May 17, 2021

UBECI Ecuador update May 2021

As COVID continues to inflict suffering in Quito and Ecuador, school desertion rates are rising as families experience continued hardship. Many children are now suffering from depression.

Currently UBECI can only work in one of the four markets where its playgroups used to meet before the onslaught of COVID. A large hall, where a degree of social distancing is possible, is now being used for playgroups at Sangolquí market. UBECI’s social workers are also visiting the other markets three times a week, talking to the children and their families at their food stands.

Amongst families that usually work in the markets, many have lost their jobs and several families have been forced to move in together in limited space. As a result domestic violence and abuse has grown. UBECI social workers still regularly visit the children and their families at home to check on  their wellbeing. They are also keeping in touch with them by phone.

Children continue to struggle with online learning. Some don’t have an internet connection and, in the families that do, there are no computers and at best only one mobile phone for the whole family. Computer and print shops are still closed.

UBECI has nevertheless found a way to help and teach children when they visit them through interactive stories, designed with the help of the educational psychologist, using drawings and puppets to help with reading, communication and their education more broadly. Positive results of the pilot are leading to the roll out of the project more broadly for children at home and in the markets.

Thank you for your continued support of ViaNiños and UBECI. Your assistance has been essential in continuing to provide assistance to poor children in Quito whose already precarious access to education and wellbeing is being challenged now more than ever.

Feb 7, 2021

CENIT update February 2021

Thank you for supporting working children in Quito during this difficult time. Thanks to your donations we are able to continue supporting the incredible work of our partners at CENIT in Ecuador.

Despite the difficulties of working during the pandemic, our colleagues at CENIT have adapted to new ways of working and are still able to reach the most vulnerable children and the most marginalised families. As many children and young people are unable to access online learning, CENIT have provided alternative home learning materials and also offer a safe space for small groups to come and study. Teachers, outreach workers and social workers are in constant contact with families and are providing help with basic necessities such as food as well as emotional suport and practical advice. Sadly, staff are receiving many more reports of domestic abuse, so dealing with this has become an important focus of their work too.

As markets have been closed and people have lost their main source of income, many more children are out working in dangerous environments or spending time begging on the streets. In the struggle to eliminate child labour, things are moving in the wrong direction, which is why CENIT's work is more important than ever. They are working every day to make sure children prioritise their school work and get extra help when they need it. 

Thank you for supporting this vital work.

Jan 19, 2021

UBECI Ecuador update January 2021

In Ecuador, like in many other Latin American countries, COVID continues to wreak disaster disrupting lives and livelihoods. Many say that cities such as Quito are fast reaching herd immunity, as the need to return to work, in particular for the poor in the markets of Southern Quito, who would otherwise not be able to feed their families, trumps the fear of contracting the virus. There are no furlough or state financial support schemes in Ecuador…

School education continues online. WIFI, a computer and a printer are must haves for online schooling to work. Most of the poor children supported by UBECI have no computers or printers, and at times no WIFI either. Quarrelling with their parents and brothers and sisters to ‘attend’ class on a mobile phone results in many children not being able to access classes. Even if they can, many struggle to keep up, as their parents, often illiterate, cannot assist. In these circumstances the children’s difficulties lead to demoralisation and depression, which, coupled with strong parental pressure to help with work in the market, has led to a majority of these children deserting school, reversing in one stroke the last 10 years of success in making school accessible to all in Ecuador. Their psychological wellbeing has also been impacted by a dramatic increase in domestic violence and abuse.

UBECI and the round 700 children they assist have not been able to return to the market playgroups. The organisation has found other ways to assist the children and their families. UBECI’s social workers visit the markets three times a week, talking to the children and their families about their problems and helping with homework. The educational psychologist also supports children who are affected by psychological and physical abuse, visiting them at home or helping over the phone.

UBECI is also piloting a creative project, drawing and writing children’s stories with characters the children can relate to and sharing these with them in their weekly rounds. These serve as a bridge to connect with the children through stories they enjoy, using these as a way to encourage the children to read, to reflect on the content, to share their worries and fears. Initial results are encouraging and UBECI plans to roll out the project across all the markets they serve, as another valuable route to support the children’s education and wellbeing.

UBECI and its staff continue to play a life changing role for the 700 children and families they assist, now, during the COVID tsunami, more than ever.

An enormous thank you to all of you for your continued support of ViaNiños and UBECI. Your assistance has been invaluable in a really challenging year for raising the funds necessary to continue working to offer a brighter future to children in Ecuador.

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