Machala, the economic driving force of southern Ecuador, gained its international reputation thanks to its banana production, which creates high profits. Capital of the province of El Oro, the city has about 217,000 inhabitants.
The two other main sources of income for the province of El Oro are shrimps and cocoa. Nevertheless, most of the population of Machala is far from being well-off.
In 1981, the 'International Year of Disabled People' the local government of El Oro helped to open a school for children with disabilities. This school provides services to children aged 5 to 16. A year after the new school was established, the "Special Education Association of the Province of El Oro" (ADESPORO) was formed.
In 1991, the members of this NGO expressed the need to become independent from the government and also focus on adding professional services aimed at disabled adults. The NGO changed its status and became the "Foundation for the Assistance to Disabled People", although it kept the same name (ADESPORO).
In 1995, the organization added a vocational training program that included self-development and occupational therapy. The first sessions were focused on sewing and carpentry. These two activities have helped to support the program thanks to the profits made from the sale of manufactured goods. There is no registration fee, but parents of registered children are encouraged to participate in the organization of charity events.
Although their vocational training is in good hands, their social inclusion relies on the good will of company managers in the private sector. When it comes to professional inclusion, values such as discipline, team work, respect, dedication and eagerness are more valuable than professional skills themselves.
Since the training program has been initiated, 25 out of 100 individuals have been able to find a job.
Organises professional training workshops, which include personal development and occupational therapy, for young people with a disability, with a view to assist their integration into society.
The 18 contestants of “Reina Mundial del Banano 2013” were present at the “Festival Mini Reinas”, organised by ADESPORO. The aim of the event was to raise funds for the association’s projects.
It was in an atmosphere of high emotion that the young girls appeared on the stage of the Municipal Cultural Centre Luz Victoria Ribera de Mora.
This festival, in its 22nd year, provided the contestants of the “Reina Mundial del Banano” with some light entertainment. However, it was an event with an important goal: that of raising funds for ADESPORO so that it can provide its services to young people with disabilities as efficiently as possible. ADESPORO offers sewing and woodworking workshops to its clients, to promote their integration into the working world.
The young girls taking part in the contest wore costumes which had been carefully created especially for the event by the top designers of the province of Oro.
This is the translation of an article about the “Festival Mini Reinas” organised by ADESPORO, which appeared in the Equadorian daily paper "Opinion".
Translated by Alison Kapor
The parade of mini-queens dressed in traditional Ecuadorian attire took place on September 16 behind the Luz Victoria de Mora Civic Center of Art and Culture. The parade is held during the International Banana Festival which has taken place in Machala since 1985. The parade ended with the introduction of persons with disabilities who are participating in the sewing and carpentry workshops offered by ADESPORO. The entire group danced to a traditional Ecuadorian song and was accompanied by applause and encouragement from the audience.
Profits made from ticket sales during the event go to the organization.
Since 1977, ADESPORO has fought for the professional integration of disabled persons through sewing and carpentry education. However, their educational activities are often limited by a lack of resources, due to the costs the organization must absorb.
By organizing these types of events, ADESPORO is able to continue offering educational workshops for persons with disabilities in Machala.
Around 500 people assisted with this grand event, which took place in the Municipal Arts and Culture Centre "Luz Victoria Ribera de Mora".
Throughout the night the public enjoyed various dance, singing and theatre performances; especially enjoying the participation of celebrities from the town of Machala such as professional TV actor Giovanni Dávila.
The funds raised by this event will contribute to the development of ADESPORO’s activities. Through workshops in sewing and carpentry this foundation helps to prepare and integrate young adults with disabilities into the job market.
As the economic capital of southern Ecuador, Machala is known internationally as “The Banana Capital of the World” banana production ensures a steady revenue for the city, but the profits do not trickle down to the whole population.
The producers of this “green gold” are valued partners in the foundation because several former foundation students were able to find work in one of the exportation companies.
The foundation is located in an outlying area of Machala.
In 1981, which was declared International Year of Disabled Persons, the provincial government of El Oro supported the creation of a specialized school for disabled children from ages 5 to 16 years old : the “Association for Special Education in the Province of El Oro” ADESPORO, was established one year later.
