Her father-in-law brought the seeds of the giant bamboo from a trip to Ecuador, from which Maria Cristina Latorre has grown an impressive housing and training project for disadvantaged women in her home country Ecuador. With simple bamboo huts for earthquake victims, the Casitas Emergentes de Bambú (CAEMBA) project began in 2016 as emergency aid for people in the province of Esmeralda. But Latorre soon understood that a roof over his head was not enough to offer a perspective. Together with her team, she created a training centre where the women learn to sew, make pottery or cut hair in order to feed themselves and their families. The children are always there, they play in the same room where the mothers learn, because there is neither crèche nor kindergarten. For the accommodation of the families, walls made of wood and giant bamboo are placed on a cement base and provided with a tin roof. The houses can be built within a few days, they survive even light earthquakes because of the building materials. The aid project also supports the women in clarifying land rights, so that in the end the inhabitants not only own a home, but also the piece of land on which it was built.

Monika Ganster

Editor at the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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Because she also promotes the project on the Internet, others have also become aware of the work of Latorre and her colleagues: An American television crew came and helped to build a community center for the series "The Fixers" within a week, for companies she offers short-term active participation as a team event, and most recently a volunteer from Brazil visited. who wants to carry the idea of CAEMBA to his home country.

In the meantime, Latorre's organization has built 470 bamboo houses, 315 emergency shelters and 27 classrooms with donations. For this, the International Women's Club (IWC) has awarded her the Elisabeth Norgall Prize, which is named after its founder. Norgall founded the non-profit association in 1946 to cultivate contacts among women from different countries of origin. The prize, endowed with 6000 euros, was presented to numerous IWC members at the Villa Bonn. The vice-president of the club, Catalina Szegöffy from Paraguay, and her team had selected the winner.