Janeth Bonilla: You have to love failure and see it as growth

Janeth Bonilla: You have to love failure and see it as growth

Janeth was born into the Kitchwa ethnic group of Cotacachi, Ecuador. Her indigenous parents and her farmers instilled in her a love for animals and the land that she has worked with her siblings since she was a child

She is a pretty woman with slanted dark eyes and shiny black hair, features that make her origin clear. At the age of 28, she remembers how he began to educate himself: "My dad wanted me to do a career for women and he put me in a dressmaking school, but that was not my thing", When she got to the point of learning design and modeling, she revealed herself!

She graduated as the best bachelor in social sciences but Janeth had something very different in mind, she longed to study agricultural engineering: "My parents had no resources and I had to work in Atuntaqui to buy my supplies.”  Upon arrival at her university, her father offered to work until the weekends to support her, but once she graduated, she would have to contribute to the education of her 11-year-old younger sister.

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Cobbled roads

Mathematics was fun for Janeth Bonilla, but the chemistry was difficult for her. When a teacher asked her to write the formula for water, she couldn't!: “She told me not to make my parents lose money and better prepare to be a secretary. It was very hard, and I felt frustrated.”

In a library supported by a friend, she studied mathematics, physics, biology, and chemistry. She was left without eating many times but, to be sure not to fail again, during a vacation, she learned chemistry in an encyclopedia of worn pages that her father kept at her house! The tenacity of this woman would not let her! fail again! Her grade was 10.

He advanced subjects to catch up with her classmates who had passed it, he wrote a book for his degree work and suddenly he found what seemed to him an exciting world, environmental physiology: "My tutor advised me to fly, learn more, take advantage of of my curiosity and discipline”.

Teaching his own

The Kitchwa community had a new teacher, Janeth Bonilla. She spoke in front of the wisest who were double or triple her age, and on land that people strangers to hers were appropriating, she sowed food for everyone. Now they trusted her knowledge.

A door opened, and many more. Janeth Bonilla leads the Kitchwa women's learning network, Warmi Stem, but she also fights to unite hers with other ethnic groups: “We want to give back to our communities what they have given us. I want all indigenous people to be professionals and to be able to go abroad to prepare, outside of Ecuador. We look for scholarships for them, we teach them to write motivation letters and design their resumes.”

Her best move was to apply to the IV Ibero-American Leadership program of the Pablo VI Foundation of Spain, where she shared with young Latino women and men and learned about leadership: "I knew that I had to put science at the service of others."

Bonilla does not stop working, she is the co-creator of the Kichwa Institute of Science Technology & Humanities Foundation, KISTH. She has brought the voice of her indigenous community to Spain and the United Kingdom: “Today I design projects with Colombian, Guatemalan, and Mexican indigenous brothers. I have already trained professionally and I want everyone to be able to do it, that they can shine through science”.

Encounter with machismo

Outside of her community, as a teacher, Janeth encountered men who saw women only as housewives forced to obey them. She was a sad spectator of domestic violence, children who suffered and feared, and girls who were prevented from studying, she felt helpless and swore that she would do everything possible to change what was established.

Thanks to her work through KISTH, indigenous girls and boys have opportunities they never dreamed of A man once told her that she should be at home cleaning and taking care of the animals and children, and that phrase made her redouble her efforts to work for change: "The woman who is educated and has financial freedom does not need a man that limits it We must fight against workplace harassment and in favor of equal pay, and professional respect.”

KISTH does not charge for helping: “I work as an agricultural specialist for Banco Pichincha in Quito and my work in the foundation is ad honorem. It satisfies me to think that more and more Kitchwas will be professionals.”

Love failure

Whenever she can, Janeth escapes from her office to talk to her mother and visit her family in Cotacachi: "My mother, María Andrade, always has a phrase to motivate me and that's why I miss her, I need her to hug and that of my father who pushed me towards progress, he encouraged me, he told me that I could.

On her days off, she accompanies her grandfather to take care of the cows and helps her father to harvest the corn. She goes out dancing from time to time and has fun with her friends. The dream of this powerful indigenous woman is to travel to the Netherlands to study horticulture of vegetables. The phrase with which Janeth Bonilla ends this interview with THE WOMAN POST is that "you have to love failure because it is an opportunity for growth.”

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