Domestic violence and extreme poverty are the principal reasons why children get involved in street life. Judith’s case was no exception. When she was 6, her mother took her along with her when selling sweets at cross-roads.

Four years later, when Judith was 10, JUCONI first made contact with her. She was invited to participate in the JUCONI Programme and, after several attempts, she accepted. Thanks to the psychological support she received from JUCONI, she discovered positive things about herself for the first time, things she had never before heard about.

Recognising and solving the problem of domestic violence

After several months of direct work in the street with Judith, while she was still highly unstable emotionally and not attending school, she opened the door of her house to JUCONI and agreed to arrange a family meeting with both parents, two brothers and a nephew adopted as a son. The moment came for the JUCONI meeting with the family, but on this first approach the parents were reluctant to talk and seemed to suspect that JUCONI wanted to take their children away from them. However, with dedication, persistence and patience, and by showing respect and appreciation for the parents and their family and helping them to discover their strengths, JUCONI managed to create trust and was able to work with them on profound and painful issues. After this long process, family, group and individual therapy sessions were begun.

In their home, consisting of a single room, sharing a communal bathroom, Judith’s mother told of how she had lived in a violent household as a child. On his part, Judith’s father recognised that he was a violent person, never having known any other kind of behaviour. He allowed his family out only to work, and the role of his wife and children was to maintain the household.

With both parents lacking essential social skills, the family had almost no positive relationships with other people, neighbours or the local community. Judith and her family were in the sub-programme that attends to those who have been involved in street life but have a home to live in. While the boys were worked with in Casa JUCONI (JUCONI House), Judith, like all girls, was worked with directly in her home.

In the family therapy process, the JUCONI educators showed them how to access the resources to which they have a right, such as school and health services. Also, the parents enrolled in a basic literacy course so that they would be able to take advantage of better opportunities. Through direct practice and by showing positive affect, the educators taught each member of the family how to care for and love others. Spaces for positive communication were also created so that the family could express themselves and listen affirmatively. JUCONI worked on the area of the emotions and the role each member of the family should play. At the same time, JUCONI helped identify the strengths of the parents so that they could establish order in their lives. Judith began to attend school and distance herself from street life.

Permanent social re-integration

In 2001, Judith and her brothers stopped working in the street. She went from secondary school to high school, and then she got her first formal job in a bookshop. With a better relationship and a better vision for their family, her parents improved their marriage and put the interests of their children first. They all – mother, father and children – experienced a new dynamic of integration in which going out at weekends to spend time together as a family became part of their routine.

Judith is now 20, is studying at university, and will be the first in her family to have a degree. She wants to form her own family, but only after graduating.