Bariloche is a famous tourist destination in Patagonia Argentina that has a pastoral image with its forests, mountains and lakes. In this place, the pioneros, the first European migrants, tried to reproduce an Alpine Europe. But Bariloche is also Vuriloche, the pass used by the ancient inhabitants to cross the Andes Mountains, and a historic location of internal migrations.
In the highest part of town, hidden from the eyes of the visitors and unknown to much of society, there is a wide area of modest houses and slums that houses thousands of people. This district, locally known as El Alto, was originally populated by Mapuche natives and Chilean migrants. While it is a heterogeneous area, most of the people there live below the poverty line, in precarious homes without heat or running water. There is a high rate of unemployment, daily episodes of violence and constant conflicts with the police. Under these socio-economical conditions, children and teenagers are the most vulnerable groups and the main victims of exclusion and lack of resources, health and education.
To better understand the Vuriloche Kids´ story, I would like to quote Pythagoras: “Educate the children and it won’t be necessary to punish the adults“.
The Grupo Encuentro has worked since 1990 with the firm conviction that the emotional support and care of the new generations are essential to break the circle of poverty and inequality. In this context, the social educators spend their time with vulnerable kids between 5 and 16 years old to help them in meeting their basic needs, fostering their personal development and providing skills. Not only do they provide general welfare for the kids but also they educate them so that they can recognize themselves as main actors of their own stories and build new life projects.