The Arnold Project, which provides social services for needy families, is named in honor of St. Arnold Janssen, founder of Divine Word Missionaries. The project operates in three parishes in Guayaquil—St. Arnold Janssen in Mount Sinai; and Our Lady of Las Lajas and Santo Hermano Miguel in Guasmo—where we work as missionaries in Ecuador’s most populated city.
The project is a pastoral and professional response to walk with and counsel families, adolescents and children in situations of risk and violence. To carry out evangelization in these city sectors, we must collaborate with experts in social problems to assist vulnerable families who live within and without our parishes and who cannot afford professional assistance.
The Arnold Project consists of three clinical psychologists and a family counselor, one therapeutic doctor who specializes in addictions, three teachers for school support, three occupational trainers for mothers, the parish priests, and volunteers.
The project has operated with great success since 2004. The families of our communities see the project as means of obtaining peace and mercy thanks to the Church offering to help their children recover from, avoid and denounce drugs, prostitution, and other social ills.
The Arnold Project aims to provide professional, interdisciplinary preventive care, outpatient rehabilitation and emergency care for young victims of substance abuse or domestic abuse (physical, psychological and sexual). Another goal is to connect families with social organizations and civil forces, such as military and police. The project is a coordinated effort to help youths and families improve their lives by breaking vicious cycles of poverty.
The Arnold Project currently serves 71 families from the three parishes. In St. Arnold parish the project runs a tutoring program for 380 children and adolescents from 10 communities or housing cooperatives within Mount Sinai. The children’s ages range from 3 to 18 years old. The tutoring assists children and adolescents who have not been accepted into the formal education system. They may not have been accepted because they have learning disabilities or difficult behavior as a result of domestic violence. Some children in the program dropped out of school in previous years. The project seeks to prepare them so they can be admitted to school the following year.
The tutoring program operates all year round, even when schools and colleges are on vacation. During these months recreational and educational courses, as well as leisure activities, are offered. Often families cannot afford the daily cost of transportation, and the alternative is walking several kilometers on abandoned roads. St. Arnold parish helps pay the costs to transport the children from their communities to and from the project site.