Note from the editor: Post is written by Jordan Belmonte while in Bolivia.
Visiting the Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH) Home in Bolivia, I was reminded of the importance of community and the special bond of a family. Â Pequenos Hermanos means Our Little Brothers and Sisters. It is a home that supports 102 orphaned or abandoned children and teenagers. NPH is founded on the four pillars of unconditional love, work, responsibility and service to the community.
The NPH home, staff and children surprised me at every moment. Â NPH Bolivia faces many challengesâ€”funding, government regulations (government restrictions will not allow NPH to show any photos of the children, making fundraising difficult)–even the weekly grocery shopping is a challenge due to the need for special tax receipts. Despite all the practical difficulties with operating a home for over 100 children, Jolkona sat down and asked the programâ€™s national director, Jose Luis, about the biggest challenges they faced at NPH Bolivia. He said, without hesitation, that the greatest challenge was always to make the children feel loved and that everyone at NPH is really their family.
Continuous focus on creating a safe space filled with unconditional love for these children is truly inspiring. Â In addition to basic housing, food, and education the NPH home ensures that the children are taken care spiritually and emotionally. One of the NPH programs, which Jolkona supports, helps sponsor the childrenâ€™s emotional well-being by providing personal and group counseling services. Many of the children have seen the death of their family members or have come from physically or sexually abusive homes. They are placed with NPH by Boliviaâ€™s child protective services. Â The psychologists at NPH help the children understand by moving past these experiences, providing weekly individual counseling services so that the children can live normal and healthy lives. The counselors also host group sessions on conflict resolution, values, sexual education, and positive behavioral skills.
When I think of the term “orphanage,” many words and associations come to mind. NPH surprised me and defied all these associations with its responsible children, dedicated staff and supportive programs. Â It proved its namesake as a â€˜homeâ€™ by truly providing a household environment for Boliviaâ€™s must vulnerable children, and ensuring that despite their tragedies, their lives were once again filled with the support and comfort of family.