More children are being abandoned on the streets of Tijuana to fend for themselves because nearly half the city's orphanages have closed during the past few years, according to the director of an orphanage specializing in the care of youngsters with HIV/AIDS.
“We don't know why exactly; some could be because of administrative changes, others because of a reduction in economic support," Juanita Ortiz Quezada, general director of Eunime por Tijuana, an orphanage specializing in the care of children with HIV/AIDS, told the Tijuana daily El Mexicano in a recent interview.
Just a few years ago, there were a little more than 70 orphanages in the city taking care of about 2000 children, Ortiz said. That number has since fallen by about 50 percent. The 40 or so shelters now available are insufficient to meet the needs of children in conditions of necessity, she said.
The number of abandoned children has grown at every shelter, but, at the same time, the number of children turned out into the streets continues to climb. In some instances, when an orphanage closed, its records were lost, which means it is possible that some of the children they once housed were left to wander the streets, Ortiz told El Mexicano.
While the state and municipal governments are offering some help — a single temporary shelter operated by the state and some financial help from the city for existing orphanages — the help is insufficient, she said. As a consequence, orphanages are being forced to engage in extra activities to raise the money needed to pay rent and buy food for the children in their care.