Social-emotional skills, talents and aggression
As a result of the great poverty in Cochabamba, Bolivia, many children have to deal with aggression, abandonment and violence from a young age. Parents work very long hours, and often barely have time to feed their children, let alone raise them. As a result, the kids lack a lot of the social-emotional skills they need to deal with the environment in which they live, and to prepare themselves for the future. The Casa de la Alegría Foundation helps children and teenagers develop these skills. We do this by offering them theater, art, dance and music workshops in which they can relax, play and really be kids while working on their social-emotional welfare, all in a safe, trusted environment. Some of the bigger themes we work with are aggression, dealing with traumas, teaching the kids to be more assertive and resilient, and teaching them about sexual and reproductive health. We also think it’s very important for these children to discover where their talents lie and develop them further, as this will make them more confident and self-sufficient, and enable them to build a better future for themselves. A crucial factor for us is that the children and teenagers learn to be proud of themselves and what they have accomplished.
Local reality and sustainability
We are convinced that development aid should be developed by and with local people. Because of this belief, our very first step was to talk with as many people in Cochabamba as possible to find out what kind of aid was most needed. This is also the reason we have chosen to work with local drama teachers. They are close to the kids, familiar with the situation and the language, and are able to see which kind of help will be most beneficial to the kids. We also believe it is crucial to make our aid as sustainable as possible, and teach the kids skills that will help them in the rest of their lives, without making them dependent on our help in the long term.
Collaborations with local projects
We have also chosen to collaborate with other, mainly local, projects. These projects offer the children basic aid, like schooling and shelter, but do not have the time, money or expertise to offer social-emotional support as well. We offer this as a supplement to the aid they give, and by working together we can offer the kids a better, more complete support package, giving them a better chance at a brighter future.