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A Shining Light in the Culture Capital of Argentina

Renowned for its wealth of culture, arts and beautiful European-style architecture, Buenos Aires draws thousands of tourists each year.

However, there is a hidden side of the city that few tourists experience. Extremely high inflation, rising unemployment and an increasing poverty rate leave many parents struggling to feed their children.  As a result, impoverished families are forced to live in Buenos Aires’s slum neighborhoods, packed together in wooden shacks with tin roofs, separated by narrow footpaths with few resources and little hope for a way out.

Impoverished families are forced to live in Buenos Aires’s slum neighborhoods, packed together in wooden shacks with tin roofs, separated by narrow footpaths with few resources and little hope for a way out.

Located in the Florencio Varela slum neighborhood, our affiliated project Casa del Niño – Padre Jose Kentenich Daycare Center provides for the physical and social needs of impoverished children throughout the day. Serving as a daycare center and afterschool program for children while their parents are at work, Casa del Niño offers tutoring and recreational activities as well as a secure place for kids to escape from the poor conditions and uncertainty that are typically associated with urban slums.

Serving many children in need

According to Luis Bourdet, our Director of International Programs, Casa del Niño alternates their hours of operation with the local public school’s schedule.

“For those students that have school in the morning, they come to the Center in the afternoon, and vice versa.  About 300 children attend this Center daily,” explained Luis.

The Center receives funding from the local government. The children most in need are enrolled in our sponsorship program to ensure they are provided with additional food, clothing and educational support — as well as the emotional and psychological support in knowing their sponsors care about them and their well-being.

On a recent visit to Casa del Niño, Luis, along with Children Incorporated International Projects Specialist, Kristen Walthall, found that the Florencio Varela neighborhood had received much-needed improvements in infrastructure since his last trip to Argentina nearly four years earlier.

“Roads have been improved, as well as housing. Families lives have been steadily improving too,” said Luis.

Besides the changes Luis could see outside of the home, he also found that Casa del Niño has made quite a few improvements under a new administration, which included an entirely new board of directors. Luis and Kristen toured the facility’s fully equipped kitchen, which serves children nutritious meals twice a day. A new arts program had been added as well as a sewing group for parents. The Center also began hosting parent meetings in the evenings and established a sports program for the children in the afternoons.

A dedicated and loving staff

Luis was impressed.

“The children are well cared for at the home, and their parents’ needs are being met as well — the sense of camaraderie and support can really be felt here. This Center has a bright future,” he said.

Kristen felt similarly to Luis during their visit to the Center — her first to Casa del Niño.

Casa del Niño offers tutoring and recreational activities as well as a secure place for kids to escape from the poor conditions and uncertainty that are typically associated with urban slums.

“The Center has both paid and volunteer staff members who are some of the most dedicated and passionate people I have ever met,” said Kristen.

“One board member volunteers to work with the children on a daily basis, as does her sister, who regularly teaches music to students, opening their hearts and minds with her guitar playing and hearty singing voice.”

“During our tour, we also had the chance to meet a loving and committed cook who attended the center herself as a little girl,” explained Kristen.

“When she grew up and started a family, her daughter started attending Casa del Niño. She then began volunteering as a cook and was eventually hired to run the kitchen full-time. More than twenty years later, now her granddaughter is in attendance, and benefits from the culinary talents of her grandmother and the nurturing ambiance of the Center.”

Meeting Ale

Before their visit ended, Luis and Kristen had a chance to meet a staff member at Casa del Niño named Ale. According to Kristen, Ale, who is a former attorney, is a vivacious young woman who has taken on a critical role in the Center’s growth.

After becoming involved with the Center’s recreational activities, Ale found that there was a divide among the kids that prevented them from getting along with one another during their allotted sports recess times. Since soccer was the only game the children played, some of the kids were much better at the sport than others — and fellow participants criticized those that weren’t very skilled.

Ale came up with a plan that would help to level the playing field among the children. She introduced baseball into the afterschool curriculum, giving kids a chance to try something new so the focus wasn’t solely on their soccer abilities.

When Luis and Kristen visited the Center, they witnessed the newest sport being introduced: field hockey. Ale explained to them that thanks to a generous donation, she was able to obtain field hockey sticks and balls and give the children another sport to learn together for the first time. 

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How do I sponsor a child in Argentina?

You can sponsor a child in Argentina in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child who is available for sponsorship in Argentina.

SPONSOR A CHILD

 

Understanding Argentina

The second-largest nation in Latin America, Argentina is truly a nation of contrasts. In geography alone, its borders envelop a full spectrum of topography including rugged, towering mountains, tropical lowlands, arid steppes and plateaus, and frigid tundra.

Despite being a rather wealthy country, Argentina faces a poverty crisis caused in large part by inflation rates.

Argentina is located mostly in the southern half of South America. The country is bordered by Chile to the West, Bolivia and Paraguay to the north, Brazil to the northeast, Uruguay and the South Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Drake Passage to the south. It is located between the Andes Mountains on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Despite being a rather wealthy country, Argentina faces a poverty crisis caused in large part by inflation rates.

