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Paine: Ecuador has different level of poverty

Staff writer

While in Ecuador to visit children he and his wife sponsor, Larry Paine of Hillsboro saw profound, pervasive poverty.

“It’s everywhere,” he said. “What is acceptable there is a different level of poor than in the U.S.”

Paine and his wife, Susan, went to Ecuador with Don Lash of Monument, Colo., and Kay Smiley of Woodland, Colo., who also sponsor children in the South American country.

They sponsor the children through Compassion International, a charity formed when a pastor saw the number of orphans left in the aftermath of the Korean War. The charity’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty in Jesus’ name, Paine said.

The Paines sponsor two girls in Ecuador, 5-year-old Danna and 9-year-old Celia. Sponsorship provides the children with spiritual, scholastic, vocational, and health education, as well as some food assistance, Paine said.

Danna was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 3 years old. Her father only earns $3 a day as a mail carrier, so the family had to sell most of their possessions to pay for her treatment. Paine said their house looked like a storeroom attached to a garage. The sponsorship helps them with essentials while they pay for Danna’s treatment.

Seeing such poverty filled Paine with a mix of shock and sorrow that people live in such conditions and thankfulness that he doesn’t.

A crucial part of Compassion International’s work is its child survival program. Designed for pregnant women, the program provides health, nutrition, hygiene, and infant care education until the child is 5 years old.

Another part of sponsoring children is writing letters to them. Letters letting the children know that people care about them and want them to succeed go a long way, Paine said.

“What poverty tells these kids is, ‘You are poor. You’re not worth anything. You can’t do anything. Why try?’” he said.

Children who receive as few as two positive letters a year perform 80 percent better in their schoolwork, according to Compassion International, Paine said.

More than 1 million children in 31 countries are sponsored through Compassion International.

Last modified Nov. 4, 2010

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