English Information: Street Doctors

Thousands of children fight daily for survival on the streets of Bolivia’s capital La Paz. Hunger and abuse often leave them defenceless – if diseases are added, they have no chance without a caregiver and medical care.

But since the Street Doctors came into existence, things have changed: In mobile children’s surgeries, six doctors, three drivers and one nurse look after the physical and psychological well-being of the helpless children free of charge. They are there for them, listening, holding them in their arms and helping wherever they can.

Hardly imaginable for us: In Bolivia’s prisons many children also live in conditions that are unworthy of life – the Street Doctors’ ambulances also look after their health.


Why are we involved there?

To escape the bad chances in the countryside, many people move to the biggest city of Bolivia, La Paz, because they hope to find work and a perspective there. However, they often only expect impoverishment and hopelessness. The children are particularly hard hit, as they often become orphans, are abandoned or run away from violence and unbearable family circumstances. More than 6,000 children ended up on the streets. They spend the night under the bridge, in cemeteries or house entrances, and during the day they make their living by begging, shining shoes or stealing. Often they know neither their age nor their full name, and as unregistered citizens they fall through every raster. Many of them take drugs at an early age to escape the harsh reality and especially the girls are fair game for gangs, pimps or johns. Likewise, many children live with their parents in prison under inhumane conditions.

Whoever has seen these children once never forgets them again. We want to give them a little protection and hope and improve their living situation.

Die Fundacion und das Hospital Arco Iris

The German pastor Josef Neuenhofer emigrated to La Paz in 1993 and soon came across the fate of these abandoned children. He was severely shaken by the failure of the state and society and began to build up an aid organisation out of nothing. In the meantime, a large safety net for the street children has grown out of it, which includes orphanages and social centres with more than 200 employees as well as a hospital, the Hospital Arco Iris, with 120 beds. Here the children have free access to medical care. The hospital is also open to the poor population of La Paz and the neighbouring city of El Alto – the catchment area of the Hospital Arco Iris is large, around 2 million people can receive help here.

What we do

All our activities are aimed at offering the children in La Paz the healthiest and happiest possible future. To this end, we are involved in various areas:

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