The problems faced by the kids who live on the streets in Santa Cruz are very real. Many kids are stuck in a trap of drug addictions and delinquency which few have chosen to be in. Many start using drugs as young as 8 years old. It becomes a way of life.
The drugs commonly used are glue, marijuana, cocaine paste, cocaine, pharmaceutical drugs and alcohol. Among children the inhalants are the most popular. Drugs serve a definite purpose - to numb cold, fear and loneliness.
Drugs lead to delinquency of all sorts as these kids look for ways to pay for their addictions.
Street kids have kids of their own and all too often these kids are abandoned. The young parents struggle to provide for their own needs or addictions and a baby quickly becomes a burden that cannot be cared for. Too many are left to fend for themselves. Sometimes these young children are dropped off with a relative. Unfortunately many are abused, forced to work and too often return to the streets to escape the abuse. At this point the vicious cycle of delinquency and drug abuse starts all over again as these kids attempt to just survive.
Growing Up On the Streets
With many it is the fathers who are non-existent. Young 'street' moms are left to take care of their children on their own. Many of the fathers are often very abusive and even more so when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In order to survive many of these moms will look to avoid contact with the father. These moms are forced to do what they can to support themselves and will do anything from selling candies at a street corner, to washing cars, to begging. All of this is done with their children at their sides and as soon as the children are a few years old they too will join in to help earn what they can.
Looking Out for Each Other
With parents working or non-existent often times older siblings are forced to take care of the younger ones. Too often these children are forced to grow up far too quickly as they struggle to deal with the harsh realities of life on the streets. While many of these children are abused and taken advantage of, many of the young girls turn to prostitution as a way to survive and provide.
Looking for Love and Attention
The streets are filled with kids who are simply looking for some love and attention. Most have never known what it means to be loved and cared for. What most understand about 'love' has been twisted by years of abandonment and abuse. Unless someone steps in to help break the cycle and point them to a better way they will die at a young age either by violence, overdose or sickness and far too often aids. El Jordán is making a difference by providing these kids with help and alternatives.