Ecuadorian Exchange: learning from human rights groups in Quito (part 1 of 3)
by Yvonne Selase Nyahe, Coordinator of the Humanist Service Corps program in Ghana
When I arrived in Quito I was jet lagged and exhausted from two days of flights filled with lengthy and agonizing layovers. I was also suffering from altitude sickness coming from Ghana where the altitude is around 880 meters (compared to Quito’s 2,850 meters). However, I was excited to be in Ecuador and really looking forward to meeting and working with three non-profit groups, which we identified as working in program fields similar to the Humanist Service Corp in Ghana.
The purpose of my trip was to learn and exchange knowledge with these groups. I was hoping to exchange stories and methods about projects and partnerships that I could take back to Ghana and the HSC.
The first organization I met— Idea Dignidad— is a non profit whose mission is to promote human rights, eradicate inequalities and promote a life of dignity free from violence for all. Idea’s biggest focus point and longest running project is protecting women who have suffered physical abuse by creating support groups and providing advice, legal help, and psycho-social help. They have helped hundreds of women grow hope and strength, legally discipline and gain freedom from and their abusers, and rebuild an abuse-free life for themselves and their children. Idea is planning to start a livelihood training and support project for these women so they can become financially independent and provide their children's' basic needs.
Idea’s Protection project holds some similarities to our work in the alleged witch camps in Northern Ghana; both projects help and empower women who have suffered gross human rights abuses to rebuild a self-sustaining life of dignity free from abuse.
I was privileged not only to learn about Idea’s methods for helping the women beneficiaries of their protection project, but also to witness how they build and sustain partnerships with other organizations. One such partnership happens through their education program. Like HSC’s partnerships with local nonprofits in Ghana, Idea Dignidad provides advice and training for organizations to help improve and increase their performance. It was enlightening to see the process and the level of collaboration between the two organizations, which was based on mutual respect and a genuine commitment to help the marginalized and needy in Ecuador.
It was an honor to witness the dedication and drive of Idea Dignidad’s staff and volunteers; to witness the vision and leadership of Idea’s founding CO and President Myriam Perez; the dedication and hard work of lawyer Mirella Tonato and volunteer Marisol; and all the lawyers who volunteer their time and skills. I am certain that this is only the start of a long and fruitful relationship between HSC and Idea Dignidad.