What is the Working Boys’ Center?
The Working Boys’ Center is a Jesuit ministry located in Quito, Ecuador. The Center was founded in 1964 to address the educational needs of boys working on the streets of Quito shining shoes. Soon afterward, the program was expanded to include the entire family and the Working Boys’ Center was born. Since its inception, the Center’s overarching objective has been to eliminate poverty among working children and their families. To date, over 6,000 families or around 30,000 people have left poverty forever as a result of the Center’s programs.
The Working Boys’ Center promotes the practice of ten moral values: loyalty, personal development, family, religion, education, economy, work, recreation, health, and housing. Their programs include a comprehensive education program, which begins with nursery school and ends with adult continuing education courses, and a healthcare initiative program that provides medical and dental care to Quito families. The Center’s kitchen serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily to 2,000 people. Lastly, the Center also assists Ecuadorans in obtaining loans to start their own businesses.
Before working with the Working Boys Center:
60.3% of people lived in a single-room dwelling
73% of people had access to a sewer system
12% of people had telephone service
52.9% of people had seen a doctor for preventive purposes
40.5% of people had running water
After working with the Working Boys Center:
Only 2.9% of people lived in a single-room dwelling
More than 96% of beneficiaries had access to a sewer system
59.2% of people attained telephone service
More than 63.2% had seen a doctor for preventive purposes
94.7% of people had running water
What do McQuaid Jesuit students do?
The goal of a Jesuit education is to form “women and men with and for others.” In Ecuador, this goal is engaged by McQuaid Jesuit students by providing them with opportunities for being “with” and “for” the people they meet and serve. McQuaid Jesuit men spend a lot of time “with” the families and children who belong to the Center. This includes informal opportunities like competing in pick-up soccer games, engaging in spontaneous conversations, and observing the classroom experiences. It also includes a full day of visiting the homes of several Center families, trips to a local markets where families purchase food, clothing and other items of daily life. McQuaid Jesuit men spend a day learning one of the trades taught at the Center by shadowing one of the older students in his or her daily class. Our men also celebrate Mass together with students and their families at various Center liturgies.
In addition to being “with” the members of the Center, McQuaid Jesuit men are also “for” them. This includes assisting in the preparation and serving of a daily meal for boys and girls in the school. Our men also participate in a day-long “minga” or “work project” at the homes of families. This could include cleaning, building, painting, etc. Finally, our men also engage in small maintenance projects at the Center, itself.
In addition to the “mission goals” of the experience, our men also have the opportunity to learn more about Quito and the surrounding area. Participants spend a day in the city, sampling various cuisines, and touring historic sites. There are also opportunities available for sightseeing throughout the Quito metro area.
Finally, all participants participate in daily reading, reflection and prayer, both as a group and as individuals.
What are our living arrangements?
McQuaid Jesuit students who serve at the Working Boys’ Center live with other volunteers in the “Volunteer Center.” The residence houses year-long as well as short-term volunteers and their chaperones. Students live in traditional dorm rooms with three other classmates. Each room has four bunk beds, a bathroom and shower. The staff of the Volunteer Center provides food for breakfast and lunch, and they prepare dinners five nights a week. The staff also ensures potable water is available to all volunteers.
How do we prepare for the experience?
McQuaid Jesuit abides by the Center for Disease Control’s advisement that travelers to Ecuador receive vaccinations for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Tetanus, and Typhoid. Please do not make arrangements for these vaccines before our first orientation meeting in January. For more information on staying healthy while traveling abroad, click here.
Students will need a valid passport to travel to Ecuador. Students who do not have a passport should apply for one immediately.
While internet and phone access is available at the Center, students will not have access to their personal mobile devices. All communication will be made through the chaperones, and emergency contact information will be provided. In addition, chaperones will communicate daily to parents through email and other social media.
Students and parents attend monthly planning meetings and reflections, which will begin in January 2017. These are MANDATORY. Dates will be forthcoming.