Students to support working girls and families in Quito, Ecuador


Climb for Leaders is delighted to announce its support of CENIT, the Center for the Working Girl, in the south of Quito, Ecuador. The Sisters of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic order, founded CENIT in 1991 in response to their observations that the prevalence of child laborers in Quito had increased greatly due to urban migration, debt crisis, and an increase in poverty. To learn more about CENIT, please see this short video on CENIT.

They sought to give these children the necessary skills, talents, and education so that they could find work away from the streets and hopefully break the cycle of child laborers. Over nineteen years later, CENIT continues to be run by a group of nuns from the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. These nuns work in conjunction with about 35 Ecuadorian paid professionals (including teachers, administrators, psychologists and social workers), and around fifty foreign and national volunteers in order to locate the child workers, befriend them and their families, and eventually integrate them into an educational program. CENIT helps working girls (and boys) and their families overcome grinding poverty and improve their quality of lives through education and job training, nutrition programs, health and social services, psychological help, and recreation.On a recent visit to the school, Karim H. Ismail, co-founder of the Climb for Leaders, interviewed Sister Blanca Rosa Chuquimarca. She said, “The majority of the children have suffered from various types of abuse, be it psychological, physical or sexual. As a result they often have deep-rooted problems. We at CENIT believe that in order to achieve a real change in the life of any individual, it is necessary to work with the child, his or her family, and the community. As a result, despite the fact that CENIT’s title is “The Center for the Working Girl”, CENIT helps children and family members regardless of gender, although it continues to place special emphasis on helping female children due to the fact that they tend to have a disproportionately large workload. CENIT is able to be effective due to the variety of programs we have, all of which confront the problems of working children, each with a different emphasis.”

Sister Rosa continues: “We are delighted to have the support of the Climb for Leaders, who we are confident can help us meet some of our key program objectives. Our community health clinic provides general health services to about 2,000 patients every year. The schools give educational and life skills to around 250 children per year, many of whom would not otherwise have the opportunity. The street outreach program helps over 190 children and parents by bringing educational recourses to the streets, and our drop-in-tutoring center (CEA) provides tutoring to about 70 children, helping them integrate into the school system. The time that Climb for Leaders students can volunteer here, and any funds they can contribute, will help sustain and strengthen our existing programs, some of which we sometimes have to trim back due to a shortage of funds, and growing costs.”

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