|Project:||Techo Pinardi (Pinardi Shed)|
|Date of foundation:||22/12/2001|
|Place:||Santa Cruz - Bolivia|
Each time new people come wanting to know about the overnight reception centre for street kids, "Pinardi Shed" in Santa Cruz, they admire the fact that the youngsters are the same ones they see by day at the roundabouts, in the canals, in the marketplaces, singing on the bus, shining shoes or doing magic at the lights to earn some money.
It is hard to believe that these smiles, the joy of playing, the affection they show those looking after them, hugging them, are the same ones they saw earlier, dirty, high on “clefa” ("clefa" is the glue shoemakers use to glue shoes with. In Bolivia it is called "clefa". It has a pungent odour. Streetkids use it for sniffing, and so are called "cleferos" or drug addicts), even daring enough to steal or prostitute themselves.
Street kids, up to 16 years of age are always welcome at the overnight shelter which opens its doors at 6.30 pm. Entry is free and they find friends to play with, look after them, and who win their trust, and lead them towards involvement in society through the many chances offered by the Salesian Project.
Sacra Cruz is a huge city and poverty gives more and more cause for concern. The population this year is calculated as being around 1,300,000. The situations of extreme poverty, the lack of basic services, growing violence and instability in families mean many children seek refuge on the streets. Sometimes even the parents themselves force their children onto the streets, at 6-7 years of age, to "work", to pay for schooling or buy their food. The youngsters quickly get used to the freedom, far from violence at home... at least initially. But it all becomes more difficult when they see the other side of the coin made up of worse violence still, abuse and drugs which become a need to help them forget everything.
In this context the Don Bosco Project was born: Pinardi Shed is the entry point where they offer children the chance to "try out" spending the night there. They can have a hot shower, wash their clothes and find a clean environment, have supper and breakfast; anyone needing it can spend time in the infirmary: Common illnesses are skin diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, cuts and bruises, mostly due to injuries inflicted by the police or by sadists.
The first aim is to get them back into the family, after a rigorous evaluation by the social worker. When circumstances will not permit this, maybe because of age, they opt for an orphanage.
The second step in the Salesian project is "Patio Don Bosco", a day reception centre for street children... a small step forward for anyone who wants to look at chances like literacy, trades, sport and educational activity. Those who decide to forgo the streets, finally, go to the "Moglia Farm" where through study, work in the garden, therapy of looking after animals and classes, the overcome the urge to drown their sorrows and loneliness in drugs. Older youths are given the chance to attend technical school and take up contract work, as for example the production of shampoo and carpentry. Each night some 40/50 youngsters pass through. In 2005 the Pinardi Shed took in around 700 youngsters, evidence that the social situation is getting more problematic each day and that the number of the street kids is on the increase. It is enough to give them a chance for them to really live.
Street children deserve atttention and everyone’s understanding. Violence only breeds more violence, anger and vengeance, towards a society that pushes them aside as if they are dirt to be "cleaned" and not human beings with hope pride and dignity. Constant patience, trust, love show us how the role we play in their lives is so important. They are full of hope, often times destroyed by brutality and other times indicated by their outstretched hands.
Name of the Director: Fr Octavio Sabbadin
Techo Pinardi, calle Junín 438
Casilla Postal: 1584 - Santa Cruz, Bolivia