Resolve MHTS Volunteers Service in Ecuador (11/2/2011)
Susan Weida, Mental Health Treatment Specialist at the Palmer Elementary School Partial Hospitalization Program, volunteered two weeks of her time this summer to work in a daycare facility in Calderone, Ecuador. Susan has touched and improved the lives of many children and families during the ten years she has been with CIU20 and wanted to make an impact with children living in a less fortunate area of the world.
Calderone is a poor suburb thirty minutes from the capital city of Quito, where childcare is relatively non-existent. This daycare is the only facility in the area and was created twenty years ago by a coalition of Ecuadorian women who saw that there were too many pre-school-age children with no caregivers during the day while their parents were at work. On a daily basis, the workers of the facility care for up to 150 children of all ability ranges. The daycare relies on volunteers, as the ratio of children per adult can be 15 to 1 in the infant room and 20 to 1 in the toddler to 6-year-old room.
Susan worked with the volunteer organization Global Volunteers International. Her interest in Ecuador and her ability to speak some Spanish helped her decide where she would volunteer. Susan was one of five others from the United States who were volunteering in Calderone during the same period of time. She shared in many of the everyday duties; cleaning, preparing meals, and engaging with the children. Susan was impressed by the level of commitment and pride of the people of Ecuador. They stress cleanliness and structure. Susan said that there was very little “acting-out” by the children, and she attributed this to the high level of structure and pride that was not only displayed by the staff, but also the children.
Susan said she left the daycare each day extremely tired, but with a sense of fulfillment. She values the opportunity to experience a different culture and to have offered her care and compassion to the children of Ecuador. She is looking forward to another experience.