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November 11st, 1997, Rosa Maria founded the school "Escuela Katitawa", named after the sacred mountains where the school is located. The mission of this project is to be distinguished from the traditional education. Its mission is to promote a good learning environment while it encourages children's cultural identity. Rosa Maria chose Mostessori system.


What is Montessori system?

It is an alternative system of education, that is freer and it adapts to the concrete needs and concerns of each child. It favours their learning and their autonomy. Montessori system is based in the principle that each child learns in a very spontaneous way all the skills needed for their adult life. This system adapts to each child and to each learning rhythm. There are not punishments, nor competitiveness, but there is respect for the individual development.


Escuela Katitawa started as a private school because it did not received any funds from the government. It had up to 40 students enrolled. 

Rufino Masaquiza was the first teacher. At the beginning, Rosa María combined her job and her enthusiasm for this project. She paid Rufino’s salary and she was a teacher too. Afterwards, Rosa María hired Luis Cholota as maintenance staff. 

Regarding the transportation mode, students were picked up by a camioneta. The school is located at the foothills of a small mountain and Rosa María organized this transport system for the students.


Rosa María created the volunteer program and the foundation SUMAK KAWSAY YACHAY (beautiful life with education) the same year, in 1997. The main purpose is the education of Salasaca’s children and the intercultural exchange with the volunteers. This purpose has been adapting to the changing times. Nowadays, volunteers teach to children and adults.

The volunteer program, that she created, was about helping to build, enlarge, renew and maintain Escuela Katitawa facilities. Volunteers were not teachers, but they helped in the English classes or they assited teachers. Rosa María provided the volunteers her house, Hostería Pachamama, so that they were living there.




August 27th, 2003, a group from Arizona State University, installed the solar panels and hooked up the system providing the much anticipated electricity to drive the water pump that provided drinking water to Escuela Katitawa as well as water for irrigation for the crops that they grow. They also installed a second set of panels that provides lighting and power for the computers and small appliances.


The project was started a couple of years before when Kathrine J. Lewis had visited the school. She saw a need for electricity and as a geology student at ASU, she decided to see what she could do to make it a university project.


Kathrine J. Lewis is close to Rosa María and she remembers with special affection the project and the people that were part and are part of the foundation. Thank you Kathrine J. Lewis for making this possible.


Matt Hamilton taught the Ecuadorian technicians how to install the solar panels. Student’s families and teachers helped in the installation process. It was a great day for Escuela Katitawa.


This was the year that Robert Jeffords met Rosa Maria. Robert owned a business in Ecuador and he was retired in the USA.  When he met Rosa María, Robert first visited the project and he was a volunteer.



Robert took a more important role. He bolstered the volunteer program so that more volunteers could be part of the project. From that moment, volunteers were in charge of being teachers and they helped maintaining and improving the facilities. English was included in the curriculum of subjects. Before, it was taught two languages: Kichwa and Spanish.


Escuela Katitawa started as a private school and later, it joined the network of bilingual schools that were approved as experimental schools under the Ecuador Department of Education in 2006. Escuela Katitawa was not owned by the government, but the government did contribute with a small sum of money for the salaries of two teachers, one of which also acts as the director. 

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Robert started the project of the Rosa María Library in honor of the founder of SKY. The library was located in te center. In 2007, there were more than 1,000 books. Most of the books were donated by Rosa María and her family.


They started to teach English in the center of Salasaca. It was voluntary and there were children and adults.

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In February 2008, Rosa María had an opportunity to take a job at a university in the United States which was very difficult to pass up. Before she left, she left Robert in charge and María Pozo was named director of Escuela Katitawa. Moreover, her sister, Francisca Masaquiza, was named legal representative of SKY.


Thanks to the donations, the mode of transport changed. A Volkswagen Kombi was bought and Rufino, teacher, was in charge of picking students up in the mornings. He brought them back in the afternoons too.


Furthermore, thanks to a generous donation by an anonymous person in Holland, there were many improvements done in Escuela Katitawa. The kitchen was tiled and the buildings were painted so that the appearance improved. 

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Robert agreed with Manguiwa authorities to use their communal building. Robert used that place to relocate Rosa María Library and the house for the volunteers.


The plan was to use the second floor as a house for the volunteers and the lower floor as the new home for the Rosa Maria Library. There were also space for the afternoon English classes and after school homework help for students who live in Salasaca and need a little extra help in various subjects.


In the library, it was offered a high speed Internet connection for anyone and it had a low fee. At this time, the only other Internet service available was a very slow connection in  the center of Salasaca.

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Rosa María library was relocated to the building in Manguiwa. Additionally, four computers were installed thanks to a donation. 

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Thanks to the petition of Escuela Katitawa, the forest  was saved for 5 more years more.


The recycling project was a fact. For the last years, recycling was a relevant principle in the school. Therefore, children helped in this task. The organic rests were used as compost in the garden of the school. Two organic WC were built and they did not used water.


