Thank you again to you all for your continued support of ViaNinos and UBECI, especially at this most difficult of times for the working and street children of the markets of Southern Quito!
Unfortunately the global spread of the Corona pandemic didn’t stop at Ecuador’s doors. The country recorded its first case of Corona virus at the beginning of March. By mid-April Ecuador had become the South American country with the highest infection rate per capita.
The government reacted swiftly with very strict measures – closing schools, total curfew from 2pm to 6am, a complete stop to all but essential activity. In spite of the measures taken, the virus spread at lightning speed.
Whilst we welcome the introduction of ‘social distancing‘ measures, we can’t ignore the impact this is having on the poorest. Confined to small spaces and with hardly any money, it is extremely difficult for poor families to remain at home for long and simply accept the disappearance of what is a meagre income at the best of times, with children especially paying the consequences.
Our partner organisation UBECI writes:
“Many of the families and children we support are no longer allowed to work in the markets, as they are itinerant vendors (although they represent 40% of sellers at the markets). These street vendors earn $ 3-4 a day at the most in normal circumstances. They have now lost the little income they were earning”.
This unfortunately typifies the situation in Ecuador and globally: the poor are hit the hardest by measures taken against the virus, and are at the same time those that can do the least to mitigate the consequences of the epidemic. Unfortunately cases of domestic abuse against women and children have also increased significantly and worryingly since the lockdown started.
Although the Ecuadorian government is trying to offer some relief to poorer families, it has limited resources and can’t offer the sort of support developed countries have.
We can also assume that support for international aid and the willingness to donate to developing countries will suffer as a consequence of the global economic crisis.
Let’s hope that the strict measures taken in Ecuador will soon lead to a visible containment and reduction of the virus’ spread and alleviate suffering of street and working children and their families from both a health and economic point of view.
The outreach workers are continuing their work as best as they can helping the children and their families by telephone with emotional support, health and other advice, and with homework, and providing some food assistance where possible. Think of the challenges of online schooling for these children, whose parents are often illiterate and who at best may have a WhatsApp connection on a relatives’ phone.
It is vital to remain close to these families in this moment of need and assist the children to avoid them dropping out of school now or when the lockdown ends.
We need to ensure that ViaNinos’ and UBECI’s success over the past years in
Reducing working hours amongst the children
- Growing school enrollment levels
- Providing medical care, getting parents involved in their children’s health
- Educating the children about their rights and how to exercise these
Is not lost, but continues over the phone now and in the market playgroups again later.
At this most difficult of times our partner organisations need our help more than ever and we would really welcome your support.
If you would like to continue supporting the project you may want to consider setting up a recurring donation. Even 5-10 pounds a month would make a difference!
I hope you are all well and are keeping safe in these challenging times.
The ViaNinos Team