There is a strong sense of unity and solidarity in Free The Children’s communities in Ecuador. They are strongest in the face of difficult tasks—as this is when the community calls a minga.
A minga is a gathering where everyone present has come together for one purpose—to complete a task that generally benefits the whole community. And each time it occurs, it is inspiring to see men, women and children of all ages working together, as long and hard as necessary to get the job done.
The community of Shuid continually shows such determination and resilience. Community members have been participating in six-person mingas every day to break ground on two new classrooms that were recently approved by the government, following a visit to Shuid by education representatives. As per the agreement, Free The Children will build two classrooms, while the government will build the other two.
In addition to classrooms, new bathrooms are also being built in the community. Shuid is particularly glad about these. For the past while, the community has relied on two dysfunctional latrines, without any recourse. These new bathrooms are a big step towards the higher standards of cleanliness and sanitation that Shuid is aspiring to.
Dysfunctional latrines also mean that girls are less likely to attend school. New bathrooms will provide a cleaner, safer and more private space which will make girls feel more comfortable. Once these are complete, Free The Children is hoping for an increase in the number of female students on a daily basis.
So far, the community has excavated land for classroom construction, made 500 adobe bricks as well as prepared iron re-bars for the foundational columns.
Adobe bricks—hardy, weather-resistant and environmentally friendly—have been used in these communities for generations. Free The Children’s schools are built using these, in part to ensure durability and in part to keep some of these healthy cultural traditions alive.
While construction for this new section of the school continues, teachers and students are making a concerted effort to care for the existing structure as well. Students and teachers have been working hard to ensure optimal cleanliness of their school grounds, as part of the Gotitas Limpias or Clean Droplets program, mentioned in the last update. There has been a huge improvement in classroom organization, cleanliness and general care of classroom materials. In addition, the school population is shifting its focus on preventing litter on school premises and keeping the grounds clean.
By the end of this year, as the school community grows—with an addition of four new classrooms anticipated—the hope is that these new efforts at organization and cleanliness will continue to evolve.
To learn more about Free The Children’s work in Ecuador, visit www.freethechildren.com/ecuador