Bolivia – November 19 2019

Family strengthening: Becoming a family man

Single father Secundino struggled to care for his six children after the death of his wife. A chance encounter made all the difference for the shoemaker and his family.

The family lived in a rented one-room apartment in El Alto, Bolivia. They sometimes ate rice as their only meal for days, leaving his children at risk. 

Today, Secundino, who received support from SOS Children’s Villages for three years, has lifted himself out of poverty. He has his own home and the children enjoy regular meals.

“I feel that all of this work has finally been rewarded and my lifelong dream has become a reality,” says Secundino. “Now we have a house of our own with a water system, four bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a living room.”

A chance encounter turned the life of Secundino and his children around. After a year of struggling, Secundino’s daughter overheard an SOS Children’s Villages social worker talking in a grocery store about an SOS program in the community and strengthening families. The girl politely interrupted and her fast thinking changed her family’s fortunes.

After the social worker visited the household, the family became participants in one of the family strengthening programs offered by SOS Children's Villages. 

Parents in the program receive skills training to help them improve their earnings and become self-sufficient. Secundino already made rubber sandals, but needed seed money to buy new tools and raw material.

Secundino also attended parenting classes and went from not knowing how to cook to making nutritious meals for his children, and even combing his daughters’ hair. Although this may go against the traditional gender roles he grew up with, Secundino has the right attitude to prioritize his children’s well-being.

Now Secundino is a self-sufficient and respected member of his community. As part of SOS Children’s Villages’ institutional alliances, the government-housing agency approved subsidized housing for a few families in the SOS program. Secundino offered his labor to build their new house, which they moved into in July 2018.

“The most important learnings have been to value myself and value my children. And of course, hard work,” says Secundino.

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