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In Their Own Words: The ALAS-BID Award Winners

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 ALAS-IDB Award winners: Guillermo Garrido, Martha Ivette Rivera Alanis, Mariana Velloso y Paula Mejía

"Education without boundaries"

Martha Ivette Rivera Alanis won the ALAS-BID award for the best educator. Born in the Mexican city of Monterrey and licensed as a preschool teacher for the past 13 years, she commented on the importance of early education in raising children to become upstanding citizens.

How important is early education?

It’s very important because it lays the foundations for development in life. It’s at this point that children start their future training. It’s very important to provide them with supportive environments and positive learning. To do this you need to get down to their level, to know how they view the world and thus understand them better.

What would you say to a person interested in teaching?

I’d tell them it’s a vocation that requires a big heart and a lot of humanity, that it can be very rewarding and satisfying to shape young people and see what all they can achieve.

How did you choose this profession? Did you have any model or person who wanted to emulate?

Like many girls in kindergarten who take their teacher as a role model, my teachers motivated and inspired me to follow this path. Just as important was the education and preparation that my parents gave me at home, as I was taught to do things as best I could, making the greatest effort and enjoying what I do.

What do you do to stay updated as a teacher?

I try to be in constant training and to keep up with innovations on all kinds of aspects related to education.

What to expect from this award?

I hope many more people will be inspired to perform and do their job well, to give it their all. To like and enjoy what they do, especially if what they do is aimed at bringing up kids.

Did you imagine you would win this award?

Frankly I didn’t even expect to be nominated. I was very pleased and proud when I learnt that I was among the finalists. Now that I have won, I feel motivated to try even harder. I’m overjoyed for being recognized, proud to represent my country and doubly proud to represent Monterrey.

What would you like to see in your country to improve early childhood education?

I’d like to see more resources invested to upgrade school infrastructure and to update and improve teacher training. I would like education to have no boundaries, to be available for all people.

"Love is the most important element"

Guillermo Garrido is president of Fundamor, a Colombian foundation that won an award for best early childhood development center. Based in the city of Cali, it shelters children and adolescents with HIV/AIDS, providing them comprehensive care.

In your view, what is the most important element in the development of a child?

For Fundamor, love is the most effective tool to build a solid foundation and to heal the wounds most of these children suffer. Our children are victims of indifference and rejection.

Why is this award important to Fundamor?

We won this award just as our foundation turned 20 years-old, so it recognizes the work we’ve done for many years. Fundamor was established in 1992 and since then we’ve been working to help children, who are the future of our country.

What are the future plans?

We are working on a new project called Eco Village Fundamor Mandiva. This project aims to build eight homes to house about 72 children, not only those with HIV but also those beset by other difficult conditions, providing them with surrogate mothers. It would be a kind of group home. We're starting to gather the support we need.

"Statistics show there aren’t many cases of autism, but that’s an error"

Colombian speech therapist Paula Mejia won the ALAS-BID award for best publication for "Antonia", a book about an autistic girl illustrated by the Argentine graphic designer Maria Paula Dufour. The book explains in simple terms the problems children with autism face, providing information to help adults and other children understand this condition.

What’s the status of autism in the region?

Statistics show that there aren’t many cases, but that's an error. Unfortunately, since cases aren’t detected early, teachers and parents don’t know who to deal with autism, and few cases are recorded. I think we’re lacking a lot of information, training and knowledge about it.

Why is this award important?

For me it was an honor to be recognized by the IDB and the ALAS Foundation. There is much misinformation about autism in our region and we feel this award will provide an opportunity to disseminate information about this condition. I hope that it will help bring more attention to a problem many children and youth face.

"The patient's environment is essential"

Mariana Velloso, fundraising coordinator of Saúde Criança, an NGO that developed a methodology to treat patients beyond hospitals, trying to improve their entire environments. This approach earned them the ALAS-BID award for best innovation.

Why is it important to reward people who work in this field?

Because it gives them an incentive to keep going. Children are our future and the first stage of development is the most important. So our idea, since we are in various parts of our country, is to expand internationally and use our philosophy on the issue of health and welfare for low-income families.

How will it help Saúde Criança?

It will help us replicate our model of care in other countries.

Where are you planning to export this model?

Bogota is the first place where we’ll apply our experience. Once that project is completed we can look elsewhere. We want to take to various places in the region.

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