Paraguayan Armed Forces Help the Homeless with Operation Winter
By Dialogo July 17, 2015Come to Mercedes, province of Buenos AIres, where we're all flooded, it's incredible no one is concerned about us. Finally they've got the mentality to do good that is so needed. Also have the chance to train those people who need it so much or just able to work
Paraguay’s Armed Forces, with the help of government and civil society agencies, are providing 110 homeless persons of all ages with free shelter during the year’s coldest months in the capital of Asunción as part of Operation Winter.
“The operation is activated when the temperature falls below 10ºC,” said Brigadier General Raimundo Ramón Reyes, commanding officer of the First Infantry Division. Its barracks, one of the Military’s locations that provide shelter, are on the outskirts of Asunción, close to the Paraguay River.
During the year’s first Operation Winter on June 18, 27 homeless persons - 19 men, five women and three girls - stayed at the First Infantry Division’s barracks, said Aldo Zaldívar, with the National Emergency Department, which is also involved in the initiative.
“Although we are prohibited from housing children and adults together at the shelter in question, the three girls were allowed in the shelter because they were the daughters of a woman rescued from the intense cold,” Zaldívar told the daily ABC Color
on June 19. “However, generally they are referred to the Department of Children and Adolescents. But since they were with their mother, we allowed them to remain in her care.”
One homeless man wrapped himself in a blanket as he settled into a bunk bed near a space heater. As it began to drizzle and the temperature plummeted outside, the man tried to forget the hard day he spent begging on Asunción’s streets.
The other 83 homeless participating in Operation Winter spent the night in Asunción’s main plazas downtown, where service members distributed weatherized tents that include mattresses, blankets and food.
“We respect their lifestyle; we do not judge them for being homeless,” said Brigadier General Ramón Reyes. “When they arrive, the first step is to give them a general medical check-up to detect whether they are suffering any sort of ailment and offer them medical treatment and medication. The next step is to allow them to get cleaned up.”
Service members are also preparing to accommodate an influx of people who could be left homeless by the possible flooding of the Paraguay River caused by intense rainfall during recent months. The Military provides basic assistance for riverside residents trying to erect improvised housing on barrack grounds.
While at the barracks, the Military provides the homeless with hygiene services, haircuts and food, while the sick are sent to government medical centers. Four service members stationed at the shelter have been trained in first aid, sanitation and human rights.
“For breakfast they had cocido con galleta
, as well as an alternative menu of hot soup to recover their strength,” Brigadier General Ramón Reyes said, stressing the base’s doors will always be open to citizens in need. Residents can anonymously report minors living on the streets by calling toll free 147 and disclose their location. “People also arrive on their own or are brought by 911 National Police patrols.”