Sisters Fernanda* and Luisa* (aged 11 and 13) from Bogotá, Colombia, were placed in a residential institution in early 2020. Struggling financially, their mother Paula* had been forced to leave them alone for up to 14 hours a day while she worked. Without a support network, the girls had been spending their days alone on the streets – leaving them vulnerable and at risk of harm.
Fernanda, Luisa and Paula share their story in a new podcast, 'Getting kids out of institutions' as part of the BBC World Service’s ‘People Fixing the World’ series. Hear from the family first-hand about how Lumos helped reunite them and how they are now thriving together where they belong - at home.
"Today I see a family that has adapted to a new life and is doing well. That's what our goal is: to get families into a position where they're okay on their own" - Natalie, Psychologist.
Listen to the full podcast to hear from the family first-hand on how Lumos helped reunite them and how they are now thriving together where they belong - at home.
OUR WORK IN COLOMBIA
Lumos began working in Colombia in 2017 to help the thousands of children trapped in institutions.
As for Paula's family, poverty is one of the leading causes of family separation in this region. Some parents don't have the resources or the support to take care of their children at home, they think placing their children in these institutions is the best option. However the separation of these families causes long-term harm and trauma.
We’ve been partnering with the institution in this story to transform how they work – providing support and care for children within their families rather than in institutions, so that children like Fernanda and Luisa can live at home. Nearly 200 children have been safely reunited with their families, and hundreds more have been prevented from entering institutions, thanks to the right support.
In the podcast, you’ll also hear from Carmen*, a foster mother, about why every child should have the right to grow up in a loving family.
Sadly, while the majority of children have families who can look after them with the right support, some will not be able to return to their birth families. That’s why we’ve helped to launch a foster care programme to recruit families to care for vulnerable children.
"Don't worry, that's why we're here: to listen to you, to love you, and to remind you that this is also your home" - Carmen, foster mother.
Making sure the voices of children and young people are heard is at the heart of what we do. In June 2021, we invited 62 young people from the residential care system in Colombia to take part in a series of workshops, where they shared their experiences and opinions.
Now, a group of 20 motivated young people are receiving support and training to become self-advocates for children's rights and actively transform Colombia's care system.
*Names changed to protect identities.