The leader of the Roman Catholic Church was expected to land Sunday afternoon in Ecuador. It is his first stop on an eight-day tour of the continent, which will also take Francis to Bolivia and Paraguay. The Vatican says the Pope chose these countries, three of the region's poorest, to continue his focus on the plight of the world's needy.
In Ecuador alone, more than 25% of the population lives below the poverty line. Mary Torres, 58, is one of those struggling to make ends meet.
"I don't know what else to do. My salary is just not enough," she said. The single mother of five makes $300 a month.
She and her family live in Quito's Pisuli neighborhood, an area littered with cinder-block homes, dirt roads and stray dogs seemingly everywhere. Just a half-hour's drive from where Pope Francis will celebrate Mass on Tuesday, Pisuli sits on a mountainside, with a single Catholic church serving the area's poverty-stricken parishioners.
"I hope for a blessing. He will support us with that," Torres said.
She is not alone. Her teenage son, Steven, echoes the sentiment.
"I hope he blesses me and my family," he says.
said the Pope's goal is to bring the "Church for the Poor" to the some of the most disadvantaged and forgotten people in his own backyard. The first Latin American Pope is making his second trip to South America since taking over from Pope Benedict XVI.
And the church believes speaking in Spanish, as well as some of the region's indigenous languages, will help drive home his message.