The charity offers the children with whom it works high quality care and sees no reason why this should not be so. The children we help are some of the most vulnerable in the city and for them we are a last resort. However, this doesn’t mean that the help they receive should be sub-standard. They may be poor, they may come from the streets, the shanty towns or they may be refugees but they have the same needs and aspirations as any other children and are still worthy of being given first class care.
At the present time we have 10 Venezuelan Refugee girls staying at Casa Bannatyne for a period of respite from their present living conditions. (We do have boys to stay too and a group had been with us the previous week.) The Venezuelan Refugees in Colombia are in a very difficult position at the moment. To be a refugee is bad enough but to be a refugee during a pandemic and lockdown must be almost impossible to deal with. They depend for survival on begging or working in the street but with the streets forbidden to them because of lockdown, they have no means at all of survival. The charity has been helping the families living nearby with food parcels for almost a year now but this is the first chance it has had to actually bring a group of children to stay at Casa Bannatyne. Such a break is obviously good for the children themselves but it is also a way of relieving tensions within the families, who often live in very crowded and noisy conditions.These tensions can lead to abuse, so respite breaks are important as a way of avoiding this. For the children it means they can experience normal life and enjoy the same things as other children do. This is important for their physical and mental well-being as well as their self image. They so often see themselves as worthless so activities that give them feelings of self-worth are important.
Some of the present group of girls looked rather ill-nourished so they have been seen by a nutritionist and prescribed special supplements. One of them kept being sick so a doctor was called in and she was diagnosed with parasites in her gut so now has treatment for that. The photo below shows them about to have their lunch.
We aim to provide high quality educational and leisure activities for our children so whilst the girls are staying with us they were taken out on a morning’s ecological visit by the Head Teacher from our little school, who is a very capable teacher and very good with all the children. The photos below show them on this visit, masked as required by Colombian law at the moment.
Later, in the afternoon, they had great fun at a nail-painting class. This is something they could only have dreamed of in their present circumstances so the fact that it actually happened must have been very therapeutic and have injected a good deal of joy into their lives. For children in the UK it would be just a normal, enjoyable activity these days, but for these refugee children it was a huge treat.