May 20, 2022 4:28 am

She was not adopted “because she was too big”, she lived on the street and, as an adult, she made a decision that changed her destiny

Viviana Guerrero’s childhood was not easy. It could be summed up like this: 12 brothers who were alone most of the time. A sex worker mother, the only breadwinner in the household, who spent long hours away from home. An alcoholic and violent father with his wife who, when she finally decided to slam the door, was left in charge of their children and pushed them to start working in the street, where they were looking for scrap metal to sell. He didn’t hit them, yes, and for Viviana that was enough. But they were starving, not going to school, and not doing any of the things expected of girls and boys of that age. At that time, she was 11 years old.

It was the neighbors of her neighborhood who made the call, who alerted the authorities about the situation of extreme vulnerability in which the girls and boys of the Guerrero family found themselves. Viviana remembers as if it were yesterday the day they looked for her to go to the Nuestra Señora de Lourdes Home in Campana. The cries of his little brothers. Not wanting to leave the parental home. The fear. Uncertainty. “The neighbors’ complaint was very hard for me. I was about to turn 12 and that was the age limit to enter the home where they were going to take us. I didn’t understand what was happening, but I asked to go anyway because I wanted to be with my brothers: I didn’t want them to separate us,” Viviana recalls. At that time, he could not imagine that this place would end up changing his life.

Viviana plays with a group of children from the homeRodrigo Néspolo – THE NATION

Today she is 44 years old and works as a caregiver in the same home where she arrived three decades ago. Its history is crossed by violence and violations of all kinds, and is similar to that of many of the more than 9,000 boys and girls who, according to the latest official figures, live in homes throughout the country. In all cases, a judge made the decision to separate them from their families, and they wait in the institutions for their fate to be resolved: that they be declared adoptable or that they can return to their family of origin or extended family (such as uncles or grandparents, for example). But many turn 18 there, and we have no choice but to go out into the world on their own. Alone.

Although most of Viviana’s younger siblings were adopted some time after entering the home, she did not have that possibility. From the court they considered that, due to his age, it would be impossible to find him a family, and they lowered their arms beforehand: they didn’t even try. Viviana assures that having a family would have changed everything.

Being adopted as a pre-adolescent or adolescent is not easy in Argentina (and, a few years ago, it was even less so): in the records of applicants for adoptive care throughout the country, there are very few candidates to sponsor girls and boys over 12 years old. In addition, decades ago, they were not frequent public calls, a tool that is currently much more used by the courts: these are calls open to the entire community to find a family for the children and adolescents who find it hardest to find one. It is his last chance and, in many cases, he manages to change the present and future of childhood.

In the little house where Viviana spent the first years of her childhood, everything was missing. Light. Running water. Bath. But the absence of elementary services, for her, was the least of it. Above all, she was marked by the violence her mother suffered from her father and to which she and her siblings were witnesses. And she remembers how when her mother left the house to never return, her father sent her to look for her, without success, all over Campana.

Going to live at home, with rules and a structure, was not easy for Viviana and her siblings. They were not used to routines, such as bathing every day, respecting meal times or understanding that each one had to sleep in their own bed. “The first few weeks, my little brother used to relieve himself on the bathroom grate, on the floor, because did not know what a toilet was: we had never had one. Since I was the older sister, I always had to clean it so that no one would call our attention,” says Viviana.

He also remembers that just as he came home, he left. He thinks he was close to turning 13. They had gone to visit his grandmother and decided to stay with her. “But I was out on the street, I did what I wanted because nobody paid attention to me, so I didn’t even go to school”, Explain. Likewise, she never stopped going home, she always came to see her siblings and not lose the relationship: for her, that was something fundamental.

Viviana organizes the clothes for the girls and boys, together with a volunteer who helps her;  at home donations are always needed
Viviana organizes the clothes for the girls and boys, together with a volunteer who helps her; at home donations are always needed Rodrigo Néspolo – THE NATION

Today, looking back, the woman reflects on how important it would have been for her to have had the chance to be adopted: “My brothers had opportunities that I didn’t, basically the possibility of having a family. In addition, they were also able to study, which I was able to do when I grew up”, he highlights.

He says that Débora, the sister who follows him in age, did not have the possibility of having a family either. Although she was in a situation of adoptability, the links that were made with possible candidates did not prosper, and the girl remained in the home until she reached the age of majority. It was Débora who told Viviana, years later, that they were looking for a caregiver and convinced her to apply for the position.

Today Viviana works in the home that marked her childhood. She enjoys her work to the point that she always waits for the moment when her shift is over so she can play with the boys and interact as “one more”. “I try to make them have a good time, we have sleepovers and eat popcorn while we watch movies on the mattresses in the dining room. I love being with them and spending time together, as caregivers we are also people and we bond, but when they leave, I understand that it is to be with a family that will love and care for them and that they will be fine”, explains Viviana.

She says life at home is much the same as it was 30 years ago, when she was a child. Viviana, like the rest of the caregivers, teaches the children meal times and how to organize their routine: from times of enjoyment to those that must be devoted to study or rest. “Now teachers also come, unlike when I was, and there is more therapeutic help, such as psychologists or educational psychologists,” he describes.

Most of the girls and boys who come to the home do not have routines;  the caregivers, like Viviana, teach them meal times and how to organize study times, for example
Most of the girls and boys who come to the home do not have routines; the caregivers, like Viviana, teach them meal times and how to organize study times, for example Rodrigo Néspolo – THE NATION

Something that stands out is how currently it is sought to keep the siblings together, and that they are all adopted by the same family or by more than one, but with the commitment to maintain the bond between them. “Thirty years ago this didn’t happen and it was hard for me to contact my brothers again,” he says.

The fact that there is personalized accompaniment, “one by one”, for each one of the girls and boys who live in the home is, for Viviana, fundamental. Make them feel unique, loved, cared for. “Many boys who arrive feel that they deserve the life they have, that they are going to be just like their parents, but I always tell them that there is another way,” says Viviana.

In Hogar Nuestra Señora de Lourdes there are currently 23 boys and girls from 3 to 12 years old;  In the photo, Viviana talks with one of those responsible for the administration
In Hogar Nuestra Señora de Lourdes there are currently 23 boys and girls from 3 to 12 years old; In the photo, Viviana talks with one of those responsible for the administration Rodrigo Néspolo – THE NATION

In Hogar Nuestra Señora de Lourdes there are currently 23 boys and girls from 3 to 12 years old. Although Viviana spent a short time there when she was little, she values ​​it very much, because in that place she felt cared for and contained. In addition, she is grateful because it was thanks to passing through that institution that her brothers were able to “grow up with a family and be well.”

She considers that not having had that possibility made everything more difficult for her. But she did not lower her arms: she finished high school as an adult and studied for a degree in Laboratory. Now, she is training to be a therapeutic companion and has taken early stimulation courses. His dream is to continue accompanying the most vulnerable childhoods. “Although for children and adolescents who arrive at homes it is usually a very difficult situation to navigate, at the same time they are places where they can be well cared for and protected until they find a family that loves them.”, concludes Viviana.

Home Our Lady of Lourdes de Campana: It is a work of Cáritas Parroquial Santa Florentina created in 1981. Like the vast majority of homes, this institution works thanks to volunteers who contribute their time and people and institutions that collaborate in different ways, from donating clothes, money or school supplies. The needs are many: cleaning and personal hygiene items (such as shampoo, rinse cream, soap or toothpaste), food in general, among others. to donate, click here or write to [email protected] More information: Instagram Y Facebook



Reference-www.lanacion.com.ar

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