. The caretakers and also the children welcomed us warmly. We brought along one part of the Christmas lunch. So we worked our way through the numerous curious, playing children to the kitchen.
christmas Lunch with 120 children
Everyone had to help out today, because instead of the usual 80 children per day, about 120 children of all ages attended the Christmas celebration! It’s a real logistical challenge to place all the children in the lunch room at the tables arranged by size. Then we distributed 120 dishes of chicken, rice and vegetables on the tables, each accompanied by a drink. The children were especially looking forward to the dessert: Two festive, Christmassy decorated cream cakes.
After lunch we went outside. For some time now it has been covered by a roof, which was financed by donations from SOLEQ.travel. And indeed, it suddenly started to rain heavily during the Christmas program taking place here. This is not uncommon in Quito’s changeable climate, which the inhabitants themselves often describe as “bipolar”.
A self-designed nativity scene with Spanish Christmas wishes was set up here, next to two colorfully decorated Christmas trees. In front of this christmassy scenery a dance was performed, which was accompanied by the live singing of one of the children. Afterwards another part of the program followed: In the colorful clothes of the Otavaleños some children performed a traditional dance together with a caregiver.
The children were immediately enthusiastic about both program components. In general, I was fascinated by the enthusiasm of the children. About our visit, the celebration itself, about the food, the cake and later the Christmas presents with sweets. I was equally surprised by the interest, the open-mindedness and the trustfulness that the children showed towards us. Not infrequently the children had questions about our origins, our names and our families. And more than once, children came to cuddle, play or sit on our laps.
After the performances, the children handed out cards they had made themselves and candles they had designed and decorated themselves to us as supporters of the social project. Many children rushed from person to person to look at the different motives of the cards and the colored candles. On the cards the children themselves were depicted in the Refugio de los Sueños. The children joyfully explained to us which area of the facility was shown on the cards and what they always play there.
At the end of the day the supporters of the project and all helpers and children wished each other a Merry Christmas. In addition, each of the children received a Christmas present with sweets. The farewell was as warm as the welcome.
SOLEQ.travel's support to the project
The number of children in the Refugio de los Sueños, who experience loving care and a safe environment there, is constantly growing. Each of our trips contains a donation of 10 USD to support, expand and maintain this children’s project, which will benefit this project and the children who depend on it!
You can find more information about the social project in Ecuador on the website of the Refugio de los Sueños.