Focus Population: 200 child laborers and shoe-shine boys, ages 2-14
Location: Ferias (day markets) and streets
Schedule: January to December, 8:30am -12:00pm and 1:30pm-5:00pm
The ferias of Quito, Ecuador, are open-air markets open several days a week. Many children of the vendors work long hours here, with little opportunity for recreation or education. The time and space limitations presented by the nature of these markets make ferias an unattractive location for social programs. It is precisely here, with these under-served children, that UBECI places its focus.
The daily reality of child laborers is a difficult one. Children that participate in this program are as young as two years of age and accompany their parents to work. Their day begins at 4:00 am with 10-12 hours of work. The environment that many of these children grow up in does not nurture their development. They are exposed to aggression, poverty, lack of education, machismo, discrimination, and other difficulties that impede healthy growth and development. Growing up in such a harsh environment and where education is not valued, many children in this program have low esteems.
We conduct programs where under-served children work and reside, such as markets and streets located in the south of Quito and around the city. There, we meet the children and their families and work closely with them to gain their trust, and eventually their permission to spend time with their children. Throughout our interactions, we communicate to these parents our desire to bring their children support and offer to become a part of their children’s development. We also explain to them the positive impact education can have on their children.
Once a parent agrees for their child to participate in our activities, we take the child into our program. These programs are conducted in these children’s normal environment, close to their parents. Our activities, based on previous research, are developed in order to address topics that will bring normalcy life level and ages of the children that need to grow up and learn.
The UBECI staff in Ecuador consists of the founder, the program director, educators, and volunteers.
The program director evaluates the progress of each child and designs programs tailored to assist these children and their families.
The educators reach out to under-served children and their families, and introduce them to our program and our activities developed by staff and volunteers. Our aim for every child not attending school is enrollment within a period of 10 months, starting from the time we begin working with the child and his family. If the child is already enrolled, we encourage them to stay in school and work with each child for two years to ensure their progress and success.