In the midst of a wave of drug related violence unleashed upon young men in northern Manabí, our community library with its yough programs s perceived by many young people and their families as a lifeline. Young people are investing time and effort in our marine conservancy program protects them and other marine younglings currently endangered, while offering prospects of a professional career.
Over the 8 years of operation, our community Library receives an average of 100 weekly visits. This number is composed of three age groups:
Ages 6-10 - 80% attendees;
Ages 10-12 -15% attendees;
Ages 12-18 -5% attendees.
Since the beginning of this program, group 3 ages 12-18 increased its assistance by 200%.
With your help we can continue offering a safe haven for youth. A recent chronicle alerts:
"Homicides of Ecuadorians between the ages of 15 and 19 years oldwent up by 500%over the past five years."
The families of this group of adolescents. are dependent on fishing and set on their ways. Boys are expected to join the fishing crew as young as 13, and teenage pregnancy is rampant. This group of adolescents have known each other since early childhood. With no environmental awareness all had taken for granted the 8 kilometers of pristine beaches that line the village. No, they are marveled by the discovery of the ocean floor: “I had never thought about what was underwater and now I can’t wait for our next diving trip to see the incredible liveliness of the ocean floor” says David (15).
Maria Jose (30) is the marine biologist who runs the program enthusiastically says: “this has been my biggest accomplishment as Coordinator of Educational Programs for Ceiba Foundation. Ceiba works in conservation, research and environmental education, therefore, being able to develop this project with the House of Trades connecting teenagers with their natural environment, promoting the understanding of the dry forest and the ocean, is an extraordinary achievement. I believe that people protect what they know and love. Personally, it has been extremely satisfactory to work with teenagers and see first hand, how they become our ocean and forest guardians.Besides promoting the understanding of ecosystems and the importance of preserving them, this project aims to open the horizons to the participants by showing them how they can dream and become anything they want and pursue different careers. My aim is to keep working on this project long term, increase the number of participants, create awareness among teenagers about the importance of protecting the environment and eventually see them happy pursuing their dreams.”
We want to thank your empathy and active support, we are very proud to have you on board.
Every Monday morning we hold a staff meeting to go over the events of the week past and the upcoming programs and events. We review the individual progress or difficulties of our young library patrons. Pedro´s learning difficulties usually come up. He's been coming for years, during this time he overcame his speech impediments, shyness and violent reactions, but still cannot read fluidly. Pedro, who has always been tiny for his age group, was 5 when his father -a huge strong man with many tattoos and a heavy medallion on his chest- brought him atop his noisy motorcycle. After explaining to the parent that this wasn´t a school, that Pedro needed to come and leave whenever he wished and that we would only have a relationship with Pedro, the father reluctantly left and the little boy timidly walked into the Library, dragging a blink blink medallion pending on a heavy man necklace, just like the one his father was wearing.
We work in a place and culture where men expect their sons to replicate their gestures, words and attitude, therefore Pedro was his father´s mini me. Whenever Pedro´s name comes up during our weekly meetings, I recall this first image of Pedrito dragging -literally and metaphorically- the patriarchal mandate.
Growing up as a boy, in the midst of a strong patriarchal culture, is full of danger and risk. Boys are twice more liable to be beaten by their parents than their sisters; the childhood of boys is cut short because boys are expected to leave school early to help the family income. From an early age, young boys imitate the men they see around them, they can't risk admitting vulnerability, weakness, their sensibility is suffocated from an early age. That is why our liberating Library is a safe place, where Pedrito and others like him come and “play with the books”, learn English, do their homework and hang out with friends for sports and arts activities. Every individual process is considered and respected. Pedrito, after so many years, still struggles when reading, but he continues to come to the library to hang out with the volunteers, young women and men who embody the difference of being a kind and strong adult. He loves Fridays when we bring down all our board games, he enjoys chess, rumikum and many others.
