The Ecuador earthquake has claimed the lives of over 650 people and injured over 16,600. According to the UN, over 280 schools have been damaged, leaving 120,000 children without access to education.
“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.”
Rossana Viteri is the Country Director for Plan International in Ecuador. Plan International is currently setting up 60 child-friendly spaces across rural communities in Manabí. The spaces will reach 30,000 boys and girls, educating children and their parents about self-esteem, resilience, nutrition and child protection. The aim is to help children return to normalcy as quickly as possible. “There is an urgency to guarantee that these boys and girls can go back to school.” Rossana explains.
Young people taking charge
Johana, 18, is a community volunteer and former sponsored child with Plan International.
18-year old Johana’s village in Manabí was one of those most affected by the earthquake. Johana is the leader of a shelter, a temporary home to 25 families.
“The earthquake destroyed many houses, but many of the families had already been left homeless because of the flooding that happened a few weeks ago. They have been left with nothing and now more than ever they need a home. This shelter is providing refuge for many boys and girls.” Johana is working tirelessly to provide equal space for everyone and to make sure children are prioritised when aid is distributed.
Johana is a former sponsored child. The young leader had hoped to start university this year, but after the quake is unsure when she’ll be able to start. She’s now using her leadership skills to help those in her community.
Over 600 volunteers have joined in the task of creating child friendly spaces. Many of them are former sponsored children.
“It is very important to have the support of these young people,” says Rossana. “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.”
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