Ko’eju, Chacarita, Asunción
September 7-8. Asunción.
On the stretch of land between the Bay of Asunción and the pink parliament building is the famous Barrio Chacarita, where hundreds of poor families are living. Ko’eju is a Christian organisation offering vocational training and gatherings. We support a family with equipment to set up a micro-business that sells juice and organize a very short theatre workshop for the children.
||“To support empoverished families living in the Chacarita high-density area”
||12 staff members
||reaching out to about 400 children, plus adults
||900,000 guarani (188 USD), plus materials to start a micro-business
|Pigs live in the community stable
On the narrow stretch of land between the fancy pink parliament building and the bay of Asunción, lies the shantytown of Chakarita, a collection of makeshift ironsheet dwellings, crumbled brick buildings with narrow muddy allayways cutting through them, dirty plains dotted by heaps of garbage, poles and roaming dogs and swine. There is the barrio Chino, a tiny area thus baptized because of its very narrow allyways. There is the soccer field facing towards the pink facade of the country’s democracy, where the residents of the slum often hang out, tossing and kicking around their ragged leather balls. And there are the many police officers walking back and forth along the edge of the slum – they hardly ever go in. They seem to be a symbolic buffer to seperate the Chakarita from the nation’s official face. The president’s palace is a stone’s throw away, and the Head of State would see the misery of the Chakarita when glancing out of his office window, even on a foggy day.
On the verge of that slum, located in a picturesque corner building, sits a Christian based organization called Ko’eju (amanecer in Quetchua) that reaches out to the community of Chakarita with a range of services and activities. Obviously, there are bible schools and faith related activities on Saturday evenings and services on Sundays.
But Ko’eju doesn’t exist to win souls. They are committed to professional poverty eradication and education programs and their engagement has proven to be very successful.
Most notably (to our nostrils) is the bakery that employs residents of the slum and offers them vocational training. Ko’eju also offers hairdressing training, English classes, computer training, cooking classes, and more. There is also woman’s self help group that meets weekly, where about twenty women share their experiences, for example, regarding setting up their own small business or making ends meet. This is not always easy, and as a result malnutrition is prolific in the Chakarita. Ko’eju therefor runs a comedor where 400 children come to eat, one group at the time. In cooperation with academic volunteers, Ko’eju has also organised free medical support as well as audiological training.
The pastor is a very kind and driven man, and shows profound insight in the plight of the people of the Chakarita, and the pro-active attitude that we admire so much in people managing an NGO. We have a truly nice conversation, and could readily share experiences and ideas. We decide to support a selected family to set up a microbusiness to become a bright and uplifting example for their neigbours.
A good example can inspire
We support one particularly poor family setting up a microbusiness that will be selling juice and empanadas. Alicia Quevedo and her husband Arnaldo Cardozo have five young children and are unemployed. She had the idea to start the microbusiness but lacked funding and assistance to live the spirit of entrepreneurship.
We buy a liquadora, a blender, for the juice stand, and donate money for other supplies, such as a cart, that she might need to develop her microbusiness. Under the supervision of Ko’eju, the business will be started up step by step, and after the successful completion of one step, the rest of the money will be made available.
On October 7th, 2010, we hear that the microbusiness has been initiated in front of the well-known “Stock” supermarket and that Mrs. Alicia works there from monday to friday from 7am to noon. They are preparing to sell fruit salads and juices because the hot season is coming.
We hope that she and her family will be successful and eventually inspire other visitors and other empoverished families to come together and follow the example.