This may not sound like a success story; but it is! You are helping us to run and sustain a community library that offers young bright and sensitive boys a place to explore their own capacities, to overcome the sense of inadequacy their family and school have embedded in them; in fact, this place lets them be, that's why as soon as we open our doors boys and girls come flocking in. We call this Success !
With the increase of teenage pregnancy in our small community, our battle for reproductive justice seems even more timely. Two years of social distancing and school closings have taken their toll. Some of our bright and lively girls and boys that were committed to their education and growth are now trapped in precocious parenting. The situation is unfair to the infant as well as to their parents. We are painstakingly working to change the course of early pregnancy statistics; therefore, we are implementing a vacation program for teenagers that includes various activities such as: snorkeling, surfing, scuba diving, hikes, electricity workshops, gardening, creative writing and critical reading. We sustain the possibilities to travel abroad after finishing school and the constant role modeling of international volunteers.
Every Friday we have game day at the Library. Today, I have asked some of the boys to answer a few questions so that I may include their voices in this conversation with you. One at a time they sit at the far end of the garden, where we’ve set a couple of chairs under the mango tree. I have blurred their individuality so you’ll hear a chorus of three teenage voices expressing their stakes at future manhood.
Em (17) was a skinny little boy when we first met, and now he stands tall and sturdy. His wide smile is still there, but his look is sometimes grave and sad. Daniel (14) is a lively kid. His perky demeanor and easy laughter never give away the ordeal he goes through at home. Tony (16) is composed and neat. He is very respectful towards his elders, and can often be seen with dark circles under his eyes and a long gaze towards nowhere. I’ve seen them grow and sometimes I wish we had superpowers to protect them from the adults in their lives, but we don’t. So, with your kind support, we open this Library every day to keep them active and interested in their future possibilities.
I ask Tony (16) to join me in the garden and talk a bit about what’s going on with him.
Hola Tony, you know that after all these years you’ve been coming to the Library, we have never met your family. That’s fine with us, but I’m just curious. Tell me something about them.
We’re 5 siblings, 4 brothers, and one sister. There’s not much to tell, my father is 50 something, he works in construction or fishing, whatever comes along. He’s always grumpy, says very few words, my 3 brothers are pretty much the same. The older is 30, then the second is 26 and then there’s Pedro 20 and then there's me. Only Pedro and I live at home with mom and dad.
-What’s your mom like?
-She’s a great cook, always around the house, and doesn't go out much. She 's nice. My sister is married. She is 28 and has three children, the first one is 11.
So do you take after your dad or your brothers?
Yes, they tell me we all look alike.
And how about the personality, what are your brothers like?
Ummm, they are loud and bossy, they sound angry all the time when they're home. But when I see them with their friends I can tell they must be funny, because everyone wants to hang out with them.
So you´re not like them, you´re not bossy..
Yeah, they´re bossy with the weaker ones.
-Are you worried about the teenage pregnancy rates around here?
Yeah, a bit. Because the girls around here want a husband very early and then they want a baby. And it´s very hard on us, because we guys don't know how to do anything, so it´s not easy to get a job.
What is the dating scene like around here?
It's a bit crazy, the girl's family wants to marry them with the first boy she´s been with.
How does that make you feel?
Like it’s a trap… if you like her… you shouldn’t get too close.
What do you like best about Don Juan?
I like the beach, the Library.
What about friends?
Well, kids around here are a bit boring, they want to stay indoors playing on their phones.
Tell me about school.
There's guys who pester the girls, they try to overstep, some girls won't have it; and others go along with it.
What do you mean by “overstep”?
They touch a girl, grab her…
And the teachers? The adults don't say anything?
No, they don't notice it, or they pretend not to notice.
What do you think about this? How does this make you feel?
Ahh…… I don´t know…
What do you like about the Library?
I like it when I have to read something and think about it and write about what I figured out. I like when we go out surfing, or snorkeling or hiking. I like the clubs.
