LAC: Protecting Children

Maciel Castellon Alvarado
Maciel Castellon Alvarado, 7 years old, with her teacher Dayrin Ortega. Maciel takes part in activities with Inprhu Managua, that are designed to reduce vulnerability and abuse, particularly among young girls in the Huembes market in Managua. The work of INPRHU is supported by Church World Service. Photo: ©2011 Sean Hawkey/CWS, all rights reserved

"Not all young people from my country have access to education. Thanks to my participation in the program I have learned to defend my rights and now I want to advocate so that all young people have the opportunity to study and learn."
Daily, participant in Caminante Proyecto Educativo´s program, Boca Chica, Dominican Republic.

“We have been working for some time on this because we know how important it is to have a sports hall in the neighborhood. The hall is not just for us, but for all people and institutions that need a suitable and safe place to practice sports."
Anthony, a member of the Malvin Norte´s youth committee and a participant in Gurises Unidos´ programs, Uruguay.

CWS works with local organizations to protect vulnerable children from all forms of violence and expand opportunities to at-risk youth in some of the poorest and most violent communities of Haiti, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Brazil and Uruguay. The four countries involved represent four of the major sub-regions and contexts of the Latin America-Caribbean region which makes program-based exchanges – a feature of CWS programs – especially rich and relevant. 

CWS-supported organizations work directly with children and their families, schools and communities and advocate locally and nationally for the expansion of relevant public services. Partner organizations were chosen because of the quality of their programs and their commitment to the defense and promotion of the rights of children. Each has demonstrated its ability to leverage local resources and participation. Their services are holistic, addressing root causes of problems, and closely linked with local advocacy. They exercise leadership and influence in their communities and their local networks, and at the same time, they are open and generous about sharing their insights, contacts and methodologies, which is a key to the success of a regional program

In Haiti, CWS supports local efforts to prevent and eradicate child domestic labor (restavek), provide services to vulnerable children, create opportunities for at-risk youth and help to shape children-friendly public policies.

In Brazil, the program helps street children return to their families, schools and communities, and provides psycho-social support to ensure a smooth and successful “welcome home.” 

In the Dominican Republic, the program provides health education, vocational training and cultural activities to young women and men at risk of entering into the pervasive local commercial sex trade, and it assists survivors of sexual abuse and pregnant adolescents.

In Nicaragua, the program prevents violence against youth who work in markets in Managua by training the youth and community members, and it also provides shelter, psychological attention, health care, and vocational training to sexual abuse survivors.

In Uruguay, the program empowers children who work scavenging trash to gain access to public services and to improve their self-esteem, and it organizes groups on health and environmental protection.