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Arco Iris America

Welcome to Arco Iris America Foundation website

Our Projects

Casa Mutual "La Primera"

Casa Mutual La Primera (a.k.a Periférica) is located in the northeast of La Paz, it is part of the District 3 of the Subalcaldía de la Periférica, Avenida General Juan José Torrez – Calle 27 de Mayo. Its current capacity is 180 children and adolescents, as well as 60 children of less than 6 years of age who are kept separately from the other children, with separate play, study and eating facilities.

Hospital Arco Iris

The first plans for the Arco Iris Foundation began in 1997 with the idea to build a hospital, after Father Jose's initial attempts to cover for homeless children's healthcare through local clinics and hospitals soon became prohibitive due to high costs. The first healthcare related project was located in a school in downtown La Paz, where ambulatory treatment was provided to the children.

Arts and Crafts shop

The handycrafts shop is one of the best places for job training and first labor practices for adolescents and young adults belonging to different project of the Foundation. Emphasis is taken in developing high skills and dexterity that are needed for young girls in knitting, sewing, etc.

This shop covers 2 lines of production. One dedicated to hand looming of table clothes, short capes, etc. and the other to the manufacturing of wallets, hand bags, table closes, etc. made of “aguayo”, a typical colorful fabric from the Andean region.

Carpentry Shop

This shop has highly qualified personnel and modern tools, offering excellent quality products according to clients designs and requirements.

There are 6 full time teachers and 6 apprentices that also assist to evening carpentry classes at other professional teaching institutes.


The Arco Iris bakery, with a presence of more than 10 years in the market, it constitutes a small business with high recognition in the city of La Paz. Most of the production is daily distributed directly to restaurants and the rest is sold through three foundation owned stores.

The products of the Arco Iris bakery are elaborated mainly in base of traditional German recipes without chemical additives and complying with high quality standards.

Introduction to Productive Units

One of the main challenges of the Arco Iris (Rainbow) Foundation is to implement the processes that strive to reach a solid independence for the beneficiaries of the different projects. In this aspect, the Foundation doesn’t have the idea of a permanent or continuous long term assistance.

To achieve this goal, the Arco Iris Foundation has created several productive units where teenagers, with the monitoring of qualified personnel and instructors, get a skill training and learn to work with responsibility, punctuality and honesty. These units are: A bakery, a wood carpentry, a handcraft shop, fabrication of clothes including weaving cloth, cosmetology learning center and a coffeehouse – restaurant.

House of Passage

One of the centers of the Rainbow Foundation is the “Casa de Paso”, founded in 2002. This center offers different support services directed to children, adolescents and youths who live and work in the streets of the city of La Paz.

Street Projects

One of the common occurrences in the big cities of Latin America are the people that live in the street.

They adapted parks, under bridges, cemeteries and garbage disposal sites into living places.

Vocational Training Project

According to the statistical data in Bolivia approximately 800.000 children and teenagers are involved in some work activity. Of these children, more than 300.000, are under 14 years old and a large number of them live in La Paz, that receives a large migration of peasants from impoverished rural areas.

Frequently, children that work are school drop outs or they never had some formal education, their work conditions place their health in jeopardy with schedules exceeding the 8 hours a day, works that affect their morality; they do not get a fair salary, medical insurance nor scholar benefits. Mainly, the work done by the children on the city of La Paz are shoe polishers, market carriers, helpers in transportation vehicles, factory workers, etc.

Day Care Center

Day Care Center is one of the poorest neighborhood of La Paz. All social indicators such as nutrition, school desertion, income per capita and others, are worst than the average in La Paz and Bolivia.

Most of the families have from 6 to 9 children, this may be one of the reason that make fathers abandon them because they do not get enough income to maintain them. Consequently, in many cases the mother is the only family supporter, working very hard all day to barely get enough food for all of them. Frequently, children and youngster of Gran Bretaña do not go to school and many of them leave their homes due to high poverty, lack of affection and frustration; and prefer to live in the streets of La Paz.

Refuge House

The sad situation of many poor women in Bolivia correspond to different reasons based on: 1) an ancestral culture with strong male predominance; 2) women limited to procreative roles and house care; 3) lack of interest with respect to academic and professional education of women; 4) family crisis due to lack of emotional attachment to parents that frequently leads adolescents to search intimate relationships beginning at 12 and 13 years old, without knowing anything about contraceptive methods and early pregnancies.

Home for Boys

The Home for Boys is a stable home with a capacity of 80 individuals between children and adolescents. It is one of the principal projects of the Arco Iris America.

Short after the creation of the foundation in 1994, Father Jose thought it was essential, besides the girls’ home, to create a home for boys. The principal reason was because the girls who arrived at the Obrajes House in many occasions have small brothers that could not be sheltered at the girls’ home. By that time, the work done by Father Jose with homeless children, needed a shelter for boys willing to leave life in the streets, where their living was based on robbery, drugs and alcohol.

Home for Girls

The Home for Girls (Hogar de Ninas Obrajes) project started in 1994. It was one of the first projects of the Rainbow Foundation (Fundacion Arcoiris), and for many years it was the center of the foundation.

The House constantly shelters 120 girls between 5 and 18 years old, who don’t have any family relations due to orphancy, abandonment , or parents that are serving jail time for more than 10 yeas. Some of the girls are sent to the House by child and youth courts due to physical and/or sexual abuse suffered in their own homes. The Foundation assumes the legal guardianship and tutelage of all the girls.

Introduction to Social Projects

The heartbreaking situation of thousands of children, adolescents and young adults, orphans, individuals with incarcerated parents, abandoned or victims of physical or sexual abuse who live or work in the streets of the city of La Paz, was the reason that led Father Jose Maria Neuenhofer to create, in the name of the Catholic Church, Fundacion Arco Iris in 1994. Foundation that, through different homes, centers, programs and projects, provides comprehensive help and assistance to these population.


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