Many families are fleeing the poverty and hunger of rural areas and settling in the city of Guayaquil in the hopes of making a better life for themselves. They often have no education, are illiterate, and have practically no chance of finding a good job. These families live on the outskirts of town, often in pile dwellings in marshy areas. Conditions here are unhygienic and extremely dangerous.
- Better education paves children the way into the future.
Children who grow up in the slums of Guayaquil are exposed to a great deal of violence. They have little hope for the future and live in constant fear. Extended families often live in just one room. Space for children to play or for family members to have some privacy is simply out of the question. The parent’s income tends to be insufficient to cover basic, daily expenses. Unsurprisingly, two out of five children in Guayaquil are forced to work so the entire family has enough to eat. Many fathers turn to alcohol in an attempt to escape this stifling existence and the sense of hopelessness that it engenders. Fathers, prone to sudden outbreaks of violence, tend to beat their wives and children.
In the Cooperativa Independencia city district, the Catholic Salesian order is establishing a community centre. The city provided the Salesians with a plot of land for the project. Children and young people between the ages of six and 18 can meet here, play together and learn. After school, they all go to the community centre for a hot meal. Private tutoring and homework help is particularly important. After all, the children have no one at home who can help them or answer their questions. And since they can't have much fun at home, the girls and boys of all ages organize themselves in groups and plan activities and trips independently. They soon hope to present their theatrical and musical performances to general audiences. These shows will address the issues of domestic violence and children's rights.
The work of the Salesians is not limited to the premises of the community centre. They have approached the three district schools and are working hand-in-hand with teachers there. Teachers have the opportunity to take courses to improve their skills. Every school receives a learning box, which contains games and educational materials. This is highly appreciated as state schools are usually miserably equipped and teachers have no classroom instructional materials.
- Every school receives a learning-box with plenty of learning materials.
Parents also benefit from the project. They can join classes on good nutrition and how to prevent diseases. The project gives information on how to create a small garden in order to improve families’ nutrition. At the Don Bosco community centre, parents can consult a psychologist who can assist in resolving family conflicts.
Furthermore, parents – and mothers in particular – can set up micro-businesses with the help of microcredits and training. Project staff offers support and guidance every step of the way. The goal is to change the life of these families so that parents earn enough money, all family members deal with each other in a loving manner, and girls and boys can attend school and, ultimately, look to the future with a renewed sense of hope and confidence.
Project No. 86014