Nov 26, 2020

By Robert Bradley

Christmas decorations are being strung over Calle Simon Bolivar. Storefront windows are all aglow, many with tiny twinkling lights. The chill of the evening is pushed aside by gas heaters, standing like fiery sentries and first editions of R2D2.

Well dressed women and snappy men are venturing outdoors to take in the sights of a city preparing to celebrate the end of a tumultuous year and a freshening expectation for the next year. Their expectations are well-founded. The early months of 2021 will lead us closer to the suppression of a nasty virus and the promise of relief. I can hear a collective sigh of gratitude that the past is nearly behind us and squeals of excitement that good news will be delivered shortly.

It is fitting that we celebrate a selection of the many organizations and individuals that helped the Cuenca community bear the crushing and unexpected burdens of 2020 while lightening the load for those most in need of support. Three of those organizations come to mind.

Mujeres con Exito, a mainstay in the community since 2004, has been performing near miracles for those caught in the iron fist of abuse. The pandemic has kindled a firestorm of domestic violence, forcing many to flee their homes and seek refuge elsewhere, but where to go? Exito brought them aboard and offered a sanctuary of love and a variety of well-established programs to help them on their steep climb to freedom. Without their help, lives would have been stolen and small children would have been cast adrift in a world of sorrow.

Mujeres con Exito is vital to our community and needs your support.


Give Refugees A Chance,(GRACE), was established in 2019 to serve Venezuelans caught in the net of bureaucracy and community prejudice. Their mission has grown exponentially, serving Cuencanos, Columbians, and even some gringos. Although all of their services are without cost to the consumer — including basic dental care and clothing donations — community support is needed to defray the expenses required to provide elemental care.

GRACE established an innovative program where refugees who are unable to use their professional degrees here volunteer their expertise to help the poor. Dentists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals staff a busy office catering to those who need essential services.

Lend them a hand. They deserve it.


Alberto Ordoñez, a third-generation proprietor of the family hotel business, was forced to shutter his doors in March. He said, “The only way I keep going is by helping others.” He then fired up the old pizza oven and went to work.

Ordoñez bakes vegetable-laden healthy pizzas and distributes slices throughout the community — 2,800 and counting. He has been baking 70 pies a week, serving organizations and those living precariously under bridges, in front of churches, and dimly lit quarters on the street. He rises early and works late three days a week.

This simple act of individual commitment to serve others is an inspiration. Everyone has meaning and all can play a role in shaping the future. Your donation will help those who are hungry for a better life and a brighter future.


With our help, 2021 will be better for everyone.