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Centro Psicopedagógico de Catamayo

Their Pluses


Located in the south of the country, the canton of Catamayo is, for the most part, a rural area. Despite the fact that jobs in this area are scarce, large number of refugees flock the area due to its proximity to the Peruvian border. Agriculture is the canton's main economic activity and consists mostly of the production of sugar canes and bananas.

The population faces many challenges: limited access to quality education, lack of health infrastructure, absence of sex education and monitoring of pregnancy, and also a lack of training on the safe use of pesticide and chemical products.

As in the rest of the country, disabled children are often considered a source of shame. They are usually hidden and discriminated against since they are considered an economic and social burden. Therefore, the majority of these children is not in school and has a limited social life.

In order to counteract these prejudices and to help families who have difficulties understanding what this disability implies, an association of parents of disabled children was created in 1997. With the help of specialized professionals, a psychological counseling center was established to receive and provide quality care to their children.

The Centro Psicopedagógico de Catamayo (Psychological Counseling Center of Catamayo) can host 25 children and offers educational, hands-on and recreational activities, as well as a full-course meal. The focus of the center is to restore the child's confidence in appreciating its abilities.

The center aims at being the first supportive step until the child or young adult is able to attend a school or a vocational training center. In the future, the center hopes to offer improved professional training for young adults who are not able to integrate into society.

The association maintains the idea that each child must learn in order to progress and that the best way to help him/her is through education. Schooling prevents children from being excluded early on and thus compounding their abilities, as well as prepares them to lead a social and professional life once they have reached adulthood.

Although the social stigmas are still a major issue, even among the parents of the disabled children, the association continues to fight on. The aim is to change the way people look at and talk about disability so that the children do not see themselves as limited because of their disability, but instead enforce their desire and willingness to live among others.

Centro Psicopedagógico de Catamayo

Freely welcomes children with different kind of disabilities for educational and play activities

Andes / Loja
Health Education
Kids Adolescents


The civic and cultural parade of Catamayo

May, Thursday 22 2014

The department of Catamayo organized for the second time this civic and cultural parade for promoting the cultural identity and the riches of the region. This civic and cultural parade is indeed, a perfect venue to promote the cultural, ethnic, touristic and gastronomic values etc… and to encourage local and national tourism. Actually, over 25 organizations went onto the streets of the town, including educational centers, social organizations and transport cooperatives. Sucre Street served as the central gathering place to introduce all these organizations to the local and national political representatives.

In the middle of a crowd of people, instruments, and colors the psychosocial center of Catamayo managed to find its place. Beneficiaries, who were wearing their formal uniforms, were extremely proud to represent the colors of their school, together with the new team of teachers.  After the parade under the sun in the quaint Catamayo, beneficiaries were invited to share a friendly meal. They finally returned home eager to participate to next year’s event!

Translated by: Marie Catherine Arnal

Catamayo’s Psychology-Education Center Celebrates International Day of People with Disability

December, Tuesday 3 2013

This worldwide observance was the ideal occasion for Catamayo’s Psychology-Education Center to reaffirm several of its core values, too often forgotten: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.  With this vision in mind, the Center gathered its troops to parade proudly across town. After a few rounds in the streets of peaceful Catamayo, all the members and beneficiaries of the Catamayo Psychology-Education Center headed for the main square to present their work and enjoy themselves. After the speeches and the national anthem came the games, to the amusement of all: musical chairs, ball games, singing, and dancing.

Let’s follow Catamayo’s example and break down the barriers that prevent us from having an inclusive society and training accessible to all!

Translated by Gillian Jackson

Creative Workshop for parents/children in Catamayo

July, Wenesday 24 2013

July, which is the last month of the school year in the Ecuadorian Sierra, has been a month of meetings within the association of Catamayo.

Indeed, the parents of the association's beneficiaries were invited to the school in order to participate in activities with their children, with the goal of reinforcing trust and safety within the family and to strengthen the links between the parents and their children. The program consisted of creative workshops on how to make artisanal objects, such as bracelets, necklaces and wool scarves…

It was a success, as the parents came and the activities took place with a great atmosphere. Everyone was able to express their creativity, and the results were rather conclusive!

With the holidays approaching, these meetings allow the year to end in a convivial way. The association will meet again in September, when the activities will commence once again !

Translated by Said Saleh

Valentine’s Day 2013 in Catamayo

February, Thursday 14 2013

Love and friendship are important values for the beneficiaries of the psycho-educational center of Catamayo. That is why, for several weeks, they willingly devoted the workshops that they attend daily to Valentine’s Day.

Boxes and heart-shaped cushions were designed in the craft rooms, to then be sold in various markets in the town of Catamayo. These small resources have enabled them to replenish stocks of material, and also to develop other activities for the children and the youth in the center.

Besides the economic aspect, this therapy has mainly allowed for the development of student autonomy and for the breakdown of social and family barriers. By going out to meet with the locals and the city residents they show the people that, despite their disabilities, they are able to create and organize activities.

Thanks to this type of action, which the association tries to maintain regularly, the center’s staff and beneficiaries hope to gradually change the way that people with disabilities are viewed by the Ecuadorian society.

A Busy December in Catamayo!

