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A New Face for Care in Bolivia

Children at the home

Projects Abroad - Bolivia, are working jointly with Maria Christina Orphanage to restructure the home and provide care for girls, boys and young adults with mental disabilities or special needs.

Hogar María Cristina used to house only young girls between the ages of 6 to 18, however, it has recently been designated by SEDEGES (Servicio Departamental de Gestión Social, - Social Services), as part of a new scheme, to house a mixed population of interns, from ages of about 8 to 30.

Football in the garden

For years, the Fundación Cristo Vive - Bolivia, along with Projects Abroad - Bolivia have approached SEDEGES regarding the need for proper care and administration of the state-run orphanage due to its lack of staff, poor administration of funds and deteriorating infrastructure.

In March 2005, Daniela Viljoen, Country Director of Projects Abroad - Bolivia was approached by Sister Nancy Vega of the Fundación, with a proposal to work jointly in the administration of the Hogar María Cristina. Due to the nature of Projects Abroad - Bolivia's work in the community, and having helped and supported the staff and interns of this particular home since October 2002, the proposal was gratefully accepted.

The garden

Almost a year later, mission accomplished! Hogar María Cristina has recently (January 3rd, 2006) been handed over from SEDEGES to the Fundación Cristo Vive - Bolivia for delegated administration, as legal representatives of the home and its interns.

Hogar María Cristina - 'Nuevo Rostro', the new name given to the home (meaning 'A New Face') now faces new challenges. With a new name, new administration and staff and remodeled infrastructure, the home must undergo a series of changes in order to reach its objective of transforming it into a true "home" that will give and bring dignity back into the life of the individuals living in the home. We are counting on the help of volunteers from Projects Abroad, the Fundación Criso Vive - Bolivia and local people to reach our goal.

The orphanage building

Projects Abroad is already involved in cleaning and preparing the home for the interns to return from a temporary home where they have been living since December 2005. Currently there is a group of six Projects Abroad volunteers and six girls from the Fundación who are working hard to clear the garden area of rubbish and debris.

Volunteers who are interested in staying overnight at the orphanage or live there (if requested) will be able to as there are two bedrooms, a communal bathroom and shower area, and a lounge area for volunteers being prepared.

Volunteers helping with clean-up

Volunteers will be involved in different types of activities such as maintenance, picking up food and supplies for the orphanage, preparing outings with the interns, and group activities such as garden cleaning.

Hogar María Cristina will be Bolivia's main Care & Community project as it is the orphanage that needs the most help. However, we will continue to work with other orphanages in Cochabamba that also need help from volunteers.

This news story includes references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.

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