In August, a group of Wheeler Machinery Co. employees journeyed to Ecuador to serve the people of the Intag region, located in the mist-shrouded Andes Mountains. During the week-long expedition, the Wheeler team worked alongside villagers in building the Inta Kara vocational center. A multi-year project with three buildings planned, Wheeler’s funds and labor helped accelerate construction. Volunteers helped mix, transport and place concrete to form columns and floors. Drainage systems were buried, and soil was leveled.
More than three-quarters of Intag’s population lives at or below the poverty line, and 25% survive on less than $1.90 a day. Only 5% of young people have access to higher education. Poor graduation rates, high illiteracy and a struggling economy cause many young people to flee their rural communities for urban slums.
These factors led CHOICE Humanitarian, its in-country Ecuador team and local community leaders to establish the vocational center. Corporate partnerships such as the one between CHOICE and Wheeler are among the keys to take Inta Kara from conception to completion by providing funding and the intermittent infusion of labor during its years-long creation.
Once complete, the innovative vocational training center will serve more than 1,500 families and provide youth and underemployed adults with the opportunity to live, study and gain a nationally recognized certification in masonry, welding, carpentry, cooking, tourism and more.
The first of its kind in the area, the center will bring customized training to rural communities and create economic opportunities to break the cycle of poverty. Additionally, the center will serve as a hub for agricultural production and training to address food insecurity in Intag, where 60% of the people suffer from malnutrition.