Ecuador's market children often have to work in the markets as early as the age of one. Abuse, extreme poverty, no education, no medical care, and sexism are common factors. Parents who only know the work of the market, often see no value in attending school and are reluctant to let their children leave the market to discover a different life. Operating in six markets in south Quito, UBECI has led the fight to help thousands of at-risk children overcome these conditions since 1999.
The "Play, Do and Learn" program enables children who face a life of hard work in a market, to see another choice. Parents learn in small steps the benefits of education, health care and feelings of success. Children enroll in school and with the ongoing support of UBECI, stay in school. Within a short period of time children can learn from contact with hundreds of volunteers from around the world that they have worth, have abilities and are part of something greater than the market stall.
Each year UBECI works with over 600 children, and two thirds will attend school, (many for the first time), as a result of strategies developed by UBECI. By having our staff and volunteers in the markets, children can get help before and after school, thus assuring a lower dropout rate. Education, self-confidence and new opportunities for these children will break the chain of poverty, which will lower crime, increase productivity and opportunites in Ecuador.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).