Swattie helps indigenous in Ecuador find new educational opportunities

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Initially using money from the Evans scholarship as seed money, Katie Chamblee ’07 along with her business partner in Ireland have set-up Fundaci—n Educani–os, a program that allows children from the indigenous tribes located in the mountains of Otavalo, Ecuador to attend school. To make her program far-reaching, Chamblee solicited large donations to pay for lodging, transportation, uniforms and tutors of the children so that they could attend high school. Chamblee and her partner are working on expanding their program, which originated in Otavalo, into various other parts of Ecuador that provide either insufficient education or none at all. Two more villages have been added since the inception of the program.

Having already established the non-profit organization in Ecuador, Chamblee is currently in the process of grant-writing to establish it in the U.S. To further cement the organization in the U.S., Chamblee is looking to involve talented high school students to think of innovative ways to present a fundraising plan to keep the education program running. Currently this opportunity is only available to students in the Charlotte-Mecklenberg district of North Carolina where students are asked to conceive a business plan using $1000. In addition to successful fundraising, Chamblee adds that she is looking for high school students who are respectful of potential problems such as cultural differences and sensitivities. In addition, Chamblee comments that she want American high school students to not see helping Ecuadorian students as charity “but as a collaboration to help people.” The program is based on the help of the community as many volunteers serve as tutors. Since Chamblee obviously cannot be at the school at all times, there is a project manager and a lawyer to manage day to day activities.

In addition to sending children from rural areas to schools in towns, Chamblee’s organization is currently in the process of creating a school in the rural area so that children don’t have to travel far into town and can stay in their commuity. “We don’t want to build a one-room school, we want to build a school with real opportunities for literacy and change the whole family dynamic,” adds Chamblee. Providing education to the indigenous tribes will allow students to become successful businessmen and help provide less cheap labor to other countries. “This is an opportunity to help the whole village,” finalizes Chamblee.

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