Enfants de Bolivie celebrates its 20th anniversary

2000 children saved from a life of misery in the streets

An example of humanitarian solidarity

MONTREAL, Sept. 17, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - "Over 2000 children, living in extreme poverty and often in the street, have been rescued and offered a better life since the Enfants de Bolivie (children of Bolivia) organization was founded," declares the Chair of this Quebec-based humanitarian organization, Émilie Laveau.


In 1995, Yvon Sabourin, a teacher in Pointe-aux-Trembles, decided to forego a peaceful retirement and, instead, to devote his life to the indigent children of Bolivia: little ones, some as young as four years of age, with only the street and the rubbish therein on which to survive. Many of them would not make it.

The local bishop put him in charge of a broken-down house of refuge in Vallegrande from which to gather in and take care of abandoned children. But the task ahead of him was huge. He could not manage it on his own, because the local environment was too poor to provide the necessary resources. He therefore appealed to his former colleagues, friends and benefactors of the Pointe-aux-Trembles community, and founded the Enfants de Bolivie organization.

Thanks to this group of people from Pointe-aux-Trembles, many of whom are themselves retired, Enfants de Bolivie became the funding agency that enabled him to continue his work in Bolivia. Other benefactors have joined in. The number of children helped by the man who is known by all in Bolivia as "Don Yvon" grew as more resources became available. Other houses and a farm were added to the first home. The children are cared for, educated and, most of all, loved by Yvon Sabourin and his associates. Many volunteers from Quebec go to help out on site.

Today, some of the first children rescued by the home (Hogar Jesús Infante) have been able, with the help of Enfants de Bolivie, to complete their university studies in the large city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and are already at work to continue Mr. Sabourin's mission. "I am extremely proud to have enabled these destitute children to regain their dignity and, for some, to have become young professionals. They will contribute to the development of Bolivian society," says Mr. Sabourin with all the satisfaction of a true father. "Our goal," he explains, "is to gradually hand over the running of the current shelters to these young Bolivians."

The Bolivian authorities grant a minimal stipend to the home for each child taken in, but it is far from sufficient. The country is very poor. The financial support received from Enfants de Bolivie is essential. "Every day we are forced to say no to children, even though they are in great need of our assistance," sadly notes Mr. Sabourin.

"Nearly 98% of the funds collected go directly to helping the children. Our Board of Directors has made this decision. Administrative costs are borne almost entirely by volunteers," points out Ms. Laveau, Board Chair.


"We have plenty of plans for these children who grow up in our care," adds Yvon Sabourin. "Our teens must learn a trade to be better equipped to meet their future needs. A vocational training centre needs to be set up. A computer skills workshop is planned. But many other children continue to live in miserable conditions; they must be rescued."

An example of international solidarity from committed Quebec citizens

Enfants de Bolivie has made a great difference in the lives of these thousands of needy children, many of whom would otherwise not have been able to survive the miserable conditions in which they started. "We are proud to have contributed to this work," says Richard Tremblay, one volunteer who is closely involved, and a former president of an FTQ union. "These children have, in a way, become our children," he adds.

"We have been able to give a decent life to these children who are no different from our own, save for the severe poverty of the community in which they live. Closing the mission would force most of these children back to those abject conditions," pleads Mr. Sabourin earnestly.

"On behalf of all these children who need help, I ask for your support. For most of these children, we are their only hope for a better life. This mission must continue," concludes Émilie Laveau with emotion.


SOURCE Enfants de Bolivie

Image with caption: "Enfants de Bolivie (CNW Group/Enfants de Bolivie)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150917_C4101_PHOTO_EN_492250.jpg

For further information: Enfants de Bolivie, 4276 Assigny Road, Terrebonne, Quebec, J6X 1N8; Dr. Renald Dutil, md, asc, Tel.: 514-919-5717, r.dutil@videotron.ca

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