COID 19 EMERGENCY - Supporting the Virgin Niña-EPDB Center in Favour of the Most Needy Families in the Community Of El Alto, Bolivia

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Project location: BOLIVIA, El Alto
Project start date: April 2020 - Project end date: August 2020
Project number: 2020-020
Beneficiary: Association Centro Virgen Niña - epdb

The Association Centro Virgin Niña-EPDB is a non-profit association, founded in 1993, recognized by the Catholic Church as an educational, charitable partner institution of the Diocese of El Alto. Based in the city of El Alto, a few kilometres from La Paz city, the administrative capital of Bolivia, the Association is committed to fight poverty, by improving the living conditions of thousands of local families that don´t have access to basic services such as education and health care.

The Center, created almost 25 years ago from scratch has turned over time into a point of reference to thousands of disadvantaged people in El Alto. Its provides educational and primary care services to people who live in extreme poverty. The Center includes: a center of rehabilitation for children with special needs, a special school for children with disability, a kindergarten, a clinic, a continuous service of weekly/fortnightly distribution of dry and fresh food to more than 600 people in the state of misery and abandonment, a socio-assistance service that deals mainly with the multiple needs of the most disadvantaged families, also in order to prevent situations of violence, abuse and abuse, older adults and single mothers responsible for families with more than 3 or 4 children.
The Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation has been supporting the "Center Virgen Niña" since 2005 .

The coronavirus pandemic was acknowledged to have spread to Bolivia when its first two cases were confirmed on 10 March 2020 in the departments of Oruro and Santa Cruz. On 12 March, Bolivia suspended all public school sessions until 31 March, as well as all commercial flights to and from Europe indefinitely. Hospital beds, health professionals, and medical supplies in general such as ventilators were already in short supply even before the start of the pandemic.
To alleviate the effects of the lockdown, the government promised to distribute basic food provisions. But these have failed to materialize and have been widely criticized as insufficient. In response, large protests have recently taken place in four regions - Beni, Tarija, Santa Cruz and the city of El Alto - in defiance of the quarantine.

To date (end of April, 2020) in El Alto there have been 27 people affected by the virus, but the most devastating consequences are caused by the lockdown. The economic situation is worsening day by day.
Following government directives related to the health emergency, the Virgen Niña Center was closed, like all schools in late February 2020. Despite the closure, for about two months the Center has worked to get food to the most needy families, until its food supplies were completely exhausted.
The Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation has awarded an extraordinary emergency grant in favour of the Centro Virgin Niña-EPDB to help cope with the pandemic emergency in El Alto. In particular, the financial support will cover:

- weekly distributions of food packages for 109 of the nearly 400 children welcomed in the Center who belong to families in extreme poverty, who are no longer able to get food. The Center is taking care of providing them every week with food packages containing milk, bread, soft cheese, tuna, quinoa, oats, lentils, potatoes and carrots to provide for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. From the beginning, mothers were taught to prepare baby food because children cannot chew;
- fortnightly distributions of food packages for 125 elderly people in a state of neglect and their families, as well as 85 very poor families made up mostly of single women with various dependent children who live in the laderas of El alto, often victims of violence and abuse by the fathers themselves. Food packages consist of: 1 kg of rice, 1 kg of flour, 1 kg of sugar, 1 lt of oil, 500gr lentils, 500 gr oats or quinua, 500 gr of pasta, 10 eggs, some fruit (bananas) whenever possible.

- Personnel costs: due to the lockdown, the Centre can't no longer afford the payment of salaries of the teachers and educators. The Centre employs 26 people (administration, secretariat, multidisciplinary team, pedagogical team, kitchen, cleaning, concierge). The NaEPF emergency grant will cover their salaries for 4 months.


Association Centro Virgen Niña - epdb
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