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Help Kindergarteners Living in Jail

Item # 34558

Help children in abnormal circumstances lead a more normal life.

Over a thousand children across Bolivia live in jails, accompanying their parents while they serve sentences. Most are under the age of six, but many stay beyond that age, having no other place to go and no one outside to care for them. Many of the children were actually born in jail, and prison life is the only one they know.

San Pedro jail in La Paz, Bolivia, holds approximately 1,300 prisoners. Prisoners must rent a room -- there are no cells -- and in those rooms, the whole family lives, including children.

San Pedro jail has two kindergartens serving children of different ages, from children just learning to walk all the way up through pre-teenageers. One of the kindergartens, "Santa Maria de la Alegria," has been generously championed by Fr. Fillipo Clementi, an Italian priest who helped create the kindergarten despite obstacles such as lack of space and lack of funds.

Santa Maria de la Alegria serves most of the prison's population of children. The volunteer teachers who work there, called "sisters" by the children, try their best to create a safe and enriching environment, assigning "homework," art projects, and reading aloud. But without many books or school supplies, it is difficult to provide any sort of foundation for a normal life to the children who are living, through no fault of their own, in such an abnormal place.

You can help. This Gift That Gives More™ provides two educational toys and school supplies for children in the Santa Maria de la Alegria kindergarten inside the San Pedro jail in La Paz, Bolivia. The toys are produced by crafters who are also living inside the prison, helping encourage productive job skills that will be useful after the prison time has been served.

Cree & Sueña (Believe & Dream) is a Bolivian nonprofit charity with volunteers based in La Paz and Seattle. Its mission is to spread joy and bring smiles to the faces of Bolivian children in rural areas by distributing toys, gifts, and school supplies to children whose families cannot afford them.

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