Ecuador: sorority at the base of a path of resilience and progress

Clara Moreno is the representative of «Creativas por la Vida», a group of 15 women heads of household and people with disabilities.

In the city of Tulcán, on Ecuador’s northern border with Colombia, there are several social and economic problems that differentially affect migrant women, women heads of household, women with disabilities and survivors of gender-based violence, problems that exacerbate their precarious economic conditions and lack of opportunities.

In this context, Entreculturas and the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Ecuador, in the framework of the work supported by Inditex, are generating spaces of protection and resilience that transcend the search for immediate solutions to the needs of humanitarian attention and international protection, in order to consolidate a common project of women who, from their diversity, are committed to building new dreams, healing wounds, overcoming obstacles and empowering themselves.

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Clara Moreno is the representative of «Creativas por la Vida», a group of 15 women heads of household and people with disabilities who joined together since 2017 to respond to the food needs of themselves and their families. Thanks to the Urbina Parish Council, they were provided with a plot of land for growing vegetables and medicinal plants for self-consumption, as well as the opportunity to better learn the planting-harvesting-consumption cycle. In 2019, they discovered the garden-therapy, which aims to develop therapeutic processes through the cultivation of organic agricultural products and medicinal plants, while they were expanding the field of distribution of the fruit of their collective work: in addition to achieving consumption for themselves and their families, they began to distribute what they harvested to other people in the community.

In their five-year journey, they have found new ways of life, coexistence, collaborative work and mutual care, revolving around the relationship with Mother Earth, its cultivation and the possibility of healthy and sovereign food. Her experience in it is so significant that she affirms: «it is very nice because it is not only about cultivating, there are moments when we sit down in the same place where we plant and talk about the things we want to cultivate and how we would like to see the garden«. 

The land, the crops, the food and the life became part of their union and their livelihood, and inspired much more creativity in them and their families. In 2021, with the support of JRS Ecuador and the parish government, they were able to train and implement a greenhouse, a drip irrigation system and the purchase of strawberries to be grown. In addition, they managed to become more visible to the community and also to the city of Tulcán, so they have been invited to different gastronomic, entrepreneurship and environmental fairs in the city.

In 2021, they were able to train and implement a greenhouse, a drip irrigation system and the purchase of strawberries to be grown.

«Thanks to the support of JRS,» Clara tells us, «the enterprise has been structurally strengthened and its members have also received psychological support; this has motivated the rest of the participants to be more united and to continue with the activity and generate new economic income».

Clara wants to continue contributing to the life of her group: she dreams of taking many other steps with her companions and that the group will be «an association where more women will join so that it will become stronger; and to learn to make what I have always dreamed of: fruit pulp and jams«. The group also aims to strengthen the Savings Bank and, to do so, they hope to harvest strawberries to make jams and ice cream, and also to commercialize agricultural products such as vegetables.

Supporting this venture has not only impacted the group of women who founded «Creativas por la vida», but now allows them to reach out to more people and benefit those in need in their community.

Clara wants to continue contributing to the life of her group: she dreams of taking many other steps with her companions and that the group will be «an association where more women will join so that it will become stronger»