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ECUADOR: Young woman from Indigenous community studies to become nurse

‘I want to make my dream come true through hard work’


(MissionNewswire) The Salesian Polytechnic University in Cayambe, Ecuador, provides education for poor youth from the sparsely populated local Indigenous community. Felisa is from this community and the only member of her family to study. She has six siblings and a 5-year-old son, and her dream is to become a nurse for rural communities. She is so dedicated to her studies that she travels three hours one way to get to school and then three hours home each day after classes.

Felisa said, “My dream is to graduate and I’m sacrificing everything I can to achieve this, but I’m also very afraid of the difficulties. There’s only one bus at 6:30 a.m. that takes me to the city. I’m always late for classes and if it breaks down, I have to ask for help along the way to get a ride on a motorbike.”

Besides her commitment to university, Felisa has many other responsibilities. “I get up at 4 a.m. to milk the cows, tidy the house and do the housework. Most days I come home at 10 p.m. and many times I don’t sleep in order to stay up and do my homework.”

The nursing degree at the Salesian Pontifical University requires nine semesters of courses. Felisa explained, “I’m in my second semester and thanks to Casa Campesina in Cayambe, I can pay half of the tuition fees. This university caught my attention because it cares about the Indigenous population. That’s why I always want to be able to do my homework, even though it’s sometimes impossible because I have no internet.”

Felisa has already started putting what she’s learning into action. “I participate in my community as much as possible and also work as a health promoter. I participated in several workshops and realized I liked sharing and helping children and people in need. In my area, there’s a lot of malnutrition and the climate is very harsh because of the sun and the altitude.”

A friend who works at a health center in the Cangahua community encouraged her to study. Felisa added, “Now, although I am not a professional, I try to guide and support those who ask me questions or need something from me.”

Felisa has started the practical training part of her studies. Once a week she travels to school communities far from the city to check eyesight, weigh and measure the students, and teach them good practices regarding nutrition and hygiene.

Neither Felisa’s classmates nor most of her teachers are aware of the situation she faces every day on her way to university. She said, “I want to make my dream come true through hard work, so I am worried and scared of the difficulties. I don’t know if I’ll be able to continue paying for my studies, so I know I have to do my best every day.”

Ecuador is one of the most inequitable societies in the world, according to UNICEF. The richest 20% of the population receives almost 50% of the national income, while the poorest 20% receives only 5%. According to the World Food Program, almost 26% of all children under age 5 have stunted growth, increasing to 31% in rural areas and 47%  in Indigenous communities.

Salesians provide social development and educational programs across Ecuador to help poor youth gain an education and the skills for later employment. The skills they learn ensure they are able to care for themselves and their families while being contributing members of their communities.



ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)

ANS – Ecuador – Felisa, the young indigenous peasant girl who dreams of becoming a nurse

Salesian Polytechnic University

Salesian Missions – Ecuador

UNICEF – Ecuador

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