22 and already worked for a decade Recommended read

Ricardo Sanchez knows a thing or two about hard work. At just 22 he has nearly 10 years of experience on jobs differing from manual labour in the fields to working seven days a week at the Otavalian Market.

Currently selling plates, his work extends beyond the hours of the Plaza de los Ponchos to the bakery in Ibarra where he lives and where the family earns their living.

‘I quite often return home to work until 11PM to help out my family. There’s no pay, we pull together to make the money.’

Having been forced to leave school at 17, Ricardo still dreams of going to university one day and even dreams of a trip to Paris to fulfil his ambition to become a tourist manager.

‘I think it could definitely happen still. I’m saving everything I earn here which is $100 a week if I’m lucky. I just need the plane ticket!’

Ricardo, however, started work at the premature age of 13 in the fields of Pichincha where he laboured for eight hours a day and for just $3. He combined work with his homework, ‘It was very hard, I had little time to do my studies but it sufficed and I could do enough to pass tests.’

Even though it was such a small amount of money, even for Ecuadorian standards, the money was shared and distributed amongst his family to buy food and bare essentials such as clothes.

He now has to return to the fields this May to work in the fields but is not too upset about leaving the market, ‘I am going to go back to work there for a month, as this is the time of year for the crops to start reaping. But it’s fine for me to go back. It’s good to work, in different things and help dad. It’s good work here too and I have a lot of fun in what I do. It’s true I have had to work hard, but compared to what a lot of people do, it’s great’

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