Meet Sor Inez, the head nun at the Santa Lucia Children’s Home in Quito, Ecuador. She is delighted to lead the orphanage, serve the children in her care, and partner with the Melaleuca Foundation and the many Preferred Customers and Marketing Executives who contribute to this cause.
Over Four Decades of Experience
Sor Inez has been a Dominican Order nun for 41 years and has dedicated her entire life to service. She’s always been engaged in social work and helping families in need. She’s spent two decades working with children at various orphanages and with troubled youth at a community high school. Before her assignment to Santa Lucia, Sor Inez lived in Spain for six years as she served displaced Ecuadorian migrant families.
Sor Inez was born in Cuenca, Ecuador, just 275 miles south of her current post at Santa Lucia, and she finds great satisfaction in returning to her homeland.
“After 20 years of serving disadvantaged people, what impresses me the most about the Santa Lucia Children’s Home is that it provides the tender care these children need even though society has let them down,” Sor Inez says. “This happens because of the generosity of the many people at Melaleuca who have found it in their hearts to help.”
When she first arrived at the orphanage, Sor Inez sensed that it was a peaceful place in spite of the children’s vibrant energy. It felt different than other orphanages. She recalls being surprised that many of the children at Santa Lucia naturally wanted to read. An unusual sight in most orphanages, this struck her as a positive sign for things to come.
Since her arrival, Sor Inez has seen how Santa Lucia’s unique model—structuring six to eight children into a family unit with a devoted “house mother”—helps fulfill the children’s emotional needs. Furthermore, she’s witnessed firsthand how placing family units into separate apartments rather than a single dormitory, creating intimate family settings, having full-time caregivers for each family, and receiving the necessary resources from Melaleuca all help the children regain stability much faster than children in other situations do.
“We greatly appreciate all the support that we receive from the Melaleuca Foundation,” Sor Inez says. “The funding that Melaleuca provides on a monthly basis allows the orphanage to pay for the children’s needs, such as the selfless caregivers, nutrition, medicine, education, clothing, counseling, and more.”
A Legacy of Love
Sor Inez replaced Sor Maria de Cisne, who faithfully served as the orphanage’s head nun for many years. In 2011, Sor Maria attended the Melaleuca convention in Orlando, Florida, where she shared personal experiences and her conviction for the work performed at Santa Lucia.
“We do it because they are the future of our country and our world,” Sor Maria said of the children at Santa Lucia. “We work so hard for them to become good people, so they will become useful and happy, and so, in time, they can grow and start a normal family in a normal home.”
“We are always trying to help the children feel as if they are in a real home,” Sor Maria said. “Our home and staff serve as their mother and father. The greatest difference about the orphanage is our children do not grow up as if they lived in an institution. Rather, they grow more self-assured, creating memories of having lived in the structure of a real family—a real family that they, unfortunately, did not have in their own home. It is amazing to see how their lives are transformed from sadness into joy, from anger and rebelliousness to tenderness and love.”
Sor Maria’s philosophy and leadership transformed Santa Lucia into a remarkable place, and Sor Inez acknowledges that her mission of running the orphanage has been shaped by her predecessor. Although following in Sor Maria’s footsteps is not an easy task, Sor Inez has kept Santa Lucia’s legacy strong with her experience and compassion.
Children: God’s Greatest Gift
Sor Inez began her time at Santa Lucia with eyes wide open, fully aware that the children’s stories and situations are heartbreaking.
“Many children are here because unemployment and poverty have affected their natural families,” Sor Inez says. “Some children were left on the streets. Most have faced abuse. They have dealt with many of life’s tragedies.”
Nevertheless, Sor Inez says the mission at Santa Lucia is worth every effort.
“Children are the greatest gift that God has given,” she says. “I am fulfilling God’s will to look after these children and take care of the needy.”