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Mon Jan 14, 2013, 06:40 PM

Homeless men create their own rehab center in Buenos Aires

Homeless men create their own rehab center in Buenos Aires

Homeless men lead their own rehabiliation at a center they collectively operate in Argentina’s capital, the first of its kind in the world. Nearly 900 people live on Buenos Aires’ streets. After the 2001 economic crisis left him homeless, the center’s director banded together with others like him to create an organization that offers shelter, education and employment to homeless men.

By Dina Gonzalez
Published: Jan. 14, 2013 at 5:14 PM

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (GPI)--Horacio Avila, 49, is thin and short. He has leathery skin and a long, gray beard. He wears his shoulder-length gray hair in a ponytail.

Avila used to be homeless and live on the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital. Now, he serves as the director of Centro de Integración Monteagudo, a center that provides shelter, education and employment to 110 men who, like him, used to live on the streets. Some struggle with addiction, depression or disabilities.

“We began to think, ‘We organize ourselves, we do something to change history.’”
Horacio Avila, director of Centro de Integración Monteagudo
The center sits in Parque Patricios, a middle-class neighborhood in Buenos Aires. On the sidewalk in front of the building’s entrance, residents sit in chairs facing the street and enjoy the summer heat.

The entrance is a dark green metal gate with a door in the middle. Inside, a security guard mans a desk. To the left, a hallway and a door lead to Avila’s office. With a serious look on his face, he reviews and sorts through the mountain of papers on his desk.


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