Amanecer project for homeless children and youths in Bolivia
Theo Raaijmakers is currently operating in Bolivia, where he aids the Amanecer project. Raaijmakers is a missionary of St. Joseph’s Missionary Society of Mill Hill, and was born in 1951. Raaijmakers became an ordained priest in Moergestel in 1977.
Raaijmakers is the director of two houses of the six houses in Cochabamba, Boliva, of the Amanecer Foundation, which is headed by Ana Maria and Jerusalén. The Jerusalén Amanecer Foundation acts to aid children and youths, whom are currently, or were previously, homeless. The Foundation also aids other groups in Cochabamban society, such as children and adolescents who have experienced domestic violence, alcohol abuse, severe poverty, and prostitution.
The Foundation currently maintains six houses, where young children and adolescents receive shelter and education, in the hope to provide them with adequate schooling equivalent to other Bolivian children. Of the six houses, five are designated for boys, and one is designated for girls. Raaijmakers also works as Amanecer’s appointed school director. In total, Amanecer aids around 250 children and adolescents within the aforementioned houses, but it also extends its aid outside to even more children and adolescents.
One of Raaijmakers’ most significant aims is to provide the children and adolescents aided by Amanecer with the best possible education. Education is vital; without education, progress for the children’s individual well-being now and in the future, as well as that for Bolivia, as a whole, becomes impossible. Hence Theo Raaijmakers strives to provide a large number of children with the opportunity to get a high-school education – if not a college or university-grade education, as some of the children aided by Amanecer have been able to achieve. For instance, one of our previous students is currently a full-fledged dentist, where before, he was polishing shoes in the streets. He is but one example of the many children Amanecer has aided, as there are many more whom currently have better jobs and brighter future prospects than before Amanecer’s aid.
Besides the Foundation’s focus on education, there is also a great concern for medical health. Raaijmakers is frequently faced with medical emergencies, by and large because medical care in Bolivia is unaffordable for most people. AIDS, in particular, is demanding more and more of Amanecer’s attention.
Because of these expenses the "Foundation for the work of Theo Raaijmakers" was founded in 1999, in order to financially support Raaijmakers’ efforts in Bolivia. This foundation’s central goal consists of providing financial aid for the children and youth Raaijmakers aims to help in the Amanecer project.
The Raaijmakers foundation requires donations because of the following aspects of the Amancer project:
- The Amanecer project is, again, largescale and requires about $2000 a day to stay operative. However, these expenses are only preliminary and the most baseline costs.
- Furthermore, the costs of post-high school education are very high. As a result, the foundation requires donations to this end.
- Moreover, the medical expenses in Bolivia for emergencies are quite high, especially for the disadvantaged people Amanecer helps.
- Additionally, Raaijmakers is also involved in a small night shelter for youth with drug addictions, which also has to be funded.
- The Raaijmakers Foundation, additionally, interacts with the families of the children Amanecer aids. Sometimes the family members of these children also require aid necessary as to guarantee the family’s, as well as the child’s future opportunities. For example, sometimes our foundation invests in setting up businesses for certain families. Concretely, we have given out small loans for a family to buy a car to use as a taxi. The money made from taxi-fares can then be paid back to us, in addition to paying off other debts the family might have.
- Raaijmakers, alongside his colleagues of the Amanecer project, has also set up several workstations for the adolescents, which the adolescents run themselves. The importance of these workstations is that the adolescents can learn a trade, attain job skills, and learn professional responsibilities. They are also able to earn themselves some money, as we encourage them to find work and work their job on their own. Raaijmakers and the other supervisors, however, also keep a close eye on the business, depending on how well they are doing. Ideally, we would like to set up more of these small businesses, where disadvantaged adolescents, and their families, can become financially independent.
- In one of the two houses Raaijmakers oversees there are also small projects for people with medical problems or other disabilities. These small projects are allocated for recycling cans and paper, as well as printing t-shirts. Again, these business ventures exist for adolescents who have health problems (tuberculosis, HIV, severe epilepsy, and debilitating psychological issues), who would otherwise have extreme difficulty finding a job.
For more information, you can contact us using the information available on the ‘contact page’.