After five years in Ecuador, three since we opened our first schools
in Quito; our Ecuador projects were in need of a good restructuring.
While there were some golden periods when a particularly talented
director pushed forward our agenda for the children
in our schools; (there were three or four such iluminated periods),
sadly preceeded or followed by short term well intended volunteers
who were not up to the task or else had their own ideas and were
not inclined to follow the set program.
The symptoms that all was not well in our Quito projects were the
frequent incidents of an excess number of volunteers compared to
the number of children in our projects, also the poor results of
our Ecuadorian children compared to our children in other countries.
This came to a
head toward the end of last year when a group of inexperienced volunteers
informed us.that our raison d'etre in Ecuador was no longer valid,
They claimed +/-"The Ecuadorian Government now has an effective
program which is succeeding in getting its poorest children educated".
Not a lot of
people know that. We didn't.
More to the point,
On returning to Ecuador Tuesday 03 February to reorganise our program
in Ecuador, our first objective was to make certain ranking people
in the Ministry of Education are not also informed by such unfounded
Bruce & Padre Jose in Lucha De La Pobresa, Quito'sl poorest
Padre Jose has over 3,000 students in his Indigino schools in Ecuador's
southern provinces. He is counting on us to fill similar schools
in this vast barrio.
Putting our case to Ecuador's Directors of Education
With regional directors
from the Ministry of Education
We asked for a meeting with directors in the Ministry, ' those responsible
for education in very poor communities' .. We were invited to address
our concerns at a gathering of Provincial Directors who were to
meet the following day in Ibarra, a city of three hundred fifty
thousand half way between Quito and the Colombian border.Present
would be the education directors of the northern provinces of Ecuador,
and at least one representative from UNICEF. Wednesday afternoon
we were given a chance to present the research data which justified
our going to Ecuador 01.2004 to start what was to become a long
process leading eventually to the opening of our first projects
(early 2006) to get Quito's poorest children into education [our
records indicated the percent of Ecuadorian children in this condition
was between 22% and 25% of all the nation's children). We explained
our mission, our history, our methods, our vision, objectives and
plans. There followed a lively question and answer period.
Conclusion of our meeting
At the end of our
alloted time we were given a unanimous affirmation that our work
is seriously needed in the poor districts represented by those in
attendance. We were publicly invited to open three schools right
away, and four more in the near future. A UNICEF teacher trainer
promised to "capacitate" all the teachers needed for these schools.
We deferred acceptance of their enthusiastic invitations due to
our limited resources and to a contingent commitment: made the afternoon
Future for Ecuador Volunteers
New Schools - New Team
We had already agreed, should things go as expected with the Ministry
of Education, to open two schools (though not in northern provinces),
One school will open this week (09.02.09) in the Lucha De La Pobresa
sector of Quito, and the other in the poorest barrio of Latacunga,
a provincial capital of three hundred forty thousand, 55 miles
south of Quito.
The next three days were spent trudging through fetted slums recruiting
children and negotiating locations for their informal schools.
We were accompanied by our new teachers and associates.
Patricia is a licenced bilingual primary teacher and Yoly,
in her last term at university, also becoming a bilingual
primary teacher (Kechua & Spanish being the languages).
They will be supervised by Mery, who recruited one of them
for us, and has - among other distinctions - been a bilingual
teachers training professor for over twenty years.
Teresa is helping us coordinate the relaunch of our mission.
We are hopeful the relationship will become permanent. Teresa's
CV includes ten years as an AID director for Latin America. Most
of the loans she supervised went to basic education projects.
[AID - U.S. Agency for International Development].
During these five days we received three invitations for legal
sponsorship; We will work with all three, but only one will become
the general partner in Bruce Ecuador.
New Method of Operating
We are determined, to the extent permitted by of our organisational
and resource limitations, to maintain all our projects from now
onwards under long term experienced professional directors. Note:
We know that some of you, our past directors, meet these criteria,
and we are ever so grateful for all the good you accomplished
for the children and our programme. "Long Term" was all that was
lacking while you were with us.
....Recruiting child labourers Brickmaker and
Most Indigenous children whose families have migrated
from the countryside work during the morning, then wait through
the afternoon for their parents to come home from their own jobs.
Our new schools will operate in the afternoons when tens of thousands
of the poorest children are idle and available.
|Patricia Licenced bilingual professora
Ana Tere with Mery
In our new incarnation we will change how we work with international volunteers.
We are well aware of rich value a good volunteer can contribute to this
work. We will recruit overseas volunteers, but another institution will
be responsible for their housing, and all other arrangements apart from
their their direct participation while they are at our shanty schools and
participating in projects to support them.