TOYBOX - Changing the world for street children
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PINK SUN's organic cacao products come from South America where we are proud to support Toybox, a UK charity working internationally with a mission to end the injustice of children living and working on the streets.
In association with local aid organisation's Toybox is providing financial and on the ground help to work with street children and give them back their childhood, through housing, reconciliation with families (if safe and appropriate), urgent medical care or a simple meal and places to be a child again.
PINK SUN supports Toybox to:
- identify children who are at risk of making the street their home or workplace
- connect with children who already live or work on the street with a view to assuring their safety and wellbeing for the future
- where possible, to reintegrate a street child back into their family or another loving, supportive home
Latest updates from the children on the streets...
Miguel – La Paz, Bolivia - February 19
Miguel is an active 14 year old who loves football.
“I would like to continue improving and going forward, but I’m not sure if I will manage or if I’m going to want to get better”. The street outreach workers who are supporting Miguel have noticed a positive change in his behaviour recently. “Now, Miguel takes part in most of the activities that we do. He’s really starting to show a better attitude and comply with rules.
”Miguel lives alone in the central zone of La Paz. His mother abandoned him and his siblings when they were very small and his dad, who was also living on the streets recently died. Miguel has older siblings; the oldest brother is in prison, the second oldest brother is living on the streets, his oldest sister is 18 and the younger sister lives in our Bolivian partner’s ‘Alalay Home’. At the moment, Miguel earns money by shoe shining and cleaning windscreens at traffic lights. “I have to be responsible for myself, if I don’t work or if I am not allowed to work, who is going to look after me?”
Toybox are keen to offer Miguel the best support for him, tailored to his needs. In this case, it means engaging him in activities at the Protection Space at the Alalay Home which also gives him a place to access community services. “Before Miguel’s dad died, the family was a lot closer and uncles and aunts, as well as his sister tried to support Miguel.” Jonny, Miguel’s brother says, “it’s good that Miguel has the support of Alalay. I would like him to start understanding how important it is for him to leave the streets because the longer he stays on the streets, the more difficult it will be for him to leave. I have every confidence that the Alalay workers will help to guide my brother to a better path in life.”
However, Miguel is determined to remain self-sufficient without the need to lean on anyone else for support. He says, “I leave from the place where I sleep at 8am. I get my things ready for work and then I go and get breakfast from a local church where the brothers give out food until 9.30 – if you go later than that you miss out. At 10, depending on the day, I go to work on the street either cleaning shoes or washing windscreens because there are so many cars at that time. I think that I could have a better life and that there are other options, mainly having my own place where I could live and be willing to accept help from other people. I need to learn how to accept this help.” The fact that Miguel realises that his situation needs to change is a big move forward for him and important for his development going forward.
Eduardo, one of the street outreach workers says, “Miguel has the potential to leave the streets behind – since I started working with him, he’s made incredible progress, but we have to be patient and creative while working with Miguel! Clearly, there is a significant difficulty around his vulnerable situation of living on the street, but it is posible that he will be able to see that an alternative lifestyle is better. At the beginning, he was adamant that he wanted to stay on the streets forever whereas now, he is showing signs that he wants to improve his standard of living.”
Marcela - September 2018
One of our special children on the streets of Bolivia. She made us a fab card which has pride of place in our office.
Edith's story - March 2018
Edith is 14 years old and is currently being supported through the family reintegration by Alalay, Toybox’s partners in Bolivia. For several years since she was very young, Edith has been living on and off the streets and has been earning money through commercial sex work.
When she was 6, Edith’s father died. She was devastated by this as they were very close and he was very fond of her. Following his death, the family dynamics changed a lot and Edith’s mother started mistreating Edith and her older brother. She became violent and used to abuse them both physically and emotionally, so much so that her brother decided to team up with her mother and abuse her too. For a long time, Edith shut down and just tolerated the abuse, trying her hardest to protect her younger brother at the same time. When Edith was 10, her mother introduced her new partner to the home, who was initially nice, but then joined Edith’s mother in the abuse.Edith’s new stepfather moved in full time which meant that Edith and her older brother grew closer again as they rebelled against his abuse. Not long after, her brother left home, leaving Edith to defend against her mother alone.
To minimise the time she had to spend at home, Edith would take the long route home from school through a park. One day, she saw two teenagers getting high and approached them. They told her that sniffing the glue would make her feel better and forget all her problems. They saw the bruises and marks on her arms and sat with her as she took her first sniff. When she got home, her mother smelled the glue on Edith and beat her more viciously that usual and something inside Edith snapped. She screamed at her mother, berated her for all the abuse she had inflicted and ran from the house.
All she had with her were a couple of clothes in a backpack and a couple of loose coins. As she was considering looking for her brother, she found herself back in the park with the two teenagers she had met earlier. As the night drew in, more and more children and teenagers turned up, all with their bottles of glue. Edith made friends with an older girl who said that she could introduce her to her “Aunty” who would help her earn some money to survive.
“Aunty” was a drug dealer who sold glue in El Alto. She invited Edith into her home, gave her food, drink and a bed for the night. Edith felt safe. However, the next morning, “Aunty” explained that nothing in life is free and asked Edith for payment for her hospitatility. When Edith explained that she had no money, “Aunty” told her that she could repay her debt by selling glue out in the community. Edith had no choice but to accept. She started selling small amounts of glue, but she was often targeted by the police who took her product away. When “Aunty” started to threaten Edith because her debt had not been paid, she started looking for other ways to earn money. She had seen some of the older girls earning money as commercial sex workers and Edith made the decision to start selling her body to pay back her debt. She was still just 10 years old. During her time as a commercial sex worker, Edith had to endure numerous counts of sexual violence and many of the consequences that come from that.
When she was almost 12, Edith decided to go back home. When her mother realised how she had been earning money, she offered Edith her own room in the house so that she could continue her work to contribute to the household income.
Not long after, Alalay’s outreach workers started working with Edith and her mother to help them create a more friendly environment for Edith at home. Her mother now understands the value of Edith not working in the commercial sex sector and she has now not been out on the streets either to work or sleep for over three months. Alalay are continuing to support Edith so that she can look forward to a safe and healthy future away from the streets.
Devastating fire in children's home Guatemala City - Baby supplies sent with Toy Box and PINK SUN - March 2017
A devastating fire in a government-run children’s home in Guatemala City. The fire was in the area of the home where hundreds of young girls were living. Over 40 children were killed and many more are in hospitals around
the city suffering from life-threatening injuries and illnesses. Toybox's partners on the ground in Guatemala are now taking immediate action to deliver vital emergency services as part of an organised response.
As a result of the fire 50 babies are in need of emergency care. All of these babies have additional needs including Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome. Our team in Guatemala are working hard to provide all 50 babies with sanitation essentials including nappies, wipes and cream. They are regularly visiting the residential homes where the babies have been re-located to ensure they are being cared for properly.
When the team at PINK SUN heard about this disaster we were overwhelmed with sadness and immediately approved a donation of £1700 to pay for urgent baby needs.
We hope that with our small support and the dedicated Toy Box partners in Guatemala City some good can come from this tragedy.
Please note the names of children used in these updates have been changed to protect their identities