Meet Liam, a little boy I met whilst volunteering in Bolivia with Tearfund International Citizen Service.
Liam was just 6 weeks old when I met him. His dad had committed suicide just weeks before he was born and his mum was struggling to cope with the loss of her partner and the prospect of raising her new child alone.
Liam was born under this bridge…
He lives there with a group of about 20 other street children that in essence are his family unit. They are all very protective and supportive of one another to the extent that given the opportunity to stay at a hostel, Liam’s mum often opts to remain under the bridge rather than leave the others behind.
Living conditions under the bridges are extremely bad and unsurprisingly many of the young people living there, resort to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain of their reality.
During my time in Bolivia I met many children living on the streets and found it difficult to stomach each time. But seeing an innocent child that had been brought into the world this way broke my heart even more. The prospect of Liam growing up thinking that his circumstances are the norm having never experienced anything different is extremely saddening.
Children belong in safe and secure homes with loving families not on the streets faced with the burden of fending for themselves.
Today on International Day for Street Children please spare a thought and pray for Liam and the millions of young people and babies like him, living on the streets of Bolivia and across the world.
Author: Lauren Batty
Lauren volunteered in Bolivia as part of the government-funded International Citizen Service (ICS) which allows young people aged 18-25 to contribute to long-term projects in developing countries.
For 10 weeks, Lauren and her team worked alongside Tearfund’s partner, Mosoj Yan, in a centre that reaches out to women and children who are living on the street. Through providing a safe place to wash and eat, receive counselling and learn new skills, the centre aims to help its users on the long and difficult road to rehabilitation, walking alongside them every step of the way.
Since 1991 Mosoj Yan has been working with girls and teenagers, some of whom have babies, who live and/or work on the streets of Cochabamba. For more information visit the Tearfund website.