QUITO - A series of child-friendly spaces are being set up in the wake of the Ecuador earthquake to support the needs of children, says Plan International Ecuador. The safe spaces – many of which just opened their doors – will provide education, support, and protection for young girls, boys, and adolescents.
According to Rossana Viteri, Country Director of Plan International Ecuador: “In emergency situations, the needs of girls and boys are often forgotten, leaving them vulnerable to abuse. That’s why we are working with authorities to set up these child-friendly spaces to provide protection for those in need.”
So far, the earthquake has claimed the lives of more than 650 people and injured more than 16,600. According to the United Nations, more than 280 schools have been damaged by the earthquake, leaving up to 120,000 children temporarily without education.
Child-friendly spaces, locally known as ‘Intelligence Factories,’ are safe areas where children can learn, play, and be children in the midst of often chaotic surroundings. In Ecuador, children will also be able to take part in playful and sports-oriented activities, aimed at generating resilience and overcoming the trauma experienced during the earthquake.
Plan International will be setting up 60 child-friendly spaces over the coming months across different rural communities in Manabí, benefitting 30,000 boys and girls. These safe spaces will also provide support and education for parents where they can learn about self-esteem, resilience, nutrition, and child protection.
Protecting the needs of children and ensuring they can return to normalcy as quickly as possible is a priority for Plan International Ecuador. According to Viteri: “There is an urgency to guarantee that these boys and girls can go back to school, and the ‘Intelligence Factories’ will contribute to this.”
More than 600 volunteers, many of whom are former sponsored children of Plan International Ecuador, have joined hands to ensure these spaces are created as quickly as possible, under the supervision of Plan International. “It is very important to have the support of these young people,” says Viteri. “It proves our work is strengthening communities. Many villagers have even told us that, thanks to the disaster preparedness training provided by Plan International, they knew what to do to survive this tragedy.”
In addition to these child-friendly spaces, Plan International Ecuador has distributed more than 3,500 hygiene and food kits to the most affected populations in Manabí. Plan International is appealing for funds for its humanitarian response to support the earthquake-affected communities in Ecuador. The funds raised will be used for food assistance, child protection and education, among other measures.
About Plan International Ecuador
Plan International started working in the urban marginal areas of the City of Guayaquil in 1962. Today, more than 800,000 people participate in our projects across Azuay, Bolívar, Cañar, Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, Guayas, Loja, Los Ríos, Manabí, Pichincha, and Santa Elena provinces. We work in more than 1,000 communities to ensure that girls, boys, and adolescents in the country can fulfil their potential by fully exercising their rights. Our core areas of activity include:
- Promoting safe, healthy, affectionate, and stimulating environments for children;
- Improving food security;
- Supporting a “good treatment culture” among children, teenagers, and adults; and
- Fostering spaces for children and teenagers to express themselves and participate in decisions affecting their lives.
About Plan International USA
Plan International USA, part of the Plan International Federation, is a child-centered development organization that believes in the promise and potential of children. For more than 75 years in over 50 developing countries, Plan has been breaking the cycle of child poverty. Everything Plan does – from strengthening health care systems to improving the quality of education, to advocating for increased protection and beyond – is built with, and owned by, the community. The result is a development approach designed to improve the lives of the youngest members of the community for the longest period of time. For more information, please visit PlanUSA.org.