Points That Tear Down Barriers in Northern Ecuador

Points that tear down barriers by FUDELA (Fundación de las Americas) is one of the Dream Building Fund (DBF) projects that has been running since 2019. This project maximises the power of table tennis to integrate migrants and refugees into the host community in Northern Ecuador. The ITTF Foundation supports FUDELA in realising its goals.

Today marks the annual celebration of International Day of Peace with the slogan 'End racism, build peace'. Peace is a basic human right to flourishing growth, inclusiveness, and prosperity in society. But achieving peace is not a straightforward undertaking. The United Nations calls for every nation to commemorate today through activities related to education and public awareness on issues related to peace. Today’s article highlights activities to achieve peace, inclusion, and equality inspired by one of our DBF projects, 'Points that tear down barriers' in Northern Ecuador.

Safe spaces with table tennis for integration

Northern Ecuador has a high level of refugees who fled their countries due to guerrilla war in Colombia and a severe socio-economic crisis in Venezuela. They escape their countries, hoping to find access to health care services, food, employment, and education in the host countries, including Ecuador. They carry tough experiences, trauma, the experience of violence, and the absence of parental attachment. Thousands of people of concern reside in Ecuador to seek safe spaces where they can continue living.

Among them are children and young people who are the most marginalised and vulnerable members of society. Thus, FUDELA aims to tackle one pressing issue by creating safe spaces that may prevent youth from threats such as drugs and alcohol consumption, domestic violence, suicide, and school dropouts by offering table tennis training during their free time. By practising table tennis, this project promotes the universal values associated with sport: fairness, teambuilding, equality, discipline, inclusion, perseverance, and respect. These values will encourage coexistence between the migrants and the local population.

Besides, table tennis training also maintains their mental and physical health and well-being, especially among young people as the primary target community. Children and young people practice managing emotions and learn the importance of inclusion and sharing culture during the games.

Table tennis integration festivals

The table tennis integration festival is a biannual event to strengthen the link between Ecuadorian and refugee populations by involving families and communities using sport for integration. During the festival, local communities: including kids, adults, and authorities, gather to play fun table tennis games. It consists of 6-10 stations, each with a specific challenge that makes participants consider the importance of preventing problems in the young generation and integration. The participants get a passport which allows them to move around each station. A key aspect is the involvement of parents with their children during the festival.

Points that tear down barriers proved that sport, ultimately table tennis, has great physical and social benefits. This project has reached 600 youth directly, and another 100 young people now have access to regular physical activity. FUDELA reported the improvement of their project participants’ and local communities’ attitudes towards people from different countries. Points that tear down barriers contribute to UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) Goals 16 'Peace, justice and strong institutions' and 10 'Reduced inequalities'.

ITTF Foundation supports initiatives that use table tennis for peacebuilding, inclusion and integration. We are taking steps with refugees, envisioning stronger and more empowered communities to 'End racism. Build Peace'.

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