- HOW OLD ARE THE CHILDREN TAKEN IN BY "THE CHILDREN' S HOME" OF FUNDACIÓN AMI?
They are children between 0 and 4 years old. “La Casa de los Niños” was created to care for children in their Early Childhood, taking into account that for special reasons they could stay with us until they are 4 years old.
- THERE ARE MANY INSTITUTIONS THAT CARE FOR ORPHANED, ABANDONED OR TROUBLED CHILDREN. WHAT MAKES AMI DIFFERENT?
Our work is guided by these principles: 1) To attend to people without judgments of value, without conditioning or pressure. 2) To favor the satisfaction of the sensory, motor and affective needs of the child. 3) Caring for children is not a matter of patience or capacity to bear them, because if you run out of patience, you can't bear them and they are easily abused. Knowing and understanding their manifestations of well-being, discomfort and sadness and the mechanisms of pain of the organism, guides us in our work. It's not a charity or charity work. It is a work for the dignity of the child and the family.
One of our objectives is the reintegration of the child into his or her family and society. This vision seems fundamental to us to favor both the process of constructing identity in children and the social integration and recognition of each member of their family as a legitimate citizen.
We provide long-term support to families who are taking in their children again. Adults who have their children in institutions are people with many personal and social difficulties. Sometimes professional and respectful accompaniment is necessary for a certain period of time so that they can, by themselves, make important decisions and work to restructure their lives. This is entirely possible if you respect the time each person needs.
- THE WAY THE CHILDREN ARE TAKEN CARE FOR AT AMI, IS IT BECAUSE THEY ARE "DIFFERENT" OR BECAUSE THEY DESERVE SPECIAL TREATMENT FOR HAVING FACED HARSHER CONDITIONS THAN OTHER CHILDREN?
Every child deserves a respectful treatment, to be considered in his feelings, in his expressions, in his needs and to be attended with concrete references of affection and acceptance in an environment that corresponds to the satisfaction of his sensory and motor needs. This is what we offer to the children who come to "La Casa de los Niños".
- ARE CHILDREN EXPECTED TO RECOVER AND THEN RETURN TO "NORMAL" TREATMENT?
Yeah. Yeah. An abandoned, abused child is a sick and extremely sad being. Your recovery is only possible in an environment where you feel loved and respected, where you have the opportunity to discover how great and extraordinary it is. An environment where he finds security, understanding and tenderness to trust in himself and also to see his difficulties and sorrows, where he finds references of a harmonious coexistence and discover his capacity to make appropriate decisions in his own life.
We note, with each child leaving "La Casa de los Niños" to his or her family, that the set of these references in their daily life is the only guarantee that they can adapt to any environment. Only when in his life he has "tasted" the taste of good treatment, he is able to revert it where it is, even in the most difficult circumstances. With much intelligence and generosity, look for the best options.
- WHAT IS THE ROLE OF ADULTS WHO CARE FOR THE CHILDREN IN THE PREPARED ENVIRONMENT?
To maintain the qualities of the environment prepared and relaxed, to facilitate the autonomous and sensory-motor activity of the child, to provide a deep affective attention, to treat him/her without conditionings, pressures or expectations. Take care that there are no dangers in the environment, assess the child's capacity to make himself/herself, give him/her the opportunity to express him/herself as he/she is, prepare to understand it, watch over his/her health, take care of his/her development reports in the Institution.
- CAN CHILDREN DO AS THEY PLEASE? ISN' T THAT TOO ANARCHIC?
“La Casa de los Niños” is a place to live, where children spontaneously find multiple ways and resources to meet their sensory-motor and emotional needs. A suitable environment for their growth requires few, simple and clear house rules. For example, do not assault other children, return toys to their places, or wash hands before eating. They are very important references to achieve harmonious coexistence.
The child feels safe and loved when we don't let him/her do anything and set limits with firmness and affection, not punishment. To care for them with dignity, we are guided by situations of practical life: a child who behaves badly is because he feels bad, because he suffers. The manifestations of unrest are attended to by accompanying the children and, if they allow us, with physical contact, with affectivity.
- WHAT QUALIFICATIONS DO CAREGIVERS HAVE IN “LA CASA DE LOS NIÑOS"? WHAT KIND OF TRAINING DO THEY RECEIVE?
They are high school graduates who share a shared interest in the child and openness to a change of attitude. Before attending to the children in "La Casa de los Niños", they are prepared in the Institution to acquire skills and basic knowledge to treat them with respect. Once they are able to work alone with the children, they attend face-to-face meetings as needed, weekly work area meetings and a training meeting for all staff each month.
