Today is Wednesday. It's no Friday but it's not Monday, either.
To honor the fact that we are in the middle of week, I will tell you five facts of life, about me or someone else, faith, world and existence in general.
And what I want from you, my readers?
I want to know about you!
Leave me your facts, so I can enjoy reading them!
They can also be about you, your life or anything you find fascinating in this world or in the world beyond.
Today I want to share you facts about our work here in Ecuador.
1. I work in a developmental project called “The learning path for indigenous disabled children and young people in district of Napo”. It is a mission by Finnish Free Evangelical Church and its sister church Iglesia Pacto Evangélico del Ecuador or Ecuadorian Covenant Church. The project is funded by Finnish Foreign Office and its part of their developmental work in third world countries. Our local partner here, the church, has a foundation called Fundación Adelanto Comunitario Ecuatoriano or FACE that administrates the chuch’s diaconal work. We are part of the local Covenant church’s diaconal branch. I know it’s long and complicated and sometimes even I don’t who I actually work, LOL.
2. The projects started because the local Bilingual Intercultural Education Department in Napo province in Ecuador, asked for support to create an inclusive and special education program. There have not been any special education schools in the bilingual system, ever, in Ecuador. There are several indigenous groups in Ecuador but in Napo the biggest group is Kichwa indigenous people and that is who we are working with.
3. Our goal here has been to develop a culturally appropriate model for inclusive and special education in kichwa schools. It has been a challenge and a blessing. On one side the disability is a huge taboo in the culture and has made our work hard, on other side, there are no bad educational practices to get rid of. The educational department has opened their doors and, surprisingly, the communities and the people have opened their hearts to the disabled students. It has been a struggle but they are, mostly, receiving an education.
4. We provide training for the special education teachers and regular teachers about inclusion and special education techniques and methods. The foundation has a multiprofessional team that both educates the teachers, administrative staff and parents and does evaluations, assessments and helps the teachers to create personal learning plans for the inclusive and special education students. We also do rehabilitation to the students together with the teachers.
5. There are 37 schools involved in our program with a total of 42 special education teachers. These are all regular schools with a special education classroom. The students’ needs range from learning disabilities to severe and multiple disabilities. In total there are 456 children and youth with disabilities included in our program and in the different schools. Some of them are in total inclusion; some are in a support program where they are drawn out of the classroom for specific classes. There are students who study in a special education classroom, students who are visited by a teacher at their homes and as something brand new we have started a program that prepares youths and young adults with disabilities to an adult life.
There are a lot of challenges, a lot of needs but also a lot of will and love.