Nilda Camacho

Near the Rímac River, a French-Peruvian community has opened its doors ―and heart― to children who used to live on the streets, thereby improving their quality  of life and allowing to build a better future.

“I might not earn a lot of money, but I can help build a better society”

They are vulnerable children who lack affection.

Precisely. I was very much loved by my parents. So why not love them?

It is usual for kids who seem to have found their way to go astray again.

Our principle is freedom; the kids make their own decisions by evaluating what is best for them. This institution works with open doors. Some leave and come back, and when they go back to doing drugs, for example, they feel terrible, they feel that they have failed. We are here to listen to them and give them the emotional support they need, because we see that they want to be better than that.

It must be very rewarding to see them find their way, take responsibility for their lives.

Of course (laughs)... It makes us very happy, because we feel that they are getting there.

To you, they are heroes.

Yes, because we witness their struggle, we share their desire to get on, we listen to them when they fall, we see as they overcome such things... That makes us very proud. They are heroes, really!

Has any case touched you particularly?

All those who are getting ahead, such as Maycol Flores and Giovani Huamaní. They were in a very precarious situation when we met them and they are now studying. Unfortunately, some have not been able to study due to the education policies. They should be able to study in an alternative way! Some are passionate about music, and if they had the opportunity to develop that ability, they could achieve many things! Drugs may have affected their cognitive development, so how are they supposed to get a regular education?

They go back home and contact their parents. Why?

Our goal is not to reintegrate them into their family, because sometimes it is the family that caused their situation in the first place parents with criminal records, alcoholism, etc. but we believe in re-bonding: children bonding again with their families, but assisted by an institution.

Is it not discouraging to be in contact with such a harsh reality?

In Les Enfants du Rio, we believe that we can build a better society... Just as in the interior, where the community takes care of the child after the death of the parents. We should do the same here, should we not?