In the recycling center, every Friday, students brought their garbage to be separated, bagged and stored, it was enough for the Ambato recycler to pick them up.


The transportation system changed again. They went back to use the same system as Rosa María: she paid a camioneta so that students were pick up in the morning and they took them back home in the afternoon.


Robert adopted a new code of conduct and he taught the students the six pillars of character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. 


Manguiwa building was not enough because there were many volunteers. Robert started a project to build a second building and it was sponsored by the Paypal donations. It was a 2-floor building, whose upper floor had a bridge to communicate both buildings.




The second building in Manguiwa was finished. Volunteers moved back to their new house and the library and infocenter were working there.


The Ecuadorian government started to put some trouble to keep up paying the salaries of two teachers. As a consequence, it affected to the survival of Escuela Katitawa.


In 2012, Robert rented a property in the center of Salasaca. The plant nursery started working one year afterwards. It was a place where, Robert sold plants as well as some local weavings from Salasaca.


In 2008, Sofie Green, a volunteer, designed the school entrance of Escuela Katitawa. In 2013, it was undertook.



The Ministry of Education of Ecuador was closing small schools because they were opening huge schools, known as the escuelas del milenio, all over the country. The goal was to reduce costs.


Escuela Katitawa closed because they did not received anymore the economic helped of the government. The foundation did all they could to continue with Escuela Katitawa, but it was not enough. Furthermore, the Ecuadorian government did not allowed that volunteers worked as teachers in Escuela Katitawa because they did not meet the requirements.

The students enrolled in the huge public schools made by the government.



In spite of the closing of the school, Escuela Katitawa did not closed. Robert decided to open the school to all students who needed help after the school hours with their homework from 8 am to 5 pm. Robert also provided them transportation to and from the school.

November 13rd, 2016, Robert died at the age of 84 as a result of lung cancer. The project continued to be ran with the help of both international and local volunteers: Arne and Javier.

Robert Jeffords dedicated the final 10 years of his life to support Rosa María’s foundation SUMAK KAWSAY YACHAY. He started new activities such as the Rosa María Library, the English classes, the classes where volunteers provide help with homework and the nursery plant.



Volunteers were obliged to leave Manguiwa buildings because there were disagreements with the authorities of Manguiwa. The library was closed  with all inside: books and computers. Volunteers moved back to Hostería Pachamama, Rosa María’s house.


Volunteers were obliged to leave Manguiwa buildings because there were disagreements with the authorities of Manguiwa. The library was closed with all inside: books and computers. Volunteers moved back to Hostería Pachamama, Rosa María’s house.


Arne and Javier, former volunteers, continued with the project for months. In November 2017, Francisca, Rosa María’s sister, and Micaela, Rosa María’s niece, started to run the project again. Legally, Francisca was President of the foundation since her sister left to the United States.


From 2017 onwards, Francisca acted as President and she was in charge of the right functioning of the activities of the foundation. Francisca started to work in the morning with the volunteers in the garden. Volunteers eat these vegetables. Volunteers learn how to grow and harvest vegetables like corn, peppers, kale, chard, onions, chochos or broccoli. Micaela is the coordinator of volunteers and she lives at Pachamama. She is in charge of managing the arrival and departure of volunteers, coordinating new activities and helping that volunteers feel comfortable.


Meanwhile, volunteers changed the location of the English classes to the government building in the center of Salasaca. The new room is called Robert Jeffords school. Moreover, volunteers started to assist teachers in two public school in Salasaca in the morning and they helped children with their homework in the afternoon.

A small school next to Tübingen, in the south of Germany, collected money for SKY. This donation was used to buy furniture for the English classes in Robert Jeffords school. 


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The activities that takes place in the foundation have been changing because they adjust to the new demands. Volunteers stop helping children to do their homework. However, they started to go to Patuloma community on Thursday and Friday afternoon. They taught English to children, they helped them with their homework and volunteers played with them.


Robert Jeffords school changed its location. It was still in the city center of Salasaca, but it was located in the infocenter.


In October 2019, a social work started, that was about to build a house for a family in need. Micaela and the authorities of Patuloma organized sponsorships for the materials. Volunteers helped in the building site in the mornings. That is why volunteers stop going to the public schools of Salasaca to assist English teachers.



Volunteers stop going to Patuloma on Thursday and Friday in the afternoon because the English classes timetable was extended at Robert Jeffords school. From there, classes are from Monday to Thursday from 3 pm to 7 pm.


A painter volunteer decorated Robert Jeffords school with two characteristic paintings of the Salasaca and indigenous culture. 


Volunteers left to their countries at the beginning of April due to COVID-19 and we have not accepted any new volunteers for security. We waited until the difficult situation was normalized.


In June 2020, a new updated website was launched, it included a new email and a new Paypal account. The aim was to give a fresh look to the foundation.