Julio en Greta


Greet en Esther


Inti Sisa 1999


Ludoteca 2000














Victor Hugo Alcoser




Historical background

Until the 1960’s, the indigenous people from the Sierra (highlands) of Ecuador worked as virtual slaves on the vast haciendas belonging to large-scale landowners. They had not rights. The rich harvests were transported by freight train to the coast, leading to a lively trade. Following the agrarian reform, the land had to be divided into sectors and ‘communities’ (comunidades) and handed over to the indigenous people, who thus gradually came to own the land they worked. But the soil was depleted and new forms of economy had to be found. The heads of many families saw themselves forced to migrate to towns to find work. From the 1990’s the indigenous population began to setting up social movements to claim their rights. Since 1992 Guamote has elected its mayor and councillors from the indigenous community.

The paintings on the right are by Pablo Sanaguano (seen on the left). They are part of the wall paintings in the Inti Sisa guest house.


Sister Greta Coninckx, from the Belgian NGO ‘Friends of Shalom’ (Vrienden van Shalom), travelled to Ecuador and was shocked by the dismal living conditions of the indigenous people of Guamote. Her question to Fr Julio Gortaire SJ – “What can I do for you?” – marked the beginning of the INTI SISA adventure.


Acción Integral Guamote launched INTI HUASI, a distance education system operating in various local communities. For the first time, indigenous people could attend secondary education. That year ‘Friends of Shalom’ sent its first volunteers, Esther de Groot and Greet Stessens.


The need and demand for practical courses led to the idea of creating an Education Centre to help the local people improve their skills.


Whilst on assignment from ‘Friends of Shalom’ Esther de Groot, together with Nicolás Tambo, Juanita Muñoz and Victor Hugo Alcoser, lay the foundations of the INTI SISA Education Centre (recognized by the Ministry of Education and Culture of Ecuador), the fruit of two years of research underpinning the distance education project. The first workshop - computing - started in October that year.


Opening of further workshops: needlework, English, games, furniture-making. At the same time building work started on new, larger classrooms.


Completion of the classrooms.
Affiliation of INTI SISA with second strategic line* of the participatory Development Plan of Guamote – ecotourism - in an effort to achieve self-sufficiency.
Beginning of the building of the guest house and training of indigenous youngsters as guides.
*First strategic line: education


Admission of the first children to the kindergarten and opening of the Homework Support Workshop.


Impact of the economic crisis in Belgium on fund-raising. This also resulted in very slow progress on the building of the guest house.


Launch of the latest workshop: folk music. In the needlework workshop, the women were producing the first handicrafts. Meanwhile the final touches were made to the guest house, which opened its doors in June just in time to receive its first tourists. In August, for the first time, INTI SISA was able to pay the teachers’ salaries with the income from the guest house!


2005 saw INTI SISA take its first ‘independent’ steps. Then followed a period of transition towards self-sufficiency, during which INTI SISA focussed on further staff and guide training, advertising, legal formalities … Kelvi Heredia, from Cebadas, became our first manager on 1st February.


With the help of new partners income from tourism, handicrafts and home-made chocolate increases by 60%. As a result, the Centre’s income could cover its own daily expenditure. However, further income from Europe was still needed to complete, maintain and renovate buildings and to buy a much-needed new car.

In August Guamote received the visit of President Rafael Correa (married to Belgian Anne Malherbe), who much enjoyed putting on an Inti Sisa uniform blouse.


INTI SISA’s ten year anniversary! Time to review developments in order to update and improve the quality of activities on offer.

Clemente Asadobay, an indígena from the Riobamba area, became the new Director of Inti Sisa.


The government’s requirements have changed a great deal over the last ten years. There is a new Education Law, and tighter requirements for tourism. Time to conclude new agreements!


Two major changes marked the beginning of the year.

Victor Hugo Alcoser, co-founder and member of the Inti Sisa Foundation, agreed to become Director of the Education Centre. As president of the Association of Teachers in the Guamote Canton, he was full of ideas on how to give new stimulus to the workshops, including teacher training.

In order to guarantee the quality and professionalism of the guest house and the activities on offer to tourists, an agreement was passed with the travel agent Ecole Travel. Since then, Ecole has taken responsibility for these areas, guaranteeing ongoing support for the Education Centre. At the same time, six new bedrooms were built to increase the capacity of the guest house.


Remodelling of Inti Sisa Education Centre to improve the suitability of the premises.
Legal recognition of the Inti Sisa Foundation.


Adaptation of the Kindergarten classrooms to allow the children to work on differentiated activities in small groups.