Bolivia (MNN) — One hundred street kids in El Alto, Bolivia, are about to lose their only source of hope.
El Alto, while one of Bolivia's poorest and most dangerous cities, is also one of its fastest-growing. Formerly a suburb of Bolivia's capital city, El Alto's population has exploded from a mere 11,000 in 1952 to nearly 1.2 million in 2010.
While El Alto's unrivaled growth makes it an up-and-coming player on Bolivia's social and political stage, its people continue to suffer. Approximately 64% live below the poverty line, compared to a country-wide average of 60%.
Bethesda House of Mercy Church, partners of Bright Hope International, have a children's program in El Alto that desperately needs funding. If the money doesn't come in, 100 street kids won't have food to eat or a safe place to stay.
According to Bright Hope, El Alto kids live in an area polluted by poverty, witch doctors, and chronic abuse. While some are orphaned and have nowhere to go, many children willingly choose to "run away" from home. They'd rather live in the dangerous streets than face confinement, abuse, and forced labor.
The "homes" they leave usually house 5 to 6 people in a room roughly the size of two office cubicles. Confined in tight quarters, children are often subjected to intense physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
Twelve years ago, Bethesda started their children's program as a place of refuge for desperate children of all ages. This place shines as a bright light in a darkened city for runaway, orphaned, and abused street kids.
Through Bethesda's Children's Program, kids receive one complete meal a day and are taught reading, math, and the Word of God. The education alone is essential in a society built upon and operated by neighborhood committees.
So far, some 3,430 meals have been served, and there are 98 kids enrolled in Bethesda's school program. A gift of $235 will provide care for one child through December.
Bethesda is also trying to plant a church and bring their children's program to the nearby community of Huypaca. In the past, Bethesda has seen entire families come to church and begin learning about Jesus through kids that were enrolled in the children's program.
Bethesda recently identified a pastor for the church plant and started construction on a greenhouse to provide food for the children's program.
Would you like to help this dream become reality for the people of Huypaca? Click here and select "Bethesda Church Planting Proposal" to learn more about this church-planting project and how you can get involved.