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Cllr Alexander Stafford recently spent time with the Alalay Foundation in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, learning about the work of the charity and helping out.

The Alalay Foundation was started in the early 1990’s to help look after street children. Alalay rescues these children from the streets and offers them a loving environment living together in family cabins; feeds, clothes and educates them and encourages them in their future working lives.

The Foundation has now helped over 10,000 children and adolescents and works with more than 1,000 children annually in the cities of La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. It currently has 400 children living in various centres and provides food, health care, clothing, education, social work, spiritual, psychological and legal help, and technical training for them. Most importantly, it provides something they’ve often never had – a home and a family.

Friends of Alalay, the UK support arm of the Foundation, helped arranged the visit and reported on it here.

Commenting on his visit to the charity Cllr Alexander Stafford said:

“As a Councillor in West London I have been privileged to spend time with the Alalay Foundation in Santa Cruz. I visited both the Casa de Ninos in the city, as well as the Aldea outside Santa Cruz. During my stay, I engaged with the children, staff and volunteers, seeing first hand the challenges of their work, as well as the many opportunities it has created. From the work of Jose in convincing the children to come off the streets in the first place, to the daily zumba lessons led by volunteers, which give the children the opportunity to build confidence and awareness, Alalay offers hope and opportunities, which many of the children would not normally have.  Above all, the sense that I got was one of warmth and community spirit. From the warmth given to the children from the motivated and inspiring staff and volunteers, to the sense of community fostered between the children and every member of the Foundation.

I was honoured to be asked to give Alalay a presentation on UK politics and the roles and relevance of politicians, which was received with great interest and enthusiasm. I also presented to the Foundation specially commissioned portraits of HM Queen Elizabeth II on behalf of a member of the UK Parliament, Andrew Rosindell MP, with whom I had discussed the visit.

I left Alalay with a far greater understanding of some of the challenges facing young children in Bolivia, as well as an appreciation of the different solutions possible. Although many of the issues faced by children and young people in the UK initially appear different from those in Bolivia, there are many shared needs and hopes. From nurturing a sense of belonging, to feeling part of a wider community and learning the skills to support them later in life, these are some of the universal values of childhood.  

I will take these lessons and experiences back to my political work in the UK and do what I can to both raise the profile of Alalay and to continue my work to support children facing difficult circumstances around the world. I hope that this is the start of an enduring and constructive relationship between the area I represent in the UK and the children in Santa Cruz”.

To find out more about Friends of Alalay or if you would like to make a donation please see here.