One of ENED’s great goals is to develop a strong partnership with the community. ENED wants to establish itself as a local actor to gain neighborhood support and cooperation. It is one of the main reasons why we recruit our employees as much as possible from the neighborhood or its surroundings. We two French volunteers have chosen to settle here for the same reason.
Our closeness to the community creates many positive results. The most important one is that families entrust us with their children. Some boys come temporarily to ENED, even though they are not orphans and they do have families. Their families, for various reasons cannot take care of them, so that ENED will take care of them until the situation of the families improves. Then the boys will go back to them. We do not intend to replace these families, but do temporarily take over their responsibility of educating their children, so that they can move forward and move out of the precarious conditions they often face.
Through one of social workers of the Foundation, Lourdes, we strive to keep close contact with the families, accompanying these family members as much as possible in their own development. This helps to prepare the families when their sons come back to them in the future. When the time comes for the children to leave the foundation, they will not be left to themselves; instead, they will be able to go back to a normal family environment, while benefiting from our follow-up program at the same time.
Growing up by helping others
With the above in mind, we decided to engage ENED Segundo (age 15 to 18) in a particular project.
During a visit to the families we noticed the financial difficulties of Daniel’s mother, Germania. She set up a small grocery store in a room adjoining her house, but her shop is not very visible and she does not earn enough to repay her loan, buy goods and make a living. We have therefore decided to help her.
The goal was to provide real life community support, while teaching our older boys both practical knowledge and the values of solidarity, which ENED represents and teaches.
First ENED raised money to purchase materials and provide workforce. Led by a neighboring professional, the boys coated the walls and ceiling to avoid water infiltration and added paint to make the business look more attractive.
Whenever possible, I took the boys from the Casa Dos in groups of five or six to work.
Being teenagers, the boys at first showed little interest in this unpaid work. But they got soon engaged in the project and even asked for more! One day, when I had to leave early, Raúl asked to stay longer by himself at the worksite to finish the task he started.
The project was completed in December and the business starts to improve. The owner is resolutely optimistic.
Dreaming of living with her son
As the last touch, Germina, the owner and David’s mother, painted the shop’s name. Her life is not easy, but she never gives up and wishes to live back with her 14 year old son soon. The shop’s name is “Los 4 unidos” – “The 4 united”.
Text: Paul Jouanny
Translation: Yasuko Furuichi