Bolivia - What to do when a child is left without the care of a family? The welcoming family, a task still pending

16 August 2018

(ANS - Santa Cruz) - "Every family, a school of life" is the title of the project that the Projects Office of the Bolivia Province (OFPROBOL), the Salesian University of Bolivia (USB) and the NGO International Volunteers for Development (VIS) are jointy carrying out during this 2018. A project clearly inspired by the Strenna of the Rector Major.

by Lorenzo Marfisi, VIS Coordinator in Bolivia

The project aims to focus attention on a major dilemma in today's society: what to do when a child has no family assistance? The main response is the reception center. For certain, this solution guarantees a roof, a bed, food, protection, education, health care assistance, recreation and access to cultural initiatives.

However, no matter how great the effort of the educational community that runs the center is, it does not entirely replace the primary role that a family should be offering. The work shifts and the rotation of the educational staff, the number of children and adolescents welcomed, sometimes the separation of the siblings due to the internal organization of the reception center, are in themselves some elements that stand between residential assistance from the family model.

It may be said that the reception center is the lesser evil. Families for various reasons have renounced their educational role and have delegated the care and education of these children to the reception center. Many think so.

"Every child has the right to receive the love of a mother and a father, both necessary for their complete and harmonious maturation, " the Pope writes.  "Respecting the dignity of a child means affirming their need and natural right to have a mother and a father." (Amoris Laetitia, par 172)

The institutions that carry out the "Every family, a school of life" project are developing a course in the Rights of the child, girls and boys, and the adolescent to family life, with a specific module dedicated to the "temporary substitute family". This module was the most innovative for the 117 students enrolled in the course, as few were the attempts made in the country to develop a program of welcoming families. The lessons are held simultaneously in the nation's three main cities, and the members are members of local public institutions, reception centers, NGOs and instances of the Catholic Church. During the workshops, excellent ideas emerged to raise awareness, attract, train and accompany the Bolivian families.

In Bolivia there are over 9,000 girls, boys and teenagers living in reception centers, 75% of whom are concentrated in the Departments wherein members of the Salesian Family also operate: La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and Chuquisaca. There is a vast field for sowers of reception and hosting: now it is more necessary than ever for someone to encourage and accompany prophetic family care programs.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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