Compass Children’s Charity:Latin America

25% of profits from the sales of the 'Night Light' collection will go to Compass Children’s Charity.

What Do Compass Children’s Charity Do?

Since 1999 Compass has supported over 10,000 to date. The charity works alongside ‘Casa Alianza’ which are the ‘safe houses’ for children, dotted around Latin America. These safe houses have brought kids from a life of suffering to safety.

Operating with dedicated project partners in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras, Compass Children’s charity funds meaningful and impactful initiatives that improve children’s lives.

Guatemala

La Alianza Guatemala has been providing crucial residential care in Guatemala City since 2010. As the only 24-hour shelter in the country dedicated to girls who are survivors of sexual exploitation and human trafficking, it offers comprehensive services to meet their physical and emotional needs. Most residents are referred by officials such as judges and police. La Alianza also provides legal support, guiding survivors through judicial processes and preparing them to testify against traffickers. Their advocacy includes media campaigns and collaborations to prevent child trafficking and protect children's rights. This year, they seek funding for justice and legal support, mental health services, and education programs.

Casa Alianza has counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists in its shelters to help recover children from the abhorrent trauma. Years of physical and/or sexual abuse and self-harm is no quick fix.

Honduras

Casa Alianza Honduras addresses the urgent need to protect children and teenagers amid Honduras' economic and political turmoil. The organization operates three residential centres, providing crisis care for an average of 180 children nightly, including specialized support for girls who are survivors of sexual exploitation and human trafficking, and boys with substance addiction issues. Casa Alianza also reports monthly on deaths and violent crimes affecting Honduran youth. In the slums, children face torture and murder for refusing to join violent street gangs. These gangs, known as 'maras,' recruit vulnerable street children, trapping them in cycles of crime. Casa Alianza combats this by teaching values of respect and self-esteem and providing legal services for teenagers turning 18, helping them to change their names and relocate to avoid gang retaliation.

Mexico

Casa Alianza Mexico has been caring for children and teens for over 25 years who have experienced extraordinary trauma, abuse, neglect, violence, abandonment, substance addiction, sexual exploitation and human trafficking. With rising violence in Central America, the influx of Central American children into Mexico has made their work even more crucial.

Why Are We Supporting Compass Children’s Charity?

Globally there are around 150 million street children in the world today (UN), which is more than the population of Russia.

Many children end up on the streets for heartbreaking reasons. War, conflict, illness, disability, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic have left countless children orphaned and alone. Violence or abuse at home, as well as extreme poverty, also force many to seek refuge on the streets.

These vulnerable children face constant danger and discrimination. Denied education, healthcare, and social protection, they are trapped in a cycle of poverty and deprivation with little hope for a better future.

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Street Children in Latin America

Street children in Latin America face unique and severe challenges. Rapid, unplanned urban growth has forced millions into informal slums. These children live in some of the world’s most dangerous cities, plagued by inequality, violence, and rampant crime.

Gang culture and drug trafficking make daily life a fight for survival. Children are often unfairly labeled as criminals and targeted by police, facing abuse and incarceration without support.

Many are forced to engage in commercial sex work to survive, risking their health and frequently facing violence including physical and sexual assault from other street children, the public, police or clients. They’re at increased risk of falling pregnant or contracting sexually transmitted illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, and with little access to healthcare, many give birth and struggle to raise their babies alone on the streets.

Children living on the streets face abuse from all sides – at home, from the police, from pimps and drug dealers and even people passing by.

Many children turn to solvents and other risky behaviours, convinced their lives are worthless there is little point in hoping for a better alternative.

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Most of the children the charity encounters have fled situations of unspeakable abuse at home, to then find the pimps, drug dealers and criminal gangs beating, sexually abusing and even murdering them one they reach the streets. Some children are even gang raped as part of the initiation to join the gang.

Such violence compromises child development and leads to a self-perpetuating cycle of self-harm, aggression mental health issues, suicidal thoughts, from which it is very hard to escape.

Indeed, young people living in the residential shelters have many hurdles to overcome before they can settle into their new way of living. One of the hardest for many is adjusting to a life free from all forms of violence.

Most children who find themselves living on the streets of Latin American cities will sooner or later become addicted to drink or drugs.

Homeless, hungry, and often physically and sexually abused, young boys and girls turn to whatever substance can help alleviate the pain. The most common drugs are glue and crack (cocaine), with jars of glue particularly prevalent and easy to get hold of.

One little jar, its contents inhaled frequently, will typically last a child a day. You can see the effects of glue immediately – children appear zoned out, lethargic, and after a few hours they will slump over on the street, incapable of telling you their name or age. This neurotoxic substance helps to take alleviate cold, hunger and pain, but it is also highly addictive and causes hallucinations as well as brain damage.

The reality is that a lot of children living on the streets are sexually active from an early age, perhaps as young as nine or ten. Many will be sexually abused and exploited – forced into prostitution or resorting to selling their bodies as the only means of survival.

Many other children fall victim to HIV/AIDS via drugs, which they use in an attempt to block out the bleak existence of life on the streets. At risk, but routinely ignored.

Despite the fact that street children are especially vulnerable to becoming infected with the HIV virus, most national governments cannot honestly claim to have made even the most basic provision for them in local, regional or national care programmes.

If you were an HIV-infected child living on the streets in Latin America, you would find yourself being denied access to essential healthcare, excluded from research studies on HIV/AIDS and missing out on what limited funding is available.