I recently came back from Ecuador where I visited all the projects we have within the Fundación Avanzar, and I want to use this opportunity to give you some insight into the current state of affairs at our foundation.
Gastronomy Course for Small Catering Businesses
While we have been offering culinary courses for some time now, we started our cooperation with the culinary institute San Isidro (www.sanisidro.edu.ec) only this year. In the course of 2017, we are able to offer three different culinary courses for approx. 20 participants each.
For us, it is a very positive experience not only because San Isidro is a bigger school with better infrastructure, but also because they have extensive experience with this type of course and manage to perfectly adapt the contents and educational objectives to the particular needs of our participants. As every university in Ecuador is obliged to contribute towards society in some way, San Isidro has worked with other foundations before, which can be difficult at times. Fortunately, the feedback we receive from them is extremely positive. They were very impressed with the participants we selected for the courses: Their completion rate is almost 100% (only 1 participant per course quit during the course). This can undoubtedly be attributed to our strict selection process in which we: 1) try to establish to what extent the women have that entrepreneurial spirit we seek in order for them to make the best use of our courses, and 2) perform a thorough inquiry into the women’s financial and family situations to find out whether they really depend on financial support for this kind of education. After all, we expect the participants to open their own businesses upon completion of our courses! Other local foundations active in similar areas also suggest potential candidates to us.
Thanks to the positive experience, San Isidro is not only prepared to renew our contract, but they even increased their offer to four courses in 2019. The effectiveness of our courses is evaluated regularly by a team consisting of representatives from both the school and Fundación Avanzar. As a result of these evaluations where we visit graduates in their businesses, continuing courses are offered to the women, depending on their needs and business ideas. We realized, for instance, that cost management is a topic hard to handle for them, so we decided to create a continuing course for graduates. In addition, we feel that gender-related issues should be integrated in our teaching. Therefore, a new course covering such topics as What types of violence are there? or Which are my rights? will be offered.
We have reached an agreement with the Universidad Politécnica Salesiana (www.ups.edu.ec) that will offer a 6-month technical training course starting in 2019. They will train approx. 20 women to become electricians who perform basic electrical work in households, such as mounting wall sockets or installing lamps. Our goal is to bring women into jobs more typically associated with men, not only because they are much better paid than most typical jobs for women, but also in order to empower the women and increase their self-esteem.
Over the past three years, we have been able to offer various courses with UDA; this year we had a 6-month tailoring course in which 17 participants learned to make dress patterns and to use three different types of industrial sewing machines. On top, they received a one-on-one tutoring from current students! Here again, feedback from the University is very positive, the participants’ attend regularly, show up on time, and are motivated – which is by no means something we can take for granted! Teachers and tutors describe the cooperation with our students as constructive and congenial. UDA thus decided to renew our contract for 2019, which we appreciate very much, seeing that they are fastidious in their selection of partners, and our courses are rather cost-intensive for them. In addition, UDA proposed to offer a continuation course for the same students next year in order to consolidate their skills – something that our participants wished for and appreciate!
Additionally, a new 6-month/120hr course will be offered in 2019 in which participants are trained as nannies with special skills in first aid, simple physical therapy, and so on. Upon graduation, they will be able to work as nannies for children with special physical needs.
Ludoteca at Hospital Vicente Corral Moscoso
We have understood that it would be helpful for the children if we combined the play and physical therapies we offer in the Ludoteca with other therapies those children receive. All the doctors and other parties involved will be informed about the various therapies, and reports will be prepared so that parents can use them at a later date for reference.
We are currently working on the new Fall/Winter Collection 2018 and have a couple of beautiful new products in the pipeline. We also visited new suppliers for leather and yarn and are now waiting for their sample pieces.
In conclusion, I would like to say that we and the women we support are very happy and thankful for the progress we have been able to make over the past months and years – not least thanks to the generous support we receive from all sides!
I hope that I have been able to give you an interesting and informative insight into our current work and would be delighted to provide you with more details, should you wish so. Please do not hesitate to contact me!
Yours with love - Margarita