Ecumenical Foundation for Holistic Development Training and Education (FEDICE)
The Ecumenical Foundation for Integral Development, Training and Education (FEDICE) coordinates educational, health, agriculture, and community development projects for the indigenous population in rural communities of Ecuador, a country where between 70 and 80 percent of the population lives in poverty. With the help of Global Ministries and other partners, FEDICE carries out construction projects, medical clinics, pastoral work, and other programs in the provinces of Imbabura and Cotopaxi. FEDICE has been instrumental in the development of water systems and agricultural and animal husbandry programs (mostly led by indigenous women), including cultivation of garlic and onions, and raising sheep, guinea pigs, rabbits, and chickens.
For FEDICE, 2008 was a year of both good and bad news. FEDICE reports that they celebrate the joy lived out by indigenous people and the poor with whom they work who struggle for their rights and fight to change their situations of poverty, oppression, and violence.
The sad news of 2008 was the death of Violet Groth Vaca, wife of FEDICE’s Technical Adviser, Reverend Victor Vaca. Violet served 58 years – first as a missionary of the Evangelical Covenant Church of America and then, with her husband Victor, as a missionary of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) – and later Global Ministries with the United Church of Christ — in Ecuador, Paraguay, and Switzerland. Her faith in God and her following of God’s mission guided her ministry to better the educational opportunities of children, youth, and adults. Her love for people, especially for women, marked her existence. Because of this, the community of Caluquí built the Day Care Center in her memory, with the support of FEDICE and those who honored Violet through their memorial gifts.
Another important development in 2008 is that FEDICE began its work with a group of individuals with disabilities, helping with training, handicraft elaboration. They have begun participating in national fairs and exhibiting the handicrafts.
Among this group, José is an intelligent and dynamic young man who has become a leader. Four years ago, José met Blanca Puma, Executive Director of FEDICE, who spoke to a group of disabled individuals about her faith. José discovered that his life was not over and that he had new life and challenges to help others who are disabled.
Another young leader whose life was touched by FEDICE is Blanca. She is 30 years old and single. She was born in the mountains of Cotopaxi. She was very concerned about the community and worked to improve the water system and to begin a literacy program. She and her brother organized the women and, with assistance from FEDICE, started a sheep project with $3,000. They have since added guinea pigs, pigs, and the cultivation of white onions. Now with the support of the FEDICE they have created an informal credit union and the women have more than $40,000. Blanca founded a Day Care Center and was the Director. Blanca is now studying in the Biblical University of Costa Rica. She will graduate as theologian and pastor.
Digna is another leader from the Cotopaxi province. She was born the third of ten children. Their mother suffered domestic violence and abuse and they lived a very precarious life. These problems have made Digna recognize what poverty and hunger mean. She now works with an organization of women to overcome poverty. Since 2000, she has been the president of the women’s organization in the village of San Francisco. “To be a leader is not easy, I have many people that follow me and they are depending on me. I have sometimes cried, hopeless for not being able to do something more to improve the situation of the organization and of my partners.” Digna is thankful for FEDICE and for their technical and financial support to the group of mothers and grandmothers that are part of the group of women.
Dolores is a 78 year-old Colombian woman. She lives with her 74 year-old husband and is part of the group of women of High Yugsiche, in the mountains of Cotopaxi. She reports that each day at 6:00 a.m. she milks the cow they bought with the financial help of FEDICE. Each day brings about eight liters of milk. They sell seven and keep one for their consumption. She returns to prepare the breakfast and then helps her husband cut the grass. Then they prepare food for the guinea pigs, lambs, the cow, and the dogs. In the evening, they take the animals to the corral to protect them from thieves. She tells FEDICE, “You see that we lack many things, and have no workers to help us; however, I will continue as long as God gives me energy. God bless FEDICE and its work.”
Maria is a 47 year-old indigenous woman, married, and a grandmother. She lives in the area around the town of Otavalos. When she was a little girl, Maria worked with her parents raising animals and farming. Then she learned how to make tapestries, hats, and cloth, using the wool of their sheep. In 1982, Maria accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. After that, she became very concerned for her local congregation and community. She was appointed deacon and elder of the church. With the support of FEDICE, and especially with the mentoring of Violet Vaca, Maria organized training courses on discipleship and stewardship for the men and women of her church.
These few stories show part of the work that FEDICE carries out in Ecuador. FEDICE is thankful for the support of the many who support it.