Written by Martha Chicaiza, Director of MEDVIDA Ecuador; Translated into English by Laura Keen, MEDLIFE year-round intern in Lima, Peru
At the swelling feet of the central Andes and off the shores of the Chimbo River lies the Municipality of Cumanda, Ecuador, a three-hour drive from Riobamba. Within this subtropical region around 400 families comprise the population of the small village of Valle Alto.
Only one open-air schoolhouse exists to serve the entire community. Its wooden reed structure and lack of walls leaves students susceptible to the elements, forcing classes to be canceled on rainy days. Community leaders and parents here have solicited MEDLIFE’s help in the construction of a small classroom (and if our budget allows it, an accompanying sanitary bathroom) that would almost double the enrollment capacity of the school from 85 children to up to 150.
While many other children are eager to enroll, overcrowded classrooms have forced the administration to turn away new students. Those denied enrollment have no choice but to expose themselves to unnecessary dangers as they travel down busy roads to schools in other villages.
Additionally, the construction of this classroom would facilitate better learning, as the current structure requires that many different age levels and subjects be taught simultaneously in the same room. Teachers report that students often find it difficult to concentrate in such a busy, unfocused, and loud environment.
MEDLIFE has thus far secured the support of the Municipality of Cumanda, which has offered to donate construction materials, transportation, and a civil engineer to direct the project. The people of Valle Alto have pledged a community labor force to assist in the construction. MEDLIFE is currently in the process of seeking additional financial support from other agencies and organizations to raise the funds needed to complete this project.
You can help us raise funds for the Cumanda school project by making a donation to the MEDLIFE Fund, and following along on the blog as we post updates of our progress.