COCHABAMBA – Inter Campus was in Bolivia again recently, visiting the children from the Fundacion Casari in Cochabamba and the government-run project in Sacaba, which receives support from the United Nations Development Programme.
There was a lively atmosphere that greeted us in the districts of Ticti Norte and Entre Rios respectively, spells of sunlight interspersed with downpours amid popular tension either for or against the possible reelection of Evo Morales.
Inter Campus Bolivia encompasses eight coaches and 320 girls and boys. The children who are part of the project here come from the most destitute environments: dilapidated districts where people live below the poverty line without essential services. Violence is common in these areas and thus it is important to have structured and durable educational and recreational activities. The aim is to promote social inclusivity, improve the children’s quality of life and avoid them slipping into the grips of criminal gangs.
Children of inmates at prisons in San Antonio and San Sebastian are also involved with Inter Campus. These girls and boys aged up to six (and often older) live with their parents on the prison grounds in cramped, overfilled and dangerous environments that are often the only solution when the sole parent capable of looking after the children is locked up.
Every week the youngsters came out of prison and are whisked off to the Fundacion Casari, where they can let off steam and play. The children are accompanied by the fiery Sister Maria Angeles, in charge of the prison’s pastoral service in Cochabamba. Massimo and Veronica Casari welcomed the children at the Fundacion Casari, supported by a team of educators, psychologists and coaches.
The Ministry of Education in Bolivia has recognised this project as the only example on a national level of recreational and educational support for the children of prisoners. The ministry also held Inter Campus up as a good example for the rest of the country to follow.