Extreme poverty is a sad reality in Bolivia. Mere words cannot describe the wretched conditions in which many children live. No running water or electricity. Crumbling walls that cannot protect against cold weather. Insufficient food to eat. No one to care for you. These are only some aspects that permeate the environment that some children in La Paz have to face every day.
Recently, I visited the home of a little girl and witnessed this situation with my own eyes. Being there, one is overwhelmed by the abject poverty and cannot help but understand how it affects every aspect of a child's life.
The home I visited was that of a little girl named Sofia. She is a four-year-old who doesn´t know what it is like to live a life where there is food on the table (or even a table). She does not know the meaning of clean clothes; she has only the dirty ones she wears each day. She does not know the feeling of taking a shower because she does not have a shower at her house. Her head is constantly full of lice. Sofia lives with her six-year-old sister, her one-month-old baby sister, and her parents. They all live in a two-meter square room lacking all the basic necessities. When we first met Sofia and her family, it was apparent that the family structure was marked by indifference. Sofia´s mom didn´t know when Sofia was born. She thought it wasn’t important since Sofia was the second child and not the first.
Sofia's father works in the informal market as a mason. He needs to find construction work every week. If he is lucky, he makes 50 Bolivianos ($7.50 US) a day—if he is able to find a job that day. If not, the family suffers through another day of hunger and unfulfilled needs.
Sofia attends the Kaya Center. She is part of Kaya’s prevention program, a program that exists to intervene before children make a permanent transition to the street. When I visited Sofia’s home, my instinct was to want to remove this child from her home. How can a little girl live in these conditions? But there is a bond between Sofia and her mom, however imperfect the relationship may be. We work to keep families together. The hard truth is we have limited space in our houses. Our girls' house filled up so quickly with girls who had NO place at all to call home.
Kaya can't eliminate poverty in Bolivia, but we can work to lessen the burdens of some of the children living in it. Sofia is not the only child in Bolivia who lives in these conditions; indeed, every child in Kaya´s prevention program does, and this is why the Kaya Center exists.
Kaya believes there is hope for the future for children like Sofia. Thus, we gave her the opportunity to attend kindergarten. We also make sure she eats a nutritional meal every day at the Kaya Center. In addition, we continue to work with her family to help improve conditions so they can escape extreme poverty one day. At Kaya Children International, we are engaged in the long-term work of changing lives. Your support to Kaya helps make a difference in Sofia's life and for many other children who would otherwise call the streets home.