How Children Come to Casa Hogar
Our supporters and visitors to Casa Hogar always ask how children come to live at Casa Hogar. Many people are surprised to hear that the majority of our children are not “true-orphans.” There are many different definitions of orphans and our children each have their own stories and their own struggles to overcome. Unfortunately, all of our children have faced the harsh reality of separation from their family. The following definitions of orphans will help to explain some of the reasons why our children have come to call Casa Hogar Juan Pablo II their home:
True orphans: children whose parents are both deceased
Relinquished orphans: children whose parents have forfeited their parental rights to the government
Decreed orphans: children whose custody rights were taken away from their parents by law
Social orphans: children who come from high-risk situations such as extreme poverty, single parents, no extended family, parental mental or physical illness, lack of education, lack of home
Forced orphans: children who are sold or illegally removed from their family
The majority of the children at Casa Hogar are social orphans, true orphans or decreed orphans. In Peru there is no foster-care system so when the family diminishes and the children are left in high-risk households, rather than entering into the foster-care system, as in the US, their only option is to either continue living in a bad situation or to be sent to the streets.
We have a full-time social worker who has worked at Casa Hogar since the day it opened 25 years ago. It is her job to research each case that is presented to us. Over the course of a few weeks she makes several visits to the child’s home and works with their family to gain a better understanding of the situation. If she believes that it is best for a child to come to Casa Hogar, the case must then go through the legal systems so that the child can come to Casa.
Since we only have space for 64 children, we are not able to accept all of the children in need to come live at Casa Hogar. We, however, never leave a child in need without an alternative option. Casa Hogar has a great working relationship with many of the other orphanages and social service providers; we are able to refer all cases to the help that they need.
Life Before Casa Hogar
Each of our children have their own story, but they all share the fact that they have suffered through a lot in their past. Below you will find a few stories of our children’s lives prior to their arrival at Casa Hogar. These are all true stories of our children’s past, however small details and names have been altered to protect their privacy. Take a moment to read about some of the histories of our children.
- Coming to live at Casa Hogar at the age of seven, Juliana has overcome a lot to become the beautiful, mature, respectable teenager she is today. Her parents were separated when she was young and her mother devotes herself to a life of prostitution. Although her father seems to show interest in taking care of Juliana, he has problems with alcohol addiction and is therefore not able to care for her. As a young girl, her father often abandoned her and neighbors would care for her, but she seldom received the necessary care. She has lived at Casa Hogar for the past eight years. According to Juliana, she enjoys living here because it is beautiful and she is taken care of.
- Mental illness and extreme poverty are both very prevalent problems in the city of Lima. For José, finding the next meal meant searching through the garbage for anything edible. He had been living with his mother, but she suffers from schizophrenia and was not able to provide for herself or her two children. At the age of nine José came to live at Casa Hogar along with his older sister. Both of the children have spent most of their childhood at Casa Hogar. José enjoys living at Casa Hogar because he learns many things that he can use to have the successful future that he dreams of.
- Sandra first came to Casa Hogar when she was six years old along with her little brother. Her father is an alcoholic and he abused the family, both physically and psychologically. Her mother suffers from schizophrenia and she abandoned the family when the kids were young. Since their father was an alcoholic, the kids would often be left by themselves for days at a time. Now, Sandra has graduated from Casa Hogar and is studying at a university. She is a very respectful, well-mannered girl who has high hopes for her career as an engineer.
- Miguel lived happily with his family until his mother fell ill with Parkinson’s disease. As his mother’s health declined, his father turned to alcohol to deal with the situation. Due to their father’s alcoholism, it was no longer safe for the children to stay with them. They went to live with their grandmother, but she lives in a very dangerous part of town and was not able to give them the basic necessities. He just came to Casa Hogar in 2009 and he is now happy with his new family.
- Jaime and his little brother were left orphaned after their father passed away from tuberculosis and their mother died of AIDS. They went to live with their grandmother, however she has a mental illness and was never able to care for them. Before coming to Casa Hogar, they lived on the streets surviving on their own for three years. Now at Casa Hogar, Jaime has everything he needs to not only survive, but to have a good successful future.
- Raul and his sister Ania lived with both of their parents in extreme poverty until their father abandoned the family. This sent their mother into extreme depression and she was not longer able to care for the children. They both came to live at Casa Hogar and are now living in a safe environment where they are always provided for.
- Daniel was exposed to many different dangers as a young boy. He and his younger sister lived with their mother and they have never met their father. Their mother has addictions to both drugs and alcohol, and oftentimes would force her boys to go sell candy on the streets so that she could feed her addictions. Their uncle, seeing the danger of their current situation, took the children and brought them to live at Casa Hogar in 1993. They are still here at Casa today and have both matured into great, responsible young adults. They are role models for the other children, and are great additions to their families at Casa Hogar.
- Katrina and her younger brother Andres had a difficult life before they came to live at Casa Hogar. When they were young, they lived with both of their parents, but soon after Andres was born their mother completely abandoned her kids. At the time she left, their father was in prison as an accused rapist. They went to live with their aunt, however she does not make enough money to provide for them. Her only job is selling candy on the streets, and she could not provide food for the kids. They came to live at Casa Hogar and are now happy, healthy kids.