The activity of the Quero region is mainly agricultural, family-based and generates little revenue. Numerous households therefore find themselves in a vulnerable situation, are affected by malnutrition and unemployment, and have limited access to medical services such as preventative health care and maternity check-ups.
There are many disabled people in the Quero region due to multiple factors that can combine and exacerbate one another.
The population suffers from severe iodine deficiency, which is a known cause of mental development problems. In addition to this, there is insufficient family planning, a lack of contraception, and inadequate sex education for adolescents and young adults.
The lack of medical centres in the region prevents the application of an effective policy for taking care of its inhabitants, which increases the number of incidences.
This lack of awareness means that disability is perceived in a negative manner by the majority of the population and is a social and moral burden on the parents and children it affects. Disability is often understood to be a form of divine punishment. As a result, families develop an extremely pessimistic view of the lives of their [disabled] children, and are even discriminated against by other members of the community.
To alleviate this problem, the charity Una Luz en tu vida provides community care and has implemented a series of preventative workshops which are held in local schools and aimed at children as well as parents. Una Luz en tu vida aims to integrate disabled people more fully into their families and society. The charity aims to spearhead a policy of combating discrimination towards the disabled, and to provide an efficient service to each person using their services, regardless of ethnic, religious or social background.
The charity’s work is particularly aimed at the most marginalised in society. Despite having limited resources, the charity enjoys a good reputation in the region and numerous people turn to it for the care, psychological support and counselling services it offers.
Responds to the needs of handicapped children and adults of Quero, with relation to physical rehabilitation, special education, psychological therapy, encouragement of general education and discovery, speech therapy, medical assistance, and social aid.
Each year, the professional team and the beneficiaries of the Una Luz en tu Vida association carefully make preparations to participate in the traditional July holidays of Quero.
Concretely, the parents and beneficiaries work on their pirate costumes from the start of July and above all prepare their float for the parade with the generous help of Hernan Llerena Rosero. This float lends a particular visibility to the logos and slogans of the association in all the streets of the district.
Thus, on Friday the 12th of July, the seven professionals who compose the team of Una Luz en tu Vida, accompanied by more than thirty beneficiaries, made their way down the main streets of the Quero district and demonstrated the fruit of their labor in a colorful parade.
Translated by Gillian Jackson
This special day for the beneficiaries of the Fondation of Quero, began at 8:30. Once everyone had arrived at the Centre, they began to dress up as caricatures linked to the birth of Jesus. All then headed to the central Church of the Canton of Quero for Mass, after which they took part in the traditional procession through the streets of the town.
When they returned to the Fondation María Hortensia Albán, the President gave a welcome speech. The speech was followed by several symbolic acts: the entrance of the Christmas Princess, the worship, the crowning and then the waltz and the toasted bread ceremonies.
Many partner organisations and friends helped to make the day become a success. Many of them did this by donating Christmas hampers filled with goods, toys, clothes and sweet treats for the children and adults cared for by the association. Among these generous donors were the Reino Tulmo family, the ‘Cooperativa de Ahorro y CréditoProductiva’ and the pupils of the Bolívar secondary school.
To round off the day, the parents and families prepared a delicious regional meal and a gift to all the participants and in particular to Nathalie Girard, to thank her for her valuable contribution to the work of the Fondation.The President, the Vice President, the staff, the beneficiaries and their parents, were all terribly sad to say goodbye to Nathalie.
On 21 September 2012 at 10am, a blessing ceremony of our new rehabilitation centre was conducted, in the presence of our President, Architect María Hortensia Albán, the Vice President Mrs. María Augusta Corral, the multidisciplinary team, Padres de Familia, and, of course, our beneficiaries. Around 100 invitees attended, including Dr. Raúl Gavilanes, the local Mayor, along with people and institutions who took part in the construction project.
