Michael’s story, a young man living on the streets in Peru

Monday 28 November 2022

In Peru, millions of young people live and work on the streets for their own survival or to support their families. Qosqo Maki, a Peruvian association that has been a partner of FAAI since 2014, enables young people living on the streets of Cusco to have a roof over their heads, to integrate into society and to build their future. Alongside them, we bring the voice of these young people to the United Nations so that their rights are implemented.

Michael is 19 years old. Like many others, he experienced the street as a child. Now he wants to speak up for children and teenagers who live on the streets: "I left my family when I was 10 years old," he explains. My father was an alcoholic. My mother worked a lot. They were not really interested in me. I lived on the street for two years, selling sweets, until one day, another child stole some and dragged me to the Qosqo Maki centre.

Since 1991, the Qosqo Maki association has been taking in boys and girls aged 12 to 18 who are living on the streets and offering them a dormitory through their night-time reception programme. There, they can benefit from a whole range of workshops like school support, theatre, or awareness-raising on children's rights. Together with our partner, we offer vocational and technical workshops in carpentry and baking to provide alternative training for young people according to their personal aspirations.

Support that promotes independence

Qosqo Maki promotes the participation of young people in the organisation of communal life through assemblies, where the residents of the dormitory meet every week, establish the rules of cohabitation, and learn to solve their problems in a consensual manner. The young people also take part in recreational and educational activities such as theatre or meetings with young people and adults in the neighbourhood and learn to manage a common fund.

At Qosqo Maki, each young person builds himself individually and collectively," says Sonia Ligas Ovalle, director, "and then gradually integrates into society. Whether they live in Peru, [...] or in other countries, young people will always be young people.

A special approach that is bearing fruit, after three years, Michael was able to return to secondary school and learn to work in carpentry before falling in love with baking. His dream? To study psychology, become a baker and an educator. "I want to move forward and help street children as I was helped."

In the meantime, Michael represented them in November at the "National Meeting for the Rights of Children and Teenagers in Street Situations and Social Injustice", organised by Qosqo Maki in Cuzco. A three-day meeting that brought together young people from all over the country to share their experiences and their wishes for the future of young people who, like them, have a street background in Peru.

A joint commitment to the respect of children's rights in Peru

This week, together with our partner, we will bring the voice of children and young people living on the streets to the United Nations for the Universal Periodic Review. Jorge Roldan Del Solar, one of the leaders of Qosqo Maki, will speak in Geneva to demand the implementation of the children's rights that the Peruvian state has committed to respect.


Photo: Young Michael outside the Qosqo Maki bakery, Cusco Peru © Qosqo Maki

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