El Alto is a city located north of La Paz (Bolivia's seat of government) at 4100 masl. It was founded in the 1990s and created after a rural exodus caused by a severe drought and the closure of several mines in the region. The migrant people arrived in La Paz, sought work in the factories and settled in the areas surrounding the city. Annual demographic growth of El Alto is 10%. The inflow of migrants caused chaotic organization in the city, and even today the infrastructure cannot meet the diverse needs of the population. In the face of this reality, many projects have been developed in the city with international aid, trying to get in front of the problems of violence, poverty and lack of sanitation.
One of these projects is Enda Bolivia El Alto which has two centers: a therapeutic center for girls from the streets and another for girls who are victims of violence. Group therapy (in cooperation with schools) and professional training for women and teenagers are carried out at these centers to help them achieve independence. Enda Bolivia El Alto is the only therapeutic residential center in Bolivia for girls under 18, whether public or private.
Patients are housed in a residential setting for at least three months at one of the two centers, depending on their problems or their situation. Enda works with the police section for Children's and Adolescents' Protective Services of Bolivia which brings some victims to the center. Some come on their own to the center while others come with neighbors or teachers who have discovered abuse. Once treatment is completed, the patients are reintegrated into their families. When this is not possible, the youngest girls are sent to orphanages or in cases where they are pregnant or have a child, they go to centers for young mothers (as abortion is punished in the Bolivian Constitution, many raped victimes get pregnant). If none of these options is possible, the girl is emancipated through a process, and Enda helps her until she finishes school or reaches her majority and obtains a home and a job.
This project is a non-profit organization that receives international aid. However, with the global crisis, it is more and more difficult to obtain financing, and it is essential that the project expand its support network. Within this context, the Enda workshop for training in knitting/weaving, sewing and crafts sells its products in order to help finance the workshops and project. Since August of 2012, unemployed women may go to Enda to take classes in the workshops. A project is also being developed to create jobs in order to offer them long-term employment.
As part of this project, Enda got in touch with Caserita.com, an export company, to sell alpaca garments and accessories made at this workshop. On-line orders from Caserita.com will support the Enda project as well as women who need paid employment to improve their living conditions since in Bolivia, basic services like education and health are not subsidized.
If you wish, you can visit the Enda Bolivia El Alto here: www.endaelalto.org or at Bolivienda los Alpes a los Andes, a French association that supports the project with volunteer work in France: www.bolivienda.org.