We caught up with Inés Elizabeth Cajilema Veintimilla, a Grade 9 student at the Llullin Education Center in Totoras, Ecuador to find out what she thinks about the changes taking place in her community.
Looking around the classrooms the community built with help from Free the Children, Inés shares her impressions. “The classrooms are so cheerful, warm and welcoming,” she says. “The little children study in the new classrooms, which I think is a good idea because it really helps them get excited about studying.”
“We are lucky in our community that we can study all the way through high school,” says Inés. “In some communities, the kids can only finish Grade 6 or Grade 9, but we can finish Grade 12 right here in Totoras.” Inés plans to pursue her studies all the way through high school, aiming at attending university in Riobamba and specializing as a doctor so she can help her community.
And it’s not only Inés who feels empowered to improve her community. She notices the can-do spirit is infectious. “I think more people are coming out to work on community projects,” she says. “The classroom project has helped more people feel happy to work together.”
Inés has always been dedicated to bettering her community. When Free The Children began construction on new school rooms, Inés helped alongside many community members. She carried adobe bricks from the storage facility to the construction site. She’s excited to see more developments from the organization as well. “When Free the Children starts a Girls’ Club in Totoras I hope to participate!” she says.
Inés believes in the potential of young people to change the world. She loves meeting student volunteers visiting Torotas on ME to WE Trips so she can teach them Spanish, practice her English, and play group games of soccer.
“I hope that in the future the children learn at an early age to be more confident, and to speak their minds.” When given the resources to make sustainable change, youth like Inés truly have the power to make a lasting difference in their communities.
To learn more about Free The Children’s work in Ecuador, please visit www.freethechildren.com/ecuador.