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Aunts take over Casa de la Alegria’s work during lockdown
1 March 2021

Aunts take over Casa de la Alegria’s work during lockdown

Due to the lockdown, it was impossible to offer group trainings to traumatised children in Bolivia last fall. Our partner organisation searched for alternatives. The most vulnerable children received guidance over the phone. Additionally, foster mothers started playing an important role in care homes.

‘Tia’s’ are aunts who take care of traumatised children living in shelter homes like a mother figure. Some of them have a background in pedagogics or psychology, but that often lack sufficient practical experience. Most foster mothers received extra online training last fall to improve this. During these sessions, they worked with practical handholds and exercises to better handle aggression, panic attacks and depression. These moods can affect both the children as well as the tia’s themselves. The online training made a big difference in many situations. For many children, a relapse was prevented. But there were also cases in which direct crisis aid was needed. Casa’s therapists took action right away.

The foster moms were asked questions: 

How do I provide the child with a peaceful place? How do I deal with my own fears? As a foster mother, how do I deal with the frustrations that come with being around the kids constantly? How do I handle my own exhaustion during conflict situations?

Too many children in Bolivia are victims of a ‘machismo- marianismo’ culture. Not only is there abuse from a young age, but role patterns are imposed which make it harder for children to deal with their trauma. Men are not supposed to show emotions, and are expected to act hard and aggressive towards women. Women, on the other hand, are viewed as weak because they show their emotions more often: they have to deal with the aggression of their partner or family member without complaining.

The Foundation gives financial support to the work of Casa de la Alegria, because both girls and boys receive guidance, and it has been proven that the guidance gives children a chance to work through their trauma. The aim of the trainings is to teach new behavioural patterns. First of all, children are taught to become more aware of their body, then, to recognise and acknowledge their own boundaries, and finally, naming these boundaries. Naming boundaries is the ideal form of self-defence.