Juan Andrade

Ashoka Fellow
Riobamba, Ecuador
Fellow Since 1996


This profile was prepared when Juan Andrade was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Juan Andrade, a Catholic priest and human rights lawyer, is methodically building an Ecuadorian grass-roots movement of street children that supports them while also working to prevent the phenomenon throughout Ecuador and the wider Andean Region. His "Mano Amiga" (Friendly Hand) approach is driven by a powerful vision of communities reclaiming their children through voluntary initiative. The underlying vision, however, is animated by a detailed plan of action in which skilled and unskilled volunteers fit specifically into a clear program of services. Juan first finds an underutilized building owned by the church or state–of which there is no shortage–then obtains a lease to create a center for street children on the premises. With this venue for organizing services for street kids in hand, he recruits and trains volunteers from the community who share the vision. With as few as four or five volunteers, they begin to reach out to children on the streets.
Juan elicits an extraordinary commitment from the volunteers, who tithe income, attend biweekly meetings and spend an average of ten hours a week either in the center or, by night, on the streets with the kids. In addition to the programs directly for the street children, the volunteers engage the community by systematically spreading information through public education about the problem of street children and seeking to integrate the center deep into the heart of the community.
His pilot center in Riobamba provides a permanent home for those street kids who live there and education, training, meals and work for those who visit daily. It also offers classes and productive/creative activities (gardening, ceramics, wood working, baking, leather working and painting) that also generate income for the children. The children are encouraged to become spokespersons about the problems and rehabilitation of street children. The kids in his pilot center in Riobamba now have their own one-hour show on the local radio station on Saturday mornings.
The public education strategy of the volunteer teams has shown results. The police and judges from the youth court now bring children who have broken the law and have been abandoned by their families to Juan's center instead of to the detention centers or, as is more often the case, to the adult jail where they are routinely violated.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

More For You