Until two weeks ago, girls and boys from children’s homes went to school, did activities, linked with families and had recreational outings. But all that changed with the coronavirus, and those who work in these institutions must exercise extreme care to avoid contagion.
The situation, which is already serious in itself, becomes even more complex
Before the pandemic, hugs and kisses were common in the homes that the Families of Hope organization has in Florida and Boulogne. ”
Today, before entering, we go to an outside bathroom, change our clothes, disinfect the cell phone and wash our hands well.
s. We passed the door and warned the boys that for now, no hugs or kisses, “said Victoria Aguirre de Acosta, president of the NGO. Her great fear is that someone will become infected, since they do not have a place of isolation.
The resources are not abundant either: they do not have masks and the hygiene products are not reaching for the new cleaning protocol.
This case is not an exception at all.
, an organization that groups 20 Buenos Aires institutions with children’s homes in different modalities, distributed a statement with the most urgent needs facing these entities. According to the document,
the sector’s emergency, declared three years ago, deepened in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic
and the growth of dengue and measles. “The need is not suspended, nor does it wait,” emphasize the signatories, who in all cases maintain agreements with the General Directorate for Children of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires.
So, in order to continue with your task,
request a budget reinforcement
immediate settlement of 120,000 pesos per household, to use until March 31. With this money, they plan to face the personnel replacements for the licenses taken by employees belonging to the risk group. It will also go to
purchase of cleaning materials
, and to solve
. “Likewise, we demand that the food distribution scheme is not modified and that the amount of food is increased,” added the institutions.
Norberto Gabriel Kohen, institutional secretary of the home La Casona de los Barriletes, located in the Liniers neighborhood and member of the Network, gave details on the point regarding travel expenses: “Employees who make long trips have a lot of exposure to contagion because they come by public transport.
It would be better, while the quarantine lasts, that they can use remises or taxis ”
. In addition, he maintained that the cleaning kit distributed by the Buenos Aires Government is scarce. “It has 5 liters of bleach, 5 of detergent and four insecticides,” he listed.
The homes of the City house a maximum of 25 boys -from babies to adolescents-, while in the province of Buenos Aires that number may be higher
. As for management, some report directly to the Children’s Directorate of each district – commonly called “own homes” – and, on the other hand, there are social organizations that have agreements with governments. In the latter case, they operate thanks to a “scholarship” that they receive for each child. “They are boys who are generally prosecuted for social problems such as violence and sexual abuse,” said Kohen.
Aguirre de Acosta explained that the City pays 20,216 pesos per scholarship per month, while in the Province the amount is significantly less: 12,460 pesos. “In addition, the Buenos Aires government sends food every week and sent a cleaning kit, although it is not enough. Province did not send anything,” he lamented. Another issue that worries the president of Families of Hope is how to act if a boy gets sick. “They are minors, we cannot call 107. They also did not inform us where they are going to refer them, or what to do. They told us that we had to have a room with an isolated bathroom. I replied that we did not have one, but they did not answer anything,” he assured.
Quarantine does not wait
Darío Pompilio is executive director of the Messengers of Peace Civil Association, which is in charge of the Colibríes household, in Longchamps, part of Admiral Brown; and the La Balsa center, in the Once neighborhood. This last place works from 17 to 8, serving minors on the street, but “due to the pandemic we were able to coordinate with the City Government so that it is open 24 hours a day and the children can carry out isolation here,” said Pompilio.
“The effort that we are making in the cleaning and disinfection sector,” he stressed, “demands more hours of work and a higher cost of supplies. And to this, we have four employees on leave, because they belong to the risk group. So we are paying those salaries and those of the personnel who make the substitutions. ” Pompilio stressed that
More than 15 days have passed since the first case of coronavirus and since then they are bearing the additional costs
. “We still do not know if we will receive support from governments. They say they are working, but the response capacity is very slow,” he warned.
For this reason, many households began to circulate orders on WhatsAap, such as the Juanito Foundation, which has two homes in the Colegiales neighborhood, where around 20 boys and girls live together.
They urgently ask for the donation of hygiene and cleaning items to “take care of children from diseases”.
One of its directors, Lorena Naveira, explained that they make “a call for people’s solidarity at such a difficult time.” He agreed with Kohen on how dangerous it is for “educators” – as they call caregivers – to travel by public transport and that paying for remises is almost impossible. Another point he highlighted is the supply of medication that some children need and that they are running out of prescriptions.
Given the real possibility that the quarantine will be extended for a long time, what will happen then to these minors? Could they go to the home of their caregivers or their sponsoring families to prevent the spread of the virus?
In the province of Buenos Aires there is already an institution that took this measure, although it is a special case: a home that has babies, who require greater care. “We have teenagers and it is more complicated. There are many organizations that control us and we are afraid of boys. But I confess that I do not rule it out as a strategy in a specific situation,” Kohen admitted.
Before the claim of the different references,
he consulted the government authorities involved. The Ministry of Social Development of the Nation explained that
they are transferring more money to the provinces
, who are in charge of the homes, and assured that they have sent recommendations on care and hygiene in the cases of children in homes and detention centers.
The province of Buenos Aires, for its part, sent a statement explaining that
delivered cleaning products
to institutions in La Plata and surroundings, together with a
petty cash so that each institution can meet the needs that arise
. “Likewise, the various mechanisms for the promotion and protection of rights, and those of the Juvenile Criminal Responsibility System, are being equipped with educational and recreational material,” the document details. This measure, however, only reaches the 51 devices and homes of their own, but not the children under the agreement. Consulted on the matter, from the Buenosairean government they assured:
“We are communicating with each home and the requirements will come
“And they added that from this week the Food Service in Schools will send these entities bags of groceries that until now had to be covered with the amount of the scholarship.
Regarding the city of Buenos Aires, Jazmín Lerner, undersecretary for Family and Community Personal Strengthening of the Ministry of Human Development and Habitat, stated: ”
We are in permanent dialogue with all the referents of the coexistence units to respond and work together
“He noted that they implemented” measures to guarantee the quality of care and care for children and adolescents, “such as the provision of supplies for personal care, hygiene and disinfection, and that” the delivery of food has increased since classes were suspended. “Lerner announced new provisions for the next few days,” with the aim of reinforcing resources to sustain the care of those who need it most in this extraordinary situation. ”
There is no doubt that the coronavirus does not wait, much less in institutions like these homes. Aguirre de Acosta, from Families of Hope, summed up the critical aspects of the situation in this way: ”
All the financial aid they promised will take and we have needs that must be met right now.
How can you help from home?
To contribute a grain of sand at this very special moment, the best thing, given the current situation of isolation, is to help without leaving your home.
Messengers of Peace
receive monetary aid through this
to purchase additional supply of hygiene, cleaning supplies and disposable surgical / sanitary supplies.
urgently needed: gel alcohol, antibacterial liquid soap and mosquito repellent. Also cleaning, kitchen and personal hygiene items. In addition, he receives donations of money. You can know the different ways to help
- You can collaborate with
Homes of Families of Hope
in different ways
. In its
You can learn more about the work of this association.
Foster Care Emergency Services
The Tutelary Public Ministry of the city of Buenos Aires took contingency measures through its teams of professionals, in order to respond to queries, complaints and information aimed at girls, teenage boys and people who use mental health services. For this, it has an access to justice system made up of: line 0800-122-7376, WhatsApp 15-7037-7037, Facebook, Twitter and IG (
) and the
Advice page responds
, which receives inquiries and complaints that may be anonymous. Tutelar adviser, Yael Bendel, assured that he will personally answer queries on his social networks