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The founders of Bridges to Healing worked in orphanages in Bolivia for a few years in the mid-1990s. During that time, they discovered that providing a basic level of health care to children living in orphanages is complicated and difficult. Here are a few of the reasons:

  1. These are at-risk children who have been living in severe poverty, are often victims of physical and sexual abuse, and may have been exposed to drugs and alcohol in utero.

  2. Disabled children are at the most-risk for grave suffering and illness and there is a disproportionate number of disabled children living in orphanages worldwide.

  3. Too few caretakers often means no one is available to leave the orphanage to take a child to the doctor/clinic/hospital.

  4. Taking a child to receive medical attention requires money for transportation (bus, taxi, etc.).

  5. Even though many nations have a "national health program" virtually all costs must be paid for the care of the child in a hospital setting, i.e. medicine, medical equipment including syringes, IV, food, etc.

  6. Orphanages that are set up for disabled or chronically ill children are very rare. As a result, very sick children who end up in “regular” orphanages spend day after day in pain and suffering without medical attention because the facilities are not equipped to meet their needs.

All children, whether orphaned or not, deserve to be taken care of when they are sick. Beyond that, it makes good economic sense to give them primary health care. When children feel good they sleep better, attend school regularly, do better in school, grow up healthy, and research shows that they end up making more money over their lifetime since they are less likely to miss work. So, Bridges to Healing strives for both the short-term goal of helping orphaned children feel better day-by-day and the long-term goal of helping them to lead productive and happy lives in the future.

 

  Javier and Ramiro, Bolivian orphans