Helping 10 000 Abused Children, Bolivia
WAWAS, meaning “children” in the Bolivian language Quechua, is a project now in its second phase, to stop and prevent further violence to 10´000 abused women and girls. Both the victims and their families are being helped with psychologists, lawyers and self-help groups during an 18 month period to learn how to resolve conflicts in a non violent manner.
Having been involved in the care and education of Bolivian children since 2007, we realised that most of our children at the orphanages were victims of violence and abuse. Not only does this result in direct suffering, mental problems and limited school results, but is also considered a major root cause of adult dysfunctionality, crime and violence.
How is WAWAS managed and organized?
In order to stop the cycle of violence from generation to generation WAWAS is based on a long-term systematic, holistic and community-based approach. It consists of four parts:
Public marches against violence, theatre performances in public spaces, brochures, posters and murals.
What has been done are information and dialogues with the parents of all the children at the involved schools, and workshops for parents, children, teachers and the general public.
18 months bi-weekly program for the entire families of abused children in non-violent conflict resolution by psychologists and lawyers.
Psychotherapy of the abused children, assistance to the aggressors to find work, reduce alcohol consumption and other poverty reduction tools.
Quantitative measurements show that there have been significant changes in the abused children’s progress in school, in the number of incidents of abuse in the involved families and in the number of reported cases of violence or abuse against children at the police stations.
It is also noticeable that there are changes in the community from a general acceptance and stigma of violence and abuse of children towards awareness and capacity building of a new non-violent culture.
The government of Cochabamba is following the project and has shown strong interest in copying and scaling the project throughout the entire province. In this way, not only the involved children, their families and the local community, but enormously many more people will benefit.
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