This project has been running since 1994 with the aim to address the situation of the poor children who work or who accompany their parents who work in the El Arenal market neighbourhood of Cuenca. Many of these children come from indigenous communities in the province of Azuay, from areas where the peasants have left their land to move to Cuenca looking for a better life for their family. However, you will find many children in the market working as shoe shines, selling newspapers, sweets or vegetables or carrying heavy loads.
The foundation offers a preventative socio-educational service to at-risk children and adolescents whose families work in the market. The project aims to keep children in school, offering them support with their education and stressing to their families the importance of keeping their children in school and off the streets. The aim is also to help the families with any problems they have, educate them in regards to health and nutrition and offer training. Through an integrated approach, oriented to preserve the continuity of schooling, improve family relations, and develop individuals who can take charge of their own future, the aim is to increase the skills and confidence of at-risk children so that they can find the courage to break the vicious cycles of poverty and abuse.
Children of all ages visit the project and their needs are different. Generally, volunteers help in the following areas:
- Care and play for the younger children
- Help in the homework club for older children
- Assist during meal times
- Organise group recreational and educational activities
- Sometimes you may be asked to help improve, repair or paint the building where the project takes place
The working day is flexible, volunteers can choose to work all day or just in the morning or in the afternoon. The centre opens from 7.30am until 5pm, however volunteers choose their working hours. Volunteers who work all day are welcome to eat lunch at the project with the children.
The foundation is located close to the El Arenal market, located approximately 10 minutes from the city centre of Cuenca.