Issue - August 2008



August 2008
Editorial

In this months issue Barbara Walter interviews El Alcolero; Hanna Redknap tells us about the next Pan-American Robert Moot for scouts in Bolivia; Perry King has news from Casa de la Alegra; and Walter Snchez presents a unique article from the Archaeological Museum...read more...

August 2008

Casa de la Alegría:
Little Girls becoming Little Woment

Every place has a story to tell and Casa de la Alegría is no different. Our reporter spoke to those well involved with this allgirls dormitory to understand th current happenings.

Perry King
Projects Abroad volunteer
Toronto - Canada

If many were to describe Casa de la Alegría, an all-girl orphanage located in the town of Quillacollo, they may see a lot of negativity. However for others, this is a place of immense potential full of great efforts to create opportunity.

The best place to find this potential is in the girls themselves. “There are many things for the girls to do and learn here,” says Milenka Foronda, the Director. “[We want to] give love to the children; give them a good future,” says Foronda. “We teach them to cook, clean, and study hard to be good people.”

The group of girls is developing well under the circumstances. In addition to attending school and Catholic church for moral support and development, they participate in a range of other activities and short-term projects at Casa de la Algría’s facilities.

One very important example of the continuing activities is the artistic contributions of the girls to raise money for food and amenities. “It is actually incredible the talent these girls have with these crafts,” says Imogen Barr, a Projects Abroad volunteer who has been working with the girls and the facility for a couple months. “They taughtme a lot about craft techniques.”

With a colourful background in the arts herself, Barr was able to relate to the girls quite easily. But she is quite aware of the lack of opportunities for the girls to continue these artistic projects: “They have so much talent butthere not so much need for it I suppose...”

There is much concern that these girls are not able to integrate into society because they are not documentedand able to leave the orphanage after a certain age. “Unfortunatelysome of the girls don’t have birthcertificates or any identification papers so they end up\living here indefinitely,” says Barr.

“The trouble is that there exist very few prospects for whenthey get over certain age,” says Barr. “Casa de la Alegría seemsto be a last stop, there is no other place.”

There have been some difficulties, but the effort to help these girls is definitely apparent. Foronda has had meetings with schools and she has met with organizationsthat have contributed in the past to convince them to contribute more.

These girls understand the reality of their situation, but despite the negative prospects from lack of funding, they still try to make each other happy.

Much of the stability for the girls is possible because of itsdirector. Foronda checks on the girls very frequently at school and at Casa de la Alegría. More importantly, the connection between the girls and Foronda is very close,like a sisterhood. “I am young and so are the girls. Weunderstand each other,” says Foronda.

Foronda’s contributions to the orphanage do not go unnoticed. She has been the main source of fundingfor the girls, providing food, clothing and amenities.\ The particular problem here is that Foronda is the only source of income. Casa de la Alegría is not government\sponsored and funded.

“Last year, many people stopped funding,” says Forondoa. “But the [local] church and friends give food and so on.” Foronda is also not paid in her position. “It is too hard for [me] to work alone. I need help, of course,” says Foronda. “It would be good if people could help pay for further study like university. Some girls [would be] better at study and some at work. It depends on the girl.”

There is need for a lot of these things for the girls. But despite this, the girls are closer than we could ever realize. And they cherish their quality time together. Volunteers working there, like Barr, become very thankful for the kind of experience they receive while coming in to assist in the everyday happenings of the facility. “The friendship with the children is very real; being able to give them the love they need,you get so much love in return from them,” says Barr, who is so thankful for her timethus far.

It is a gift to be in contact with thesegirls. Understandably, life can be tough, but their artistic work and the time spent together always provide a way to be optimistic.

Writing and photography

Recuerdo que cuando trabajaba en la Casa de la Cultura (1996) me impresionó una fotografía. Se trataba de la instantánea de un hombre que yacía muerto sentado en un improvisado asiento hecho de adobes. Años después, en un pequeño librito titulado Tradiciones Cochabambinas. Cuadros de Cochabamba. Imágenes de Ayer y Hoy escrito por Armando Montenegro, me sorprendió otra fotografía. Tampoco tenía autoría y era el “par” de la fotografía anterior...

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