Volunteers of Bruce Ecuador .Bruce Ecuador Update: "5 days in country"
Two new schools: Lucha De La Pobresa, Quito & Latacunga, Cotopaxi Province


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toward the end of last year when a group of inexperienced volunteers informed us.that our raison d'etre in Ecuador was no longer valid, They claimed +/-"The Ecuadorian Government now has an effective program which is succeeding in getting its poorest children educated".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 optimism:

SPadre Jose, Ecuador's champion of Indigenous education
Bruce & Padre Jose in Lucha De La Pobresa, Quito'sl poorest barrio.
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 before..

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].
Legal Sponsorship
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 our projects
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 indigenous children for Lucha de La Pobresa schoolRecruiting indigenous children for Letacunga school
....Recruiting child labourers Brickmaker and little sister.

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

Future for Ecuador Volunteers
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.