TSF’s 2019–2020 Québec Sans Frontières (QSF) project, which originally entailed sending young volunteers specializing in physiotherapy to Ecuador, underwent a complete overhaul due to COVID-19.
The pandemic made it impossible to send volunteers, so the project instead addressed specific needs identified by our partner in the field, the Unidad Educativa Especializada Fiscomisional Nuestra Señora del Carmen, a specialized school with a mission to provide comprehensive services and improve living conditions for people, particularly children, with physical and intellectual disabilities.
Information and communication technology was central to every new activity, to ensure ongoing support for 80 children and their families while the school was closed.
Six teachers and three administrators received training on a new reading and writing assistance method, and on how to implement and use distance-learning and communication tools to teach it. Eight mobile phones were purchased for the teachers, making it easier for them to check in on the children via the parents’ devices.
TSF also funded the hire of a physical therapist to teach families exercises using Zoom.
The school is developing a new website as well, so that teachers and families can keep in touch, children can access resources and do individual work online, and the general public can find information and learn about social inclusion.
The QSF participants that were due to go to Ecuador will contribute by putting information about special education online.
Internet access, the crux of the matter, is prepaid by the day and made available to some 20 children whose parents don’t have a connection.
What’s more, the new QSF project includes a food and economic security component. Family gardens will be established through training by an agronomist and seed donations. Members of a women’s association will also obtain credit to launch small businesses in food services, homemade personal hygiene products and small livestock.