Hogar de Cristo Project, woman as citizenship builder
Hogar de Cristo has been working for 17 years with the most vulnerable communities in Ecuador to contribute to their development. This organization works with community women so that they may have a home and a small business through micro credits and skills training. In addition it assists communities with health aid and with infant schools. Today, Hogar de Cristo produces and gives 64 houses per day.
Hogar de Cristo tries to bring together the exercise of rights and duties, supported by social organizations and communities. At present, it has a committed volunteer group of more than 650 : students who help with house construction and well off women who help with their contacts to solving problems. Also communities give land for house construction.
The Ecuatorian woman, a seed for development
"At the Hogar de Cristo we work with women because it is with them that one can work best, from the point of view of organizing and long term. We have seen that if we give a woman the opportunity of having a new house, she will take care of it and pay for it , 12 dollars per month. If we give her a micro credit we know that she will attend the skills training programme and will change her life once she knows how to run a micro business...However if we give this money to a man, we are not sure that he will behave in the same way. We if want to work towards long term sustainable projects, we should choose a woman, since a woman is a real "development agent." In addition, the Ecuadorian woman has the virtue of bringing her husband or companion to the business or to her life project, therefore, the projects have better results", says Luis Távara.
But Hogar de Cristo knows that although it wants to promote development, it cannot leave behind the people it finds "fallen" along the way, as Luis Távara tells us. One day, a lady with her five children told me "these are my children and I only have three months more to live". She was a very thin woman, sick with AIDS... She lived beside a bridge, under some plastics, with all her children with an advanced degree of under nourishment... Thanks to one of our volunteers, at the end of the day we managed to take all the children to hospital and they had a house the following day.
A new challenge
Today Hogar de Cristo has an ambitious challenge. Ecuador, although with the guarantee of education coverage, has the next to last place in the Latin American education index. Hogar de Cristo knows that education is key for community development, but infrastructures are not enough, a quality education is also necessary.
"We call it the "strategy of pedagogical continuum" because we try to reach education since infant to the professional period. For this purpose, we will create a centre for children form 0 to five years old. Next, we want to build a primary school which will also have teacher training, all this in coordination with the other 45 schools existing in the region. On the other hand, we will build a school and a fourth centre as a technical and pedagogical institute, with workshops for parents and agropecuarian training and experiments. This centre will focus on training for micro businesses.
Finally, will create another centre for the production of pedagogical materials in which we will try to involve all agents of the education process, teacher, parents, students, etc." explains Luis Távara.
Given the vast scope of the project, Fe y Alegría Ecuador and Universidad Casagrande are also implicated in the project. Entreculturas is studying the possibility of supporting the area of teacher training, networking with the local schools and training for micro businesses.
The long term objective is that this pilot project may extend to other parts of Ecuador and Latin America.
Hogar de Cristo is determined that the people and families with whom it works may be the main actors of their own human development, rescuing their dignity, principles and personal and cultural values.
Call for help in the disaster caused by la Niña
Before leaving, Luis Távara related the tragic moments Ecuador is living alter la Niña:" houses have been lost, crops destroyed, what will become of these peasants?" he asked us. "A national tragedy is coming. When the waters recede, epidemics will come and a dramatic shortage of food because crops have been lost".
Entreculturas has started to evaluate the most urgent needs. We ask for your help for this emergency aid and start projects to help with effects of the disaster.
The account number is
Banco Santander 0049 0001 59 2810034568