Travelling with Bamboo: In Ecuador with Juconi

 

Hi, Siân here! As you will probably know by now, I’ve been on the road launching Building with Bamboo, our new learning project on resilience in partnership with Oak Foundation. Two weeks ago I visited another of our learning partners, this time in Ecuador.

Juconi Ecuador are a long-time member of CSC and it’s great to have this opportunity to work with them closely on this project.

With a group of families supported by Juconi Ecuador in Guayaquil

While visiting the team in Guayaquil, I was lucky enough to spend some time in the communities where Juconi’s social workers and psychologists support street-connected children and their families to build strengths and resilience. I also got to meet more families at our launch event. A local improvisation comedian entertained us with some hilarious sketches on the theme of resilience, and then Jonathan, a former street-connected child who worked with Juconi, performed some brilliant raps about his experiences on the street.

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Children take part in a comedy sketch at the Building with Bamboo launch event

Here at Juconi we are lucky enough to have two brilliant members of staff working together on the project. Executive Director Martha Espinoza is our Resilience Champion, and Merli Lopez, the coordinator of Juconi’s working child and family programme, will be working alongside her to drive the project forward and implement the developmental evaluation.

One of the most interesting discussions I had with Martha and Merli was about the relationship between personal resilience, family resilience and wider community resilience. Juconi Ecuador have a family-based approach, whilst also working with individual children and parents to build personal strengths. In some communities, the families Juconi support have become positive role models for their friends and neighbours, contributing to the collective resilience of wider social groups.

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Resilience Champion Martha Espinoza, left, with Merli Lopez

The Bamboo 1 research focused on the personal resilience of children within the context of their wider network, but not specifically in the context of family, like Juconi. A key challenge – and opportunity – for the Juconi learning pilot will therefore be exploring the way that their strengths-based approach could apply to working with children who are permanently separated from their families. Our other learning partners – CWISH in Nepal and SALVE in Uganda – both work with children who may, for different reasons, no longer have the possibility of the support of a traditional family model. We’re looking forward to seeing how the organisations can work together to build up a learning base on how conceptualisations of personal and collective resilience can best be used to improve outcomes for street-connected children in a variety of different circumstances.

As the project takes shape, so many of these interesting comparisons and discussion points are arising. Soon I will be in Uganda visiting SALVE International, and finding out more about the challenges for children who spend time on the street in Jinja. I am sure that many more opportunities for learning will come to light there.