Visit the News page for updates on the completion of the school, and continuing progress.
The mission of the Wishi Project is to establish a primary school for the children of the Wishi Community in Ecuador, providing them with a basic education and helping to preserve the indigenous Shuar language and culture.
This project was founded by Elizabeth Gray upon her return to the United States from Ecuador in April 2010. Elizabeth entered the isolated Wishi Community in January 2010 for a one-day reforestation project and was asked by the community to teach a class for the children. The children sat on logs under a scrap of aluminum roofing, there were no school supplies, and many of the children did not know even the letters or numbers, but their enthusiasm for learning was alive. At the community’s request, Elizabeth ended up staying to teach classes for a week and returned six weeks later with basic school supplies to continue teaching. She learned that the community has been working to establish a school for some time, repeatedly petitioning the government for funding and assistance. These requests have consistently been ignored or denied.
Inspired by the community’s commitment to education, and by the children’s excitement for learning, Elizabeth became determined to help them realize their goal. Working with various foundations in the U.S. and in Ecuador, and raising money with a combination of grants, fundraising events, and personal donations, the Wishi Project is moving towards construction of the school in January 2011.
The community is committed to providing their children with a basic education to allow for their meaningful participation in the modern world, while also preserving their traditional language, culture and lifestyle. By providing a bilingual Shuar-Spanish education, and making Shuar music, dance, food, and history an important part of the curriculum they hope to achieve this balance.
Importantly, the members of the Wishi Community ultimately have the best insight for their community, and so they are actively included in all steps of decision making and implementation of the project. The ultimate goal is to make the school completely self-sustaining, with the community holding autonomous control over their children’s education.
The Wishi Project is working actively with the Ecuador Volunteer Foundation, an organization legally recognized by the government of Ecuador, which coordinates various environmental and humanitarian projects. www.ecuadorvolunteer.org
The project has received fiscal sponsorship support from The Albany Social Justice Center, an Albany based non-profit charged with supporting social justice movements and projects. www.albanysocialjusticecenter.org
We are fortunate to have received valuable material and immaterial support from The New York Soccer Project, an international soccer association for adult players that develops and runs charity soccer leagues to raise funds for under-served children in the U.S. and abroad. www.nysoccerproject.com
Karen Schupack of the Albany Art Room has also provided enormous support and guidance with all stages of the project. www.albanyartroom.com