In Ecuador, an old family home is revamped as a residence for young mothers

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La Ribera used to be a family estate in Sangolquí, Ecuador, a suburb of Quito. The house’s white walls and wooden beams are surrounded by trees, and a river swirls nearby. There, the Jijón family lived for three generations. As the years passed, children moved away and the home was abandoned.

On October 2019, the property was once again filled with food, laughter, and fun. Carolina Reed, the daughter-in-law of the previous owner, Alfredo Jijón, turned the abandoned house, where her husband grew up, into the Casa La Ribera, a project promoting overall health, emotional wellbeing, and autonomy of women between the ages of 14 and 24 who are pregnant or young mothers. The project is run by the Fundación Alfredo Jijón and Plan Internacional.

For now, due to the measures taken to slow down the spread of COVID-19, the program’s support is provided from afar. The women in charge call the participants every day to see how they are doing and send them activities for their babies twice a day. They are also managing handouts of food and cleaning supplies.

In this interview, Carolina Reed, the Director of Casa La Ribera, talks about the program.

Belén Febres (BF): How did the idea for the program originate?

Carolina Reed (CR): When we stopped visiting our house in Sangolquí, we felt the need to put it to good use. My brother-in-law and father-in-law were gynecologists and they were brilliant men, that’s why we decided that converting the house into a space dedicated to pregnant women and young mothers would be a good way to remember them.

There were already some programs in place for preventing pregnancy and providing shelter for young mothers in Ecuador, which is the Latin American country with the highest rate of teen pregnancies. However, I couldn’t find any specifically dedicated to empowering women with a focus on women’s rights. That´s why I decided to create one.

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