PROJECT: Care for the physical and mental health of girls, adolescents, mothers and their babies, survivors of sexual violence and trafficking, protected by La Alianza, Guatemala.
And 10 babies from 0 to 3 years old and 8 young people over the age of 18, who have intellectual disabilities and have nowhere to go.
Summary of the project
To improve and maintain a good state of physical and mental health for the girls and their babies at La Alianza and to ensure their right to health and care, whose rights have already been widely violated.
These are children who, have suffered diverse violence, trafficking, life on the streets, addictions and extreme poverty. Many of the girls have been placed with La Alianza after being recused from traffickers – they are in a state of protection as part of a legal process to bring their perpetrators to justice. This means that the girls are not free to receive formal education at school as they need to be kept in a place of safety whilst court proceedings are in process.
The girls have been affected in many ways, including: Teenage pregnancies; forced pregnancies; ITS (Sexually Transmitted Infections); Anger; despair; a sense of isolation unable to relate to or trust others. Behaviours not expected to according to their age or level of development; Stigmatization, self-harm, guilt, fear; Post-traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder: anger issues: despair. Physical ailments manifest themselves in the form of respiratory, dermatological, dental, headache and stomach problems.
When the girls come to La Alianza their health and mental state, both physically and psychologically is precarious. Each girl is assessed on arriving with ALA by a doctor & paediatrician skilled in the care of girls who have experienced trauma and assessment by a psychologist.
They are prescribed an individual care plan to maximise their chances of recovery so that they able to exercise their rights to an identity to access health care and receive an education and vocational skills to enable them to be able to escape the cycle of violence and poverty – to become fully socially included.
Many of the trafficked girls are pregnant (some as young as 11) and these girls are given full and specialist
Gynaecological & pre-natal care to ensure their health and safety. They will live at ALA with their babies/children and receive full support. There are nurses to help care for their babies/children at ALA so that the girls can also partake in education (in-house & formal) and vocational training and workshops to help them develop and grow and eventually achieve an independent life with on-going support from ALA. They learn to take care of their health, they learn how to avoid destructive and dangerous behaviours, take care of their sexual health, avoid pregnancies and learn to be strong and independent to avoid future abusive behaviour.
The project helps the girls develop educationally, emotionally and physically by providing care and stability.
The girls participate in both formal and vocational education, they take part in sport for health, running/gymnastics/football (they have an all-girls football team that competes against other girl’s teams – which we have sponsored from here in the UK).
They have art classes which are a brilliant way of allowing the girls to release their feelings through the medium of art – some of the work has been exhibited and sold in Guatemala City with the proceeds going back in the project.
They learn to work as a team, to trust and respect each other and be supportive – this in turn makes them feel less alone, more secure and to understand how their behaviours can affect those around them.
Background & Context – Guatemala:
The current population of Guatemala is 15 million, 51.2 % are female and 48 % of the population are children. Each year more than 18,000 young girls are forcibly trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation in brothels and bars. Many are lured through promises of legitimate employment to help lift their family out of poverty. Girls are as young as 12 years of age are victims of this modern day barbaric trade of slavery.
Guatemala HDI ranking 133 – GDP 48% lower than the world average. 75% of the population live on $1 a day, girls are disproportionately affected by poverty, leading to strained family relations and incidences of abuse, and the need for children to work at a young age, vulnerable to being lured into trafficking due to the extreme poverty. Families cannot afford to enrol children in education so from a young age they work on the streets to supplement income. On the streets, they are vulnerable to Coyotes – paid traffickers who lure children. The government has very limited programmes in place to work with victims of trafficking. Many families do not see their children again. Children simply ‘disappear’, trafficked across borders, imprisoned in brothels, raped on a daily basis, controlled by the use of threats of violence and murder, should they dare think of escaping. Many girls become addicted to class A substances such as heroin which are force upon them, so that they become docile, dependent on the brothel owners and subservient.
If a girl in this situation manages to escape, survival on the streets of Guatemala is further traumatic as many girls are forced to sell themselves in order to survive, inhaling glue to numb hunger pains and their extreme vulnerability on the streets is exploited in every way. Many girls endure pregnancy and give birth on the streets, thus another generation of street children commences.
LUSH charity pot parties Nottingham have made supported this programme and made a donation towards this project
We would like to thank them for making a difference to the lives of the girls at La Alianza