Special Needs and Crafts Centre in Ecuador

Posted on the 29th March 2019

Escuela Especial y Centro de Formacion Artesanal, San Jose de Calasanz, Cuenca, Ecuador

Special School and Artisan Training Centre, San Jose de Calasanz, in Cuenca, Ecuador.

Volunteer in Special Needs Art Centre in Ecuador

After a few days of getting to know the beautiful city of Cuenca, in Ecuador, Kika our local representative took me to visit two of our fantastic Lattitude volunteers on placement- Emily and Margaret.

Volunteers in Special Needs Art Centre in Ecuador

San Jose is a school and centre for people with disabilities and additional needs.  San Jose was founded in 1996, as there was a need for a special needs school in Cuenca. Unlike the UK, there are not many resources for people with disabilities here, and at San Jose students can complete their basic education. Once they graduate are trained in various different things, such as sewing, baking, woodwork, painting, art, music and ceramics. The students sell the handicrafts that they have made, to help fund the centre. The centre depends upon donations, as it is not state funded, and they are in dire need of more volunteers to help their vulnerable students.

Volunteer in Special Needs Art Centre in Ecuador

We met the director of the school and centre, who was extremely welcoming and impressed with the great work our volunteers do.  The staff and volunteers at San Jose feel passionate about providing a good education, skills and care to their students, and the centre feels like a family, where students, teachers and volunteers are so happy and content. Every student I met was beaming with smiles, and happy to show off their work, give out hugs, and pose for photos.  We were even lucky enough to try some of the bread made by the students at the bakery. It was delicious!

Volunteer in Special Needs Art Centre in Ecuador

San Jose uses various different teaching techniques, using social life and art as motivations for learning, and also enabling skill and emotional growth of the students. The school expresses that they ‘educate for freedom, for democracy and for equality, respecting the skills of our students,’ and I couldn’t agree more. I was particularly impressed by the art teacher, who after teaching certain techniques, lets the students freely paint using their own forms and expressions. In each student he highlighted their potential, their personal styles and inner thoughts. He knew them so well, and in that classroom they were not people with disabilities, and additional needs, but artists.

Volunteer in Special Needs Art Centre in Ecuador

Volunteer in Special Needs Art Centre in Ecuador

Lattitude volunteers at this placement help within these classes, they look after students during break and lunchtimes, and provide emotional support and care to the students. San Jose desperately needs volunteers to help day to day. If you want to be able to make a real difference, then this is a very worthwhile placement.

You can find more about San Jose de Calasanz here: https://www.institutocalasanz.org/

And if this has inspired you to volunteer in this or similar community organisations, please check out our Community Volunteer Programmes , or in Ecuador in general, please see more details on Lattitude’s Ecuador Page.

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