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EDUCATION/ Supporting, not substituting mothers as educators

AMPARITO ESPINOZA describes the work she does with Acción Educativa Integrada, an AVSI educational program that benefits 1,600 children and their families in Quito and Portoviejo, Ecuador

Amparito Espinoza in Quito Amparito Espinoza in Quito

“She told me: ‘I have the perfect job for you.’ There is no perfect job, but there are circumstances through which a mother can get back onto her feet, thanks to being looked at in a new way, and begin to support others in their path of maturity.”

This is Amparito Espinoza's synthesis of her educational experience with AEDI (Acción Educativa Integrada) an AVSI educational program that benefits more than 1,600 children and their families in Quito, Ecuador, where Amparito is from, as well in the area of Portoviejo. Amparito continues her recount.

“I had just gone through a very difficult moment of my life: the loss of my son, who suffered from a congenital heart defect. It was the hardest thing that could happen to me; he was gone forever and I had been completely destroyed, with no will to live. One day I received a call from Sister Anna, who told me: ‘I have the perfect job for you.’ I was not astonished, because she was constantly inventing things to keep me busy, so that I wouldn’t be sad. I went to the interview, and in that little room, I saw a red-haired lady with a sweet smile and bright eyes; that was how I met Stefania Famlonga, AVSI Country Representative in Ecuador.

I began to get involved working with AVSI on November 1, 2004, participating in PelCa (Prescolar en la Casa): a program of early childhood education for children from 0 to 5 years of age living in challenging rural or urban environments with the aim of supporting mothers in their educational task. The goal is to strengthen the educational role of parents, particularly mothers, by providing training and basic tools to favor their children’s all-around development. The central idea is that only beginning with education can a people become free again in the face of difficult situations.

After a while, I began to go with Stefania to visit the homes of the families involved in the project. Gradually, I became aware of the needs, the suffering and the sadness of many of the mothers whom we visit, and this has filled the huge void that was left by the death of my little one. This work has made me grow so much as a woman and as a mother, and up to today the greatest responsibility I have is still to communicate to the new educators what I have first received over these years.