SALEM established a project in Mindo in Ecuador in 2000. The project started as a local environmental education initiative supported by Salem. It soon became apparent that the most pressing issue in the village was care for needy children.
To meet this need the SALEM Child and Youth Centre was established in 2002 with the help of professionals from Germany and Switzerland to provide child and youth services. The project has five employees plus some freelance tutors for homework help. There are also three internship positions.
Every day after school, 45 children and teenagers come to the SALEM centre to do homework, to play, or help in the garden.
The village of Mindo is not really so impoverished. Tourism is a growth industry, attracting tourists from the capital of Quito to enjoy the cloud forest flora and fauna.
But not everybody in the village benefits from the tourist's money. Many poor families remain outside the system, struggling with precarious jobs and poverty. Alcoholism is a significant social problem as are the countless overworked mothers (many of them single) with large families, often also victims of domestic violence and abuse.
The objective of the SALEM Ecuador project is to secure training places for the kids and allow them to complete an education. Our educational approach is based on the insights and materials of Maria Montessori. Another goal is to improve family situations through intensive counselling with parents.
The number of needy children far exceeds the capacity of the SALEM children's centre. In order to serve the growing number of children, we need donations. Nothing is harder than to reject children in need, the most vulnerable in society.