Written 1996


building Dreams
El Centro de Capacitacion Productiva
Artesenal Con Modalidad Preventiva
(CCPAMP) (Tierra de Hombres)

     by Sam Laybourne
     Tuesday August 17, 1996

children from the programOne of the first things you notice walking the streets of Quito is that there are many children selling candy, polishing shoes, and begging for money. It's not uncommon to encounter six year olds roaming the dangerous streets at night, earning money for their poor and often single parent families. There are an estimated 600,000 children working in the urban centers of Ecuador and most of these street peddlers are without the care and security of conventional households, living in single rooms with as many as two or three other families.
      These staggering statistics have not halted the efforts of many communities confronting the hardships of the younger generation, however. Foundations like Esquel have been supporting local groups in their attempts to provide street children with the educational resources to change their lives. Ethan and I had the opportunity to accompany Modesto Rivas, head of youth programs at Esquel, on his visit to a youth center in Toctiuco, a barrio in the outskirts of Quito.
Alfonso hugs one of the children
Alfonso Gondarillas, the director of El Refugio de Suenos (the refuge of dreams), describes his youth center's approach to child care as "psychological rehabilitation" of children who have been forced by poverty to work on the streets. The center provides roughly 160 children with nutritional meals, recreational facilities, a temporary occupancy dormitory, education in the basics of math, reading, and writing, and most importantly, the love and affection essential for child development. In a nurturing and encouraging manner, the staff treats the children with a rare respect that inspires them to listen and learn on their own volition.
      One of the problems the refuge faces is that many children return to the streets when they reach a certain age. Over the last year, with the financial support of Esquel and La Fundacion Tierra de Hombres, El Refugio de Suenos and project director Liliana Bury have developed a new program for the vocational education of street children between the ages of 13 and 18. Adjacent to the youth center, Centro de Capatacion Productiva Artesenal, will house workshops in both carpentry and home construction (electric, plumbing, masonry, etc.). These workshops are designed to teach teenagers necessary skills that will enable them to secure jobs and incorporate themselves back into society. The new center will not only instruct its 94 students in modern techniques, but the workshops will actually sell their products and services in the commercial market.
      Liliana Bury explained to Ethan and I that the workshop will function professionally—the teens must show up everyday from two to seven and follow a strict regimen of apprenticeship and hands-on production. Not only will the students learn valuable trades, but as Bury notes, "They will learn how to stay disciplined in the real world." CCPAMP has realized that the best way to keep kids off the street is by empowering them with the tools to reconstruct their own lives and build their own dreams.
children from the program

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Written 1996