By Kay Davis
Cuenca’s Old Cathedral (Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca) was the scene Tuesday night, May 15, of the inaugural Governor’s Expat Humanitarian Award event.
The Governor’s Award is designed to recognize the work of expat volunteers in Cuenca and Azuay Province and for the Governor to express his gratitude. Over 200 expats from 13 countries were nominated for their contributions to the province. Each of the nominees are making meaningful contributions to their adopted country, the governor said.
Governor Xavier Enderica Salgado presented the 2018 Governor’s Expat Humanitarian Award to:
Susan McBride for her work with Casa Maria Amor and Mujeres con Exito. This outstanding organization is a foundation that provides housing, counseling, life skills and work skills to abused women. Each woman determines a “plan de vida” (life plan) for herself and her children with a lawyer, social worker and a psychologist. Most of these women are without a family to help them and the foundation offers them the support they need. A laundromat, cafe and catering kitchen are available for the women to train for employment. After leaving the shelter and living on their own, they continue to be a part of the foundation if they so choose.
The following seven expats were also honored and show the wide variety charitable activities that expats are involved in Cuenca and Azuay Province:
William Tyler: Helping Kids in Ecuador — William serves on the board of this great charity which uses expat money combined with Ecuadoran medical expertise to provide medical help to children from under-privileged homes. HKIE has helped over 260 children in the last 2 years.
Doris Wagner: Elder Care — Doris has volunteered at Hogar Miguel León, a home for children and seniors who have been abandoned, abused, or neglected by their families, since arriving in Cuenca three-and-a-half years ago. She works every day, serves 40 hours most weeks, and attends to the needs of the elderly residents. She also teaches free English classes twice a week in addition to assisting Sister Patricia.
Frances Hogg-Lochow: Humanities & Arts / Teaching — Frances has volunteered at CETAP-Lucy, a center for specialized educational support, physical therapies, and psychological therapies for rural impoverished youth, for almost six years. She has also organized “Anita’s Fund” to pay for medicine not available in Ecuador, for a young mother with muscular disease.
Robert Higgins: Food Kitchen — Partnering with Iglesia San Francisco, Sustainable Cuenca is now serving 80 to 90 people on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Thanks to the generosity of the Cuenca community, they will be able to expand to three days a week in the beginning of June.
Tom Coker: Children — Tom has been a volunteer choir director and pianist for the past two years at the Coro Infantil del Conservatorio José María Rodríguez. There are approximately 60 kids in the choir, who perform in about 15 concerts during the school year.
Laura Bodine Inks: Community Projects — Laura, a co-founder of Fishbon del Sur, has contributed to many community projects for the past four years. She also directs a team of volunteer actors who provide entertainment for Casa Maria Amor’s monthly fundraiser at Mujeres con Exito, to raise money for their children’s school uniforms.
Garry Vatcher: HIV/AIDS — Two years ago, Garry established Hogar Esperanza, a home/hospice for HIV/AIDS patients, and directs the ongoing development of resources for these people and their families. He has devoted his life and income to helping Ecuadorians struggling with HIV/AIDS and poverty.
The Expat Humanitarian Award, a key of solid silver filigree covered in gold, was designed and hand-made by the artisans of VAZMONT. The Award incorporates many symbols of Azuay. The key honors a tradition dating back to the walled cities of the Middle Ages where a key actually unlocked the door to the city. This trophy will be permanently displayed in the Governor’s office and the name of each year’s recipient will be added to the display with a silver plaque.
It is hoped that this celebration will inspire other expats to participate in volunteer activities. There are opportunities for all types of interests and talents.
Thanks to Cuenca Expat Magazine for presenting the idea for these acknowledgements to the Governor, and for his wholehearted support of the program.