- THIS ALL SOUNDS GREAT, BUT DO YOU HAVE ANY CONCRETE RESULTS? HOW MANY CHILDREN HAVE YOU CARED FOR SO FAR?
It doesn't just sound good. Both the 45 children who have returned to their families and the 12 who are still in the institution are healthy and happy. The children's departure was possible because they were able to captivate the approach of their parents or relatives when they visited them in "La Casa de los Niños" and they discovered them so beautiful, affectionate and joyful, very different from the children they took as obstacles and with whom they did not know what to do.
The children managed to arouse in these adults an interest in learning how to treat them as people and not as objects. Professional staff prepared by AMI contributed and continues to contribute to the personal processes of these adults.
- HOW ARE AMI' S ACTIVITIES AND SUPPORT OF “LA CASA DE LOS NIÑOS” FINANCED?
The Friends of Life Foundation was legally created in 2003. The house in which "La Casa de los Niños" operates was built and equipped with the founders' own resources, who also pay part of the expenses. Funding is exclusively private, thanks mainly to the Graine d' Affection institutions in Switzerland and France, which channel the contributions of an extensive network of private friends and some private companies. If you are interested in being part of this network of collaborators you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- I HAVE HEARD THAT EARLY STIMULATION GIVES VERY GOOD RESULTS FOR CHILDREN. DO YOU USE THIS TECHNIQUE IN “LA CASA DE LOS NIÑOS"?
Early Stimulation is a set of techniques that aim to influence the capacity of children at an early age to achieve competencies that appeal and amaze adults in the shortest possible time. We do not agree with this. We trust in the wisdom of the organism, in the way that nature has determined its development processes. The consequences of early stimulation are severe.
Forcing the child to "leapfrog" ahead of his or her natural process in order to meet other people's expectations eventually cancels out the mechanisms of interaction with the environment and leads to a dead end: boredom, lack of concentration and creativity. This causes much suffering. The child integrates the feeling of being accepted and loved when the people who care for him/her understand and do not force them to do things that they are not yet ready to do: change their posture, sit down, walk, eat alone, talk.
- THIS WAY OF WORKING IS NEW. ARE THERE OTHER INSTITUTIONS THAT USE SIMILAR METHODS?
Hungary is home to the Emmi Pikler Institute in Budapest, founded more than 50 years ago, whose work has inspired "La Casa de los Niños" and other institutions in Europe, Latin America and Asia. Here in Ecuador there was a very important experience in which the founders of the Friends of Life Foundation participated. It was developed for approximately 30 years in an approach of education through the autonomous and spontaneous activity of children and adolescents. The work of the AMI Foundation is largely based on this experience.
- IN “LA CASA DE LOS NIÑOS" THEY TAKE CARE OF THE CHILDREN VERY WELL, BUT THEN THEY TAKE THEM BACK TO THEIR FAMILIES, WHERE, BECAUSE OF THEIR ECONOMIC SITUATION AND HABITS, THE CONDITIONS MAY NOT BE THE SAME. IS IT WISE TO GET THEM USED TO SOMETHING THEY CAN' T HAVE LATER?
Many people who have come to visit us have told us:"How good it is that the children are here, how happy they look, everything is done for them, but... when they leave... they will not be treated like that..." So we ask ourselves, will we have to mistreat the children here too, so that they are better prepared for the outside world? Isn't the abuse you've lived through enough?
The logic of life doesn't work like that. Choosing one or another quality of life and building ourselves around it is only possible if we can choose. If a child is abused by his mother, his family, at school... what do you have to choose? What can you give? You can only give what you have. If you are humiliated, raped, abandoned, what can you give to others?
- DOES AMI COLLABORATE WITH OTHER INSTITUTIONS?
With some and at different levels, at home and abroad. We are part of a network of Protective Homes and work with early childhood protection institutions and justice authorities at local, regional and national levels. We participate in different meetings and activities with government institutions in the definition of projects and strategies for the attention to vulnerable sectors, such as child victims of abuse and violence or with different capacities.
We contribute with different institutions from various parts of the country with consultations, talks, workshops and seminars in the perspective of a responsible and warm treatment of the child and his or her family. We maintain a very respectful and collaborative relationship with institutions for adolescent care, where some of the mothers of children from "La Casa de los Niños" are housed.
We are active members of Red RIEE in Ecuador, Association International Pikler (lóczy) AIP (L), Red Pikler Nuestra América and World Forum, where we are part of the working group on care for children in institutions. We have frequent exchanges of experiences with other professionals from various countries in Latin America, Europe, Japan and other parts of the world. We are very close to the Graine d' affection Associations of Switzerland and France, who contribute to our financial support.
We also have the support of "Insolites Batisseurs" the foundation of "Voyageurs du Monde".