Written 1996


One block at a time.
 The Block Factory of Nueva Generacion

     by Ethan Adelman
     Sunday, September 1, 1996

      El Condado is an area of sharp contrast. To the West, upscale houses line the well kept streets of what seems like a suburban paradise. Children play freely, unhindered by the conditions of poverty that effect the lives of so many Ecuadorian youths. But the reality of poverty is not far away. The hills jutting out of El Condado in the East are cluttered with small dilapidated houses, looking down on a different world. Crime, unemployment and limited resources are part of everyday life in this neighborhood, where the opportunities for teenagers to improve their lives are scarce.

      But an organization of young people called Nueva Generacion, along with the financial and technical assistance of Fundacion Esquel, is confronting the inequality of this region one block at a time. Centered between the two contrasting neighborhoods, Nueva Generacion has created a cement block factory that is offering new hope to the poor community in El Condado.

making blocks

A view from the factory.

      "Yes, we manufacture blocks, but that is not all we do," said Santiago Andrade Pimto, the ambitious twenty five year old president of Nueva Generacion, "We are creating jobs for young people, helping their families and helping in the development of the area."

      Since its creation a year and a half ago, the factory has offered employment to fifteen young men ranging from age fourteen to twenty six. Using machinery purchased with the help of Esquel, they are able to produce up to fifteen thousand blocks a day. Most of the blocks are sold at a low price to a local construction cooperative that works in El Condado.

      Although the primary goal of most factories is to make a profit, the managers of the block factory have different intentions. The purpose of the factory is to improve the quality of life
Volunteer doctors.

Modesto Rivas talking with Ethan

for its workers, and thus what they lose in revenue they make up for in the beneficial work they have done in the community. Along with creating jobs, the factory provides periodic health examinations on the workers as well as otherwise unaffordable health care to their families. Although their are only fifteen employees, Modesto Rivas, head of youth programs for Esquel, estimates that the project indirectly effects over 400 people in El Condado.

      The success of the brick factory is even more impressive considering that it is run by Nueva Generacion, an organization composed entirely of young Ecuadorians. In addition to the factory, Nueva Generacion also sponsors volunteer programs in orphanages and old age homes as well as art and creative writing programs for local youth. "Many people think that young people can't make a difference," said Pimto," but Nueva Generacion is an example of the power we have to improve things."

Volunteer doctors.

young workers at
the factory.

      In the future, Nueva Generacion wants to expand the factory and the assistance they provide to the community. Pimto said that he would like to diversify production to include other necessary materials for the construction of a house such as plastic pipes and electrical supplies.

      Work in the block factory is no paradise. It is hard labor and requires an incredible amount of energy. But at the end of the day, the young men working at the block factory are proud of what they produced and the members of Nueva Generacion can go to sleep knowing that they've made a dent in the inequality of El Condado.

      Nueva Generacion's goal of improving the lives of the workers in the block factory makes it hard to earn enough money for the constant reairs necessary to maintain the factory. Most of the profits go to salaries, raw materials and health care. If you would like to donate to Nueva Generacion's Block Factory and enable them to maintain this innovative project, please send donations to:
Fabrica de Bloques Fundacion Esquel Avenida Colon, 1346 Mezannine, Oficina 12 Casilla 17-07-9013
Quito, Ecuador

*please indicate on the check that you are donating to Nueva Generacion's Fabrica de Bloques

If you have any further questions about the project, contact Modesto Rivas at "fesquel3@fesquel.org.ec"

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Written 1996