(Centro de la Nina Trabjadora – Centre for the Working Girl – now called the Integrated Centre for children and young people)
CENIT works in a very poor area on the outskirts of Quito. Their focus is on children (and particularly the girls, who are at greater risk when wandering the streets alone) who have to work to support their families. Also, several other organisations deal mainly with boys, so there was a gap in the provisions when CENIT started. Because they are involved with families, they also get to work with all the siblings, so much of what they do is, in practice, for both boys and girls.
As far as possible, they try to facilitate early intervention, as there are acute risks for toddlers and very young children when the mother has to work, often leaving the child with slightly older siblings. There are serious risks associated with accident, infectious disease and with abuse. Parents may not be able to cope for a whole variety of reasons.
The main programme involves outreach, aimed at encouraging children to come to a Drop-in Centre. The outreach involves creating confidence, offering fun activities and friendship to working children, both boys and girls. The outreach workers go along with crayons, paper, jigsaws, games and books – and sometimes with a football or frisbee. CENIT call this stage HOPE.
The next stage is to get the children into an educational programme, generally with a strong family involvement. This may last for two to three years, and will include childhood development programmes and some formal education. A stage called TRUST.
The next programme, PERSEVERENCE, focuses on developing practical skills that will help the children to get formal employment with decent wages. This takes place in a Vocational High School.
The final stage is called AUTONOMY, where the children have completed the earlier programmes and are ready to take up a work placement or to get funded with a microenterprise grant. Support and advice is given both to the children and to their families.
CENIT also runs a medical centre with a free drop-in clinic once a week.
They provide a structured opportunity for volunteers who can commit to helping for more than two months. This can provide a particular opportunity for students doing a Spanish degree who are required to take a year out abroad in a Spanish speaking country.