Facts about Argentina

–    The capital is Buenos Aires

–    Argentina is the second-largest country in South America

–    The Population is 44.27 million

–    The official language is Spanish

–  92% Roman Catholic religion

–  Argentina is the 8th largest country in the world

– The currency is the Argentinian peso

–  The name Argentina comes from the Latin word for silver

Facts about poverty in Argentina

  • The government of Argentina estimates that a third of the population lives below the poverty line
  • About 20% of the population lives on less than $2 a day
  • Women make up a larger share of the poor. They comprise a large percentage (60 percent) of those employed in part-time or low-skill (and therefore low-paying) jobs
  • About 50 percent of children under the age of 14 live in poverty
  • There are currently an estimated 500,000 young people in Argentina outside of the country’s education system

Where we work in Argentina

In Argentina, we are affiliated with two projects, Casa del Nino-Maria de Nazaret and Casa del Nino-Padre Jose Kentenich, both of which are located in Buenos Aires.

Read more about these projects

A Shining Light in the Culture Capital of Argentina

Creative Learning in Buenos Aires

How you can help children in Argentina

You can help a child living in poverty in Argentina in a few different ways. One way is through our child sponsorship program. Sponsorship provides an underprivileged child with basic and education-related necessities such as food, clothing, healthcare, school supplies and school tuition payments.

SPONSOR A CHILD IN ARGENTINA

This vital support allows impoverished, vulnerable children to develop to their full potential — physically, emotionally and socially. Sponsors positively impact the lives of the children they sponsor through the knowledge that someone cares about their wellbeing. This gives children in need hope, which is powerful.

Our on-site volunteer coordinators use those funds to purchase items for children in our program, to ensure that they have what they need to do their very best and succeed in school.

Our policy has always been to consider the needs of each sponsored child on an individual basis. We work closely with our volunteer coordinators at our project sites in Argentina, who are familiar with each individual circumstance and the needs of every child in their care. Sponsorship donations are sent to our projects — orphanages, homes, community centers and schools — at the beginning of each month in the form of subsidy stipends. Our on-site volunteer coordinators use those funds to purchase items for children in our program, to ensure that they have what they need to do their very best and succeed in school.

You can also help children in Argentina by donating to one of our special funds. Our special funds offer a variety of giving options for sponsors who wish to further their support, as well as for donors who wish to make a difference without making a commitment. In the past, thanks to donations to our Hope In Action Fund and our International Feeding Program, we have been able to further support our projects in Argentina beyond sponsorship.

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Creative Learning in Buenos Aires

The second-largest country in Latin America, Argentina’s borders envelop a full spectrum of topography: rugged, towering mountains, tropical lowland, arid steppes, plateaus and frigid tundra.

Children often suffer from abandonment as their parents find it too difficult to care for them.

Nestled along the estuary where the Rio de la Plata meets the Atlantic Ocean, the sprawling Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires is the second-largest metropolis in South America and home to the slum neighborhood, Villa Ballester, where our affiliated project Casa Del Niño – Maria de Nazaret is located.

Typical of many area slums, families in Villa Ballester live in hopeless poverty, forced to endure squalid conditions in tin shacks with no running water. Many are immigrants from other Latin American countries and have few family members, limited resources or limited means to gain adequate employment. Children often suffer from abandonment as their parents find it too difficult to care for them.

A blessing for children in need

The Montessori method of education has been adopted at Casa del Niño.

For residents of this overcrowded district, the Casa Del Niño – Maria de Nazaret Daycare Center is a blessing of infinite proportions. The center serves over 200 local children during the school day, providing them with a safe and nurturing environment where they are continuously monitored, offered basic necessities and provided with psychological support as needed.

On a visit to Casa Del Niño – Maria de Nazaret, our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, and International Projects Specialist, Kristen Walthall, met with our volunteer coordinator, Dominga, and some of the children at the center.

While they toured the Center, Luis and Kristen asked about the newly implemented Montessori method of education that Casa Del Niño had adopted for the younger children at the center since Luis’ last trip to Argentina.

What is Montessori Education?

According to the website Montessori Northeast, “Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. In Montessori classrooms, children make creative choices in learning, while the classroom and the highly-trained teacher offer age-appropriate activities to guide the process. Children work in groups and individually to discover and explore the knowledge of the world and to develop their maximum potential.”

Luis was pleased to hear from Dominga that the school had been re-organized to function around the Montessori education method that will eventually be used for all the children in attendance.

Luis was pleased to hear from Dominga that the school had been re-organized to function around the Montessori education method that will eventually be used for all the children in attendance.

Doing the most good for kids

“The center is managed by a committee to plan all activities for the children to maximize the support the children are receiving. With the Montessori method of learning, as well as the supplemental support that our sponsorship program is providing, the children at Casa Del Niño – Maria de Nazaret are very well cared for,” exclaimed Luis.

Although Casa Del Niño – Maria de Nazaret is receiving a great deal of support from the local government as well as Children Incorporated sponsors and donors, Dominga expressed to Luis that she wishes to enroll even more children in our program in the future. She would also like to re-establish a few skills training programs for adults in the community, such as cooking and sewing, and acquire funding to pay salaries for teacher aides in each of the classrooms.

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How do I sponsor a child in Argentina?

You can sponsor a child in Argentina in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in Argentina who is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD