A HOME OF HEARTS
Unfortunately in Colombia there are many children living in precarious situations. Some are orphans, others are living in very bad conditions and some are being abused by their own parents, stepparents or relatives. Many live in inhuman situations and have little chance of a real change in their lives. Those over five years hardly ever go for adoption, and the country doesn’t have many institutions for them, and those are often overcrowded and are more concerned in removing the kids from the street than to offer them a second home. That’s a reason why most of the few children who enter institutions try to escape preferring to live in the streets or even in the sewers that in an institution.
A concept widespread among charity trust is to provide for children a bed to sleep, 3 meals a day and a place where they can’t bother anyone. But we must provide them with a real quality of life, and not just a home, but a family with lots of love. Some of these children live now in our home and receive everything they need to have a decent life, medical care, schooling and clothing (many come without anything). It’s necessary to help them with love and affection to overcome traumas and attitudes that they bring from their past life. The doors of the home are always open lo leave it they want, nobody is forced to enjoy a good and decent life, but when they know you really care for them, they seldom leave.
They are generally malnourished when they arrive, and it takes time and effort to gradually change their eating habits and create an environment for a healthy mental and physical development. All this thanks to the efforts of people who have in their hearts a desire to help others. Government is not here to help.
The rule is that “whatever it`s not good enough for our own children it’s not good enough for them.” Therefore we emphasize healthy food, good exercise, Christian educations and values, and many recreational activities like going to a restaurant, learning to swim o go see the big city. Activities as a family helps them a lot to change.
One of the best therapies is to have animals (ducks, rabbits, chickens, dogs, goats, geese, etc.). Usually at the beginning they feel a distrust of adults but instantly feel much affection for animals. They also participate weekly in a program of equine therapy.
Our personal experience having worked in this field for the past 30 years in countries as diverse as India, Nepal, Morocco, Pakistan and Colombia is that what these children need is just an opportunity and a place where to grow, and prepare themselves for their future, give them a bridge between the place where they should have never been and where they can arrive in given a chance.
It is not surprising that for many children life is a cycle that starts with neglect, follows abuse, life in the streets, an overcrowded child’s institution, back on the street, prostitutions and delinquency, a detention center for minors, a juvenile correctional and end up in a cold room in jail. Especially when the interest is just focused on removing them from the streets, without giving them a home and a family. Children not only need a place to sleep and something to eat, on the street, in their own way, they also get it. They need a little more… they need a Home of Hearts.