A CHANCE IN LIFE
World War II is ending; the streets of Rome are filled with blood, despair and one hundred thousand homeless children. As the faith of humanity withers, there are those who step up to be a force of hope.
In 1945, Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing became such a force. The vast number of orphans and vulnerable children living on the streets of Italy captured the heart of the Irish priest and shaped the course of his life’s work.
Boys’ and Girls’ Towns of Italy was founded on the outskirts of Rome to provide, in Monsignor’s words, “a chance in life” to vulnerable and orphaned children. These desperately poor children lived on the streets free of any kind of supervision, and recoiled at adults telling them what to do. This independent nature inspired a visionary approach to youth development: give the children the responsibility of running their own Town.
Self-government became the essence of life at the Towns, providing the citizens, as the children are called, with the skills, confidence and creativity to become active participants in their communities and the builders of their own lives.
Over the years Boys’ and Girls’ Towns of Italy shifted from being a community of Italian war orphans to being the home of thousands of young refugees and unaccompanied minors. These young people escaping civil unrest, poverty and persecution have come to the Towns in Rome from over 20 different countries. The Towns in Italy have touched the lives of over 30,000 young people.
As people all over the world search for innovative solutions to poverty and underdevelopment, in 2015 our Board decided to take our successful approach beyond the Towns in Italy. Boys’ and Girls’ Towns of Ethiopia is helping to support 400 children this year in one of the poorest countries in the world. Just a year after the inauguration of our Towns in Ethiopia, Boys’ and Girls’ Towns of India was established to support 1,000 children living in the tribal areas of Southern India.
On October 5, 2016 our organization assumed the new name of “A Chance In Life” to honor the vision of our founder and to reflect the international scope of our work. A Chance In Life continues to support the beloved Boys’ and Girls’ Towns of Italy in Rome, and also works to create emerging Boys’ and Girls’ Towns throughout the world.
In June of 2018, A Chance In Life inaugurated Boys' and Girls' of Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, and Peru where together with local partners we serve over 1,000 children living in marginalized and impoverished communities.
A Chance In Life