Comprehensive and Compassionate Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children
Bolivia is the poorest country in Latin America, and the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere behind Haiti. The country’s intense poverty and diminished family structure have created a social environment filled with violence, abuse, rape, neglect and hunger for the children of this country. In the capital city of La Paz, more than 5,000 children are homeless and live in the streets, while 30,000 work in the streets to survive. They have either been abandoned by their parents, or have sought refuge from the physical and sexual abuse.
In 1994, Fundación Arco Iris (FAI) was established in an effort to provide comprehensive support to these neglected street children and adolescents. The Obrajes Girls’ Home, an orphanage for 120 girls aged 5-18 years, was one of the first projects of FAI. The home provides food, clothing, educational support and vocational training of these abandoned girls, as well as social, psychological, and legal assistance and guidance. Soon thereafter, a boys’ orphanage called Casa Esperanza was created to provide similar support for what is now a group of 80 boys.
Throughout these past seventeen years, numerous other comprehensive
programs have been established that, first and foremost, provide love, self-esteem and stability. They continue to offer physical, emotional and educational support for thousands of orphaned/vulnerable children and their families.
Presently, FAI has over 100 employees, houses and supports 300 children, serves 800 daily meals and provides 1.000 children with guidance and education. Every year, 5.000 children are provided with social, physical, psychological, and legal support, as well as vocational training and professional preparation.An example of such a social program within FAI is Centro Betaña, located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in La Paz, which daily tutors and feeds lunch to kids living in the surrounding area between the ages of 6 and 18. Another such example is Casa de Refugio, a home for young mothers and their babies, 99% of the preteen and teenage mothers having been raped and impregnated by a man in their own family. One of the biggest social projects belonging to FAI is called Casa de Paso (Pass-Through House), which provides a multitude of services to the children who “pass through” daily, including educational tutoring, medical care, daily meals and recreational activities.
At the end of each day, the heartbeat of FAI is providing life, hope and love to the children of Bolivia.
-Noelle Broyles, wife of Dr. Kevin Broyles and FAI volunteer