Child to Child workshop in Ecuador connects indigenous cosmovision with today’s issues
Sumak Kawsay is an indigenous Kichwa term meaning “Buen Vivir” or “Good Living“. Rather than our interpretation of an easy or carefree lifestyle, the term refers to a cosmovision reflected in indigenous South American cultures and calls for living in harmony with oneself, nature, and living beings. Sumak Kawsay emphasises core values, spirituality, ethics, and a connection with Pachamama (Mother Earth). Child to Child step methodology, with its emphasis on giving children voice and supporting their rights-based active participation, is consistent with the Sumak Kawsay cosmovision. This union of Child to Child methodology and the core values of Sumak Kawsay was the theme of a recent international workshop held in Cuenca, Ecuador and sponsored by Centro Niño a Niño, Action on Antibiotic Resistance (ReAct), and The University of Azuay (Ecuador).
Centro Niño a Niño was founded in the early 1990s by Dr. Arturo Quizhpe, a pediatrician who learned about Child to Child while studying in London, brought it back to his native Ecuador, and incorporated the step methodology to local issues facing children and families. For over twenty years, children in the picturesque Andean city of Cuenca have been encouraged and supported to be protagonists in issues that affect their health and wellbeing, and that of their families and communities.
Recent international workshop in Ecuador
In the opinion of the forty participants who recently attended a four-day workshop in Cuenca on Sumak Kawsay and harmony with the microbial world, the step methodology of Child to Child reflects the natural inquisitiveness and creativity of children, and their good will to “take care of things smaller than they are.” Participants hailed from Ecuador, Uruguay, Argentina, El Salvador, Sweden, and the United States and represented professions as diverse as teachers, nutritionists, children’s librarians, early childhood specialists, university professors, and community organizers. All saw an application of Child to Child and Sumak Kawsay within their fields.
The step methodology of Child to Child promotes active learning and critical thinking skills, with each step conducted using techniques appropriate for children. Thus, the children identify the most important issues affecting them by implementing a participative community analysis using brightly coloured cut-outs that help them prioritize issues based on frequency, seriousness, and possibility of improvement. Children then study the issue through simple investigations and analytical tools. They review community assets, decide on an action plan, implement that action, and evaluate the results. These actions can range from skits and puppet shows to large-scale campaigns. Appropriate to the values of Sumak Kawsay and harmony with nature, puppets and theatre props are made from recycled material.
Games make learning fun
Games are a key element of Child to Child methodology. Playing games together breaks down the adult-child dyad, and also helps underscore a theme. A twist on the traditional game of “Musical Chairs” (making it non-competitive) promotes cooperation. Creating a “spider web” with yarn demonstrates how all living things are interconnected.
According to teacher Byron Baez, “The (Child to Child) activities have helped me learn the perspectives of the children and support the projects from their point of view.” The participants reviewed Child to Child methodology and the core principles of child participation in the morning, then applied what they learned in the afternoon working with children.
University professor Giselle Tur commented, “As adults, we fail to recognize that since childhood we are researchers, and we need to recuperate our curiosity and activate our inner child.”
It was evident from the workshop participants’ faces that they were having as much fun as the children.