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Peace Corps Community for the Support of Refugees

Peace Corps Community for the Support of Refugees

This is a guest post from Tad Baldwin, Atuntaqui/Quito 1963-65 who is our treasurer emeritus and long-time leader of Friends of Ecuador.

This new NPCA affiliate, Peace Corps Community in Support of Refugees, was formally accepted in the past month.  Tad Baldwin and a handful of Washington, DC based RPCVs have been working for the past year to connect with the nine non-profit State Department contract holders (who have hundreds of affiliates across the country coordinating refugee resettlement) to facilitate greater RPCV involvement in refugee issues.  A number of geographic groups and individuals have been active in this area for a number of years and more opportunities for service exist.  Those with relevant language skills are especially welcome.

The major initiative is support for refugee resettlement within the US.  The non-profits under contract (including the Catholic Bishops, the IRC, Lutherans, etc.) were anticipating a large jump in their work efforts…although those numbers may be halved if the president gets his way.  The roles involved welcoming new families, setting up apartments, helping with school and job searches, and the complex tasks involved in resettlement.  In the coming months information will appear on the NPCA website providing contact information for the local agencies coordinating this work across the country to  help those interested to take the preliminary connection step.  Small groups of RPCVs may chose to undertake all the required tasks on a shared responsibility basis.

A secondary purpose is to advocate for the refugees in our local communities, via churches, community groups and the press, especially in the face of alarming anti-immigrant executive statements.  A third purpose is support for refugees overseas, a more difficult long-distance task that is sidelined for the present.  Some RPCVs have been helping in the Greek Island refugee camps.

Some RPCVs from Ecuador have been involved in services to Columbian refugees and so have experience in this area.  All are now welcome to help! Contact info@pcc4refugees.org

News from Mushuk Yuyay School Program

News from Mushuk Yuyay School Program

This is an update on the Mushuk Yuyay school feeding program that FOE supported last year.

The FOE funds were to be used in 3 schools.  400 children were provided with breakfasts and participated in the educational activities.

The program will last through June 2017 due to the assistance of FOE donations. Below is a recent video and some photos from the project.

Objectives 

The Healthy Children, Healthy Futures Program is working with several indigenous Cañaris community schools for the purposes of:

  • Learning the value of nutritious traditional food such as quinoa and amaranth.  For example, one cup (2.4 dl, 245 g) of cooked amaranth grain (from about 65 g raw) provides 251 calories and is an excellent source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of proteindietary fiber, and some dietary minerals.  Amaranth is particularly rich in manganese (105% DV), magnesium (40% DV), iron (29% DV), and selenium (20% DV.) Also cooked amaranth leaves are an excellent source of vitamin Avitamin Ccalcium, manganese, and foliate. Other home grown crops are barley.
  • Learning how to prepare and serve the foods such as barley or quinoa soup, amaranth, preparation of quimbolitos (traditional Ecuadorian pastries) made of corn flour and wrapped in achira leaves (ancient Andean crop plant with edible leaves).
  • Learning how to plant these traditional foods through the use of demonstration plots.

Picture Album:
Mushuk Yuyay program

Let Girls Learn: New Peace Corps Partnerships Fundraising Opportunity

Let Girls Learn: New Peace Corps Partnerships Fundraising Opportunity

A follow on from our Camp Glow support from last year. Here is a new fundraising opportunity that is less than $1000 short of its fundraising goal. FOE will donate $500. Will you help them get over the finish line? The link here will take you to the fundraising site on the Peace Corps Partnerships page.

Here is a full description:

The primary goal of GLOW is to facilitate growth and empowerment of 45 young women ages 13-18 in Ecuador. Peace Corps Volunteers and Ecuadorean counterparts, together, will lead a 4 day camp with activities focused in four themes; sexual education, gender, self-esteem, and leadership.

Through these four topics, the girls will be encouraged to be change agents in their high schools and communities. They will become more aware of their rights of women and the impact of gender roles in their communities and Ecuador. We will reflect on the representation of women in society and how this affects their daily life. They will explore self-esteem, body image, communication, and decision making practices to boost self-confidence and leadership. They will set goals and define skills they have that could drive their career. And, furthermore, they will break down myths and norms of society that give way to healthier relationships.

Ecuadorian counterparts who are leaders in their community are involved in the planning of the camp and will co-facilitate the camp alongside Peace Corps Volunteers. The facilitators are from the same communities as the girls whom will participate in the camp and are prominent community leaders. The girls who attend the camp will be more informed about their own sexual and reproductive health, gender stereotypes, and gender in their communities. More importantly, they will know strategies, tools, and people they can rely on and use to create change. They will have strengthened leadership skills and self confidence to positively impact their communities and to continue GLOW programs alongside their Ecuadorean counterparts.

This project has been designed to expand access to education for girls in Ecuador as part of the Let Girls Learn Program. Learn more at letgirlslearn.peacecorps.gov.

Your contribution increases the impact of Ms. Olmack, her fellow Peace Corps Volunteers, and their communities; and makes a brighter future possible for young women in Ecuador.

Farewell Message from Alexis Vaughn

Farewell Message from Alexis Vaughn

This is a post from outgoing Peace Corps Ecuador country director Alexis Vaughn. We hope to have a note shortly from incoming country director Michael Donald.

