By Kristen Johnson
In Ecuador, 22% of girls are married before they are 18 years old – and it is completely legal. In many regions, particularly rural areas, children live in poverty without access to potable water, sanitation or health care facilities. Child labor and chronic malnutrition are serious problems. Trafficking of children into prostitution, pornography, and domestic servitude is widespread. (Humanium.org).
In spite of such overwhelming suffering, the situation in Ecuador is improving and there are excellent agencies working on assisting children. CENIT is one such organization, and it is one in which a friend of mine’s daughter has been volunteering for the past 6 months. So, I am very happy to support it!
CENIT (Integrated Childhood and Adolescence Center) was started in 1983 by a Nun who saw a need and desired to fill it. During the past 24 years, this wonderful organization has worked tirelessly on behalf of children, adolescents, and their families in the market sectors of Chiriyacu-Camal, San Roque, and the surrounding areas. (CENIT)
CENIT has several programs working with children and families, which include:
- Rescate: This program works on providing schooling and opportunities for children who are working, when they should be in school. In addition, it provides preschool education for children to keep them from becoming child laborers in the first place.
- CEA Tutoring Center: This center functions as a sort of before/after school program to encourage children to stay off the streets and in school. It provides activities for them as well as providing tutoring assistance with things like math, English, language, and science.
- Mi Fami: This program provides work opportunities and training for parents, thus helping the families overall with jobs and income. They have a women’s empowerment program for recycled products, as well as a hairdressing school.
CENIT has several other programs and all go to support children and families to obtain their educational and financial goals.
I really admire CENIT’s goals and their model for helping the most vulnerable (children) where they work and live. The work is challenging and difficult, though I would imagine that the work is highly rewarding.
As always, they need volunteers and they need funding. They have a link online to information on volunteering. If you are not in a position to volunteer, I’m quite certain that financial donations are always in short supply and badly needed. For more information, see here: http://cenitecuador.org/whatiscenit/.
Thank you to the CENIT staff and volunteers for your tireless work on behalf of children and families. You are an excellent example of what it means to “live the Church.”
Matthew 19:14 (NRSV): but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”
Serve all with love.
Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io