Montevideo, December 2009
Warm greetings from the village of Florida! Last year was really a difficult one for everybody, as the financial crisis and the global recess touched all of us, having their worst impact on the most vulnerable families and their children. This meant that we’ve had to use all our imagination not to increase our costs, while at the same time making all efforts to face up to ever greater challenges, setting priorities for our expenditures.
The village consists of 16 families comprising a total of 92 children and youngsters and therefore the topic of “Child Protection” has been constantly present in our daily work, visualizing the risk factors existing in the families, so as to help them resolve their conflicts adequately in an environment of protection and respect.
The children participated in the cultural and recreative activities of Florida, just 2 km away from the village. The Club Democrático was the most popular, as it offers music, handicraft and cooking workshops, as well as a dancing group, where the teacher is Alicia, who left the village only three years ago. They also had English lessons and danced in the Comparsa, a typical Afro-Uruguayan music band with deep roots in our culture, which combining the beat of three different drums, recreates the rhythm the slaves brought from Africa and nowadays has become one of the most popular musical genres. In the village a football team was formed with a coach coming three times a week and also a basketball team. Summer camp was also a great success; the children loved it, especially the songs around the campfire. And celebrations are important too, even in times of crisis, and the last occasion for celebrating was Tatiana’s 15th birthday. A girl’s 15th birthday is a very special event that is celebrated with a big party, where she is the centre of everybody’s attention – just like in the old days when young girls were presented to society in an “Outcoming ball” - and months ahead they already dream of this day, which will remain a cherished memory all through their lives. Tati’s birthday was wonderful, the communal hall had been decorated with pink and white balloons and the party continued until the early morning hours. Tatiana was radiant and later confessed how nervous she had been, when she entered the room and saw everybody staring at her, but also how glad she felt to have been able to live this experience. And what was best, was that her father, uncle and grandparents came too and shared this moment with her.
With regard to the children’s scholastic performance, 98% of those in elementary school passed to the next grade. 21 teenagers attended high school, several youngsters have opted for technical courses and learning a trade and 5 are studying a career. Our greatest challenge with them and the young people living in Youth Facilities is to make them take on a more active role in those decisions which will affect their future.
And in our Family Strengthening Programmes we do preventive work, preventing child abandonment, by reaching children and their families in those peripheral communities that are most fragile and where children live most exposed to vulnerability. There we have implemented 7 Community Centres, attending 535 children and their families, providing meals, education and health care for the children, furthering women, helping them to enter the labour market and establishing Neighbourhood Commissions to take over the responsibility for the programmes.
Yisel took her three little girls and left her partner after enduring domestic violence for three years. She moved to Montevideo, on the southern coast of Uruguay, undergoing penury and deprivation, working as a maid and living in a shelter with her daughters, where she met Daniel with whom she had two more children. They returned to Florida, living in a precarious dwelling often affected by floods. The five children attend the community centre, where Daniel participates hauling construction materials as sand and mud with his horse-drawn cart, while Yisel cooks the meals. And since the building of their new house was approved, the whole family is busy building their future home with their own hands, a place much more comfortable and hospitable for the children to grow up in.
We thank you for the tremendous loyalty that you’ve shown us, this magnificent sign of trust, of continuing standing by us even in hard times like these. In the name of the children and our whole team we wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
Elena Falero, Village Director & Andrea Heimann, National Sponsorship Co-ordinator