Ecuador has been hit hard by Covid-19 and strict measures have been put in place to contain the spread. Many of the families CENIT supports are no longer allowed to work in the markets and they have lost the little income they were previously earning. CENIT have temporarily adapted the support they offer. They are now helping children and their families by telephone, providing emotional support, health and other advice, homework assistance, and some food provisions where possible.
Before lockdown, working children faced long working hours in Quito's markets and as a result did not receive the education, opportunities or medical care needed for healthy development. Now, as schools are temporarily closed, children who were previously in school are at risk of not returning. The Covid-19 pandemic has put added economic and social pressures on families and as such children are more vulnerable than ever. Sadly, reports of domestic violence have increased too.
Whilst the usual activities at CENIT are temporarily suspended, staff are still working hard - outreach workers have adapted their services and now make regular phone calls in order to maintain contact with children and families. It is crucial to keep in touch so that children will return to school once restrictions are lifted. The outreach workers are able to identify families which need extra help and provide emotional support and advice, help with school work and deliver food where possible.
Under normal circumstances, street outreach is the important first stage of a process of supporting children through the education system. In the current crisis, maintaining contact and supporting families through this difficult time is key to helping children stay safe and making sure they return to school when they can. In the long-term, through access to education and training, young people will secure employment, break the poverty cycle and lead a life of dignity.