For nearly a decade, AVSI has been working in Ecuador, along with our local partner Fundación Sembrar, using the "Preescolar en la Casa (PelCa)” home-based preschool program to serve households in need in the rural communities or marginalized urban areas on the outskirts of the capital Quito.
The innovative method has brought a lot of success, improving the education and healthy development of children between 0 and 5 years by focusing on the education of the parents, especially mothers. They, along with the fathers of the children when possible, meet periodically with our ‘family educators’ who give them a curriculum to be implemented at home, along with advice and general accompaniment to face the daily challenges and opportunities in raising their children.
PelCa has borne many fruits over the years, which are carefully documented through evaluations during home visits with the family, tracking indicators on a household’s nutritional habits, way of keeping the house and engagement with neighbors and on basic steps in the child’s development such as ability to form sentences and play with others. See more information on the needs assessment and tools being used to track effectiveness in the curriculum manual (in Spanish).
Perhaps the most beautiful sign of change is in the faces of the mothers, and in the renewed care and energy for life that we see growing in many of them. Just one example comes in a letter from Nancy, a mother of three children, wrote to those who have helped her family by supporting the PelCa program:
My name is Nancy, and I write to you first with a warm and friendly greeting, and next to tell you a little about what it means for me to belong to this big family which is AVSI. For six years, my son attended PelCa, and has been supported in many ways. My whole family has benefited from both the economic and also emotional support and care for us.
Participation in the program helped to give me direction in the proper education of my children and had a positive influence on me, changing my character and, most importantly, teaching me to really value my family and my life.
I am a mother of three beautiful children and I have a loving husband. I am 34 years old, and a year ago I was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Instead of killing me, this pain has given me the strength to go on, not just fighting against the clock, but leading a dignified life and offering an example for my children. Every day when I wake up, I thank God for the opportunity to fight and be able to spend time with them.
I also have many unfinished projects, and I know that the Lord will allow me to live a few more years. The disease has not undermined my desire to continue studying: soon I will complete my certificate, and I have no intention of giving up, as I want to be not only a wife and mother but also professionally trained.
Along this difficult path, the support of my family and of AVSI has been fundamental. Through various programs in which I have participated, I learned to skills in sewing and making handicrafts that have enriched my professional development.
I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the extended AVSI family, and to be able to tell you something about my life. I hope that this project can continue in the future: many families are receiving support, and many more await the opportunity.
Families: Supporting, not substituting mothers as educators
AVSI in Ecuador
AVSI Program Area: Education, Child Development & Family Support