A. Its Structure
Arriving in La Ciudad de los niños we were shocked at how great ans organized the building was. Stretching on 20 ha, the oprhanage welcomes 330 children (from 3 to 18) divided into 9 houses depending on their ages. These 9 houses are well-equiped : bedrooms, a bathroom and a joint room where toys and books are kept.
All meals are served in a big canteen that can receive up to 800 people.
Apart from the housing, the orphanage is composed of:
- a cafeteria for children and their families
- administrative offices
- a little hospital with different services ( general practice, dental surgery, X-ray)
- a pen for animals (hens, chickens and pigs)
- a vegetable garden and a vineyard
- several workshops: thus we have visited the garage, masonry work and the clothing work where children’s clothes and shoes are made.
- playgrounds for children
- a church
B. Its functionning
Directed by Brother Hugo Morales, about 50 people work in La Ciudad. Furthermore, a team of Capuchin friars is in charge of supervising the children’s activities whithin the orphanage.
When friars acquired La Ciudad in 1992, it was in an appalling state, both on a financial level and on a moral level. Thanks to everybody’s work the orphanage succeeded in becoming not only a haven of peace for these children coming from shantytowns, but also a great means of reinstatement.
Even though a lot of work has been done so far, La Ciudad doesn’t reveive any grant from the government; it survives thanks to some international charities’ donations, and also thanks to the support of foreign volunteers. These volunteers, mainly from Norway, Germany and England generally come to La Ciudad to work there for free for some months.
The orphanage also uses its own ressources to provide for itself. The bakery, the vegetable garden, the breeding of animals and the workshops (clothing work for children, making of furniture for the orphanage) all serve the children first. However the structure also opens up to exchange market. That way, pigs, eggs, panettoni, shoes and wooden furniture etc... are sold.
Whithin the months to come we will determine with Brother Hugo Morales how we can take part in one of these 2 projects.