Semillas de Mostaza is a Rostro de Cristo supported program that functions as an after-school program for the children in and around Arbolito in Duran, Ecuador. There are over 150 children that are in the program with about an average of forty five children attending daily. The program formally started in 2001 with a small group of students in the back of the local church. In 2002 “Semillas” moved to its current location, The John Drury Wilson Technical School. Currently, the program is a group effort of both Rostro de Cristo & former Semillas students. Each day a group of 3-7 volunteers, including Rostro volunteers and former Semillas students who are now in high school come to tutor/help/aid the children in the program with their school work. The Volunteers not only act as aids for the children but also as role models.
Daily, the children arrive around 3 o’clock. For the first hour students are split into Deberes (homework), Actividad (activity) and Chiquitos (younger children who can´t yet read). Activities range from math problem solving, to geography, to creative writing and other critical thinking activities which stimulate children´s minds and reinforce what is being taught in school. The Chiquitos activity works to prepare the students to learn to read studying vowels and consonants as well as the sounds the letters make. In addition, basic adding and subtraction is worked on. Meanwhile, students in deberes work on their homework during this first hour. At 4 o’clock, they are free to play until 4:45. With the help of donations Rostro de Cristo has been able to provide art supplies, Spanish children’s books, games, and equipment for the kids to use during this time. This playtime also gives them an opportunity to enjoy themselves in a safe environment. At 4:45 everyone is called back in to clean the room and sit silently for prayer, afterwards each child is given bread, water, and bananas.
Semillas Philosophy Semillas is supported by guidelines in order to keep the program aligned with its goals:
1. Respect- In order for children to have a safe and productive working environment, they must respect one another, Rostro de Cristo & Community Volunteers. Violence of any kind is not allowed during the time a child is present at Semillas
2. Homework- One of Semillas’ primary functions is as an after school help program. Every day Volunteers give their time to help the children of Arbolito with their homework providing the children with whatever materials they may need and which they might not have at home.
3. Growth- By providing a structured environment and positive role models both Ecuadorian and from Rostro de Cristo, it is a major goal/hope of Semillas de Mostaza to offer an opportunity for positive experiences and well-rounded growth of participants