Dear Friends of Por Cristo,
I am writing today for two reasons: first to say thank you and secondly, to let you know that after over
43 years of service, Por Cristo is closing down.
Allow me to address the second point first. The decision to close was, as I am sure you can appreciate,
an extremely difficult one. We worked very hard to avoid it. There are two main reasons which have
brought us to this point: fundraising challenges and deteriorating safety conditions within Ecuador,
particularly in Guayaquil and the coastal region of the country where Por Cristo works. Fundraising has
always been a challenge for a grassroots charity like Por Cristo. Yet, thanks to the generosity of so many,
we always found a way. The advent of Covid-19, however, made this challenge far greater as our ability
to get out and meet people and educate them about our mission was severely hampered. The
opportunity to have people travel with us to Ecuador to view our work, a key component of our
fundraising effort, was untenable. Meanwhile, in recent years Ecuador has also been spiraling
downward as international drug cartels have taken hold resulting in widespread gang violence. This
violence has ratcheted up in the Isla Trinitaria barrio of Guayaquil, where the Por Cristo Nutrition and
Health Center has been located for 29 years, and it has become, at times, dangerous for our patients
and staff to come to our clinic. Sadly, we do not see this situation improving.
At the onset of Covid-19, our resources plus the continued generosity of our donors allowed us to keep
going. We ramped up our fundraising efforts as best we could given the limitations around us. In light of
the continuing challenges, however, we recently reached the point where we needed to make the
prudent and necessary decision to cease operations.
It is very difficult to capture in a few words all that has been done by Por Cristo over these years. Maybe
it is best to look at the words of our mission statement --- “To improve the health and well-being of poor
children and their families.” That is what we have sought to do each and every day. In the early years we
focused on traveling teams of doctors, nurses, and technicians across a variety of medical disciplines
who gave of their time and talent to work side by side with Ecuadorian colleagues. Then in the mid-
1990s, we were asked to help mitigate the prevalence of malnutrition in a place called Isla Trinitaria.
There we developed a new model employing Ecuadorian healthcare professionals working 52 weeks per
year and, eventually, transitioned away from traveling medical teams. We did maintain one traveling
team, that being our outstanding Pediatric Cardiology Team which has remained active right up through
the present working together with colleagues at the Baca Ortiz Children’s Hospital in Quito.
Providing healthcare services year round became the hallmark of Por Cristo’s mission. We constructed
our clinic and began to offer a full range of primary care services. Over time, innovative programs in the
areas of Girls’ Self-Esteem, school-based dental fluoride treatments, and HIV awareness, prevention and
detection were developed. Working with partners was always important and we worked most closely
with the Archdiocese of Guayaquil’s health and social service agency, REDIMA. Among our most notable
collaborations were the HIV project and the construction of a home for HIV patients undergoing
treatment and their families. In other parts of Ecuador, we worked to control heightened levels of
tuberculosis and assisted the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother in Jaime Roldos with their clinic, soup
kitchen, and school. We supported the Sisters in their service to the poor in nearby Tiwinza. Following
the 2016 earthquake which devastated the Manta region, we helped with the rebuilding of a health
clinic run by the Jesuits. While Ecuador was always our main focus, we also provided limited assistance
in six other countries throughout Latin America.
In describing the work Por Cristo has done above, I have often used the word “we.” This small word
carries so much meaning and brings me back to my first reason for writing. That is to say thank you!
Most all of Por Cristo’s funding has come from charitable donations. Whether it was someone scraping a
few dollars together or people with the means to make larger contributions, it has been these voluntary
gifts that have provided for everything Por Cristo has done. When thinking of finances, it is easy for our
minds to get drawn to financial documents and accounts. But the numbers on those pages translate to
the care that was delivered to a patient in need: the frightened young mother who recently delivered
her first child, the newborn failing to thrive whose Mom and Dad brought her to the clinic for nutritional
care, the child suffering from cardiac disease and his family praying for a cure, the elderly woman
receiving her only healthy meal of the day from the Sisters, the small boy with respiratory illness in need
of treatment, one of 2,500 students per year with healthy teeth thanks to the regular fluoride
treatments they receive in school, or the young girl being taught of her value and potential while living
in a society that sometimes does not recognize these. These are all real world examples of the care you
have made possible. This is what “we” have done together! Whether you made a single gift or were a
long-term supporter, I hope the knowledge that you have played an important role in improving the life
of another will remain with you along with our gratitude.
In Ecuador and here in Boston, we are now immersed in all the necessary steps of winding down our
operations. On that note, anyone who has made a gift to Por Cristo in 2023 will receive a tax
acknowledgement under separate cover.
For over 43 years, everyone involved in this effort has worked to advance our mission under the banner
of Por Cristo. Each of these efforts is a manifestation of living the Gospel by caring for the poor and
healing the sick. This is what Jesus asks us to do and you responded. On behalf of all you have helped, I
have the great pleasure and privilege of saying thank you.
Joseph A. Reardon