There are about 6,000 working children in Sucre, and half of them are independent, working as shoe-shiners, car-washers or selling items on the street. They often work under terrible conditions and drop out of school. Foundations such as Ñanta guide them towards a hopeful future through cultural activities, healthcare, homework support, and nutritious meals.
Fundación Ñanta, Sucre, Bolivia
To improve the life of working children around Sucre.
Around Sucre, about 6,000 children are working, half of them in independent jobs such as car-washing, shoe-shining or selling handicrafts on the street.
Ñanta, which means “the way” in Quechua, started as a private initiative to help the working children of Sucre in 2000, at first depending on irregular donations and volunteers. They became on official NGO in 2002 and as such have adequately served the Sucrean community of child labourers ever since.
Linda de Jong has supported them along the way and decided to move to Sucre in 2008, where she runs the café Amsterdam, a social business set up to support Ñanta.
Ñanta’s services to the working children
Ñanta supports the children in many ways. At their center, the children can buy a nourishable lunch for a symbolic 50 Boliviano-cents (about 0,06$).
Ñanta publishes its own magazine that is sold by the children for 3Bs (1,5+1,5).
There is a dormitory for 12 children that lack family support.
Another wonderful initiative are the labour unions of working children doing specific work, there is a car-washers union and a shoe-shiners union. They enable the children to share their experience and prevent excesses. These unions are also a great way to monitor the children.
There is a room where the children receive computer lessons.
Ñanta organizes a host of cultural activities, including jewelry making, music, painting.
Recently, Ñanta started a scholarship program, whereby working children can be supported directly by individual donors to provide for their school books, food, transport, homework assistance, and counseling with their parents.
The children won’t stop working overnight since in many cases their familes depend on their income that easily surpasses their parents’ salaries . But at least they have a perspective, a fair chance to receive an education that can help them escape the cycle of poverty they were born into.
The government is supporting Ñanta with milk and cupcakes for lunch, and the schools are free. However, the educational system is disastrous and most children need Ñanta’s afterschool homework support in order to succeed. Moreover, Ñanta’s support prevents children from dropping out of school and through the cultural activities gives them an experience a working child often lacks: to simply be a child.
Interview with Ñanta sponsors
We interview Judith(34) and Bart(32), a Dutch couple that is sponsoring a child at Ñanta and visiting her at the centre during their holiday.
1. How did you find out about ‘Ñanta’?
– Through Linda. Judith studied Spanish with Linda back in Holland.
2. What is your primary motivation to support the working children with Ñanta?
– We travel a lot and have seen severe poverty in many countries. We believe that it is more rewarding and effective to support a small initiative on the ground than donating money to large NGOs, because the actual impact is more visible to us. And we want to support the work of our friend Linda.
3. Do you often travel abroad?
– At least once in a year.
4. What do you do for a living?
– Judith works for a beer company; Bart is a software engineer at Philips. They live in the Netherlands.
5. Apart from supporting charities, what do you normally focus on when you travel?
– Relaxing, backpacking, going on locally organized trips.
6. Would you recommend this kind of charity sponsoring to others?
– Yes. It is such a good feeling to see how your contribution is really making a difference in these children’s lives. We always bring cloths when they travel, for example in Cuba, India, the Dominican republic. In Cuba our experience was particularly rewarding, giving the cloths to beggars, asking local people to identify deserving individuals. This way we can decide themselves whom we want to give to.
7. How much do you donate?
– Ñanta’s child sponsoring program costs 450 euro per child per year, which amounts to about 350 Bolivianos per month; the money is used for food, homework support, medical assistance, transportation to school.
8. Are you keeping in touch with your child at Ñanta?
– Of course. We would like to correspond more frequently though.