December, Monday 24 2012

After a month of work, students and teachers were proud to sell objects made specially-made Christmas objects for the festivities in the streets of Catamayo on the 18th, 19th and 20th December, 2012. Workshops during December were dedicated to making all sorts of decorations such as Christmas wreaths, pennants decorated with bells and pine trees, Santa Claus’ boots, various candles and bells… everything needed to give the house a bit of festive cheer.

On the 23rd December, efforts were focused on organizing a “Christmas Special” raffle. The prizes included baskets, kitchen utensils, and objects made by the children. The townspeople’s enthusiasm exceeded the association’s expectations: the 500 tickets sold like hotcakes! Christmas spirit could be felt throughout the city.

Finally, on December 24, the children from the school and their parents enjoyed a program put together by their teachers. The 60 people present participated in different activities such as sack races, relay races, or dance competitions.

After the activities, everyone took their places around the table to share Christmas dinner. At the end of the afternoon, after receiving the traditional bag of cakes and candies, the families returned to their homes to prepare for parties with their own family members.

A week full of activities and emotions! The whole team is now ready to start the year 2013, and always with a lot of energy!

Rally for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, April 4, 2012

May, Wenesday 16 2012

Children and parents gathered during the morning of April 4, 2012 at the bus stop in Catamayo. All smartly dressed, they would be representatives of the association in Loja. The invitation was issued from the Vice Presidency of the Republic and CONADIS[1]. The procession through the streets of the city lasted two hours before arriving at the San Sebastian Square, also called Liberation Square.


Several speeches made by the Secretary of the Presidency presented the current initiatives concerning the rights of persons with disabilities, which aim to improve their integration into society. A musical interlude by Fausto Miño was played between these speeches. The crowd followed the rhythm of the movements of the singer, considered to be the most famous from Ecuador. Then, several engineers in charge of the practical implementation of these measures took the floor to report on the progress of the project and present the current needs which still require help from all the institutions in charge of persons with disabilities. They also emphasised that the relatives of people with disabilities are more likely to know which actions would be most beneficial and how best to conduct them.


The meeting ended with refreshments provided by the members of the association to the children and their parents.

[1] CONADIS : Consejo Nacional de Discapacidad or National Council for Disabilities

Manuela Espejo Program explained :

How you can help


Asociación de Padres de Familia de Personas con Discapacidad del canton de Catamayo, acuerdo ministerial no. 00186 MIES

Catamayo is located in the province of Loja in the heart of the Andes Cordillera. Near the town of Loja, Vilcabamba and the Podocarpus National Park, Catamayo offers numerous possibilities for hiking in the surrounding mountains.

A study carried out in the canton of Catamayo in 1996 revealed a very significant number of handicapped children cloistered at home, hidden by their families. Faced with this situation and the absence of suitable local institutions, the association of parents of handicapped children of Catamayo was created in 1997 with the aim of proposing a support system for these individuals. The initiative was especially driven by the first president, who himself has two physically handicapped daughters.
The construction of the Center was also supported by the local institutions: the land was contributed by the Town Hall of Catamayo and the construction material financed by the Provincial Council.
Today, this issue of the living conditions of handicapped individuals persists but is better understood; there now exists a support system in the immediate proximity in the canton thanks to the existence of the Psycho-Pedagogical Center of Catamayo.

Calle Alonso de Mercadillo y Circumbalación, Catamayo


Centro Psicopedagogico de Catamayo: (00 593) (07) 267 64 30

-The director, Dr. Hernan Castillo, has been a psycho-rehabilitation instructor at the Psycho-Pedagogical Center of Catamayo since 2005, where he has been able to leverage his knowledge developed through multiple experiences in other similar activity centers.

-Alexandra Cañar Torres has been the pedagogical adjunct at the Center since March 2008. She holds a degree in psycho-rehabilitation and reeducation for the handicapped and wrote her thesis on the impact of dance therapy on motility and balance. She wished to become involved with the Center since she herself has handicapped individuals within her family.

To offer to the handicapped of the canton of Catamayo a place where they can benefit from care adapted to their disabilities.

To offer a service of attention and rehabilitation to the handicapped children and adolescents of the canton of Catamayo with opportunities for insertion in the traditional educational system and training with a view to professional integration.

- Psycho-pedagogical work: the teachers work on the development of dexterity and skills allowing the child, according to his/her cognitive, motor, and emotional abilities, to follow an ordinary course with the modifications and supports necessary to his/her successful development and academic, familial, and social adaptation.
- Academic insertion: academic reorientation of the child when possible so that he/she may follow a normal course in a regular school.
- Homeschooling for children in the framework of a project with the INFA (National Institute for Childhood and the Family)
- Outings during official invitations to the school’s children, or in the framework of leisure activities.
- Minor events organized regularly: Mother’s Day, Children’s Day, International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Christmas, etc.

The children and young people come from Catamayo and surrounding communities and are all from poor or even extremely poor families and from social environments in which instances of abuse are frequent. Before visiting the Center, most of them were cloistered at home, without the opportunity to meet other handicapped children.

In 2012, 53 children are participating in the Center’s activities. Eighteen of them regularly attend school, and the others receive homeschooling in the framework of the “Community-Based Rehabilitation” program conducted by the INFA (National Institute for Childhood and the Family) in partnership with the Center.