The story of “the mothers of Calderón” is one of compassion and conviction, and the reason Global Volunteers works with them in partnership for children’s health and growth. The dedicated and dynamic women who first invited us to help them, and the resourceful mothers we serve today, demonstrate that investing in children is a foundational block in community development. It was through their insight in 1989 that the non-profit organization Fundación de Damas Calderonenses (FUNDAC ) was founded. The mission of “The Ladies of Calderón” was to improve the futures of children from impoverished working families in Calderón – a community of Quito, Ecuador. Today, with a staff of 14 teachers/caregivers and the help of Global Volunteers, they offer psychosocial support and education to students at two early childhood development centers. Here in the words of FUNDAC President María de Lourdes (“Marujita”) Erazo, is the story of this special group of women in Ecuador who are our community partners. Photo above: Marujita Erazo consults with Ecuador Volunteer Mary Kozleski.
“Of the 30 years of our history, 23 have been as a government-recognized non-profit foundation. I’ve been involved with FUNDAC since the beginning. We started this non-profit because we saw a need in our community, and felt compelled to do something. There were no low-income daycare options in Calderón at the time, and children were abandoned in the streets because their mothers had no place to leave them during the day when they went to work. Today we offer educational, medical, psychological, and social services to approximately 140 impoverished children at two child development centers. We also work with senior citizens offering social opportunities and support, including lectures on topics of particular value to seniors, as well as semi-annual day trips. Additionally, we offer social and sometimes medical support to the families of the children.”
FUNDAC sponsors two early childhood development centers that may be unlike those of the United States. “Center Number 1,” the original center, is in the heart of Calderón – located off a busy street in a community building that has been loaned to the foundation by the city of Quito. They receive limited government funding, so they must raise the remainder for monthly operations of the center, including salaries, utilities and teaching materials. Global Volunteers worked in this center for many years before and while the second center was being built, and has contributed to the maintenance of the building itself as well as the furniture and supplies for the classrooms.
“Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.”
– Hillary Rodham Clinton
“Center Number 2” is about a 20-minute walk from the center of Calderón in a more rural area, and was built with the help of Global Volunteers. Each day, 60 children are cared for at Center Number 1 and 80 children at Center Number 2. The children at each center are divided into three groups according to age: 12 months to 2 years, 2 to 3 years, and 3 to 4 years. Since the centers provide food and education to approximately 140 children from economically impoverished backgrounds – with only a staff of about 12-14 teachers to supervise and educate them – they welcome volunteers who can provide more one-on-one attention to the toddlers and children. Volunteers’ assistance helps ease the strain on the staff and during the children’s “nap” time, there’s even time for English lessons for the teachers!
“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”
– Marie Curie
The women running FUNDAC work completely voluntarily – no one receives a salary. They support the two centers while working and caring for their own families, and rely on funding and other support from various sources. This includes Global Volunteers as well as the provincial council – a Belgian corporation working with the regional Quito council. FUNDAC also carries out a variety of other fundraising activities, such as raffles and bingo nights, that mainly help to augment the existing government-subsidized salaries of their staff members. The government supplies the funding for meals for the children and monthly menus to ensure that their nutritional needs are met. The health center staff in Calderón visits the centers regularly to administer vaccines and to record height and weight in order to combat malnutrition.
The economic support and “willing hands” of Global Volunteers’ team members are extremely valuable to FUNDAC, and the mothers of Calderón. They consider the partnership to be one of mutual collaboration, working hand-in-hand to help in their community. We honor and admire the women of FUNDAC, who so greatly value our volunteers and take such good care of them in their beautiful community.