We began with the national hymn, followed by a welcome speech given by our psychologist Dr. Luz Marina Sáenz, and followed by some words of thanks and the presentation of certificates to each of our sponsors by our President, who spoke about our foundation's history. The presentation of some plaques donated by Padres de Familia was next, and a very important event was the presentation of a report produced by Nathalie Girard, volunteer project manager of Une Option de Plus.
The Padres de Familia offered a traditional dish (roast pig) to everybody present, as well as a selection of sandwiches provided by our directors.
It was a very interesting event, as some of the invitees who had not visited the premises before were able to offer new proposals and ideas.
The association «Una Luz en tu Vida» is located in Quero, at the foot of the Tungurahua Volcano (at an altitude of 5,023 meters). With its 21,187 inhabitants (according to the 2010 census carried out by the National Institute of Statistics and Census Reports), Quero is the capital of the regional district of the same name. Located 28 miles southeast of Ambato, Quero consists of many farming communities in the surrounding area. Families from these agricultural communities generate little income, generally only meeting the minimum needs of the families.
This precarious economic situation causes a rural exodus of youth from Quero seeking more prospective economic opportunities, which causes the aging and decline of the population demographics in this predominately agricultural township, only to the benefit of the city of Ambato, the economic centre of the province Tungurahua.
Stemming from the constant discrimination in education, health, recreation, and employment that many people with disabilities face, as well as the lack of social awareness to this phenomenon, María Elena Tenorio and María Hortensia Albán decided to set up a local structure capable of meeting the needs of people with disabilities in Quero.
Both mothers of children with disabilities, having special needs, they were often forced to travel to Quito and Ambato in order to receive appropriate care for their children. Tired of this situation, costly not only financially but also in terms of time, the two mothers came together to develop a structure in Quero to accommodate children from the areas adjoining Quero that gave access to aid rehabilitation (physical, rehabilitation of language disorders, special education, and psychology).
At first, these activities were met with difficulties as it was first necessary to achieve awareness among the population on disability issues. The majority of the population of Quero had long been sceptical about the benefits of establishing such a structure. Disability was still seen at the time as a divine punishment, even among some parents who themselves had a child with disabilities.
Gradually, by holding participatory meetings that involved people directly and indirectly affected by the difficulties faced by disabled people, the idea of developing this project gained support. This need was particularly important as there was no other structure of this type in the township. The organization was launched in 2000, even though it was not yet legally recognized. Under the direction of María Elena Tenorio, who had expertise in initiating projects, the structure for children assistance was gradually designed. The volition to provide such assistance gradually brought to light the need to set up a legal structure recognized by Ecuadorian law. With the support of the parents and people involved in the project, steps were undertaken to identify children with any disabilities in the area of Quero, to provide accommodations for them, train volunteers and to generate the first round of funding able to cover initial overhead costs.
Since 2001 the association has developed its activities for disabled children with the help of a social worker, psychiatrist and project sponsors, whom are all volunteers. Despite having already initially identified the needs for action, the structure faced an increased demand for care and the capacity of the structure quickly became limited. Given the increased notoriety of the organization, the project leaders were able to turn to local authorities for resources to develop their activities.
On November 4, 2002, the association became officially recognized by Ecuadorian law and was placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Economic and Social Integration. The association status is that of a private non-profit for social or public needs, which enables it to consolidate its operations. Thanks to its legal recognition, the association will expand its activities, aided by the municipality of Quero providing necessary funding for recruitment of professionals as well as a land grant for a period of 99 years to build a new structure, more adapted to the needs of children.
Since a law enacted in 2003, 10% of local council budgets is allocated to groups or associations working with people with disabilities. This caused Una Luz en tu Vida to apply for funding from the municipality of Quero. It was granted and has now become an annual source of funding, enabling it to develop its long term activities. Over time, the association Una Luz en tu Vida has become a structure offering services able to meet the needs of children, with an administrative structure to sustain its activity.
The association has opened a new centre which was given to them by the municipality. This new location, which perfectly responds to the needs of the children, will enable the association to ensure greater visibility and improve their practice in effectively responding to the needs of community.
