The Emiliani Project working with kids in need.

The Emiliani Project supports a home of 170 children without families at the Hogar Bohío de María, operated by our local partners in Bello, Colombia (30 mins north of Medellín).  Our staff and volunteers provide financial support, logistical support (clothes, etc.) and friendship to the greatest group of kids you could hope to meet.  Emiliani Project volunteers organize trips and events throughout the year to make these kids feel as special as they are – to include our annual Emiliani Project Christmas party (Santa included).

The Emiliani Project children of Colombia

The problem in Colombia is poverty.  In Colombia, 65% of the population is below the international poverty line according to the United Nations. This compares to 17% in Mexico. 8.2% of Colombians live below the extreme poverty line, defined as living on less than $1.25 per day. There are over 100,000 children living in extreme poverty in the city of Medellin alone. With poverty comes hunger and abuse for these children.

Hunger is expanding faster in Colombia than even the poorest parts of Africa. In fact, 50% of the Colombian population is food insecure. By comparison, the number is 35% in Haiti. In Colombia, 12% of children under 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition; and a child dies violently there every 5 minutes.

Physical abuse for these children is also on a sharp rise. A recent report from the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF) indicates that the number of complaints of mistreatment of children has almost doubled, from 2006 to 2011, with a 100% rise in cases of sexual abuse. The abuse includes child prostitution, pornography, and sex tourism involving minors. Many suffer other forms of psychological and physical abuse. In 2011 alone, 45,000 children went missing, were exploited for labor, or ended up begging in the streets.

Many of the Colombian children that suffer from hunger and abuse are orphans – there are 600,000 of them in Colombia. These are children who are not adequately cared for by their parents, relatives or government agencies. These children often lack opportunities for education, basic housing, hygiene, and basic medical care. They will likely end up in gangs, sell illegal drugs or goods or turn to prostitution for income; and they will rarely have an opportunity to escape. They are likely to have their own children at a young age and perpetuate the cycle of poverty and violence.

The Hogar Bohío de María is a sanctuary for these kids.  It’s a place where they are not only cared for and protected, but loved.  The Emiliani Project is building a brand new home, the Hogar de Cristo, which will replicate the successes of the Hogar Bohío de María and get an additional 160 children off the city streets.

But your help is needed to make this possible. If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer opportunities in Colombia working with our kids or helping with the construction of our new home, please visit our Mission Trips page for more information and to register.