Alanya is our director. Alanya Santa Cruz was born on January 18, 1976 in one of the poorest regions of Peru: Ayacucho. Her parents were no longer together and her father never learned about her existence. Alanya’s mother was not able to take care of her and gave her up for adoption. A social worker took Alanya in with her own family. When Alanya was 9 months old she was adopted by a Dutch couple in Goirle, a city in the Netherlands, where she grew up.

Homeless in Utrecht

When Alanya was 15 years old, she ran away from home and wounded up in the homeless circuit of Utrecht. She lived on the streets of Utrecht for 3 years. Life on the streets is rough and dangerous, especially so for a teenager. But Alanya is a survivor. Because she did not find the support she needed at the homeless shelter, Alanya decided to take matters in her own hands. Together with a few other homeless people, Alanya founded NoiZ in 1994 [NoiZ – Nightshelter from the homeless for the homeless]. The reactions to this plan from the city of Utrecht were negative, existing supportive organizations called them crazy, but Alanya and her coworkers were very determined. The goal: make the homeless themselves responsible for their shelter and for improving the negative image surrounding homeless people. Alanya was the manager of NoiZ for a few years. The approach has been proved strongly by now: 16 years after opening its doors, NoiZ is a well known phenomenon in Utrecht and still up and running successfully!

Back to Peru

With the foundation of NoiZ, Alanya regained control of her own life. Early 2000 Alanya heard about a “roots trip”. This trip offered adopted adolescents in the Netherlands a trip back to their place of birth in Peru. This was the occasion for Alanya to get back in touch with her adoption family and to together learn about her origin. Alanya left for Peru together with her adoption parents in 2000. Everything came together for Alanya at her motherland. This was her home! Seeing and experiencing the poverty, the beggars and the street children was not easy for Alanya, however. She immediately felt drawn to the street children’s fate. That is when and why she decided to do something for these children in her hometown Ayacucho.

Founding Los Cachorros

Back in the Netherlands, Alanya gathered a few people and founded, with the idea of NoiZ in the back of her head, Los Cachorros on September 28, 2000. The following three years were all about fundraising, sponsoring activities, generating publicity and establish contacts in Ayacucho. It was until May 29, 2003 that the doors of the night shelter finally opened for the street children of Ayacucho. Since 2006, Los Cachorros also offers a 24/7 shelter. Apart from a house above their heads, Los Cachorros pays attention supporting street children in surrounding neighborhoods and offers education and information sessions at schools, police stations and other communities. What once started with sympathy for the fate of the street children in Ayacucho has grown beautifully into a successful shelter which has offered support to hundreds of kids in the past few years. Together with a team of streetworkers, social workers, psychologists, a nurse and teacher, Alanya is fighting for a chance of a better future for the streetkids.