Paraguay Without Orphans

Alternative care in Paraguay: There are various forms of alternative care in Paraguay: institutional care (larger residential facilities), residential (small-group residential facilities) and foster care (qualified volunteer families caring for children under court order of protection). More than 90% of children removed from parental care are living in institutions, and only an average of 5% live in qualified foster families, while awaiting a court’s decision on where they will live. There are almost 60 institutional and residential children’s homes in Paraguay, while only 3 foster care programs are operating in the country. The average time a child spends living in an institutional or residential facility is 4 years and 4 months, alarmingly exceeding the transience of the temporary measure of protection. In most cases, these children have lost ties with their families and communities of origin, and the relationship is less frequent the longer the stay in the children’s home. All of these children are waiting for their case to be resolved, in order to live within a safe and loving family.

Country Profile: Paraguay
Total Population: 7,000,000 people
Number of Christians: Most of the Paraguayan population declares itself to be Christian, mainly Catholic. Around 90% of the population is Roman Catholic and 6% is Evangelical Protestant.

More information for prayer at Operation World

Children in Paraguay:

Under 18: About 2,500,000 people in Paraguay are children and youth between 0 to 17 years of age, which represents almost 40% of the total population of Paraguay.

Estimated number of orphans: Nearly 1,500 children and adolescents in Paraguay live years in institutions, removed from their families by order of judicial authority. Thousands more live facing a high risk of abuse or neglect within their family, and of being removed from their homes because of these factors

National Movement

The national movement Paraguay Protege Families (PPF) is led by a group of faith-based organizations, churches and individuals promoting family-based care for children. Together they are working to bridge the gap between the situation of children in Paraguay and the current framework of laws and policies. PPF focuses specifically on children at risk of being removed from parental care and on children in alternative care- including those awaiting a permanent adoptive family. Additionally they work towards mobilizing and equipping the national church towards family-based care models. Within this role, PPF is working alongside the Paraguayan Government, in learning and applying best practices and seeking to improve the development and application of laws and policies to protect children within safe and loving families.

In all the challenges faced in Paraguay, the Body of Christ remains essential and has the capacity to lead the national effort to end the situation of “orphanhood” (those not living in safe and loving families) in Paraguay. As God is the Father of the fatherless, He is the center of this movement and has commissioned His Church to care for the most vulnerable. Much of the approach of PPF is aimed at the most vulnerable children, who do not live in families, promoting foster care and the adoption of children in safe and caring families, within supportive communities of faith.

Stories from the Country

A young teenager living in a children’s home was known among children by the nickname "without family." Although they all lived in the residential facility and came from difficult situations, this boy’s case was very special because we did not know anything about his birth family, not even the date of his birth. He struggled a lot in his identity.

After spending years in different children’s homes, a professional team began to work on children’s cases in the home where he was living for more than 4 years, and began to search for information of his process and family in a court file buried in the bureaucracy of the legal system.

The team discovered that his biological mother died years ago, but that he had an older sister who is a nurse, married to a university professor, living in a very stable situation with her two sons only a few hours away. She had been looking for him for years, but left the search when some government representative told her that her little brother had passed away!

Without any knowledge of this whole process, the boy’s carers in the Children’s Home had begun to pray for the biological family of each of the children in their care. Immediately, the other kids began to poke fun at the boy they still called "Without Family." His caregiver tried to comfort him by saying that God can do a miracle in the life of any of them. It was the very next day, that this boy was informed about the finding of his biological family, and that weekend his sister came to visit him for the first time, one of the most emotional moments in his life!

After some months of work with the family and with the Courts, this little boy who had once been called "Without Family" became the first of the children from this residential home to live IN FAMILY.

Praises and Prayer requests from PPF:

Answer to Prayer

We are grateful to the Lord for the opening of so many doors in the government this year. We are humbled by the opportunities that He has given us to share His heart for the orphaned and vulnerable and advocate for them in His name. Our Father has allowed us to impact not only political leaders this year, including the First Lady, vice president, Supreme Court, and the government's Ministry of Children and Adolescence, but also many pastors and churches have become aware of these great needs. Additionally we  were blessed to help launch a new foster care program.

Challenge for Prayer

We are asking the Lord next year to allow us to gain more ground in our relationship with the government and encourage them to pursue more responsibility with the needy children of our country. We are also praying that God would allow us to help at least one more foster care program launch that could possibly serve as a scalable model for the nation to follow.