The wife of the ambassador of Ecuador to Japan is Mexican by birth. She has the aura of vivacity, color and spontaneity often associated with her compatriots. Maria Teresa de Avila was born in Monterrey, Mexico’s important northern city that is modern and energetic.
Her father was a businessman in Monterrey, and Avila is the eldest of his six children. When the time came, it was easy and natural for her to move to the small independent state of Ecuador, which she regarded as neighborly and similar in background, feeling and expression.
That time came after she had completed her college years of business administration studies. “I was working as assistant to the president of a leading corporation, and studying English,” Avila said. “My husband, Marcelo, was then a student in Monterrey. We met at a wedding anniversary reception. Neither of us had wanted to go to that party. My mother persuaded me that I should.” On a romantic occasion, then, that was almost missed, the two met and “spoke a little,” and took it from there. After Marcelo’s graduation, they married.
“My husband is an economist by profession,” Avila said. “He worked for international organizations, such as the World Bank, and we lived in different places.”
Their first daughter, Chacha, was born in Quito. She reversed her mother’s procedure, and married a Mexican. She and her family live in Illinois.
The second daughter, Monica, was born in Washington. She married an Ecuadorean, and they live in Ecuador.
The last daughter, Marcela, was also born in Washington. She also married an Ecuadorean, and they too live in Ecuador.
“We have six grandchildren. They make us so happy,” Avila said.
In their international postings, Avila and her husband lived in Washington and Lima, Peru. She has had the fortune of becoming familiar with the capital city of the U.S. and its wealth of institutions. In Peru she has wondered at Machu Pichu, the lost city of the Incas.
In Ecuador she may call her own the Galapagos Islands and their giant tortoises.
In Japan she found “a unique country,” Avila said. Since her husband was appointed ambassador in 1988, “we learned to love Japan and the Japanese people during our long stay here. After we left in 1996, some of our dear Japanese friends visited us in Ecuador. We were really very surprised and happy when, after five years, my husband was reappointed to Japan. We are back in the same city, the same residence, the same post, so it is as if we were away on a long vacation at home.”
This time, Ambassador Avila has also presented his credentials to the government of the Philippines.
Avila said, “As well as being wife and mother, I have always contributed towards helping low-income families, especially the children. In Ecuador I have worked with private organizations and groups on charity and welfare projects.”
In Tokyo, Avila was attracted to the International Ladies Benevolent Society.
“It has the twin objectives of raising funds to aid Japanese charities, and to assist deserving non-Japanese individuals,” she said. “It is an all-volunteer association devoted to welfare projects within Japan and abroad. It has no paid staff, and the members assume all expenses.
Since the association was founded, it has helped institutions such as training centers, homes for mentally and physically handicapped children, probation homes, homes for old people and specialist hospitals such as leprosariums. All the money that ILBS raises is granted to welfare projects. A welfare committee investigates each application for help, makes recommendations and subsequently reports to the association that the donated money has been properly used.”
Avila says that ILBS holds two major fundraising events in the year. One is the Cherry Blossom Charity Ball in the spring. The other is the Christmas Fair. This year, Avila is chairwoman of the Christmas Fair, to be held in the Akasaka Prince Hotel, Bekkan 3F, Queen Hall, Nov. 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Entrance tickets are 500 yen. Raffle tickets, for valuable prizes headed by airline tickets, are 250 yen.
Avila emphasizes that the fair will offer “the most beautiful array of hand-made crafts for gifts, seasonal decorations and baked goods for delicious eating. So please join us, and help us to help somebody in need.”