Thanks to all our wonderful customers we have been able to send a donation to the child care centre in San Roque that they have used to buy a machine to weigh the children. Apparently it’s a bit more than just a pair of scales. This will help the carers to keep track of the children’s health. They regularly weigh and measure the kids to plot their develoment against the standards for Ecuador. Just like we keep track of our kid’s developent here in Australia. We hope to have photos of the machine in use soon….
The BIG NEWS is that Little Amigos has broken even after a great winter with many supportive customers and retailers. Thank you! We now hope to be able to support the kids in a more sustainable way….. We are awaiting a list of their needs which we will prioritise and hope to be able to tick off as time goes by.
So remember, not only are you buying a fantastic item of clothing, you are also helping those much less fortunate than us. The child care centre really is an oasis for the kids.
Winter 2009 saw Little Amigos knitwear in over 15 retail stores across the country. The feedback from the retailers and their customers has been fantastic! Everyone has been impressed with the quality, wool/cotton mix and durability for a great price. many customers have said they wouldn’t even be able to buy the wool to knit a jumper for the price.
All the retailers are now sold out and eagerly awaiting news of next winter’s styles ready to get on their order books.
“My kids have absolutely thrashed their jumpers and worn them to everything over winter. I’ve just thrown them in the washing machine and they still look the day we got them!” - Kate, Moree
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Clare and James Knight worked at the San Roque child care centre in Ecuador’s capital, Quito in 2007. It is a child care centre for children aged 1 to 6 whose parents are indigenous and have come to Quito from the countryside to work in the markets at San Roque. Without the centre the children would have to spend the day with their parents whilst they worked, often just sitting around a market stall. The centre gives the children somewhere to go for the day where they can play and participate in classroom sessions.
The centre was set up in some rooms underneath a primary school that were originally used for storage. The space was dark, cold and miserable, nothing like the facilities most of us imagine when we think of a child care centre. The dim lighting was turned on by touching two naked wires together near the entrance, just out of reach of most of the children; the front door was held closed with a shoe lace; there were 2 toilets in one small damp room out the back where the children balanced on the edges without seats; the walls were dull with nothing to stimulate young minds; the floor was dirty and impossible to keep clean.
Initially we spent our time there on toilet duties, bouncing children on our knees, playing games, pushing swings, kicking footballs and teaching them how to hold pencils and crayons. We loved getting to know all the kids and giving them the attention and touch so many of them yearned for. There were many personalities; Elsa, whose attitude was older than her tender years – she loved helping organise the tables and chairs for meals and sweeping the floor; Cesar, who could barely talk at 5 years if age; Jhon, who showered Clare with kisses everyday; Alex, whose attention span for anything was little longer than the blink of an eye; Rolando, who had to be the first to do everything; Michelle, Jessica, Mario, Angel and many more.
Six mothers worked at the centre, their meagre salaries funded by the government. Two worked in the kitchen preparing the breakfast, fruit and lunch the children were fortunate to eat everyday; and four supervised classes. They had no qualifications in child care or teaching and had doubtfully completed school themselves. They did their best to organise activities and keep control of the children, but they were little more than minders.
After a short time we began to wonder how best we could help the centre in the time we were there. We were frustrated by the lack of: equipment, structured teaching and number of staff to look after almost 50 kids. We decided we would see how much it would cost to redecorate or rewire to try and cheer the place up a bit. This would at least improve the conditions for the children and we could then focus on other requirements such as educational activities and toys.
Upon emailing our friends to sound them out regarding our idea we were overwhelmed by the response and funds they donated. As a result, we were able to redecorate all the rooms and put fluorescent strip lighting with light switches throughout the centre. The brightly coloured walls were further decorated with photos of the children, letters, numbers, smiley faces and a hand print of each child in bright orange paint.
We were also able to set up a dental program for the children with the help of our Spanish language teacher. Many of the children had craters where molars used to be, rotting front teeth from lollies to keep them quiet and gum infections. Each child was enrolled in a dental program at the University of Central Ecuador where under the supervision of dentists, final year students worked at a children’s clinic. We also organised an educational session for the parents where a dentist came to talk to the parents about the basics of dental hygiene. Subsequent to this, it was great to see little Jessica who always used to arrive at the centre in the morning with a lollypop or sherbet straws, now bring a boiled egg as her snack. Needless to say it was a miracle if it remained intact in her pocket!
We still financially support and offer advice to the centre in San Roque. The centre has recently been able to move into a much more suitable space that is lighter and warmer with the help of another charity. They still need much equipment and additional personnel to help run the centre effectively though. The number of children attending in the centre is now 60 and on the rise. They also need money to buy supplements for the kids, most of whom are malnourished by Ecuadorian standards according to height and weight measurements.
At Little Amigos we aim to donate some profits to the San Roque child care centre. Buying an item of clothing from Little Amigos you are not only helping to employ the people that make the knitwear, but also contributing to help the kids that we have committed to help in an effort to improve their lives. THANK YOU!
Please feel free to contact us if you’d like to find out further information, we’d be delighted to answer any questions.
Please click here to see a gallery of photos of our time at San Roque.
A huge THANK YOU to all of you who we have met recently at markets around Sydney. It was great to meet you all and hear all your positive feedback about the Little Amigos knitwear. We hope your Little Amigos are staying toasty warm in their knitwear now the weather has well and truly turned colder here in Sydney.
Welcome to the website! Now you can browse through all our styles in the comfort of your own home and order using our online ordering system.
Please feel free to get in touch with us with any feedback or questions. We’d love to hear from you. Please let us know how your Little Amigos are going too!
Many thanks. We look forward to seeing you and your Little Amigos again soon.