In Peru, many children are forced to live on the street due to severe poverty. They turn to desperate measures to stay alive. Preying on this desperation, drug lords in Peru’s violent mafia-controlled regions enlist these children to sell drugs, steal, or engage in prostitution. To the government and the general population, these children are mere criminals.
Carmen Masias, a Peruvian psychologist, looks past this desperation and sees the heart of a child and the hope of a future. As co-founder of the CEDRO shelter programs she serves 300 Peruvian street children annually. Not only are these children given food, shelter and education, they also work in “job pools” and in jobs that serve their community. Through this process, they gain self esteem, basic social skills and job skills. Carmen Masias was awarded a 2007 World of Children Humanitarian Award.