by Noelle Broyles
The Day of the Child (Día del Niño) was created over 50 years ago to raise awareness and stimulate solutions for the problems children face…such as inadequate education and healthcare, violence, and abuse.
On April 5th, Father Jose Neuenhofer and Foundation Arco Iris led their annual celebration to uphold and honor the dignity of the estimated 30,000 children who either work or live in the streets of La Paz, Bolivia.
In order to simply survive, many of these children begin working in the streets at ages as young as five years old. They shine shoes; wash car windshields at busy street intersections and sell candy to the masses that pass by. The majority of them also grow up never having had the opportunity to receive an education or adequate healthcare. They are society’s forgotten and dispensable.
But, Foundation Arco Iris has not forgotten them.
For the past 12 Easter seasons, Father Jose has called local government leaders, church leaders, and celebrities to honor the humblest of children who work in the streets by following the example of Jesus as he washed the feet of his disciples. These prominent members of society recently once again embraced the opportunity to serve these children by shining their worn out shoes in the presence of hundreds of onlookers who gathered together within the city’s most popular and crowded plaza.
Beholding the “rich and famous” genuinely serving, encouraging, and honoring the “poor and needy” inspired moments of inner reflection for everyone present. What if we all took to heart Jesus’s words to “go and do likewise?” How different our world would be? It is true that we may not be able to change the whole world, but we can change somebody’s world somewhere. Let us begin with a child.
Bolivia’s “Day of the Child” was also recently celebrated on April 12th at Hospital Arco Iris. Hospital Arco Iris participated in this day of awareness by creating an official partnership with the mayor in order to provide better care to the children. This resolution is the first of many alliances that will be made throughout the city of La Paz between the government and all of the other hospitals, for the well being of the children.