Summer Service Fund Reports
Report from Ecuador by Soraya Umewaka '06
To the Class of 95,
I greatly appreciate the funding that you provided for me, as I could not have had a more valuable and enriching summer.
In Quito, Ecuador, I was an intern at a street children center called “Chicos de la Calle” where children would come in and out during the day for meals to do their homework. I would be there to help them with their homework, take them out to parks, museums, and provide counseling. I also engaged in documentary film-making to promote awareness of these childrens' realities and to promote self-representation and give a voice to these at-risk children.
I saw street children scattered across the city, juggling, selling things, shoe polishing, begging and performing cartwheels on the road. Children as young as five, were working on busy roads, with no sight of his/her parents. Their street scars on their sweet faces reveals that they have been spending too much time working on roads.
I witnessed and met many young adults selling caramel for a living. I was in admiration for these young adults as they had the patience and humility to be selling these caramels for hours on end for only a few cents. It made me wonder though for how long will they manage to hold the bag of caramels and stay out of crime.
Most of these street children were quite unpredictable, but incredibly affectionate. The younger ones especially would jump and kiss you even though they did not really know you. It was all a form of craving love and affection, and it was often very overwhelming.
There was one child, who was 17 years old who went through drug addiction to cocaine and even committed armed robbery. Now he no longer takes drugs and has thrown away his gun, claiming to be a pacifist. He got tired of the violence and the constant masochistic struggle. Now he wishes to be an actor in the theater and when I told him that I believed in him and his future, he asked me, “Why? What kind of opportunities do I have? Tell me, what kind of opportunities do I have? I have no education, no skills.” Although many street children fall into the vicious cycle of poverty, this young man stands out, as he has the charisma and courage to live differently. I only hope that he does not underestimate himself.