Latin America & Caribbean

Working Lives Ecuador

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Media captionWorking Lives Ecuador: Missionary

You could definitely say 71 year old Father Pio Baschirotto is special.

The Salesian priest from Italy runs the mission in the small village of Zumbahua, a four hour drive from Quito. He arrived here in 1973 and has never left.

With no private income, Pio Baschirotto lives simply at the mission. His life's work is to improve conditions for the local Kichwa indigenous people, many of whom live in extreme poverty.

He says he has learned more from them than he has imparted. His greatest lesson?

"The value of solidarity, of giving a hand," he says. "When a hut burns down, everybody goes and helps to build it again."

Examples of the changes Father Pio's initiatives have made are dotted around town. One is a craft school where local teenagers learn to make furniture.

He also counts Ecuador's leader as a friend. The two men met after President Rafael Correa spent a year in the area as a youth volunteer.

It had such a profound effect on the young economics student that this remote Andean town is often referred to as the birthplace of President Rafael Correa's 'Citizen's Revolution'.

So what does Father Pio think of the job President Correa is doing, especially for indigenous people?

"I've been in Ecuador for 41 years, I have seen many governments but none of them has cared so much for the poor," he says.