Rocío, 34, is a widow and mother of two girls. Since the death of her older sister at the end of 2019, she has kept the promise to take care of her sister’s children. Mariana * (10), Alberto* (8) and Carla* (5) coped with the loss of their mother, supported and lovingly welcomed by their aunt to live in the city of El Alto, Bolivia.
During this time of transition for the family, the COVID-19 pandemic put the strength and resilience of the family to the test. The rigid COVID-19 lockdown did not allow Rocío to continue to sell the baby clothes she made herself in the local market.
“Although we couldn’t go out, I still went out at night to sell because my children have to eat,” says Rocío. “The situation was very ugly. The government gave money for the school-age children and that helped us to survive for a while,” Rocío recalls.
In addition, the new virtual educational for children required Rocío’s presence. However, the children could not access the virtual classes because they only had one cell phone and Rocío needed it for work. Plus, the internet connection was not good and they didn’t have the means to upgrade it.
The confinement and hearing the news filled Mariana, her siblings, and cousins with fear and concern. The children were afraid of getting the virus and that Rocío could get sick. They decided to stop watching the news because her daughters were scared and cried, while they wondered why so many people died.
The children miss going out to parks, to school and for walks with their family without a face mask and without fear. They are worried about catching COVID-19, but they hope to return to playing and going to school as before.
"We use a face mask, but I don't like biosafety clothing because it is very uncomfortable, and the face shield makes everything blurry," explains Mariana smiling at Rocío. “When this is all over, I would like to go to the pool, to the river to have fun, go for a walk in the park with my family and buy ice cream.”
SOS Children's Villages strengthens and empowers Rocío so she can care for all the children together. The family is currently part of the SOS family strengthening program, where they have access to psychosocial and nutritional support, tech equipment, and the internet. With the support of SOS Children's Villages, the objective is for families to be able to best care for their children, help them continue their education, pay their tuition fees and live in a protected and healthy environment.
*Names changed to protect the privacy of the children