Curated by Los Quinchos Italia
Photos by Los Quinchos
The Los Quinchos project gives hospitality to the abandoned and mistreated children in Nicaragua. It was founded in 1991 by Zelinda Roccia. To this day she still dedicates all her time and energy to this association.
Zelinda Roccia with the children
About the street children
Most of these children are living in social discomfort due to drugs, alcohol abuse, and gambling. They come from broken families, poverty, and violence. They manage to survive and move from very remote areas of Nicaragua to the cities. Mainly the capital, Managua. Here they can be found in market areas, where they beg, steal, assault, and do jobs that are inadequate for children. They are exposed to violence and sometimes to torture. Street children gather in small groups, become aggressive and hostile towards each other. They spend their nights under the market stands or on pieces of cardboard on the ground, inhaling glue and other deadly drugs. They use knives or weapons to defend themselves or to attack.
Goals of Los Quinchos association
The goal of the Los Quinchos association is to take care of these children. Thanks to psycho-pedagogical methods, natural medicine, but most of all giving them love and affection and education. Through different activities, they aim to help them regain their self-esteem. For example, recreational activities, such as circus arts, soccer, and cultural activities such as music and dance. As well as artisan activities such as hammock making laboratories, carpentry, ceramics, and tailoring.
Here the children can spend their childhood in a positive and healthy environment. They are taken care of in a loving way by educators, psychologists, craftsmen, assistants (often ex – quinchos), and administration personnel, all of whom are Nicaraguan.
Italian interview with Zelinda Rocca talking about Los Quinchos
As the children grow older, combined with education, they receive also all the instruments necessary and job opportunities so they will become strong and confident. They will eventually be successfully reintroduced in society.
In fact, the final goal of Los Quinchos is to reinsert children in their own society. Offering them access to the human rights they have been denied up to now: the right to a peaceful childhood and the knowledge of their rights and duty as future citizens.
The project is supported by basic solidarity, through the Italian Committees and Associations of the Adda, of Bolzano, Cagliari, and Florence Their volunteers are engaged in spreading the word about the project and promoting a culture of peace and solidarity between Nations. Enthusiastic contribution from volunteers and international groups from various Countries helps the Project grow, as a shared battle against injustice.
How the project works
Every day educators walk through the streets to offer the children assistance and to convince them to leave street life. It is a very difficult task.
The children are first taken to the Filter House which is located near Managua’s Mercato Oriental. Here street children and teenagers can wash themselves, eat, receive treatment for wounds or illness, play, participate in sports or cultural activities. On average, about 30 children live in the Filter House. They are immediately signed up in public schools, where they often have excellent results. This is a great first step on the way to social reintegration.
After the first period of adaptation, which varies for each child. They enter the second phase of the social insertion program and they are moved to the Finca San Marcos, the house of Granada Lake, or the Yahoska project.
Finca San Marcos house is a farm that welcomes children up to the age of 13. The property is surrounded by nature, great majestic trees, orchards, flowers, and animals. It is the very first Quincho home. Children all go to public school and follow activities in woodwork, hammock-making, and pottery workshops.
With help from the older teens who work as Promoters, the educators lovingly take care of the children and guide them in different kinds of activities, helping them learn and grow day by day.
Granada, House on the Lake and ’Casa de Cultura’, is located on the shore of the big Cocibolca lake, in the ’Las isletas’ archipelago. It is home to around 35 teens. They all go to public school at various levels in the nearby city of Granada. The teens also take part in various activities with other Quinchos. They are excellent swimmers and they exchange experiences with other Quinchos and with children and teens from other Projects and from the community.
Yahoska Project. Since 1999 this project takes in young and teenage girls in the San Marcos house. Their past is marked by violence and abandonment. Some of them are the sisters of other Quinchos. They all go to public school, participate in lectures, and meetings about social problems and women and girl’s rights. They play in the band and share cultural and social activities, sports, and games with Quincho boys.
These 3 projects all converge in the cultural center ’Chechio BumBum’ Cultural Centre. Many cultural and recreational activities take place here. For example, they do traditional and modern dance classes, theatre, arts, and crafts. There are also meetings with young people from other Projects and with elderly people from the community, social studies, and current affairs lectures by experts on themes such as health, education, national and international policies that have an influence on people’s life quality.
Volunteering at Los Quinchos
Elena Vercellis shares her personal experience of volunteering at Los Quinchos.
“I learned about this project from my friend Genny Casi, who had been cooperating with it for years. Six years ago I decided to accompany her on one of her trips to Nicaragua. I wanted to see with my own eyes what this project was all about.
After a long trip to get to Managua, we were welcomed by 6 of the quinchos. They came to pick us up together with Zelinda Roccia. She is a very strong and courageous woman who covers a mother role for many of these children that find a safe place with her. She follows them in all their activities with great generosity and dedication.
I have witnessed firsthand incredible changes in these children from the moment she takes them in. I have seen the strong value of this association in the lives of these children.
I met some ex quinchos, now adults, with a job, a family of their own that continue having a strong relationship with their mamita Zelinda. She has given their life a positive direction.
For those who want to volunteer here, there are so many opportunities to help. For example, I helped organize the library. I also went with the quinchos to buy shoes before school started. In fact, Zelinda takes also good care of their appearance and their hygiene. All volunteers are welcomed with warmth and friendliness. I would recommend all of you to go and meet the quinchos, learn, and experience for yourself the work of this amazing project. It will be an unforgettable moment.”
For more information about the Los Quinchos Association
Donation page: http://www.losquinchos.it/contatti/
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