We visited the Lucerito Integrated Development Center near Santa Cruz, where our local partners work hand in hand with communities, achieving extraordinary involvement by mothers, fathers, youth and volunteers who help deliver services and administer the center.
Chinda Ramos is one of the mothers who volunteers her time at the center, having received finance training from the Lucerito center’s accountant. “I run the accounting controls and as a leader mother I like to collaborate and participate,” she tells me. “We have monthly meetings to inform parents how our finances are going, and our books are totally open and published in a board for everyone to see that we work with transparency and accountability.”
I also meet Betty Zubieta, coordinator of the Lucerito project that started 10 years ago, serving 120 families. Today the project reaches more than 700 families including 1,100 children with health care, early childhood development, education support and vocational training for youth and mothers. “Our work is to prepare children and youth so that in a few years they will be able to run this center by themselves,” Betty says. “They are the future, and we are achieving it.”
It’s inspiring to see the high level of youth participation, and an equally high level of personal accountability. Seeing the youth so committed and participating in so many activities—from their own youth leadership clubs, to organizing communications and computer skills workshops for little kids and preventive dental and health campaigns for the community—makes me think that they are reaching their full potential and truly making a difference in the day-to-day life of their communities.