Social justice, “levelling up”, creating a fair society… all worthy causes. However, without action, they’re just words. World Vision advocates at high levels of government, aiming to influence policies; we also work in communities, with children, right where they are. On this World Day of Social Justice, come with us to Bolivia…
World Day of Social Justice 2022
We help vulnerable children obtain social justice, including the ‘invisibles’
Let us introduce you to Moisés, age 10, pictured above.
He and his twin brother Francisco always wanted to learn. But their mother María Elena couldn’t register them at school because she had lost their identity documents. In Bolivia, you can’t go to school without them and, as a single mother, she couldn’t afford to pay for replacement documents. Her work as a cleaner was barely enough to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.
María Elena tried to teach the boys herself at home but as the years went by they fell further and further behind other children their age.
Social justice for the Invisibles
The situation Moisés and Francisco faced is not unique. According to UNICEF, over 166 million children across the world remain invisible to their government and unable to fully participate in their communities each year. They often can’t access education or health services, and because they are not officially recognised as citizens, they are vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and child marriage or recruitment into armed forces.
That’s why World Vision’s child sponsorship programme helps families to register their children and get a birth certificate – it is a foundation for their protection and well-being. It's a step on the road to social justice.
Everything changed for Moisés and Francisco when World Vision partnered with their community on a child sponsorship programme.
“I knew I had to ask for help to get their documents so that they could move on,” María Elena says, adding, “Thank God, now they both have documents. And they started studying!"
Moisés and Francisco started first grade in February 2020, at the age of 10, by far the tallest and oldest in their classes. Moisés decided to make it his job to protect his smallest classmates. “I don’t like violence,” he says. “I want to be a policeman when I grow up, so I am starting by protecting the small children now.”
Sadly, just a month after Moisés and Francisco’s enthusiastic start at school, COVID-19 restrictions closed their school and all formal classes were suspended. The boys were devastated.
Although their teacher continued to send tasks to parents via smartphone messages, Moisés and Francisco were again left behind because María Elena couldn’t afford a smartphone or an internet package to access the materials. Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, she was also out of work and it wasn’t long before María Elena contracted COVID-19 herself.
Being part of the child sponsorship programme, Moisés and Francisco thankfully received school materials and other supplies during lockdown, through World Vision.
“Thank God they could continue studying”
“They brought us food when the pandemic started, in those days when you couldn't get out, when I fell into bed with the coronavirus,” says María Elena. “Because of the school supplies, now my boys are studying again. Thank God they could continue studying, they are in first place!”
The boys are now preparing for grade placement tests so they can soon jump grades and attend classes with children their own age.
“I tell them that they have to study and make the effort, because then they can get ahead. They can do it if they keep studying and work hard," she says.
Lockdown was not the first time Moisés and Francisco had been locked out of school – but hopefully it will be the last time they’re left behind.
It’s been a difficult time for all of us, but Moisés and Francisco are making it count.
So can you. You can help bring social justice to those most vulnerable across the world, children like Moises, by sponsoring a child.
Having a birth certificate is such a simple thing most of us take for granted, but it can be life changing to so many vulnerable children.