Save your appetite for Sunday afternoon.
That’s when the doors open on Cuenca’s 19th Annual International Food Fair at the Mall del Rio Convention Center.
In addition to Ecuadorian comida tipica, the fair will feature food from Italy, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland, the U.S., Japan, Argentina, Germany, Colombia and Chile. The event is one of two annual fund raising events for the Foundation to Assist Cancer Patients in Cuenca (FASEC), a non-profit organization that provides free and low-cost services to cancer patients and their families.
Founded in 1981 with a bequest from Cuenca native Lolita Farfan Palacios, who recognized the lack of assistance for poor cancer patients, FASEC helps hundreds each year, many of whom are unable to pay full price for services. The center can accommodate up to 34 patients at a time and offers nursing and counseling services.
Besides assisting out-patients recovering from or undergoing cancer therapy, it also provides hospice services for the terminally ill.
FASEC is located next door to SOLCA, the Society to Combat Cancer, one of Ecuador’s three major cancer treatment centers, on Av. 10 de Augusto and Augstin Landivar.
“Many of the people we assist live outside of Cuenca, some as far away as the jungle, and they have no place to stay when they are having treatment,” says Rosa Vintimilla, vice president of the board of directors of SOLCA, and a volunteer at FASEC. “Before FASEC was established, many poor patients were sleeping in doorways outside of the hospital.”
According to Vintimilla, FASEC is a labor of love for the administrators, board of director members and volunteers. “We work with very limited money and resources and we depend entirely on donations. This work is a critically needed and is not available anywhere else.” Vintimilla explains that she and other volunteers, including her two sisters, do not consider their work a sacrifice. “It enriches us to serve these wonderful people and the most important thing we can give them is our friendship.
One of FASEC’s long-term objectives, according to Vintimilla, is to expand its services to all patients in need, not just cancer victims. “We want to help people with other illnesses, from other hospitals, and we want to expand our end-of-life services.” She adds: “To do this will require more donations and volunteers.”
FASEC accepts contributions year-round. Those who would like to help, or who want more information about the foundation´s work and services, can email firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 281-1989.
The food festival begins at 12:30 Sunday and closes at 4, in the Cuenca and Yanuncay rooms of the Mall del Rio Convention center (follow the signs next to MultiCine). In addition to the food booths organized by volunteers, the University of Cuenca Gastronomy School, the Cuenca Gourmet Association and the San Isidro Culinary Institute will offer up their specialties.
Photo credit: El Tiempo