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Friends of Alalay – Bolivia

Location – Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.

The Project – Friends of Alalay directly supports the Alalay Foundation, which was started in the early 1990’s by a 19 year-old Bolivian student who passed street children every day on her way to university and was determined to do something to help. Alalay rescues these kids from the streets and offers them a loving environment living together in family cabins. Alalay also feeds, clothes and educates the children and encourages them in their future working lives.

The effect of the Covid-19 pandemic has been severe in Bolivia which is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and has a basic health system. Friends of Alalay have had to adapt to continue their support of street children in the area. In pre-COVID times, a vital stage of Alalay’s work involved volunteers spending time on the streets interacting with the children and young people living/working working there. They would talk, play with them or share food, building up trust and a relationship with the children, and encouraging them to visit Alalay (only if this is desired by the child themselves).

During the pandemic all normal street work was temporarily suspended by the state and schools were closed. Members of Alalay’s street-work team continued to offer support through online training instead and children continued to participate in online training and receive educational support from Alalay staff to ensure they do not fall behind in their studies. Special measures were also put in place for new children joining the Alalay family, including Covid testing and isolation.

Our SupportThe LATA Foundation has previously funded a medical unit and quail farm as well as providing scholarships for a number of children. In 2019 we supported the vital refurbishment of the boys’ Welcome House in Santa Cruz.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the LATA Foundation has continued to support the vocational training and scholarships of the children at Alalay, but have also offered support for contingency plans where children and staff have been affected by the virus. Donations have gone towards medical supplies and transportation, as well as ensuring a regular and safe supply of food and hygiene products for those at the Welcome House. Although studies for many children had to be suspended in the first half of 2020, they have now resumed, either online or in class, and many of the children are hoping to complete their scholarships as planned.

Further information – Since it was started, the Alalay Foundation has helped over 10,000 kids and adolescents and works with over 1,000 children annually, in the cities of La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. It currently has 400 children living in various centres, and provides food, health care, clothing, education, legal assistance, spiritual & psychological support and technical training for them. Most importantly, it provides something they’ve often never had – a home and a family.

Friends of Alalay (FOA) was founded in 2006 by Annie Syrett, a British volunteer at Alalay, to help ex-street children in the care of Alalay to help themselves.  This is achieved through financing predominantly educational and self-sustainable projects. FOA has supported many initiatives including ‘in-house consumption activities’ (livestock, carpentry, bakery, textile unit), vocational training for older ex-street children and houseparent salaries.

Specifically, FOA has financed the building and/or refurbishment of the Prevention House, the ‘Bristol House’ volunteer’s cabin and medical unit, and a multi-purpose space for the psychologist at the girls’ welcome centre, as well as general building maintenance.

Further information – alalay.co.uk