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​Street girls and boys in Bolivia

Every two evenings a team of professionals from Casa San José goes out on to the streets of Quillacollo, a municipality in the urban area of Cochabamba in Bolivia, in search of abandoned children. It is calculated that in this city alone 1,800 of them live on the streets. They are invisible children. In exchange for a few coins, they act as shoe-shiners, help people get on buses, clean car windows at the traffic lights or ask for alms. They run away from their homes because of unbearable situations of violence and sex abuse, because of the neglect of their parents who leave them for entire days while they are at work, or because of the strong attraction of what they consider an easy life. The majority of these situations are the result of extreme poverty, of the uprooting, caused by migration, to the large cities, and of the lack of a social protection system that would identify the most vulnerable cases. Casa San José is concerned with the children’s reinsertion into their families, seeking their parents and attempting, thanks to psychologists and educators, to repair their relationships with their parents. When this proves impossible, the teams turn to the extended family – uncles and aunts, grandparents and cousins – to identify a nucleus close to the children which will protect them and offer them security. 




St. Peter’s Square

Oct. 17, 2019