Terre Sans Frontières (TSF) is one of three organizations that have been selected to receive financing from the Ministère des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie, for a three-year (2020-2023) Québec sans frontières (QSF) project focusing on the integration of people, children in particular, with physical or cognitive disabilities.
The project, called L’inclusion adaptée : l’art de briser les barrières et de construire ensemble (adapted inclusion: the art of breaking down barriers and building together), is the continuation of six annual QSF projects in Ecuador, including this year’s, to send approximately 40 physiotherapy students from the Université de Montréal school of rehabilitation. Another 20 or so volunteers also went to the country as part of TSF’s regular program.
TSF will continue to work with the same partner, the Unidad Educativa Especializada Fiscomisional Nuestra Señora Del Carmen (UEEFNSC). This school in Ricaurte offers specialized education services in a rural area that often lacks resources to meet specific needs. Also, families of children with disabilities are generally too poor to provide an environment where they can become more autonomous.
The objective during this three-year phase is to address certain issues that volunteers have identified over the years, such as the lack of tools and protocols to develop students’ motor and cognitive skills, inadequate disability-specific assessment and intervention methods, insufficient tools allowing students’ families to build on classroom learning, and the need for outreach in the community to facilitate the integration of people with disabilities into the local economy.
The project initiatives will allow everyone involved to participate in a teaching and learning process—not only educators and students, but also families, the Ricaurte community and QSF participants. The goal is to demystify disabilities and overcome prejudices while promoting human dignity, equality, equity, autonomy, gender equality and, in particular, socioeconomic inclusion within the community.
Ricaurte is located in the province of Los Rios, a banana-growing region where, according to Ecuador’s national council for persons with disabilities, 10% of the population, or 71,748 people, have a disability.
Researchers like Dr. Jaime Breilh, an epidemiologist and the rector of the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar in Quito, have suggested a possible link between the many pesticides used in Ecuador’s banana industry and the physical and cognitive disorders found in exposed communities.