Chuquiragua Club Kiwanis
Through the Chuquiragua Club in Quito, Ecuador the Illinois South Conference provides scholarships for young women to attend high school. When the Chuquis started this program they looked for a project that they felt would have a major impact on poor indigenous communities and the country. Many in Ecuador believe that the future of the indigenous people in Ecuador rest on the shoulders of its women. And in the Chuquis’ mind, education was the first part of this process. These young women all come from extremely poor families—most living with a single parent whose income is between $80 and $100 per month. In most families, there is no running water or bathroom facilities in the home, dirt floors and no electricity. Meals consist of coffee or tea, vegetables, grains and rice, rarely meat.
The majority of these girls would not attend high school, but would try to find some menial job to help feed the family. Schools in Ecuador have costs that these families cannot afford—uniforms, books and supplies, transportation. And if one child in the family will attend school, it will always be a boy.
Girls are recommended for a scholarship by the elementary school principal. who looks for high academic achievement and the motivation to complete high school. The Chuquiraguas screen all applicants, visit the homes to determine need, and, after the scholarships have been awarded, maintain regular contact with all the girls. Counseling for social issues is provided on a regular basis. This contact and counseling is the major reason for the success of this program. The girls think of these women as “second mothers.” who have taught them with words and actions how much they love and care about every one of them.