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Summer update from Toybox CEO, Lynne Morris

Updates • Aug 2022

Emergency appeal update

You may remember earlier this summer I wrote to you asking for your help with an emergency appeal we launched in response to the upsurge in gang violence in Guatemala and El Salvador, which has left many of the children we work with at-risk. Your response to this appeal so far has been truly humbling and both myself and the wider team here at Toybox are in awe of the kindness you have shown despite the incredibly difficult times we find ourselves in. At the time of writing this the appeal had raised over £117,000 and I want to take this opportunity to personally thank you for the part you have played in helping to protect vulnerable children from the influence of these gangs.

Your generosity is ensuring children in San Salvador like Fabiola and Ricardo (pictured below) are given the support and care they need during this critical time. Fabiola and Ricardo both have parents who work at one of the city’s busy central covered markets and, as a result, spend a lot of their spare time in this environment. Over the last few years, the market has fallen into disrepair and is now known as being a space where some of the country’s most notorious criminal gangs have a presence.

Thanks to support like yours, Fabiola and Ricardo have been attending a Toybox-supported project which provides them with a safe space to escape from the challenges and negative influences surrounding them at the market and on the streets. Under the patient and watchful eye of our wonderful project workers, children get help with their homework, and have the chance to play games, read books, and get creative; enjoying a range of arts and crafts activities. They also have the chance to learn about their rights and ways to keep safe This support is a real lifeline to vulnerable children who risk being caught up in gang activity. Ricardo told us, “Before, I used to use a lot of bad words, but now I just want to do good things. I’m better at maths and I always do my homework. The project is my favourite place. I feel so happy when I’m here.” Thank you so much for the kindness you have shown at this time and for helping to keep vulnerable children safe.

New partnership launches in Guatemala City

I am pleased to share that we have recently launched a project with a new local partner in Guatemala City. Puerta de Esperanza (Door of Hope) are delivering a new Toybox funded project called ‘You can be different’, based at La Terminal, the largest market in Central America. The project is focused on supporting 9- 13-year-olds who live in the area, many of whom work part time to support their families through informal jobs such as rubbish recycling, street vending and packing and unloading vans. This daily connection with the street exposes children to multiple forms of violence and abuse such as sexual and labour exploitation, human trafficking, and the risk of being recruited by criminal organisations linked to drug trafficking. The project is addressing this challenge by working with children from vulnerable backgrounds to increase their resilience, nurture their existing skills and reduce the pull to a life on the streets. We are really excited about this new partnership and what we can learn together. Puerta de Esperanza are well known and highly regarded within the community and have already built strong relationships of trust with the children and families through the creation of safe places for children to learn and play. This new project will enable the team to take a group of children through a process that concludes with them designing and implementing their own project, showing them that they can be part of change in their own community. We look forward to sharing more news and stories from this project with you over the coming months.

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