ICDP has been actively applied through the Vida Plena Foundation since 2001 and the ICDP work is still ongoing.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, registrations had diminished but the work of educators did not. All educators had to learn how to use the technological resources of their mobile phones to serve their groups of students virtually. Our educators were the link between school teachers and their students. Families without the right technological resource had to be attended with photocopies of the school tasks. The tasks had to be completed, either virtually or on paper and then our educators presented these to schools. As a result of this process, the relationship in the teaching triangle, namely the school – the family – and our educators, was extremely important.
In addition, educators established a WhatsApp group with the students who attend our Support Centre. As a result, we achieved a more extensive and deeper communication among all those involved in our service. We distributed food kits to those most in need, and second-hand clothing. Thanks to the help of private donors, we were able to serve nutritious dishes that are abundant enough to meet the health needs of our students. Our community’s response was of appreciation and expression of satisfaction.
In 2021, in addition to our usual staff of four, we had one volunteer and one intern, both Paraguayan, on specific days and times, whereas since October 2021 two young German women have been working full time. Approximately every two months I have carried out training courses (10 workshops, each lasting 3 hours) with this team. The aim was to deepen the practice of the ICDP eight guidelines for good interaction and above all, to deepen the ability to apply empathy and emotional attunement in their daily work with children, aged between 3 and 18 years old. Our centre has usually between 40 and 60 boys and girls who daily attend the centre’s activities. In 2021, we had 125 registrations.
The most important success continues to be that the children and adolescents chose to attend our support centre: when it rains, they do not go to their schools, but they still come to our centre which they call affectionately the “escuelita” (the little school). They tell us that they feel comfortable in our space, unlike in the schools where they are required to attend. The children who attend come from different schools and grades and they say that they can “play more and find more friends” than in formal institutions. They say that “here we are listened to”, “we are respected”.
Among the former students, some are already mothers or fathers and they send their children to our centre, or recommend their relatives to send us their nieces and nephews.
As a consequence of health measures in the pandemic, domestic violence increased in our community. Therefore, social work continues to be an important arm of our institution.
My intention remains to register ICDP as a Mental Health Program in the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare, in the Directorate of Mental Health, where a contact has been made with an official.”
– Elisabeth Gavilan.
In 2001, ICDP was invited to run a training programme for teachers from the Vida Plena preschool in Asuncion.
Among other participants there were professionals from 5 different institutions working with children. In Vida Plena, the ICDP programme was first incorporated by the team of trained preschool teachers in their daily interactive routines with children. Gradually the same team of facilitators, led by Benita Gavilan, started to implement ICDP with the parents and families from the poor local community.
During 2003, they gave ICDP courses, which were followed up with field visits to caregivers working in 3 institutions: 1. Centre for adoption of babies; 2. Catholic home for ex-street boys; 3. Community day centre for young children. As result of the training 20 new promoters were formed, who reached 530 children with the programme. The work continued in 2004 and a new project was developed in cooperation with UNICEF Paraguay, in a poor and remote area in the north of the country.
Developments in 2005: The ICDP courses run by Benita Gavilan and her ICDP team received positive evaluation by the Ministry for Public Health and Social Services Institute. A number of new training courses delivered to future kindergarten teachers took place in a small town 100 km from Asuncion, financed by Fondo Canada.
During 2006 the ICDP team led by Elisabeth Gavilan developed a new project for low income families in Villeta, and in Eusebio Ayala, where latent violence marks the general atmosphere. ICDP successfully generated an affectionate parenting style in the participants who also forged friendships among each other and became motivated to develop micro enterprises together to and set up day centres for their children. In another project 28 students applied the ICDP methodology directly with groups of young children and families. In total 225 children and 79 families were reached.
2007: A new ICDP project developed in the Asunción wholesalers’ market, in a day care centre for working children. It aims to reach children’s parents and to raise standards of care with the ICDP methodology, by training leaders, counsellors and volunteers.
2008: Another ICDP initiative developed in the town of Villeta,sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank. ICDP meetings took place throughout the year with 40 families and children. Direct observation, supported by photographs and evaluations by participants, showed that as result of ICDP caregivers talk more with their children, practice more physical proximity and have more eye contact with them. In another project, in the Day care centre, situated near the Central Market of Asunción, 4 teachers, trained in 2007, continued to apply ICDP with 80 children and teenagers. The future challenge consists in finding ways of reaching the children’s parents, grandmothers and neighbours and offering them ICDP sensitization courses.
In 2009 the national Ministry for Children started sponsoring ICDP interventions in 3 homes for children and the Interamerican Development Bank funded a project in Villeta for 40 Guaraní speaking families. The evaluation showed that as result of ICDP caregivers talk more with their children, practice more physical proximity and have more eye contact.
2010: Benita Gavilan informs: Together with a Swedish expert from an organization called TAMAM, we have been working on a strategic plan for our foundation Vida Plena, hoping to scale up ICDP developments in this country. We are trying to improve our NGO profile and increase our fundraising efforts, and we hope to have more people involved with our organization. TAMAM is a support organization, whose main task is helping the integration of immigrant children and youth in Sweden, but they also have an outreach program outside Sweden. They contacted us in 2008 and have so far sent three people to accompany our work in the daycare centre for children in the Asunción Gross Market area – read previous report by a volunteer. TAMAM have also provided funding for children’s outings and have organized an interchange of volunteers. We are continuing to hold ICDP sensitization meetings with the parents of the market children and we are also giving ICDP training on regular basis to the educators in the daycare centre. We have recently started organizing additional courses for the parents developing their skills in handicrafts, in the hope of increasing their source of income.
2010 – 2013: ICDP continued to be implemented in the daycare centre for children in the Asunción Gross Market area. The centre is run by Vida Plena, funded by associations and friends in Germany, Holland and Sweden. It is attended by around 130 children, from 3 to 17 years of age and 60 families. All staff has been trained in ICDP. At the centre there are ICDP sensitization meetings for parents of the market children and the courses in ICDP are combined with teaching handicrafts.
These are some indicators about the parents’ views of the daycare center:
– One of the mothers expressed in a filmed interview, “I don’t know what they do there that my daughters so badly want to attend every day the daycare center”.
– Some mothers and fathers who seek “effective punishment” for offenses committed by their child(ren), forbid them to attend our daycare center as a way of punishing them.
– For some children and youth we are the ones whom they seek to tell about their troubles and, in some cases, about their really critical situations at home. When required we point out to them what kind of support public institutions are supposed to give. We are always ready to accompany them if necessary.