Written 1996


Attacking Poverty in every Direction
Programa de Estimulacion Infantil in Guasmo
(Universidad Catolica Santiago de Guayaquil)

     by Ethan Adelman
     Tuesday July 9, 1996

     Many of the communities that Fundacion Esquel works in have multiple problems. Thus, many of the programs assisted by Esquel contain multiple solutions. One clear example is the "Programa de Estimulacion Infantil" in Guasmo, Guayaquil. Guasmo is a low income neighborhood doctor Alfredo Tinajeroon the outskirts of Guayaquil. Poverty, malnutrition, inadequate health care, insufficient educational opportunities and unemployment are all challenges facing a large number of Guasmo’s inhabitants. When Doctor Alfredo Tinajero created the Programa de Estimulacion Infantil, he wanted the project to address all of these problems.
     The goal of the Programa de Estimulacion de Infanitil is not only to help the intellectual, psychological and physical development of children, but also to assist the economy, self- sufficiency and self-esteem of mothers. Esquel, along with the help of the Universidad Catolica Santiago de Guayaquil, has made Doctor Tinajero’s visionary project possible. Based in the Hospital de la Universidad Catolica in Guasmo, the program holds child stimulation sessions five days a week. When mothers bring in their sick children to the hospital they are invited to participate in the program. They learn to read and play with their children in ways that leave room for the child's own discovery and experimentation.

According to Valentina Riviera, a guide for the stimulation sessions, children who have participated in the program have an advanced comprehension of colors, shapes and numbers in addition to better social skills. "The stimulation sessions are for the mothers as much as they are for the children," said Doctor Tinajero, Each mother comes here only once or twice a week to learn how to stimulate their child, but afterwards they can use what they learned at home.
    While the program gives mothers a chance to help their children, it also gives mothers a chance to help themselves. The toys and books used in the stimulation sessions are actually made by the mothers. The program has created a workshop in which mothers are paid to design and produce toys for infants and young children. All of the toys allow children to make choices and decisions.

    In addition to using the toys in the stimulation sessions, the workshop also sells its products to other schools and child care programs. Doctor Tinajero, child psychology students from the Universidad Catolica and mothers from the program are currently working on a stimulation box that includes various toys, puppets, songbooks and reading materials. Doctor Tinajero plans to produce and sell 1000 to 10,000 of these boxes and thus provide employment for many of the mothers in Guasmo.
    As an expert in the field of child psychology, Doctor Tinajero said that he was happy to work with Esquel because they were not only interested in investigation, but also intervention. The Programa de Estimulacion Infantil is a program that is acting on scientific data in ways that benefit the entire community of Guasmo. Attacking poverty and unemployment, and giving mothers a chance to be self- sufficient is an effective way to insure the proper development of the children.

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Written 1996