Addressing poverty in Ecuador

April 2, 2012

Amina Temkin wit­nessed poverty on a Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions pro­gram to Kenya last year, but on co- op in Ecuador, she’s expe­ri­encing a much more per­sonal account of what it means to be poor.

“What I saw in Kenya wasn’t like this,” said Temkin, a fourth- year com­mu­ni­ca­tion studies major at North­eastern. “You didn’t get a chance to talk to people, ask them what they need and become their friends.”

Temkin cur­rently works for Entre Las Estrellas, or “Among the Stars,” a non­profit orga­ni­za­tion staffed by vol­un­teers who serve under­priv­i­leged chil­dren and their fam­i­lies in Para­gachi, Ecuador.

In her role, Temkin helps stu­dents at a vil­lage school create a com­mu­nity news­paper and design arts and crafts projects. She also con­ducts field research and runs open forums to iden­tify com­mu­nity needs.

“This orga­ni­za­tion really focuses on asking what the com­mu­nity needs to suc­ceed and improve,” Temkin said. “It’s not run by Amer­i­cans who say, ‘We know what will make your com­mu­nity better.’”

Her close rela­tion­ship with com­mu­nity mem­bers has an added ben­efit: “My Spanish is def­i­nitely get­ting better,” Temkin said.

The inter­na­tional experiential- learning oppor­tu­nity has given her the chance to work directly with the people she seeks to help.

“I knew I wanted to do some­thing less tra­di­tional,” said Temkin, in ref­er­ence to her first co- op with a Mass­a­chu­setts non­profit ded­i­cated to pro­moting women’s repro­duc­tive rights around the globe. “In this role, I’m get­ting a chance to know and help people in the community.”