Juan Benigno Vela between Pedro Fermín Cevallos and Bernardo Darquea, Quero, Tungurahua, EcuadorQuero
María Hortensia Albán, President : +593 (0)3 24 61 341
Nataly Llerena, Coordinator : +593 (0)8 71 21 578
The majority of persons involved in the development of this project, are still present today. Since 2000, the association's activities have become more specialized in order to adequately respond to the needs of children, but the goal of providing children with the best possible care in preparation for their integration into society has remained the same. The team now consists of professionals who are in contact with the children daily. Despite the sometimes difficult working conditions and numerous constraints faced by Una Luz en tu Vida, the staff proceed to provide quality care to the local people and remain very involved in all activities of the association.
Improve the integration of children and adolescents with disabilities in the canton of Quero, through daily guidance of the children and raising awareness of the general population.
OS1. Strengthen the skills, abilities and potential of children and adolescents in the canton of Quero in order to develop their independence.
OS2. Educate the general population about the equality and rights of persons with disabilities.
1. Support Centre for Children with Disabilities. Isolation and lack of care was common for people with disabilities living around Quero. Today thanks to Una Luz en tu Vida it is possible for disabled children to receive a number of services within the structure. This rehabilitation centre and its developed activities are organized around the needs of the child and his/her disability. Una Luz en tu Vida, through its care centre and therapy/counselling seeks to facilitate the integration of children with disabilities by reducing social disadvantage. The approach of the association is based on the assumption that children with disabilities can benefit from development models fostering social integration just like non-disabled children. The objective of this project is to ensure that children with disabilities take part of his/her change and be integrated into the community.
2. Raising Awareness and Supporting Local Communities. If it is possible to reduce impairments and disabilities of handicapped persons through healthcare provisions within the institution, the real difficulties occur when trying to change the social disadvantages facing people with disabilities stemming from non-disabled people ignorant to their problem. Therefore, Una Luz en tu Vida is committed not only to its healthcare services, but also to its program that raises community awareness of disability in order to ensure that these children are no longer marginalized, and are accepted by the community just like the rest of the population. Studies are conducted to discover what the community understands about disability, and to establish proper education and communication in regards to the various types of disabilities.
3. School Support Program. Benefits for students with learning difficulties in surrounding schools include, in addition to class time, personalized tutoring provided within the structure. This support is intended to provide assistance to handicapped children so they can follow a normal school schedule throughout the school year, thus avoiding accumulation of gaps that could penalize the pursuit of their studies and their integration into the labour market. Due to a time constraints in the morning, Una Luz en tu Vida negotiated with the faculty and staff at the schools of the area so that children are allowed to come to the association during their morning free period. In addition to tutoring and teaching, the structure is also developing a psychological counselling program to provide more help to these children, and address the academic difficulties that may be worsened by personal, family difficulties, etc.
1. Activities related to OS1. Strengthen the skills, abilities and potential of children and adolescents in the district of Quero in order to develop their independence
- Support and therapeutic care of children with disabilities
- Monitoring and support of disabled children and adolescents to facilitate their social and professional integration
- Academic support for children with learning difficulties
- Accompanying academic aid for handicapped children to enable them to follow a traditional curriculum
2. Activities related to OS2. Educate the general population about the equality and rights of persons with disabilities
- Reflection and informal education conducted with parents to improve the daily relationship and experience with their child with disabilities.
- Providing outreach to families in order to raise awareness of disability
- Training on proper care for children with disabilities, community awareness, rights of persons with disabilities, etc.
- Training of community leaders to defend the rights of persons with disabilities.
35 children benefit from the association’s weekly services. The visits provide children with academic aid and provision of some medical and mental aid (psychological, physical and speech therapy). The weekly service provided is experiencing more and more walk in demands from those seeking treatment at a low cost. The association Una Luz en tu Vida supports children with Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, hearing and/or visual impairments, as well as those subjected to certain types of trauma (fractures etc.). The beneficiaries are of all ages, however the majority are primarily children and adolescents who usually come from nearby schools or township.