Since it’s creation, the school has been under the guardianship of FASINARM, the “ Fundación de Asistencia al Retardo Mental ,” the first Ecuadorian organization to address special education needs, which was created in 1962 in Guayaquil.
In 1991, six years after the school’s founding, the association’s members wished to become autonomous from the FASINARM.
In addition to the special education center, they created a project that specifically addressed the professional integration of the severely disabled.
In 1995, the association changed its status to become a “foundation for outreach to the disabled,” but kept the same acronym for recognition.
It has put in place youth professional development workshops with scholastic curriculums at the special education center : a sewing workshop and a woodworking workshop.
In 2008, the sewing workshop was able to reopen its doors after having closed a few years prior, due to a budget that was insufficient to cover the payment of salaries and the purchase of materials essential to the workshop.
Av de las Palmeras/ Décima NorteMachala
Nancy Romero, coordinatrice : +593 (0)9 94 46 30 37
Fondation : + 593 (0) 72 93 30 31
The association’s office is a group of twenty-two friends between the ages of 60 and 80.
Most of the women participated in founding the organization and each contributes to the association by bringing to the table her skills and/or personal resources. Social workers, therapists, salespeople, entrepreneurs and housewives, these women enrich the organization through their diversity.
Nancy Romero is the principal spokesperson for the foundation’s partners as she is the association’s coordinator. Sixty-two years old, and a social worker by profession, she coordinates the organization’s missions on a volunteer basis and serves as a social worker in critical situations. Nancy is dynamic and efficient, and wishes to see changes at the heart of the association that will help it to better institute its projects.
To promote the social inclusion of people aged 16 and over with a serious disability through professional training and integration.
-SO1: Boost the individual skills of the youths, in order to help them achieve their potential.
-SO2: Support young adults with a disability as well as their families as they move towards financial and technical independence.
-SO3: Make society aware of issues surrounding the integration of people with disabilities.
Activities related to Aim No. 1: Boost the individual skills of the youths, in order to help them achieve their potential
Learning centre: a sewing workshop and a carpentry workshop.
The sewing apprentices principally design clothing and household textiles (e.g. tablecloths, curtains and napkins) while those in the carpentry workshop make small furnishing objects. They work to order, particularly for schools, but also carry out a certain amount of work on spontaneous projects, which are sold at two annual charity sales.
Activities related to aim No. 2: young adults with a disability as well as their families as they move towards financial and technical independence.
-Support during the apprenticeship: whilst the young adults do not receive any formal training they are trained in the workshops by teachers who guide them through the manufacturing process. Individuals or groups may be disciplined in the case of non-respect of procedures or of their initial commitments.
-Support following the apprenticeship: the teachers meet the young people in their socio-professional environment.
-Sale of objects from the workshops.
Activities related to aim No. 3: Make society aware of issues surrounding the integration of people with disabilities.
-Organisation of events designed to bring people together: three annual meetings:
An event for families is organised at the beginning of each academic year. At said event, the aims and operation of the organisation are presented to families new who are new to the service, any operational changes are explained to families who have used the service before, administrative documents are completed and families are given the opportunity to interact with the teachers in charge of the workshops.
-The Festival of the Latin Queens takes place each September. The event, subsidised by the Provincial Council, brings the various “Miss’” of all the Latin American countries to the organisation. This event forms part of the “Feria Mundial de la Banana” and aims to attract several hundred spectators. It allows the association to communicate its aims to a wide audience, and to hold its largest charity sale of the year.
-The Christmas programme, organised at the association by the children at the educational centre, provides another opportunity for the apprentices to sell their work.
In order to be admitted into the workshops, candidates must fulfill several criteria :
-Be at least 16 years old (there is no age limit ; the oldest is currently 40 years old)
-Have a mental, physical, or hearing disability
-Be without severe behavioral problems
-Exhibit a minimum level of functional autonomy
There are currently 20 beneficiaries with a disability undertaking an apprenticeship in ADESPORO, aged between 22 and 38: 12 in the sewing workshop, and 8 in carpentry. The number of attendees varies from day to day depending on the availability of transport and medical needs.
According to the coordinator, 90% of the apprentices are from an economically disadvantaged background. All of them have a serious intellectual disability, one of them has Down’s syndrome; none of them have a physical disability.