History of CEAS español
In the city of Riobamba, situated in the province of Chimborazo, Monseigneur Leonidas Eduardo Proaño Villalba, established the CEAS - Center of Study and Social Action - on the 21 Octobre 1960.
The birth of the CEAS aswell as its first years were intimely linked with the presence of Monseigneur Leonidas Proaño and the doctor Rodolfo Reszohazy. During one of his visit to Europe, Monseigneur Proaño was informed by the International work office that a professor of Sociology from the University of Louvain in Belgium wanted to meet someone from the third world to see if it was possible to put in place a project of developpement. This professor was the Doctor Reszohazy. From this first meeting, began a rich friendship between the two men. The Doctor invited Monseigneur Proaño to teach during two months at the University. This lecture was about problems that encounter poor people in his country. It decided the two men to create the CEAS to "do something for the people".
In the year 60, it was most common to create cooperatives wich were seen as a good mean to bring an economical democracy. The CEAS decided to follow the same way. First, they started to train the members about cooperatives, the law that give them the status of a moral person, the differents options of work, etc.
One of the members of the CEAS received a grant to study the cooperativism and, when he returned, he shared his experience and knowledge with the others. From this moment, the CEAS began to create and assist cooperatives, starting with the Cooperatives for savings and credits. Some of these cooperatives have grown and represent today a great service to the people. In these firsts years, the CEAS started to create relation with some institutions abroad. The first one was the CEDES in Belgium.
In 1970, the CEAS decided to carry out, during one day, an analysis of the impacts of its actions and of the situation of the province of Riobamba. This day of reflexion was important to question ourself about who we are, what we think and what we want to do. At the end of this period of reflexion, the CEAS decided to change its actions and to abandon the cooperatives. Indeed, these weren't seen anymore as a tool to change the situation in the Province. Insead, we launched a new concept of education based on an analysis of the reality. For thisd, we used the methodology of the brasilian sociologist Paulo Freire who propose to question what we have seen, what we have thought and what we have lived. It resulted in a process where a group of people shared what they know, what they think and what they are living.
At this period was born Radio Promoción which is an ideal tool to reach the rural people. Its linguage was Quechua, the speakers were indigenous and the music was indigenous too. With this Radio Promoción, we created un new concept of communication with people. This station increased the power and carried on the fight to the changes that the people were looking for. In the same time, the CEAS planned lessons for the rural leaders on different subjects that they asked for : music, agriculture, protection of the ground by differents means, new forest and agricultural varieties, etc.
In parralel of this educative program, were undertaken some productive projects in aim to improve the quality of life in the families, such as an afforestation program, a program to improve the breeding of sheeps, the dissimination of new seeds varieties, a program for the drinkable water and for the creation and improvement of latrines, an artisanal school, communautary houses, etc.
In 50 years of life, different indicators have shown that results have been achieved little by little. Now, there is an indigenous that is taking charge of the developpment of its people. There is an awareness of nature protection. The lamd is in a high percentage in the hands of the peasants who were formerly hacienda laborer. The farmers have access to education and there are indicators of a change which is irreversible and in which the CEAS has put his two cents. ¡ Let us rejoice !
It is important to say that the CEAS was able to realise his work during these 50 years, thanks to the financial and moral support of many institutions, mostly coming from Europe. We haven't counted on the support of big financial organisations. On the contrary, it was small institutions with a spirit of service that have supported us and give us the possibility to work for the good of the Province.