Description of the experience
In 1989, the Canadian educator Jean-Louis LEBEL, at the suggestion of a priest from the Missionaries of the Holy Apostles, began an investigation aimed at understanding the issues faced by children and adolescents living on the streets, with the aim of determining if he could contribute to addressing the problem. This research began in Cuzco, where contacts were established with homes and institutions to learn about methodological proposals, and it continued in Lima. At that time, there were very few state or private shelters to assist the population of children and adolescents in street situations.
In December 1989, Jean-Louis LEBEL began working on the streets and squares of downtown Lima, with the Plaza San Martín being one of the key locations. As a result of this experience, it was concluded that there was an immediate need to provide an alternative for the children and adolescents.
Thus arose the idea of providing a home for children and adolescents to live in. Without a formulated plan, a house was rented in the center of Lima. This marked the beginning of the open foster home. The fundamental principle was based on the voluntary admission of the child or adolescent and the development of a rehabilitation proposal based on their needs.
In the month of June 1990, the first child was housed, and legally, the Center for the Integration of Abandoned Minors - CIMA was created on August 14, 1990.
Initially, the capacity to accommodate was for 8 children and adolescents. Gradually, the staff was expanded to include psychologists and social workers according to the need.
In September 1991, all the children and adolescents were moved to a new facility donated by Engineer Federico Jahncke, located in Huarangal, Cieneguilla district.
Gradually, the number of residents increased, eventually reaching 60 children and adolescents. Additionally, the range of workshops offered to the children was expanded, and the number of tutors was doubled.
In 1996, the residents were relocated to another property, also located in Cieneguilla, where the CIMA home continues to operate to this day.
Alongside the growth of the home, a formalization process was developed, which included the incorporation of staff on the payroll in 2005 and the adoption of various internal documents (such as the personnel code, internal regulations, and an organizational and functional manual).
The Child's Friendship
I used to go every day, mostly at night because during the day the children were scattered. From seven o'clock in the evening, the children, teenagers, young adults, and adults from the streets began to gather in the southwest part of the square. Until twelve or one, they were dedicated to theft and the consumption of Terokal or cocaine base paste. I couldn't intervene to stop them because I had been "kicked out" of the square. They respected me and knew that I did not share their activities. It was a taboo topic among us. If a child dared to take out their bag and an adult (from the street) noticed, they would slap him soundly, saying, "Respect the little father." From the beginning, it was a rule for me not to bring them clothes, food, or anything else. Other support groups helped them, but I thought that providing them with help right there would make it difficult for them to make the decision to leave the street. My intention was to gain their trust and friendship and then open a center to welcome them. It seemed obvious to me that they needed to be taken out of there in order to truly help them.