Alalay has been rescuing, housing and educating street kids for 26 years now. But they do a lot more: they offer a home for children who by definition do not have one.
Today I visited both the girls and boys Alalay homes in La Paz Bolivia and as always was moved by the wonderful kids and the beautiful, clean, warm place where they live.
The founder, Claudia, walked us through the 4 step process of getting them off the street, giving them an identity (literally, many use fake names and do not know their date of birth let alone have any personal I.D.) getting them into school (that is the part Alma pays for) and preparing them for productive, healthy lives as adults.
We wandered around and chatted with the kids but always, in the back of my mind was the refrain of “this kid LIVED in the streets….this kid was the victim of human trafficking or is an orphan”. I played chess with Blas (pictured below with Alberto) and then I spoke with Javier (second photo). His parents died when he was very young and as a fourteen year old he lived under a blue park bench for two years. I asked him what it was like to live in the streets. This is what he said:
“You don’t have anything, only your voice. It is very difficult (problematico). You are always looking for something to eat. You learn a lot”. I thought about what he would have learned and how mature he must be. But then when I walked through the bedrooms I noticed that all the beds had stuffed animals on them and I found his bed. And this child, because he is still a child, had stuffed animals on his bed. Mature maybe, but a child none the less. This is a home for children.
Blas and Alberto