Time certainly does whizz by. It seems only yesterday I was greeting you as the new Country Director for Peace Corps Ecuador, now I am bidding you farewell as I embark on my new assignment as Peace Corps Country Director for Guatemala. In the past three years, Ecuador has seen many changes and challenges – a new airport in Quito, new modern roads, a sharp decline in the price of oil (the country’s economic bread and butter) and a devastating earthquake. Through it all, Peace Corps Ecuador continued to strengthen its partnership with the Ecuadorian people, nearly doubling our Teaching English as a Second Language Program, solidifying our partnership with the Ministry of Health and, with generous funding from the Friends of Ecuador, launching a successful series of GLOW Camps (Girls Leading Our World). It’s been a wonderful ride, and I thank you for the ongoing support you have provided. Peace Corps Ecuador continues in excellent hands with the new Country Director, Michael Donald, and with Friends like you, I’m sure he will find his time in Ecuador as rewarding as I have.

Camp GLOW Thanks to Friends of Ecuador

Camp GLOW Thanks to Friends of Ecuador

In 2016, we provided some matching funds to Camp GLOW, which was an opportunity for Ecuadorian girls to learn about empowerment, self esteem, and and gender equality. We look forward to supporting similar programs in the future. It seems like it was a roaring success. Below is the thank you note from the organizers on behalf of the 55 girls who participated.

Ecuador’s Elections

Ecuador’s Elections

Ecuador held presidential elections last weekend, and it looks like the left-wing candidate Lenin Moreno holds a lead but may not have exceeded the 40% threshold (and 10% difference with his nearest rival) to avoid a run-off. This from Reuters:

Ecuador’s leftist government candidate Lenin Moreno looked set for victory on Monday in a presidential election, but slow results meant it may take days to know if he will face a runoff with former banker Guillermo Lasso.

As results trickled in from Ecuador’s Andes, jungle, and Pacific coast, Moreno, a disabled former vice president, was just short of the 40 percent of votes and a 10 percentage-point difference over his nearest rival to win outright.
For more background on the election, see this piece on the Guardian that talks about how the left-wing tilt of the early 2000s in South America has subsided, but perhaps not in Ecuador where the ruling party may yet win, as Rafael Correa steps down:
The favourite is Lenín Moreno, a former vice-president under Correa who is standing for the ruling Alianza País coalition, but very different in style and politics from the outgoing president. As his first name suggests, Moreno is from a leftwing family, but he has a reputation for inclusiveness openness and humourthat earned him approval ratings above 90% when he quit the vice-presidency in 2013 to take up a United Nations post as special envoy on disability. If he wins, he would be the first paraplegic head of state, having used a wheelchair since he was shot in a robbery.

Voting is obligatory for the 12.8 million people eligible to cast a ballot in this country, which covers an area bigger than the United Kingdom and ranges from Amazon jungle and Andean mountains to the Pacific coast and the Galápagos Islands….

Correa leaves power with ratings around 40% – impressively high in a country where no previous leader in a century had lasted more than five years….

Most Ecuadorians are far better off than when he took power in 2007, poverty and inequality have gone down and infrastructure, schools and hospitals have been impressively upgraded….

But 10 years in power and a downturn in global oil prices have taken their toll.

Ecuador’s economy shrank by more than 2% last year and the IMF forecasts a similar decline in 2017. Many voters are weary of authoritarian leadership. Indigenous groups and environmentalists accuse the government of putting Chinese oil and mining interests above local people and protected areas in the Yasuni national park and among the Shuar territories near the southern border with Peru. The middle class complain of high taxes, excessive bureaucracy, clampdowns on NGOs and attacks on the media.

 

RPCV Translation of an Ecuadorian Book

RPCV Translation of an Ecuadorian Book

RPCV Ecuador 2009-2011, Rob Gunther, translated an Ecuadorean book, that is available now on Amazon. It is called Drums for a Lost Song by Jorge Velasco Mackenzie. If you’re interested in Ecuador, the African diaspora, Yoruba, magical realism, Peace Corps, or race/class/history from a South American point of view, please consider buying a copy and sharing news of this release on social media. Thanks in advance!

Friends of Ecuador – Back after a Long Hiatus

Friends of Ecuador – Back after a Long Hiatus

All,

We have a series of stories to post in the coming weeks. There is a new country director in Ecuador, and we have a message from the departing country director. There are upcoming elections in Ecuador for a new president of the country. We have some updates on projects we supported over the last year or so. And, the United States has a new president.

The last point is only germane to the extent that we at Friends of Ecuador have been transfixed by the unfolding challenges to American democracy. I’m a political scientist so this is something I study for a living, but it’s also been a tough time to be an observer of U.S. politics. I don’t say that as a partisan but just as a concerned citizen.

In any case, that has left me with less bandwidth to dedicate to this important cause, but we’re going to try to collect some stories in coming weeks to inform our readers. We’ll have a new newsletter for the first of March when these will be published collectively. In the meantime, I’ll try to get them out a bit at a time.

Mushuk Yuyay School Breakfast Appeal

Mushuk Yuyay School Breakfast Appeal
We are proud to partner with the Association of Producers of Seeds and Nutritional Andean Foods on a pilot school feeding program in the Cañar region for which we are requesting donations on their behalf. This has come to our attention from RPCVs Stuart Moskowitz and Alan Adams (Ecuador 1967-69). We are seeking to mobilize $1000 to support a fall program. Read on for full details about the project.




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Message from PCE Director Alexis Vaughn on cancelled omnibus

Message from PCE Director Alexis Vaughn on cancelled omnibus

Dear Friends of Ecuador,
By now, you have seen the news of the 7.8 earthquake the struck Ecuador on April 16. Though the epicenter was on the coast in Manabí, the earthquake was felt in areas throughout the country, including Quito. All of our peace Corps Volunteers and Staff are safe. The 19 Volunteers whose sites were in affected areas have been evacuated to safety while Peace Corps Staff, government agencies and international relief workers assess the damage. If volunteers cannot be returned to their original sites, they will be assigned to new sites within Ecuador.

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