Brian Bayer is a 2013 graduate of John Carroll University in Cleveland, where he studied international and social issues journalism and Spanish. Upon graduation, he moved to Guayaquil, Ecuador, to do a volunteer year of service. Since the end of his experience as a volunteer, he has remained in Ecuador and now works as a freelance writer and editor for V!va Travel Guides and also as a 12th-grade language arts teacher at Unidad Educativa Bilingüe Nuevo Mundo. His work has been published in International Living and on various travel websites.
Mariana Srs. Fanny Bolaños and Gladys Robles live and work in Una Sola Fuerza, a so-called invasion community outside Guayaquil, Ecuador. Within the impoverished, densely populated area, they address low incomes, malnutrition and a lack of family structure and support.
Residential invasions like Una Sola Fuerza are not recognized by their respective governments. As a consequence, Una Sola Fuerza lacks basic municipal services.
Since Ecuador's April 16 earthquake, two Franciscan communities have had sisters on the ground here accompanying people through their grieving and recovery process. Sr. Carmen Isabel Faris is from the Ecuador-based Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Maria Auxiliadora, and Sr. Matilde Solis arrived in Ecuador two weeks after the natural disaster from the Panama-based Franciscan Sisters of Maria Inmaculada. Their congregations have been working together to support the people of Canoa, a town that suffered severe damage during the 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
The recovery efforts after the severe April 16 earthquake in Ecuador are far from over, but the church there, with the help and leadership of its resident and missionary nuns, is dedicated to offering as much relief as possible to those affected. While many around the world may have already forgotten about this catastrophe, the leadership of Ecuador's Catholic women religious has played an integral role in the country's recovery.