Soñando Por El Cambio - Expansion of an Educational and Professional Centre for Adolescents at Risk in Ecuador

Project location: ECUADOR, Santo Domingo
Project start date: January 2013 - Project end date: August 2013
Project number: 2012-115
Beneficiary: Sensacional Onlus


This project aims to build two1000 m2 greenhouses and an agro-ecology lab in the Educational Center “Soñando por el Cambio”. During March and April, the Project Manager, Mr Paolo Perri, started the implementation phase by comparing different invoices related to the construction service to build the two greenhouses.
Owing to the lack of qualified engineering and architecture firms in the city of Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, the Project Manager travelled often to Quito, mostly by public transportation (the bus service from Quito to Santo Domingo is offered by three companies Aloag, Zaracay andAndina), in order to choose the best proposal for the construction service to build the greenhouses.  After a detailed analysis, which took into account prices, construction plan, and professional experience in similar projects, the Congregacion de Padres Josefinos de Murialdo, represented by Padre Sereno Cozza, decided to commission the construction services to the company Inmobiliaria Agropecuaria Rommel Orbe Rivadeneira Sociedad Anónima, located in Quito. This Company was legally established in 1985, it currently counts on qualified and experienced professionals in engineering projects, with a particular focus on greenhouses and civil constructions. So far it has realized many types of greenhouses for more than 770 hectares built in Ecuador Guatemala and Peru. In addition the company holds an ISO9001:2008 (Quality Management System) certificate. Therefore this company complied with all the requirements of the contract.
Due to the difficult atmospheric conditions of the coastal region in Ecuador, such as heavy rains from January to May, the construction company started the work in the second week of May. Consequently it has already measured the land and selected the most suitable terrain for the construction. Afterwards the company started 1.5 m deep excavations in the terrain, where the tubes and pipes, which will form the structure of the greenhouses, have been positioned.  
The company decided to build metallic curved greenhouses, due to their higher resistance to the climatic conditions of the region. Owing to the terrain conditions, the greenhouses will measure 30x35 and 70x15 meters respectively with a maximum height of 5 meters. The structure will be mainly composed of electro-galvanized steel, which is covered by a layer of zinc to increase the resistance to metal corrosion, which is a serious issue in the humid and rainy climate of Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas. The structure will be later covered with Saran plastic, which is often used in open infrastructures due to its high impermeability to water and humidity. The plastic will be colored 60% white to partially filter solar rays, while the roof will have a 60cm longitudinal opening to guarantee excellent ventilation.  
Eight workers are currently building the greenhouses and will complete them by mid- June, so this phase will last approximately five weeks. In the future the beneficiaries of the project “Soñando por el Cambio” will use this infrastructure to learn and apply the knowledge acquired during the course of horticulture. Consequently, as the academic year started the 2nd of May, the project hired a professor, who is already working with students of both genders and of all ages. During this phase of the course, the students are learning about types of soil, crops, and organic compost production.
After the completion of the greenhouses, the field activities will begin by planting, treating and finally harvesting those varieties of crops used during the course. The center is actually producing organic compost and fertilizer by recycling kitchen waste at small scale. This activity will be scaled up once the greenhouses will be ready for the production. Indeed, taking into account the scale of the project, its potential productivity and the needs of the center, it is remarkable that these activities will contribute to developing an integrated productive system that takes advantage of the local and internal resources, and, at the same time, reduces and recycles the waste generated in the center.  
Padre Sereno Cozza, manager of the center Soñando por el Cambio, estimates that the kitchen of the center will use the crops produced by the greenhouses in 4-5 months to integrate the traditional daily meals offered by the center to the beneficiaries of the project with products harvested in the greenhouses. In addition these products will be fully organic, without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Therefore the project will result in economic savings for the center “Soñando Por el Cambio”, which will be less dependent on external sources of food, but also in better health, due to the high quality of meals (mainly vegetables) provided.
In addition horticulture stimulates memory, cognitive functions and mobility, with positive outcomes in terms of diseases prevention and psychological therapy. As a consequence of the project, the psychologist and the social assistant will take advantage of another instrument to reduce the stress and, at the same time, facilitate children interaction and social integration through activities that are rewarded by the entire community (including children and their families, school-workers, and the neighborhood) because of their high social value.  
Sensacional Onlus started to promote the Project through its social network and launched an awareness raising campaign about agro-ecology. As part of its campaign, Sensacional published a guideline of basic practices to promote agro-ecology, which is not only an alternative way of crops production, but it also represents a change in people’s lifestyle and behavior. This guideline shows the diffusion of agro-ecology around the world and its recent trends, and it also explains its principles through easily applicable practices to change the way in which people produce and their relationship with the land and the food. In addition Sensacional Onlus will soon publish a video, describing the activities implemented though this project, funded by Nando Peretti Foundation. Expert camera operators and photographers visited the Project “Sonandopor el Cambio”, filmed and interviewed several workers and beneficiaries of the educational center. The experts are now editing the material, which will be published approximately in two or three weeks from the submission of this report.
Regarding the future activities, the project manager, Mr Paolo Perri,  and the representative of the Congregación de Padres Josefinos de Murialdo, Padre SerenoCozza, will collect the invoices to purchase machineries and tools needed to develop the practical module of the course of horticulture. Consequently the project manager will often travel to Quito, where the products cost less and have higher quality, especially if compared with those sold in Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas.

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