Refugio de Esperanza, Santa Cruz, Bolivia (35-40 Children)
Meet Directors Gladys and Marco Aldana
Nurturing more than 400 children over the years serving as “mom and dad” at Refugio de Esperanza (often referred to as Haven of Hope Bolivia), Gladys and Marco have created an orphanage home model of care that successfully raises the standard of orphan care and creates an environment for children to heal, pursue their dreams and thrive as independent adults.
Director Gladys is highly credentialed—a degree in childhood education, pastor accreditation, serving as a leader in the Church of God Southern Cone of South America, and work with orphan care, feeding kitchens and abuse shelters in the community. She has brought many innovative orphan care programs to the home and children.
Marco, a Certified Public Accountant with extensive experience working in the corporate sector, supports Gladys in key areas. He serves as Director of Training and developed an extensive training curriculum for orphanage home directors/leaders. During 2020, Marco spearheaded the creation of the Refugio Esperanza Foundation focused on creating long-term sustainability through local individual and corporate funding. Marco officially joined Gladys as co-director in May 2021.
Refugio de Esperanza
In 2003, Men and Women of Action, an American humanitarian group, rebuilt a former orphanage in Santa Cruz and opened its doors in January 2004 as Refugio de Esperanza. Considered Haven of Hope’s flagship orphanage home, from day one, the pursuit of excellence has driven every decision and action taken by its directors. Today the home serves 35-40 children.
Considered one of Bolivia’s most beautiful orphanage homes and campus, it is also one of the most progressive in terms of caring for the children. Its multi-disciplinary approach to meeting the complex needs of the children sets a new standard in orphan care. Staff support includes a bookkeeper, social worker, psychologist, tutors, and several “aunts and uncles”. University interns also help the children with studies, music and sports activities. All leadership and staff members have been trained in the most up-to-date thinking in trauma care.
Among the unique programs at Refugio de Esperanza are: individually focused Transition-In assessment and protocol; a 3-Phase Transition-Out program to insure the children are successful in independent living; English and computer classes; farming and gardening sustainability; creating and selling home décor, bakery products and sewing clothing sustainability programs.
From the beginning, local church community members have been actively involved with the home--helping to establish a solid Christian foundation for each child, serving as host families, becoming mentors and sustainability program volunteers. Local businesses are also involved, helping with mentorship and apprenticeship opportunities.
How You Can Help
With your support, HOHI can provide education materials and trauma care training, help with medical costs, and funding for vocational training, giving skills to many young adults who do not qualify to go to university and other diploma colleges. 2021 plans for Refugio de Esperanza include the building of a boy’s dorm so that siblings can remain on the campus together.
About the Country of Bolivia
Bolivia is a landlocked country in central South America bordered by Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile and Peru with a varied landscape that includes lakes, mountains, deserts and rainforests. By area it is the fifth largest country in South American and by population is it the eighth largest country with approximately 11.6 million people. Santa Cruz, with an estimated 2.3 million people, is one of the fastest growing cities in the world and is considthe financial and economic hub of Bolivia.
Bolivia is the second poorest country in South America. Approximately 59% of the population live in conditions of poverty with 24.4% living in extreme poverty. The conditions of poverty have a direct impact on children being abandoned and orphaned. It is estimated that there are 13,000 orphaned, abandoned Bolivian children.
The living conditions of abandoned children are harsh, making them more vulnerable to other problems—abuse, trauma, drugs, violence, crime, sex trafficking and health issues. They experience forced child labor and lack of access to education.