We help children and
adolescents who were
taken from the streets or
have been removed form
their homes by the local
child protection services,
and were placed in one of
the shelters we work with.
We provide therapy to diffrent groups
at various locations in and around the
city Cochabamba in Bolivia. These
children are now going to school, but
many of them have to work to keep
themselves and their brothers and
sisters alive. We offer them a safe
place, where they learn to trust again.
In our lessons we discuss topics such
as self-awareness, recognizing emotions
Our method has its roots in creative therapy and it varies from working with dance and music, from puppetry to arts. It always closely relates to the experiences of these children.
It can be very difficult for the
children to express their emotions, as they have suppressed them for so many years. Play therapy is then an effective way for them to work through traumas.
The situations in de classroom during play can then be seized as opportunities to bring the emotions to reflection.
Our work is to increase the resilience
of these children. We build a bond of
trust by always being there for them
and to be consistently there for them.
The familiar faces of our trusted local
staff are an essential component of this. They know the cultural background and the issues of these children very well and they act as role-models and confidantes.
In our classes we teach the children
how to deal with themes such as
assertiveness, self respect and self-
awareness, recognition of emotions,
working together, and machismo
In addition to providing psychosocial
therapy, we also work on the practical
skills of the children. To prepare them
for their future and to guide them
towardas a self-sufficient life, it is
important to let the children discover
where their interests and talents lie.
Every step along the way is celebrated: big transformations in the end consists of small steps forward!
Moreover, it also helps in developing
their self-confidence. And this way
they do not only create a better future
for themselves, but also for their
Sustainability is an important theme within our organization. Besides investing in the children and adolescents we also support local teachers and social workers in their development. Our Bolivian trainers and teachers receive further training and coaching on a weekly basis from Laurie IJzerman (founder of Casa) and (local) therapists that support
us on a temporary basis. This organization gives us the opportunity to contribute to local employment
Our trainings are very concrete on the one hand: we study and develop games – the basis of creative therapy – to see how we can give these children the best possible support. We further study how we can engage the energy and focus of a group, how we can best deal with negative behaviour, and how the logistics of a class are best organized. On the other hand we take a deep-dive in subjects like abuse, emotions, setting boundaries, and social manners.
Furthermore we dive into the background of the teachers, as their own convictions, childhood, and traumas often play an large role in their classes. This means that not only the children benefit from the trainings, but also the teachers and their families themselves.
Casa de la Alegrı́a cooperates with
shelters run and established by
the Bolivian government. Depending
on the situation in which the
children are in, we offer different
DEALING WITH MACHISMO
Bolivia has a deeply rooted
culture of machismo. In our
classes we spend a lot of time
on this topic. Machismo culture
normalizes violence for many
children and makes it so that
girls and women are seen as
objects. We help children in the
setting of boundaries for
STARS FROM THE STREETS
The street is an important locus
for many Bolivian children. Not
only to work and support the
family income, but often also
to escape domestic violence.
Life on the streets increases
the contact children have with
drugs and criminal behavior.
Working through trauma
means that children and
adolescents have to (re)learn
expressing their emotions and
developing a renewed sense
of selfconfidence. Play therapy
is one of the methods we
employ to achieve these goals.
AFTER HUMAN TRAFFICKING
In Bolivia every year hundreds
of girls from poor families are
kidnapped, sold, and forced to
work in prostitution. We offer
these survivors a safe haven from
where they can rebuild trust and
we support them in developing a
positive outlook on the future.
As a foundation with an ANBI-status
(Dutch non-profit organisation status) we are
funded by various funds among which our
Amigos (regular donors). These funds are
used for classmaterials and paying our staff.