The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Caemba built a multifunctional center in Atacames

Between April 26th and 29th, 2021, Caemba constructed a multifunctional bamboo center, which will serve as a beauty and esthetics salon in the Nueva Esperanza neighborhood in Atacames. This space will also be used as a collection center in case of emergencies.

This project was made possible thanks to the close collaboration and management of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), an entity with which we aim to strengthen ties. We also appreciate the donations from Sara Enríquez and the «Solidarity Friends» group, led by Ruth Camacho.

The 13 beneficiary women actively participated in the construction, cleaning, and arrangement of the facility.

This multifunctional center will serve as a beauty and esthetics salon for 13 women to work and obtain sustainable livelihoods. They are part of the group of 20 women who graduated from the beauty and esthetics course a few months ago at the Women’s Entrepreneurship House.

This center was built with bamboo and is a prototype for community centers that provide protection within the framework of community management. This center will help boost the local economy through a beauty salon, which contributes to generating community economic income.

This multifunctional center is a multicultural meeting point that integrates people without discrimination and builds human dignity. Additionally, this innovative construction proposal becomes a protective factor for facing natural emergencies, as they become spaces for shelter and collection of humanitarian assistance, in case other places are lacking.

This archetype of indigenous construction integrates into local dynamics, as they involve people in the collective construction of safe public spaces. These types of community centers are protective factors for preventing psychosocial risks. They are safe spaces that promote security environments in communities.


At the inaugural event, held at noon on April 29th, the 13 women attended alongside Cristina Latorre, Director of Caemba; Manuel Pallares, President of Raíz Ecuador Foundation – Caemba; Diana Morales, field assistant from UNHCR; Elicenia Vélez de Saldarriaga, Director of Social Action of the Municipality of Atacames; the Vice Mayor, Edison Manjarres; and Dayana Zamorano, coordinator of the project «Youth Building a Culture of Peace,» promoted by Lunita Lunera.

María Gabriela Quiñonez, one of the 13 women, emphasized that she is very happy. «I was always told that I would never be able to improve my situation, but now I know that where there’s a will, there’s a way. We are going to do something good. We are very grateful for the help of Caemba and the other foundations and individuals who made this construction possible. I have high expectations for moving forward. The support that has been given to the women of the neighborhood is very good. We want to make you all look handsome when you come,» said Quiñonez.

Quiñonez mentioned that they will offer services such as haircuts for men and women, manicures, pedicures, hair dyeing, and styling, among others.

On her part, Cristina Latorre expressed that «Caemba has understood that the house is the first part, the umbrella, of the rest of the comprehensive project. Our purpose is to lift people out of precarious housing but also out of poverty. When we realized that you can’t eat the house and people still lack education and health; the possibility arose to expand our work towards creating capacity-building courses (such as esthetics and beauty), which was made possible thanks to various supportive donors. The idea is for them to practice their professional craft, which is recognized by the State, within a period not exceeding 3 months.»

Cristina emphasized the need for citizen co-responsibility in Esmeraldas and throughout Ecuador when it comes to eradicating precarious housing and extreme poverty in our country. She also invited everyone who wishes to contribute to expanding our work to donate, as our financial resources depend solely on donations from individuals, foreign foundations, or companies.

Diana Morales, from UNHCR, spoke about the importance of this space as a safe place for women who are victims of gender-based violence. She also emphasized that this multifunctional center would serve for potential natural emergencies. Finally, she spoke about the work that UNHCR carries out in favor of refugees and in host communities, as is the case in Atacames, where Ecuadorians, Colombians, Venezuelans, and people of other nationalities live in vulnerable conditions due to the pandemic and the economic crisis.

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Statement

Fundación Raíz is dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), working with indigenous, Afro-Ecuadorian, Montubio, and Mestizo groups across Ecuador.

Our projects support various communities: Sionas, Siekopai, Kofan, Chachi, Kechwa, Waorani and Shuar, covering six linguistic families.

Our CAEMBA housing initiative focuses on the Afro-Ecuadorian and Montubio populations in Esmeraldas, addressing challenges of poverty and high crime rates. We commit to equitable treatment, opportunities for all, and the elimination of barriers to participation.

By valuing every voice and fostering community resilience, we aim to create a more inclusive, equitable society.

Our leadership is committed to DEI principles, ensuring our efforts reflect the diversity of the communities we serve and contribute to sustainable development and social justice.


Fundación Raíz está dedicada a la diversidad, equidad e inclusión (DEI), trabajando con grupos indígenas, afroecuatorianos, montubios y mestizos en todo Ecuador.

Nuestros proyectos apoyan a varias comunidades, Sionas, Siekopai, Kofan, Chachi, Kechwa, Waorani y Shuar, cubriendo seis familias lingüísticas. Nuestra iniciativa de vivienda CAEMBA se centra en las poblaciones afroecuatorianas y montubias en Esmeraldas, abordando desafíos de pobreza y altas tasas de criminalidad.

Nos comprometemos a un trato equitativo, oportunidades para todos y la eliminación de barreras para la participación. Valorando cada voz y fomentando la resiliencia comunitaria, aspiramos a crear una sociedad más inclusiva y equitativa.

Nuestro liderazgo está comprometido con los principios de DEI, asegurando que nuestros esfuerzos reflejen la diversidad de las comunidades que servimos y contribuyan al desarrollo sostenible y la justicia social.