Earlier in the year, the need to provide a club for female adolescents was identified by the team, since they are at a high risk of being influenced, abused or recruited by the drug gangs operating in Guayaquil.
The club has been meeting once a week since March and is located in Socio Vivienda in a small house that JUCONI uses for a range of activities. The girls are aged from 12-20 years old and are worried about their future because of the insecurity in the area where they are growing up. They are open to receiving advice because they do not want to end up in early marriages/pregnancies, at risk of abuse and/or being drawn into activities linked to drugs or criminal gangs. In response to this, the team at JUCONI has drawn up a ‘life plan’ programme to guide the girls towards recognising that there are gaps in their academic and social learning and that many of them suffer from low self-esteem and have difficulties in expressing their thoughts clearly.
Thus far, the girls have attended a number of workshops led by an educational psychologist from JUCONI, as well as a community coordinator and an intern. They have covered the topic of ‘improving communication skills’ and are currently working on ‘building self-esteem’. This will be followed by ‘planning for the future’ where the girls will be given the opportunity to discuss their hopes and dreams, for example, if they want to study, work, marry or live alone, etc. and how they plan to achieve this. After that, the girls will consider improving their ‘leadership skills’ and also learn about having a voice in political advocacy about children‘s rights. Finally, the girls will discuss ‘personal relationships’ and consider how their lives will change if they decide to get married or have babies soon.
Ultimately, the club provides a safe space and an opportunity for the girls to talk about whatever they want.
Security at community football games and music programmes
Due to the security crisis, many organisations that were working in Socio Vivienda have left the sector (and the country), as in the case of the ‘Fútbol Más Organisation’. Other organisations have maintained restrictions and have asked JUCONI to run workshops about strategies to maintain security within football teams. In addition, there are other NGOs like ‘Fundación Huancavilca’ running music programmes, and when they were considering leaving the community, we shared our security protocols and this has helped them to continue with their activities.
The ‘safe play spaces’ organised by JUCONI, remain the only places where children can participate in a number of group activities, including sport. They are open every week but close temporarily when the situation is seen as too dangerous for the team to run them.
Supporting Educational Psychologists
Together with the Undersecretary for Education from Guayaquil (District 8), the organisations of the Northwest Network (Misión Alianza, Human Rights Committee, Universidad Casa Grande and JUCONI), have created the ‘Governance Board for Safe Schools’, in order to provide support to the schools that are extremely vulnerable to high levels of violence in the city and their communities. The concrete action so far has been the emotional support of one hundred and thirty educational psychologists who work in the peripheral areas of the northwest of Guayaquil (District 8).
Every week, JUCONI also now works with a school in Socio Vivienda 2, which includes three educational psychologists, one hundred and ten teachers and thirty care givers.