What volunteers do you still remember:
I remember Derek, Lupita, Tadeo… and then of course, Gregorio.
Do you think school, library and family are helping you grow up?
Ummm, I don't know how to explain this…
Growing up means a period of transformations that will have consequences on your adult life, so we all need help to grow up. Sometimes it's just having someone reliable around. So, would you say that your family, your school and your library are helping you grow up?
I´d say they all help me in the same way
Guiding me, making me feel loved.
If you had to choose the importance of these ?
First is my family, second the library and then school.
Thanks, Tony, I appreciate your time.
Daniel (14) has been coming since he was 6. We´ve seen him struggle with the violent atmosphere at home.
Hola Daniel, can you tell me what your family is like?
There´s my grandparents, who are nice, and then my baby sister and my little brother, and then, my father and mother.
Do you see yourself as a child or as a teenager?
I don´t know, sometimes I feel small and wish I was big.
Do you mean taller?
Yes, but no. I would like to command myself… protect my mom.
Is there any place where you can command yourself, make your own decisions?
Here in the Library, only here.
I can totally relate to what you're going through. I think it's important to secure and keep places where your decisions are respected, this helps you grow up.
Yeah, that's why I keep coming.
What's your favorite activity in the Library?
The trip we went to Quito. That was really cool, especially the Yaku museum.
What would you like to do, not only for money, but because you like it?
I´d like to work in a restaurant as a cook.
Let's talk about girls, is it easy to have a girlfriend in Don Juan?
No way! it's not easy at all
Most of the girls are out of control, they have boyfriends, but their mothers don't know it, until they get pregnant.
My friend Em, (17) dropped out of school when he was 9 and now is going back to night school.
-Hey Em, what are you up to these days?
-I'm adding my points to go surfing this week, and I need to add 30 points in April, cause, I want to go scuba diving.
-You're doing great, sure you´ll get there. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions about your family?
-Who do you live with?
-My father, my mother and my sister Maribel (19) lost her eyesight during the earthquake and if wasn't for this library, she would never leave the house.
-Yep, tell me about school and why you decided not to go anymore.
-They didn't teach anything, they played cards all day and when a kid didn't know something they would hit him with a wooden ruler on the knuckles.
-That's not good, did you ever get hit?
-Yes! All the time! But with time, I got used to it and didn't even mind.
-Did you tell your parents about it?
-No, they would have agreed with the teacher, so I didn't say anything.
-Was that why you left school?
-Not really, it was really boring, I didn't learn anything. I learned to read and write here, in the Library. I left the school because I had to help my father.
-What do you do with your father?
-When there are tourists on the beach we take water for them to take a shower, they give us tips.
-So, you could say that you are helping to support your family.
-Yes, and no, I have to go find fish when there's nothing to eat and then help my father when there´s tourists, that's all. We receive a bonus for my sister’s disability and we get by.
-So, in terms of the future, what sort of guy would you like to be when you are grown up?
-I think I would like to be like the volunteers that come here, like Gregorio, or like the medical doctor. I’d like to volunteer here! Help the little ones who think they’ll never learn to read. Or help old people. I like it here.
- We're so happy when we see you here.
Your generous donations to the “Let New Masculinities Shine!” project affords prosperous opportunities for young men like Em, Daniel and Tony. Through FAMM, these young men are exposed to literacy, activities and resources that promote their social-economic development via the deconstruction of embedded patriarchal institutions. In this way, we will build a safer, more equitable and sustainable community for all. We thank you for believing in this project and for bringing renewed hope to our youth.
Project reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you can recieve an email when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports without donating.
Give the gift of stability in a time of instability. Set up an automatic, monthly gift now and get matched at 100%—because the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt us all, and it will take all of us to overcome it. Terms and conditions apply.
Monthly giving is as easy, safe, and as inexpensive as a Netflix subscription. Start a monthly donation to Fundacion A mano manaba today and get matched at 100%. Terms and conditions apply.