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Transforming Mindo: Casa Divina and SabinaTour support equity and local development.

In the cloud forest of Mindo, Casa Divina and SabinaTour Operadora stand out as companies committed to sustainability and local development. Their dedication lies not only in offering exceptional experiences to visitors, but also in actively contributing to social equity in the Mindo community. 

This objective is manifested through their continued support of SALEM Ecuador, an organization that since 1999 has made a significant impact in the region.

Transformational Collaboration with SALEM Ecuador:

SALEM Ecuador, rooted in Mindo since 1999, has been tirelessly dedicated to supporting the local community to break the cycle of poverty and violence. Strategically located in Ecuador, the organization operates a community center that provides help, care and solutions to the most urgent problems facing vulnerable children and youth in Mindo.

SALEM’s programs cover a wide range of services, from support for women victims of gender-based violence to craft, sewing, art and music workshops for local children and teenagers. 

SALEM Ecuador’s work has left an indelible mark, providing hope and opportunities to those who need it most. One of the testimonies is Sebastián Orozco, who, since he was 9 years old, found in SALEM a safe haven and now, at 24 years old, dedicates his life to be a support for children in the community.

Sebastian’s Journey with SALEM:

Sebastian shares his experience as a child who came to this space at the age of 9: “In Salem, my mom and my family found support and gave us that safe space. For me, Salem is like a family, and here I also learned about environmental education, respect for life, and they gave meaning to my life,I learned that everything has a reason”. 

Coming from a large family with few resources, Sebastian experienced economic difficulties. “It was difficult for my mom to support the household and all her 10 children alone,” he shares. At that crucial time, SALEM became the oasis where they found support and a safe space for his mother, him and his family.

Today, Sebastian works at SALEM’s house workshop, where he coordinates activities for children from preschool through age 15. “For me, it’s giving back for the help I received,” he says.  This space, divided into three age groups, offers lunch and homework support from noon to 5 pm. In addition, Sebastián is in the final stretch of his Social Communication degree at the University of Bolivar.


SALEM’s Programs: More than Help, an Integral Transformation:

SALEM provides support in various situations of vulnerability. Services cover crucial areas for the integral development of children, including food, psychological care for them and their families, and various workshops ranging from crafts, handicrafts, sewing, art, to music.

SALEM’s commitment does not end there. They also provide social services to those facing situations of gender violence, through therapy programs. This service is a testimony of the organization’s commitment to building a just and equitable society.

A crucial project in which they are immersed and which requires financial support is the construction of the Youth Workshop House. This two-story space, made with bamboo materials, seeks to work with young people from 15 years of age, providing them with opportunities for full development.

Sebastian sums up the essence of SALEM: “Salem offers a safe space for children and their families. We try to pass on the message that your life is not meant to stay, that everything has meaning, and our core value for everything is peace.” In every action and service, SALEM Ecuador sows seeds of hope, reminding us that every life has a purpose and that the value of peace is fundamental to build a more just society.

Do you consider Salem’s work to be valuable? If so, we cordially invite you to support their work with a donation. Your contribution will not only be an act of solidarity, but also a seed of hope for a better future. 

You can visit this page where you will find both local and international options for your donation: https://salem-ecuador.org/donate/

Interest in Local Development:

Since the beginning of Casa Divina Eco Lodge and SabinaTour Operator both businesses have been committed to local development in Mindo. Molly Brown and Efrain Toapanta, founders of these initiatives, firmly believe that tourism activity should reflect a personal commitment to sustainability and equitable development.

For Efrain, sustainable tourism implies “a profound change, a real change”. Their approach is not limited to donations in times of urgency; rather, they advocate a long-term commitment. Molly adds, “We are committed to contributing on a monthly basis because this ongoing commitment allows organizations like SALEM to rely on consistent funding for planning and executing their activities.” 

Casa Divina also often hosts groups of children and teenagers from the organization for short tours of their reserve, including an environmental education talk.

Commitment to Sustainable Tourism:

Sustainable tourism goes beyond walking in the forest; it implies tangible and meaningful change. Efrain stresses the need for real, concrete actions rather than simple projects. “What I want for my family is what I want for  my business,” he explains.

The two companies, Casa Divina and SabinaTour are aligned with the goals of sustainable tourism, recognizing that tourism activity should be a driving force for positive change.

In this regard, Casa Divina strives to set an example in the tourism industry, highlighting the importance of maintaining close relationships with local organizations such as SALEM. We invite readers to consider sustainability when choosing destinations and accommodations during their travels. Each conscious choice can be a small step towards a bigger change and contribute to the development of local communities that need it so much.

At Casa Divina Eco Lodge, we believe that every trip can be an opportunity to make a positive impact and be part of a brighter future for all.


Escrito por: Lucila Donoso 

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