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Face painted girl while eating. (Source: Christoph Engel)

The Lota Children and Youth Network

Chile: Up to 60 percent of the population of the city of Lota is unemployed and 30 percent live below the poverty line. Alcoholism, drug abuse, crime, domestic violence and a lack of prospects for the future are the tragic reality of everyday life in the city’s slums. Kindernothilfe supports the Lota children's and youth network, run by our local partner La Caleta. La Calata motivates children to take control of their own lives and make lasting changes in their city and throughout the entire region. Please support this project with a donation or become a project sponsor.

“Things have to change”

Twelve-year-old Marcus was tired of his parents taking out their frustration on him. Both parents are unemployed and neglected the boy. He and his friends are all too familiar with violence and abuse. Marcos has to collect and sell seaweed to pay for his school materials. His friends would rather sniff glue than go to school. Marcos has decided that enough is enough: "Things have to change!"

Grim prospects for the future

Many children and young people from Lota have similar stories. Roughly 52,000 people live in the city, which is located in the so-called coal basin (cuenca de carbón). Until the mid-1990s, the majority of the population worked in the coal mining industry. But the mines were closed in 1997, causing many people to sink into poverty. Today, 30 percent of the population of Lota lives below the poverty line. People have waited in vain for things to improve and the economy to recover. The situation in the slums is particularly catastrophic. Clustered tightly together, residents live in dilapidated wooden shacks without drinking water, sewage or paved streets. Children have no place to play and learn.

Violence and abuse

Zunilda Moraga, who heads the Lota Children and Youth Network, explains the situation: "Without work, people lose all hope. They suffer from intense feelings of inferiority and pass these on to their children. The fathers have often abandoned their families and the mothers are unable to cope. As a result, most children's lives are marred by alcoholism, drugs, sexual abuse, beatings and other forms of violence. To make matters worse, many children have to work hard to survive. They take on jobs as street hawkers, car washers and parking attendants. This exposes many of them to even more cruel treatment."

The Lota Children and Youth Network

Young people singing and dancing at a parade. Source: Kindernothilfe)
Young people are actively involved.

Since 1997, our local partner La Caleta has provided support and counselling to the Lota Children and Youth Network. The network’s goal is to help the children build self-esteem, give them a sense of stability and empower them to assert their rights. "All children groups organise themselves and are supervised by older adolescents,” says Zunilda. "But it’s not all sports and creative activities. The kids are constantly facing issues such as alcoholism and drug abuse. They learn important resilience skills here that allow them to analyse their living situations, find solutions and proactively tackle problems. At an annual children's convention, all of the groups address major issues such as poverty and education. They plan activities that catch the general public's attention and shed light on their situation.

Working with a local radio station

Marcos’ children's group has a permanent time slot at the local radio station: "We use these radio shows to convey our problems to ask parents, teachers and local politicians to rally around our cause. For instance, we solicited support to build libraries in the slums, so we have space to learn and read", says Marcos with pride, adding: “Now, there are libraries in many neighbourhoods and a peaceful learning environment!"

Project No. 92041

Our objective: Realising children's rights

Our objective: Realising children's rights

Any interventions aimed at a long-term positive impact on children's lives must contribute to realising and safeguarding their rights. This is the focus of our work, both in Germany and abroad.

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How we promote education

How we promote education

Some 57 million children worldwide are still unable to attend school. Each of these children is in danger of being drawn into a vicious cycle of inadequate educational opportunities and abject poverty. We have made education the main focus of our work.

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Donate now

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