Elisa has been living in Buenos Aires all of her life and has spent seven years working with children, dividing her time between two different homes within the area. Since becoming a mother, she realised how passionately she felt about working with children and how important it is for them to have a stable upbringing. When her youngest children turned ten, Elisa was looking for something to do with her time, which is when a friend suggested the home for children. She visited and realised that it was what she really loved doing, caring for children and being a mother. There, Elisa found a different reality to the one back at home.
The reality is that the children have families that cannot care for them all of the time, in some situations, they cannot care for them at all, which is why the home for children was founded.
We asked Elisa what challenges come with her role, and she told us: “One of the main challenges is that all of the children can vary in behaviour and personality, therefore they tend to react differently to the range of situations they can find themselves in. Each day is diverse depending on the children’s behaviour. They begin to miss their families, regardless of everything they’ve been through, ultimately they still want to be with them.”
Elisa also expressed that it is almost impossible to not get attached to the children, as the staff have been with some of them for many years, in some cases, teaching them how to walk, how to talk: truly being a mother to them. The home for children also has one policy regarding the coordinators: that there is at least one male working at one time. This is especially important as the majority of the staff are female, and with a male presence, the children can interact with both genders, and have a sense of how family life should work.
At the Home for Children, it is required to have at least one man working per shift. This is especially important as the majority of those working are women, and the children see the male as a figure of authority, they may not see their own father’s much at home as they could be working, so the gender roles are also especially improtant.
We then asked Elisa how the volunteers benefit the home for children and she went onto explain that “ when the volunteers come here it’s brilliant, as they can spend time with the children individually, play and talk to them, just as their family members would, which is something we cannot do all the time as we are also working. The volunteers offer the children emotional support too and they really have the chance to make them feel special with all the attention they’re given, and help their development as young people”. The staff and the children refer to the volunteers as “aunts and uncles” and appreciate the time that they give to visit them.
There can be a stigma around volunteers spending a limited amount of time with children, whether it be through an NGO, a home for children, or a school. However, in our opinion , we feel this is exactly what the children need. When the communications team previously visited the Home for Children, the staff baked a lot bread and the children went out into the neighbourhood and sold it to the people in the community, it was the first time they did that and it worked really well! This is especially important for the children as it teaches them the value of earning money, not just receiving.We are truly grateful to have been welcomed into this wonderful home, to meet Elisa, who is such a caring and inspiration individual, and continue to support the work they are doing for the children in the community.