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- Our Work
In May of 2005, a 22 year old girl, Melissa Harding, traveled to Bolivia with a dream to start an orphanage there someday. She envisioned gathering information, starting paperwork, and raising funds for a couple of years. Within 3 months, she had become the caregiver of 5 orphans. Other people became involved and a piece of property was acquired for the new orphanage/school. Familia Feliz, the official name for the new institution, was established under the umbrella of Gospel Ministries. This offered the legal status needed, while the entire financial support was, and is, based on donations.
Located 14 km from the town of Rurrenabaque, it has become well-known in the area as a place where not only orphans, but sexually and/or physically abused children, as well as abandoned and neglected children, can receive care and nurturing. The children are brought to the school by concerned relatives or neighbours, the defensoria (social services), and occasionally, by the law. Since there are always many more applications than space available, the applications are accepted on the basis of greatest need. At this point, Familia Feliz is not operating as a formal orphanage, but as a boarding school, where orphans can be cared for along with children that would be placed in foster homes if such a system existed in Bolivia. The primary goal of Familia Feliz is to intercept the “abused becoming abusers“ cycle. By giving these children a warm, nurturing, structured environment where healing and training can take place, we are hoping to give them the possibility of having happy homes and healthy relationships.