Elisabeth-Norgall-Award Winner 2023
Cristina Latorre Darquea
Fundacion Raiz Ecuador - Projekt CAEMBA (Casas Emergentes de Bambú)
Maria Cristina Latorre Darquea is Ecuadorian, coming from a diplomat family, was born in Washington D.C., USA (1967) grew up in Quito, and is presently a mother of 3 children (1 of them is adopted) and grandmother of 1. From an early age she had contacts internationally and developed her life in connection with different cultures, helping people less fortunate than herself. With “Fundación Raiz- Ecuador- Project CAEMBA” where she does extraordinary work helping those who had become homeless in the midst of an earthquake disaster and realized to her own surprise that most of those affected by this disaster were women, especially single mothers.
How CAEMBA was born
The earthquake of April 16, 2016 on the Ecuadorian Pacific Ocean coast left thousands of peasants and urban-rural families homeless, forcing them to seek shelter from rain, cold and insects. Mrs. Latorre, her husband and friends began to help immediately. They thought that the best thing they could do was to assist by building inexpensive housing very quickly.
As the CAEMBA project (Emergency Bamboo Houses) progressed, she also realised that not only did they need a house but as single mothers not being able to support themselves due to their extreme vulnerability and lack of education, they needed to learn a trade that would help them be economically independent to raise their children.
A Community and Women's Entrepreneurship Centre was created to train and empower women who are often leaders of their families so they can achieve financial independence. Via courses in tailoring, cosmetology, hairdressing and more, women acquire skills to start their own businesses so they can support their families and break the cycle of poverty. This centre has a school and entertainment area where children learn and play while their mothers learn a trade. Because the CAEMBA projects team believes that education is the best tool to achieve the integration of people in to the society. Children of low-income families must receive adequate education and training to enable them to develop their skills and get out of the poverty into which they were born. The Centre is in Atacames, Nueva Esperanza neighborhood. Atacames is located about 340 kms north-east of Quito, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean.