Ellen Spieker is a Creative Therapist from Germany who worked with the children in the neighborhood Santa Maria for a year in 2008. Here is what she wrote about her personal experience working in with the children.

A Small Sample

Creative therapist, Ellen Spieker with a BECAS scholar, Leo Sanchez.

The target group of the foundation is from an area that our society would call “underprivileged living circumstances”. In Quito there are thousands of people living under poverty level, not sure how to give their kids an every-day meal nor how to pay the rent. Often there are children who work to help support the family.  They are frequently put into responsible positions beyond their abilities.  A family with 7 children is not unusual, so many times, the eldest child must work to help support the rest of the siblings.

The poverty and lack of social network causes missed steps in development and it limits the potential growth of the child. Many children are traumatized and do not find the much needed attention in the full house. The worry of the parents is not the education of their child, but simply how to feed, dress and keep the child healthy.

When the children are not able to attend school and do not have social contact with other children their ages, there are many consequences – in terms of health, normal development, and skills. Mostly the other sisters and brothers raise themselves, the older ones raising the younger ones, while the parents are working their daily 10 hours mostly by selling food and catching short time jobs in construction.

My experience with these children was intense, not just because of the differences of culture and life, but because, in spite of their poverty and lack of resources, they showed me how creative they are and how much motivation and desire they have to learn.  This impressed me so much.  With their will and hope to develop, and with help, they have a chance to reach more of what we would call a normal life – one that has greater security.

-Ellen Spieker


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