The number of people who asked for charity during the Christmas season was reduced in the last 8 years. Last year, the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES) found 983 people on the streets; in 2010, when the Da Dignidad campaign 8give dignity) started, there were 8 200.
Through this program, which seeks to reduce begging, it was possible to prevent the departure of children and adults from their communities. They have received credits, the Human Development Bonus and talks to get involved in other activities. For the MIES, the provinces of the mountains have been identified as the areas where more people come out to ask for charity. And the cities of Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca are their recurring destinations. For example, in provinces such as Tungurahua, 2 600 people were taken from the streets in a begging situation. In Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, there have been 256 cases. One of those families is María’s, 11 years old. She lives in the commune El Saladero, of the Pilahuín parish (Tungurahua). Last year, she was held for four days at the Santa Marianita Orphanage, along with her two cousins.
Agents of the Dinapen surprised them on the Ambato-Guaranda road asking for candy and toys for Christmas. Their mother Juana Pandashina did not know what happened. “I went to Ambato but I could not see it, they said that I had to commit not to send her to ask for help on the tracks because it is dangerous, since then they stopped going”.
Maria’s family also receives the Bonus, candy and toys every year. Your economic situation changed. Last year they extended a MIES loan for USD 1 130. With that, they bought a cow and sheep, and six of the 8 liters of milk they obtain daily, sell them. “With USD 45 a week I buy food and pay for the studies of my three children. I also produce beans and potatoes, “says Pandashina. According to a MIES report from Tungurahua, from the parishes of Pasa, Quisapincha, Pilahuín, Unamuncho, the largest number of children came to beg. Currently the control is carried out with the help of the Ministry of Education, which ensures that children do not miss classes. “When there is an abnormality, the teachers and authorities go to the house to find out what happened,” said Fabricio Velasteguí, director of MIES in Tungurahua.
The family of Eufemia Mendoza, 70, also belongs to the group of people who have left begging. They live in Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas. When Mendoza’s husband died 20 years ago he left his native Junín (Manabí) for the tsáchila province in search of work. “I was desperate. We had no place to sleep and I had no choice but to ask for money in the streets. “Four years ago, she was approached by Da Dignidad technicians, who took her to a Health Center and helped her manage the bonus.
With that money he rented a house. Now, Mendoza is dedicated to washing the clothes of his neighbors. “I have managed to reunite and my grandchildren are going to school. We just needed a little push. ” According to the District Directorate of MIES in Santo Domingo, 312 families have been identified in a state of begging since 2012. Of that amount, 256 have been reinserted into other activities. Some families receive attention from MIES and others from organizations such as the Calazanz Foundation.
Fanny Moncada, coordinator of the Begging Project of this Foundation, recognizes that there are still people living on the street. This organization has identified 25 cases, so far in 2017. The MIES estimates that these people leave more frequently on the streets, from December 18 to 25. In Chimborazo, the children’s camps and the delivery of donations in Colta, Guamote, Alausí and Chunchi, have been the strategies with the most results in the reduction of begging according to the MIES.
Between 2015 and 2016, in Chimborazo, 292 families were removed from the streets during Christmas. However, it is estimated that at least 2,500 people are vulnerable and continue on the streets. “People leave their communities on these dates and go to cities like Quito and Ambato to beg. We have made progress, but it is a big challenge “, says the provincial director of MIES, Luis Vásquez. In large cities, actions to reduce begging are also promoted by the Municipal Board. According to this entity, since 2015 1,212 people have been approached in begging, indigence and substance use. About 20% have been reintegrated into several social rehabilitation projects. (I)