A preschool for the children of the fisherwomen, something more than an educational project. — ULMA Begira

Ulma Lifting Solutions

A preschool for the children of the fisherwomen, something more than an educational project.

Jose Manuel Bernardo, member of the Technical Assistance Service team of ULMA Carretillas Elevadoras, and Henar Adrian are a young couple of Lasarte that recently have returned from Muisne (Ecuador) after finishing one of the projects that the “Hegolan” NGO has in the Esmeraldas province.
A preschool for the children of the fisherwomen, something more than an educational project.
Dec 27, 2013

ULMA Carretillas Elevadoras, after knowing of their experience and the projects that this young couple has carried out over 3 years, has wanted to make all the readers of Begira participants of their solidarity adventure.

After September 2010, when, after a terrible unforgettable experience of 6 months in Muisne, in the province of Esmeraldas, they decided to return to start an educational project; what they did not know that their stay there was to give them what, undoubtedly, has been the most marvellous and rewarding experience of their lives: adopt a girl, called Brittany, that from the first moment stole their hearts.

«We have always liked travelling, and having an experience like this was something basic when we wanted to be integrated into a community, as this is the best way to know their culture and their customs», Henar tells us, he works in ASPACE and is an active member of the "DOA” Association, Denok Osasunaren Alde – Everybody for Health.

For them, living this experience together was very important and it was through an NGO, the Hegolan from Zarautz, that the possibility of developing this project arose; the project consists of creating a centre where about fifty abandoned boys and girls received assistance and the dignity their situation had taken from them was returned.

The fisherwomen of Muisne.

To be able to understand all the needs existing in this Ecuadorian region, we need to understand how their family system works; it is quite peculiar, because the most repeated pattern is that of the family, generally quite large, and single-parental, the mother being the one who carries the weight of the family, this is due to the fact they area abandoned by their mates when they become pregnant, because they regard children as a problem.

Girls with hardly any primary schooling that are forced to work from when they are 12 or 13 to maintain their children.

«The houses where they live have very deficient levels of hygiene, there is no drinking water, the toilets are holes in the ground, and they are very poor families» our colleague Jose tells us.

Fishing for shells is very hard work; therefore, it is exclusively for women.

To survive, these women, every day they go to the mangrove to collect seashells, which they sell for a misery. «Shell fishing is work for “women”, because it is very hard. We have to damage our hands, dig in the mud or among the roots. It is hard work that is why men are not here. It is very hard work and exclusively for women» the Muisne fisherwomen tell us.

In addition, shell fishing means facing the risk of being bitten by the toadfish or the 'guardatinaja' mangrove reptiles. In addition, have many possibilities of becoming affected by rheumatism due to working in the mud, or of sustaining skin diseases.

Having nowhere to leave the children, the shell fishers only have one of two options, taking them to the mangrove, their workdays can be up to 12 hours, or leaving them to roam the streets.

The everyday routine in the centre.

Although having in excess of fifty children registered at the centre, not all of them attend every day, but those that do usually come at lunchtime. The main objective is t

hat the children attend every day and lunch is the best attraction; them attending the centre allows, in addition to looking after them, guaranteeing that their basic needs are covered.

We get-up at 7:30. The caretakers start arriving and then the children in dribs and drabs. At about 9:00 we give them breakfast and, then, we start the activities: singing, story-telling, plastic arts with pencils, paper and scissors, etc. Lunch is served and then they have some leisure time. In the afternoon, all the children are bathed. They are given clean clothes and sent home clean and with nappies, because many of them come without nappies as their mothers have no money to buy them. They are also deparasited because there are many lice in the area and we help the older ones with their homework, because the majority are not literate in their homes.

The majority of children are form the La Florida neighbourhood, but seeing that in the rest of the area there are also abandoned children on the streets, transport was hired to collect them, and this consists of a motorbike with a carriage.

In addition to care and security, they are given affection.

At the centre we not only feed and care for the children, if in anything Jose and Henar want to emphasize is the affection they give «the children are very receptive to affection, when they arrive they do not know what care and affect are, because they have never received them, and, as time goes by, we can see the amount of affection they show us, even to the point of calling us daddy or mummy in the case of the children that have been more time with us.

During these years in Muisne we developed the most varied of functions, Jose not only carried out maintenance and building tasks in the centre, but also he made wells for drinking water, because the water problem is very large and without it they depend on rainwater for survival; on her part Henar has concentrated in the last period, among many other things, on the pedagogical part, trying to teach the personnel that stayed at the centre about making plans, activities they can do during the week or even story-telling workshops (so that all the children that cannot read, can understand the stories), teaching them new songs or basic activities that are not applied there, like talking to them about infant nutrition.

It is very important that the project is self-sustainable.

There is still much to do but the most important for this couple is that «that which is currently underway can be financed. If it is left alone, it may fall. We are in permanent contact with the people that have remained there to carry on with our work, so that nothing is left unattended, over there, culture is very different and constant supervision is necessary so that things continue to function».

Collaboration and commitment by the authorities and entities form the Esmeraldas area is as fundamental as citizenship collaboration for the centre to have a future and continue functioning, we hope that the generosity and commitment of individuals translates into a future for these girls and boys of Muisne.