As part of our giveback program, Pokoloko is proud to support The Community Ascent Network in their efforts to bring sustainable education to the remote village of Piñán, Ecuador.
Piñán: A Post-Colonial Community
In the Northern remote village of Piñán sits a small indigenous community of 220. Made up of 40 Kichwa families, the village is located in the Andean mountains of Ecuador- where the ancestry of the land runs deep.
For over 400 years, indigenous families were forced to settle on the current village site to serve as indentured workers on plantations and ranches. Today, Piñán remains one of the last communities in Ecuador still affected by these colonial plantations.
But although they are now free of this injustice, no land title was ever granted to their peoples. As such, Piñán hasn’t received the social services offered to most communities in Ecuador.
Giveback to Move Forward: A Plan for Education
Far removed from most of civilization, these indigenous families continue to suffer post-colonially in their isolation. But the biggest challenge they say they face: a lack of education!
“We[…] need help for our children- for them to learn, study in high school and university because due to the distance not one person from our community has ever graduated,”says an elder.
And as alternatively as they live, they know a lack of education and sustainable employment threatens the future of their children’s lives.
That’s where The Community Ascent Network (C.A.N.) wants to help!
The Piñán High School Giveback Initiative
Development through Empowerment. Empowerment through Education.
The Current Situation: Why Giveback?
This past year was the first that Piñán was able to run a full year of classes, using a giveback system of local support. The Network now wants to work with Piñán to help them develop a sustainable education program. How?
By building their first-ever local high school!
C.A.N. has contracted teachers through the local education district, and architects at the University of Azuay have created blueprints for the project.
But while their history and isolation have left community members with an incomplete and unfunded education, there also remains few local jobs and employment opportunities for advancement.
C.A.N. believes the most effective aid they can provide is encouragement through self-development. However, while the community has clear goals for the future of their youth, they are unable to obtain the resources or finances required, on their own.
The Giveback Initiative:
1. Build a modern high school, with 3 classrooms and laboratories.
2. Hire teachers and mentors to create educational programs relevant to the community’s needs- such as eco-tourism!
3. Continue to support Piñán and its students to bring jobs and sustainable solutions to their village.
Raise $15,000 to cover the costs of:
1. Hiring two more local teachers for the program.
This brings the total number to five teachers: 2 high-school teachers, 2 elementary teachers and 1 school director for the 85 enrolled students.
A basic teacher's salary in this area of Ecuador is 815 USD/ month.
2. Setting up an internet connection and a temporary computer lab in the existing elementary classroom.
We’ve already sent 10 laptops and 2 projectors to the school. Now we need to have them installed and formatted by a local technician.
3. Equipment for the classrooms
We still need to provide sufficient supplies and materials such as chemistry lab equipment to meet current secondary curriculum requirements in Ecuador.
4. Hiring local community members to build and furnish a teacher’s dormitory
The new teachers will need a place to stay while remotely working in the village.
How Pokoloko is Committing to Giveback:
Pokoloko is proud to align ourselves with C.A.N.’s belief:that every community has a need and each has something to offer.
-Our organization, The Community Ascent Network is helping Piñán build a new future.
-Education for all youth is the first step of their community development goals, which aim to generate sustainability, dignified employment and empowerment for all its members.
How our Giveback is Encouraging Piñán’s Youth Today:
Thanks to C.A.N.’s giveback initiatives, this year Piñán’s first group of students have started classes and are well on their way to reaching their educational goals.
As Patricia Chavez- a young pupil hoping to reach graduation- described:
“[I want to say] thank you for visiting our community and presenting the opportunity to continue studying. [Now I can] choose a profession I can use to help my community. [With the help of the Piñán Giveback Initiative] I would like to study to become an architect.”
3 Ways You Can Giveback:
There are a few ways you can support this initiative, now that our initial fundraising event has concluded!
The Community Ascent Network had set up a crowdfunding initiative to raise the $15,000 needed to get Piñán’s first high school off the ground - where they surpassed their initial start-up goal with $17,000. You can help this giveback program in 1 of 3 ways:
1. Visit their website to donate: www.communityascent.com
2. Follow & Share the Project on social media
3. Use the code PINAN with your next Pokoloko purchase and a portion of the profits will be shared with the Community Ascent Network directly on your behalf quarterly.
Every donation- no matter how big or small- will help deliver the second year of high school programming for the 85 students hoping to reach their graduation!
As a community, we raised $725 CAD during our December event and it doesn't have to end there, as we know there are always extra costs and needs as this project continues to roll out.
Because when we giveback, others can move forward!
An update for you!
A message from Simon, from the Community Ascent Network:
"The last few years have just been about creating a high-school program with the existing facilities in Piñán, that being a couple of simple elementary school classrooms, and building local partnerships."
We've been able to offer the first 2 years of the 3 year high school or bachillerato program in which over 30 students are currently enrolled. Next year we will be offering the graduating year.
We've partnered officially with the local Cotacachi District of Education which authorizes public school programs and teacher allocation.
We've also partnered with the University of Azuay's architectural faculty in Cuenca who have been working on designing the high-school classrooms which we will be building, using sustainable design principles and based on traditional Ecuadorian building techniques and local natural resources.
More recently, we've just partnered with an indigenous organization in Cotacach: K'allam'p, which delivers workshops, tutoring and support to rural communities in the area, and has begun discussions with Piñán to design workshops and tutoring programs that may fit specific community and student needs.
This fall the community began doing minga to make building materials (bricks, lumber) to be used in the construction of the high school. They've already constructed a separate washroom facility to comply with district COVID standards for high schools using these materials. We've been compensating any community members who participate monetarily and have thereby been able to provide a basic income source for many in the community during the pandemic when work has been very difficult to come by.
Of course you know about the crowdfund which we just raised close to $17,000 through. The funds from this will be going to the first developments of the high school in Piñán: their computer lab. Last year we purchased 10 laptop computers and had them shipped down to Ecuador and transported to Piñán. The community has been working for the last several months before the rain season began to complete a classroom to install these computers and create a computer lab for the students. We're also currently working on having an internet connection established for the school. Once this infrastructure is in place the students will be able to receive computer science classes, a curriculum requisite, as well as having access to wider study resources.
With a computer lab and internet we are also excited to start offering English classes to the students virtually, due to a lack of English teachers at a high school level. We've also begun discussions with a BC high school, Stanley Humphries HS, to create a pen pal program that will allow the students to practice english with kids their own age from another side of the world.
In terms of project projections this year, the construction of the actual high school facility will be taking place this summer, July/August. I'm hoping to travel down to participate in the last month of this build and, depending on the global health situation, would like to offer to bring volunteers along."
Thank you for the impact you're helping to make with our neighbours in Pinan! This community is close to where our Ecuadorian partners make our artisanal alpaca products - truly the reason why Pokoloko is even here. We hope the resources and access these young students receive help build the framework for young entrepreneurs who may one day work with Pokoloko too!