Although recently I have been only sharing my weekend adventures. That is in no way why I came to Ecuador. I came for the street/market children of South Quito. Before I dive into describing my current experiences, I need to give a little background information about the markets, children and organisation I am working with.
The markets are the livelihood of thousands of families, as generally the only source of income. At 4.30am every morning whole families awake to prepare for a long day selling goods at the markets. Children too are awoken from their slumber to be an extra pair of hands, as there is no other option, no where else for them to go. As markets are set up and run during the day, children either work, run riot or sleep in cardboard boxes. Little room for education or play. Older boys and girls take care of their even younger siblings. The markets are their homes.
So in comes the not for profit organisation, UBECI (United to Benefit Ecuadorian Children, International). Who "works daily to ensure a better future for Ecuadorian children and youth. Located in Quito, Ecuador, UBECI programs serve low-income children and their families in Quito and in surrounding rural areas". In the Working Children Programme (which is where im working) each day we head to a new market and set up an area where children can come and play, read and learn. Three wonderful invidiuals, Danny, Kati and Alihandro, run different activities for different age groups. As children pile in, often walking alone or with their siblings in busy streets, we spend an hour playing with legos, puzzles, reading books, or simply just running around. We sing songs and dance, the programme brings so much joy to these children who have nothing. Nothing but love. For the last part of the session we break off into age groups and spend time on a specific task. Crafts, learning english and different teamwork games.
Already in three weeks I have seen such a change in so many children, ones who were once shy and reserved are now talkative and confident. With another four weeks to go, I already know its going to be hard to leave, but for now Im going to do my very best to serve the kids and learn from this surreal experience.
With love from Quito,