KEP oriente projects
Oriente is the term used to describe the portion of Ecuador east of the Andean mountain range. The region is dominated by rainforest and is home to several indigenous groups. Kentucky Ecuador Partners has been actively engaged in projects there, particularly among the indigenous communities, for over 20 years.
The Sponsor a Pottery Village project provides a modest monthly stipend to indigenous communities to continue to produce ceramics. This effort has brought traditional ceramics production back from the brink of extinction in some cases, and serves as an incentive for women to preserve the craft and pass it on to younger generations.
Various projects have documented and disseminated craft traditions from the oriente, including the production of documentary films, workshops, and exhibitions. Recently, a small portable kiln was introduced that could produce a more durable ware and help overcome the obstacle of transporting. fragile ceramic pieces to central locations in order to market them to tourists, collectors and the general public.
One community located deep in the jungle along the Bobonaza River has been the site of several projects in addition to Sponsor a Pottery Village, including the provision of school and health care supplies, the installation of a solar panel that runs donated laptops, a dental health component that provides toothbrushes and a semi-annual fluoride treatment, and the donation of bednets for each member of the community following an outbreak of rabies carried by vampire bats.
Our current agricultural focus is on improving animal husbandry, milk production and sanitation for families with one or two cows in the Andean region of Ambato and for larger scale farmers in the tropical region of Chaco. The Ecuadorian project directors work throughout their provinces with veterinarian and farmer associations on dairy management.
Our partnership has a long tradition of cultural exchange. Over the years, we have hosted artists in a variety of art and craft traditions, including painting, ceramics, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry, weaving, and photography. Through a longstanding relationship with a Lexington gallery, we have had over 20 exhibits, the most recent one being “Interwoven: Rural Traditions, Modern Ties ~ Baskets from Appalachia and the Andes”. In addition, we have developed a number of music exchanges in the folk, bluegrass, rock, and classical genres as well as voice performance, and composition. Other projects have focused on theater and puppetry as means of artistic expression for children, and the power of art as a change agent for issues such as environmental protection.
Over the years, Kentucky-Ecuador Partners has collaborated in a wide range of activities under the education umbrella including ESL, special education and rehabilitation, literacy and reading promotion, savings and micro-credit programs, and environmental education. Additionally, individual members of the Kentucky chapter develop and lead study abroad programs to Ecuador for their universities and we have established a scholarship for a student participating in the Kentucky Institute for International Studies study abroad program in Ecuador.
In 2002, a Kentucky dentist and his wife, a dental technician, embarked on a mission to address the dental health problems in selected areas of Ecuador. Ten years later, the project has applied 170,000 sealants, 40,000 fluoride varnish treatments, and distributed 128,000 toothbrushes. As a result of this ambitious undertaking, decay has been reduced up to 78% in some areas. In 2007, with support from a local foundation, a similar project was initiated in his home county in Kentucky and it has been similarly successful with the decay rate in the county dropping from the state average of 50% to under 15% which is below the national average. Impressed with the success of the fluoride varnish program in the county, the state of Kentucky has initiated a similar program to reach 25,000 underserved children in Kentucky.