Hurricane Mitch, which has been described as the eeworst natural
disaster of this century's, has in Central America left, to date, over 11 thousand people dead, more than 18 thousand people missing and some 3 million people either homeless or severely affected.
Amidst this human carnage are the street children of Central
America whose numbers are arguably set to double if not triple.
oWe have already seen, in the last five days, a hundred percent
increase in the number of children we have in our crisis centre in
Honduras,oe commented Bruce Harris Regional Director of Casa
Alianza Latin America.
Our concern now is for the predicted hundreds of thousands of
children who have been orphaned by this terrible tragedy. The
authorities could barely take care of orphans before the hurricane,
now- more than ever -the state will never be able to absorb
thousands more,oe added Harris.
In Honduras the 30 children from Casa Alianza's Crisis Centre, who
were being temporarily housed in the National University of
Pedagogy, have now been moved to a local school. 60 other street
children, who were not formerly part of Casa Alianza's residential
programmes, have also been moved to the school and are currently
being cared for by Casa Alianza. Casa Alianza Honduras has been
lent the school facilities until February, following the suspension of educational activities by the Honduran authorities. Showers and
basic infrastructure are being built by Casa Alianza, which is a
subsidiary of Covenant House in New York.
The Crisis Centre of Casa Alianza remains in a high risk area, as
defined by the authorities, and has been left unusable by hurricane
Mitch. Currently Casa Alianza is trying to drain the
inches of mud, silt and sewage left deposited in the Centre.
Another facility, group home San Pedro, remains evacuated.
The children within Casa Alianza's oFincaoe, which is used to
house a drug rehabilitation programme and located 45 minutes
outside of the capital, has also been closed after the water
system became contaminated. Those children have also now
been moved to the capital and to the borrowed school.
Present concerns are being concentrated on making temporary
facilities within the school liveable. Each child has a mattress and there is water for the
washing of clothes and basic necessities. However, as with the
rest of the population, drinking water remains scarce and the
price of basic food stuffs has doubled; these factors, combined
with the 100 % increase in children being attended, is stretching
Casa Alianza's budget to its limit. Many children have already
begun to show signs of ill health due to the poor living conditions
including diarrhoea, skin fungus and intestinal problems.
Casa Alianza's long term aim remains to restore the Crisis
Centre's facilities, while increasing the number of sleeping dorms
in order to absorb the present and expected increase in numbers
of children entering Casa Alianza programmes. Extra labourers
have been hired and are busy expanding facilities.
oWith seventy percent of the country's crops destroyed and
infrastructure wiped out itAEs inevitable that people and that
means children, will migrate to the city. We have to be
prepared,oe said Harris.
PO Box 025216
Miami FL 33102-5216 USA
Casa Alianza, a BOES.ORG Partner, received the prestigious Olof Palme Award 1997