Inti Sisa, which means sunflower in Kichwa (the local Indigenous language) is a community project in Guamote, one of the most traditional regions of Ecuador: 95 percent of the people are Indigenous (compared to only 7 percent in the whole country). Since the Spanish conquest in 1534 till the seventies the Indigenous people had to work as slaves on big haciendas and didn’t have access to education. Only in 1972-1973 big agricultural reforms took place and as a result the Indigenous people, finally, little by little got more chances
Sadly enough, up until today, Guamote is still one of the poorest and less developed regions of the country.
Inti Sisa (founded in 1999) focuses at (young) adults who barely got any educational opportunities and on the support of the local primary and secondary schooling. In our educational center in the village we organize sewing classes, English courses, traditional Andean music class, computer courses and homework support. In our kinder garden we have 42 tree and four year old toddlers. In 3 different local, mainly very poor mountain schools around Guamote we help with the donation of educational materials and we make sure the 100 children get a healthy lunch every day. And at the end of every school year we organize school trips so these children also get the chance to see some of their beautiful country. Our computer teacher visits various schools to teach computer science and also our sewing teacher goes weekly to 2 different mountain communities to teach sewing to the members of the local women organizations. Furthermore we work with Mamita Mia on a project for single mothers who we help to cover the study costs of their children. And in at the beginning of the school year in 2019, we started with the Aflatoun teaching program in different communities: a program about social and financial entrepreneurship, about daring to dream and believing in your own possibilities.
Since 2004 we have a beautiful, cozy hotel and we organize tours to national parks, visits to Indigenous communities and cooking workshops. The income we make from we use to finance the daily functioning of our project. In the hotel, mainly low-educated (Indigenous) women work, and apart from an honest wage they also get unique training (cooking, accounting,…) chances.
“Inti Sisa is an inter-cultural, inter-national and inter-etnical project, a place where people from all nationalities, all ages, all backgrounds and all religions can meet. It is a unique project in a unique village with unique people!”
History of the foundation
Inti Sisa started in 1999 as a purely educational project. When Greta Koninckx and Philip De Bruyne were travelling through Ecuador in the early ‘90’s, they were really struck by the living conditions of the people in and around Guamote, but also very impressed by their spirit and their eagerness to move forward in life. From the question “What can I do for you” grew Inti Sisa. People were asking specifically for help in education. The first volunteers, who came from Belgium to Guamote, went with motorbikes to the different communities to help the local teachers. Thanks to the huge efforts of Greta and Philip enough money was collected to build an educational center in Guamote itself, where we started teaching sewing, computer, English and music. And if you want women to come to your center, you need a place where they can leave there children for a while. So we started a daycare for children so women could follow a course or look for a job. Early 2001, the first bricks of the new educational center and the guest house were laid down. This guesthouse was founded with the goal of funding the educational project. And in 2004 the new educational center and the guesthouse were opened. From 2012 till 2015 the hotel got a complete make-over. In 2012 the existing part got an extra floor on top of it. And the whole place was renovated. In 2014 we united forces with Colorful Ecuador Travels, a travel agency in Quito. The land next doors was bought and 12 new rooms and a beautiful sitting area were added to the hotel. So since 2015 we have 24 rooms and some very cozy living spaces full with original artwork.
And we managed to get together a great team!
Want to help?
One way you can help the Inti Sisa foundation and community, is by filling some empty space in your suitcase or backpack with things that are very welcome in Guamote! We could very much use the following materials for our projects: used laptops, (winter)clothing for all ages (especially for children, for adults keep in mind that the people in Guamote aren’t that tall so a size medium max, for shoes up to a size 38 for women and 40 for men), personal hygiene products, coloured pencils, coloured markers, rulers, pencils, erasers, sharpeners… Please do not buy notebooks at home. Unfortunately we can´t use those because schools have very specific requirements. We know that children like sweets, but the kids here are just as happy with a piece of fruit or a hot meal, AND you can buy it here and support a local vender from Guamote!
While you’re at it, you could make our two Belgian and one Dutch employee very happy with some real chocolate! 😉
Please do not feel obligated to bring anything, since many people mentioned they consider it a loss only hearing about the projects needs when they visit us in Ecuador, we wanted to inform you before coming.
Our volunteers and interns
We work with volunteers and interns from all over the world. Their task is supporting our local staff in any area like the guesthouse, workshops or kindergarten. Since the early years, many different volunteers and interns have dedicated their time to the Inti Sisa foundation and Inti Sisa Art Guesthouse. This always has been a win-win situation. Volunteers and interns gain unique experiences and develop talents and skills that will serve them a lifetime. And every time the Inti Sisa team gets inspired by these engaged and enthusiastic youngsters.
Guamote is a region where socio-economic circumstances do not make life easy, neither for the local population, nor for volunteers or interns. Life is tough around here and services are basic. But the gratitude of the people and the enthusiasm of the kids will definitely make up for it!
If you are interested in an internship or volunteering please contact Eva Gielis at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please keep in mind we look for people that can stay for a longer period of time.
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