Thanks to the money from Fair Trade, the school for handicapped children has a psychologist. Asoguabo is the only private company that supports the school in El Guabo, and that’s becuse of Fair Trade.
-I hope the Finns buy more fairtrade bananas, so we can keep helping the handicapped children here. That way, the banana buyers can support social justice, says William Tapia.
He’s the director of the Instituto de educación especial San Antonio de Padua, a school for kids with mental and physical handicaps.
-Asoguabo has helped us a lot. We keep in touch all the time. We can borrow their bus if the children need transportation, we get material support, for example a new tv, and Asoguabo has hired one of our former students. They keep their doors open to us.
Before the school was founded in 2000, there was no school for handicapped children in El Guabo.
-Some went to Machala, others went to regular schools and others simply didn’t go to school at all. They were not integrated into society.
Tapia is director as well as physiotherapist at the school. Besides a desk and a computer, his office has a treatment table, a rack for walking support and an exercise bike. In the room next door, speech therapist Theresa Vivanco is working with Daniela Gonzalez, one year and nine months old.
Daniela spots herself in the mirror, and waves.
-Oreja! Boca! Manos! – Ear! Mouth! Hands! Says Vivanco when Daniela is pointing at her face.
-We work a lot with the mirror. I move my lips and the kids imitate my movements in the mirror, so they can see how the lips move.
In the classroom, the older children are building their houses glueing icecream sticks on paper. Diana Encarnación, 8 years old, shyly shows her paper. The teacher Grace Ramirez says they study language and communication, maths, art, music and gymnastics.
In the workshop the kids do different kinds of handicrafts. Bowls and baskets of papiermaché fill the shelves in the room, and the childrens’ paintings cover the walls.
-The kids help their parents financially by selling the things they make on market days, says the teacher Sully Ramirez.
- Was founded in 2000.
- Has six employees. The state pays for two, the municipality for three and Asoguabo for one.
- Around 30 students per year.
- 40 per cent come from the town El Guabo and 60 per cent from the surrounding countryside.
- Offers education, a psychologist, speech therapy, physiotherapy, art workshop and stimulation of motor skills.
- Children under the age of five only participate in therapy, and the older children go to school plus therapy according to their needs. Everyone has an individual learning plan.
- Has three programs: the school meal program (breakfast and lunch at school), the health program (medical care, dental care and psychologist), and the program for the state’s monthly scholarships that give the kids access to extra therapy.