In Paraguay, one of Latin America’s poorest countries, more than one million children live in poverty. In rural areas, some live in extreme poverty with no access to sanitation, clean water, electricity or decent housing. In this context, many children are forced to work on the streets, in agriculture, or in the commercial sex trade with devastating effects on their physical and mental wellbeing.
Some families from poor or rural areas voluntarily send their children to find domestic work in the cities in the hope that this will offer them better living conditions. But the reality is that they work very long hours and receive low wages. Some never get paid at all.
Recent studies show that six out of ten children in Paraguay are victims of violence. Civil society has worked hard to shift the idea that corporal punishment is normal but there is still much work to be done.
Global Infancia was established in 1995, under the umbrella of the Asociación Global organisation, to help push children’s rights to the forefront of the national agenda.
Global Infancia was a driving force behind the creation of the Secretaria Nacional de la Niñez y Adolescencia, the public body responsible for the protection of children rights in Paraguay. This has helped shift national attitudes to child rights and led to the creation of municipal centres that offer the free services of psychologists, social workers and lawyers.
In addition to its advocacy work, Global Infancia also runs a project that works directly with children in Remansito, outside Asuncion. At the Remansito centre, which is funded by the Christian Children’s Fund of Canada, around 1,300 children participate in programmes offering education and arts-based activities.
On a wider level, Global Infancia is working with legislators and government bodies to strengthen public participation in shaping the way society deals with children’s rights and to influence legislation and politics. To date, the organisation has reached 49,131 beneficiaries.
Photos: Santi Carneri/Stars Foundation