2014 Hermann Gmeiner Award Nominee: Lucia Viviana Maquisaca Mora

Lucia Viviana Maquisaca Mora, 28, from Cuenca, Ecuador, is a single mother of two children who has been through a lot.

She had to work as a maid when she was 9. As an adult, she became a victim of domestic violence. Instead of giving up, she founded an association that not only helps women keep food on the table for their families, but also helps to feed over 450 underprivileged children.

When Lucia Viviana arrived at her SOS Village in Ecuador at the age of 13, she was finally able to be a child again. Prior to that, she had worked as a maid in a private household for three years. She vividly remembers her first day at the village.

 “With the love and care of my SOS Mother, Viviana Mendoza, I immediately felt safe and secure,” she said.

She now lives alone with her daughter and son. The balancing act of being there for her children while providing for the family was often too much to handle.

Last July, Lucia joined together with a group of other single women. Many had experienced the same things as she had. Lucia was the driving force behind the group’s founding of an association that prepares meals for child development centers run by SOS Children’s Villages.

ASOSERFAM, the name of the association, expanded almost immediately as other centers requested their services. Today, the association, which is financed by the Ecuadorean government, has a monthly turnover of $30,000 and serves daily meals to over 450 children in need.

“Sometimes other women who are sad or have experienced violence come to our association. It helps them when they hear what I and the others have gone through and how we were able to overcome our difficulties,” Lucia Viviana said.

“I tell them they are not alone and that they should seek out people who believe in them for who they are.”

She said her children give her the strength to work each day.

“I am grateful and proud that I am able to be a good mother,” Lucia Viviana said.

She is now studying for her high school diploma, and said she finally feels a sense of self-confidence and security.

“With her strength and vitality, Lucia Viviana is an inspiring role model for many women who have been abused,” Christian Ivan Matute Sanchez, an SOS Children’s Villages Ecuador staff member, said.

>> See the other 2014 Hermann Gmeiner Award nominees