In autumn of 2004 the site where the Parish Church now stands was waste ground where gangs met and where people left their rubbish.  It was such a steep bit of ground that, when it donated to the Church, there wasn’t much hope that anything could be made of such poor land.  Yet the Trust took on the project of building a Parish Church there.  An architect was found – Pedro Mogrovejo – who said that a two storey building could in fact be built on the site: halls down below; a Parish Church up above; and the main access would be from the main street at the top of the hill.  The idea was that it would be built over several years whenever the money became available. However, to everyone’s surprise, donations for this project kept coming into the Trust and within fourteen months the massive two-storey Parish Church was completed.  10th June 2007 was a red letter day for the local community as their Parish Church of the “Precious Blood of Chirst” was consecrated by two Bishops: the local auxiliary Bishop Anibal Nieto and the Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, Ian Murray, who had travelled out from Scotland.


When I arrived in Nueva Prosperina in 2004, I found that the Primary School had only been established the year before.  It was operating out of bamboo huts with dirt floors, there were no suitable toilets and no place for children to play nor do PE.  It became clear that the school needed help in building up its physical structure.  The Trust started to build – classroom by classroom – and by the time I was leaving in 2009, 23 brick built classrooms had been donated; some were built through donations from other sources but mainly it was through the Ecuador Trust.  As the years developed, Sagrada Familia School also opened a Secondary school on the same site – meaning pupils could have access to the full educational curriculum.  Of course, this meant more classrooms needed to be built.  In 2018 the school celebrated its 15th Birthday – the Ecuadorian ‘coming of age’.  Since those early days, much has been achieved through Sagrada Familia School and it now has a fixed place within the local community – the Trust can be happy that it has been providing education to the young people and giving them hope in the midst of poverty.


In the early years in Nueva Prosperina the youngsters played football and other sports in the dirty, rocky streets.  Just beside the school was a fenced-off area where some football tournaments took place; the only problem was that it was on a slope.  It was clear the people could do with a proper sports pitch.  So in 2007, with the help of donations from the Trust, from Celtic FC and other sources, a levelled-off concrete pitch was made.  It was called ‘Parque Paraíso.’  Our friends in Guayaquil keep in touch and they have just celebrated another edition of their Annual Football competition on the pitch.


When I was Parish Priest in Ecuador, I had charge of eight chapels within the shanty town of Nueva Prosperina.  Most were ramshackle wooden huts which doubled up as community centres for Church and non-Church activities.  So when the opportunity arose, the Trust was able to help the community with funds to build more suitable places for worship and for community meetings.  These buildings are still standing and are still in use; some have been extended.


In 2004 a nursery was located within a classroom of Sagrada Familia School.  It was cramped and the little children were not able to make use of the school yard because of the needs of the older children.  So when a parcel of land beside the Parish Church became available in 2008, funds were given from the Ecuador Trust to help build a more adequate Nursery.  It was opened in Christmas 2008 and had four classrooms, a large meeting room, a kitchen and a large patio for the children to play in.  This Nursery runs independently from the Trust through a government agency and is thriving to this day.


There were several attempts at building a Medical Centre so that the poorest people in Nueva Prosperina could access the treatment they needed.  Attempt after attempt failed mainly because, although there were funds to build such a complex, there was no-one to run it.  However in 2010 a government agency came forward to run it and the medical centre was built on the same sloping land as the Parish Church and Nursery.  Funds were made available from the Ecuador Trust which helped to build it.  And, although it has changed its function from a general medical centre to a Cancer Detection Centre, it is still providing a very useful purpose for that needy area.


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