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17 September Sep 2021 1140 17 September 2021

Ecuador. For Paulina, a mother of five, it's never too late to plan new goals

AVSI's Distance Support Program, with the collaboration of Fundación Sembrar, supported Paulina in following her dream and getting back to school at 39 years old

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Paulina Pilco is 39 years old and lives in the north of Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, with her five children.

Until a few years ago Paulina was struggling greatly to handle the necessary expenses for her family and for the education of her children. But also thanks to the support she received from Fundación Sembrar and the Luigi Giussani Youth Center, which her children attended for more than 11 years, she got the courage to take up a new profession. She learned how to become a construction mason officer.

Fundación Sembrar, together with AVSI, finances and provides technical assistance for the Distance Support Program activities. It promotes education, initiatives to fight violence and foster women empowerment, professional orientation for young people, along with actions to support social and economic inclusion.

The way her life changed did not only help Paulina to take care of her children, being there and providing for them as they grew up. It also prompted her to imagine a different future for herself and to set a new, ambitious goal: go back to high school and graduate, regardless of her age. She succeeded, also wanting to set a positive example for her children, by proving them that it is never too late to face new challenges.

Unfortunately, this last year was particularly difficult for Paulina: she got COVID-19 and developed pneumonia.

Furthermore, she lost her job, as the rise of unemployment had a strong impact on the construction sector as well. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC), in May 2021 unemployment was at 6.3% and underemployment at 23.2% in Ecuador. During this period, Paulina's family was thus one of 590 families who received food and hygiene kits monthly.

Due to the social and economic consequences of the pandemic, she also had to abandon her studies, but she didn't lose heart. She still has a strong desire to move further along her path: she wants to go to university and become an educator, or a nurse. "My goal was to graduate and I did it!" Paulina says today with great joy and satisfaction.

The Distance Support Program

  • AVSI's Distance Support Program supports vulnerable children and their families in over 10 countries. They receive educational support and tools for developing personal and professional skills.
  • Every child has a sponsor, who financially supports them on a voluntary basis. Sponsors can be Italian individuals, families, groups of friends, schools or enterprises.
  • In Ecuador, the Distance Support Program was first introduced in 2000 in the rural areas of Manabí and, starting from 2004, also in the north of Quito, in the Pichincha province. At present, more than 1,300 Ecuadorian children are supported through the program.
  • The program collaborates with the Corporación Universitaria Estudio y Trabajo - CUET to reach families in Manabí, and with the Fundación Sembrar to do the same in Quito.

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