Through this report, I feel very happy to be in touch with you and tell you about the result we achieved during this first semester.
In Bolivia, we are living hard times due to the situation of political and ideological oppositions. At an economical level, we are affected by the economical crisis which is also a world problem. This is evident in the increasing of the life cost. In January, we had a referendum to approve the New State Political Constitution, which was approved by most of the population. After this approval, we are having structural reforms to the State and changes in the Electoral Law, which are leading to the presidential elections in December.
On these times of changes, to coordinate action for the benefit of children is harder. The decisions made tend to be delayed because the personnel of the public institutions who work with the topic of childhood and adolescence has no work steadiness. Although this situation, the state and private institutions continue trusting on SOS Children’s Villages and supporting us in the fulfillment of our mission.
In the SOS Children’s Village Cochabamba, we have 98 children, 38 youths in the professionalization stage and 23 youths in the independization stage with Advising.
Recently, a family welcomed an 8 year old girl who had no mother as she died because of post-delivery complications. The contact with the biological family on this child shows the lack and poverty many Bolivian families live in. The outlying districts don’t have access to water supply or electricity, and even less to close health and education services. The children of this district attend to a school, which is two hours far by walking; therefore, many children don’t study due to these conditions. The father of this child thought she was dead since his sister in law and the child didn’t return to the community since the day they went to a health center when the child was some months old. Currently, the father takes care of two other children; they all live in a shack along with his four nieces and nephews, his brother and his sister in law. They all support themselves with what they can fish or hunt to eat. The SOS mother who welcomed her, assumed this task with much love and responsibility as the family life she has is kind of confusing and it’s necessary to rebuild her identity sense. During seven years, she had a last name that wasn’t hers and just now she has the last name of her father.
This experience allow us to verify the importance of working along with the biological family, since this contact helps to build the children’s identity and to encourage their feeling of being better every day and, as a result, to motivate the family’s development. This way, in this and other situations, we work in the process of restoring of the biological family. For the whole population, 95% of the children are in touch with their biological family, which allows the relatives to strengthen the affective bonds that are the base for the restoring of the right to have a family.
In the family life area, the children and adolescents achieved good levels in their emotional state and self-esteem feeling as they can now handle in a better way the loss of their biological relatives and they integrate to the substitute family positively.
Regarding their health and nutrition, the children acquired healthy habits with good nutritious levels, hygiene habits and conservation of their physical health according to their age. Some of them have malnutrition problems when they first enter the village and their recovering processes are slower as the malnutrition problems come from their early age. Now, we have seven children who are in a nutritional recovering process.
In the education area, all the children develop their cognitive skills according to their ages. Forty five children study in private schools and fifty children study in public schools. Tow children attend the initial education levels and two children are part of special education programs. Regarding the adolescents, 11 study in schools with technical formation. Regarding the youths, 63% study and work, 23% only work and 13% only study.
As part of their integral development, the children spend their spare time on recreational, sport and cultural activities according to their interests and skills. Eighty seven children play soccer, dance or play the guitar. Many children are also part of the Scout Group of our city. Twelve children don’t do any activity; ten didn’t choose yet an activity to do and two are small kids to do any of those activities.
We give much importance to the socio-cultural identity in order to keep the cultural customs, values and patterns from our region. From the program, we promote the participation of the children and adolescents in characteristics activities of our city and country so they can integrate to the community in a pro-active and protagonist way.
The Centre of Technical Formation on Foods operates now as the Entrepreneur Education Program. Year 2008 represented the restructuring of the pedagogic services in the educative programs at a national level. In this case, we finished the qualification process to get a Medium Technician degree on Foods Processing with the last 13 students, who were in their third year of study. The graduation act was full of emotions. The students who gave a speech spoke about the history of the Centers of Technical Formation of SOS Children’s Villages since the beginning until their last achievements in the ‘Learn Producing’ Program, which demonstrated to be a guarantee for the students’ learning and labor success. Above all, the students’ words were outstanding and they demonstrated their pleasure in a spontaneous and simple way with a repetitive ‘Thanks’. Currently, the productive spaces of the Center of Technical Formation on Foods: Cooking, Pastry, Bakery and Milky Products-Lactobar workshops became a Productive Unit. For this, a recovery plan of services and products was elaborated and implemented. The new services address to the healthy food line with new integral products in pastry and bakery. In the lunch service there will be a permanent offer of vegetarian food.
The new Entrepreneur Education Program’s objective is to develop technical skills through qualification actions identified studies of participative diagnosis in the community. Its goal is to develop an entrepreneur spirit in the students looking for a change of attitude that reflects a contribution for the creation of an entrepreneur culture in marginal communities with some degree of vulnerability. The Program provides qualification at a Medium Technician level with careers that last one year and have 6 hours of class per day. The technical formation implies the modules of Integral Formation, Basic Competencies, Entrepreneurism, Citizenship and Environment. The educative process has three stages: 1) Six months of theoretical-practical qualification, 2) Three months of labor internships in enterprises or organizations of technical formation, and 3) Three months during which the student elaborates his or her business plan with a perspective of high possibility of applicability and viability.
Finally, regarding the Long-term childcare in permanent substitute families Program, it’s important to mention that it was necessary that each program of Cochabamba City has its own director in order to optimize the service for children and their families. Therefore, I’m now part of the team of the SOS Children’s Village Cochabamba and Mr. Fernando Rojas is in charge of the SOS Children’s Village Tiquipaya.
Mabel B. Fernández Sánchez
DIRECTOR SOS CHILDREN’S VILLAGE COCHABAMBA