Niños con Valor E-Newsletter - February 2009
Greetings from Cochabamba!
So, there has been a lot of focus on the challenges we are facing of late. A lot of us are watching nervously as the newspapers bring more gloomy updates of the economic freefall affecting the world over.
We have been doing the same as a foundation. Because we are so heavily dependent upon the generosity of donors from outside of Bolivia in order to provide for the children we serve, we have been (perhaps with not enough faith) waiting for the effects to reach us here at NCV.
However, two things have helped us clear our heads. First, the generosity has not ceased, despite the financial crisis. More and more people are catching the vision of Niños con Valor and are joining us in our efforts to bring love to some of the most marginalized children in Bolivia. The arrival of our little Guillermo is the second thing that has renewed our hope and faith.
You can read more about Guillermo below and on our blog. Here is a boy who is not fighting against economic oppression, rather he is fighting for his life - and is doing it with a smile! Personally, this little boy is changing a lot of how I look at things. I have had the opportunity to spend two nights at the hospital with him, the first night, and this past Saturday. When he was hospitalized 9 days ago, he was frail and weak fighting off a terrible infection that he brought with him when he entered Pedacito de Cielo only 4 days earlier. By Saturday, he was smiling, laughing, singing, playing, and (much to the nursing staff's chagrin) tearing out his oxygen and IV.
When we are faced with a fight, we can let it drag us down, or we can face it full on. Guillermo is just the one of the many children that are going to come to be with us at Pedacito de Cielo, children who are facing difficult futures in ways that most of us cannot comprehend. May the fighting spirit in Guillermo be an encouragement to us all as we face our own personal challenges, and as together we confront the challenges faced by the children in our NCV homes.
Peace and Love,
This month we celebrated the expansion of Pedacito de Cielo as we opened our home to three full-time residents. On the first day, Guillermo (1) and Lucas (8mo.) arrived and they were quickly loved on by everyone involved at PDC, administrative staff included. They made a quick adjustment to our home, and they both were full of smiles and giggles. Our second day, Miguel (2) arrived, and he was a bit more shy, but not long after, he too was smiling and having fun playing with all the toys. Miguel loves when Tío Tyson comes in and they have some 'guy time' playing together.
Left to Right - Lucas, Guillermo and Miguel
All three boys are developmentally behind because of various issues, and so we had our friend, pediatrician Dr. Joe Sherman, come by and evaluate and review each child with the staff so we had a better understanding of how to best help each child. We have everyone involved in developing a schedule that is going to benefit the children, providing the proper nutrition and medical care, physical activity, sensory stimulation, and lots of love to get them caught up as quickly as possible.
We're happy to report that in just the week they've been with us, we've seen improvements. Lucas is able to hold his head up by himself and can sit with only a little assistance, and Miguel has proven to be a very good listener and helper.
Left to Right - Dr. Joe with Lucas, Miguel and Guillermo
Guillermo continues to be in the hospital, but is getting stronger, evidenced by how forcefully he can rip his oxygen tube out of his nose. We are hoping that we will get the news soon that he can come home this week. He is also having an echocardiogram this week so that we can know better how to move ahead for planning his surgery. We are still needing to raise the funds for him to have his surgery, with the cost running more than $5000. Thank you so much to those of you whom have donated already. If you haven't given yet, but would like to do so, please click here.
Guillermo all smiles on Saturday morning.
If you would like more detailed information on Guillermo's condition, you can visit our blog at www.ninosconvalor.org/blog.html.
We also have four new additions to our daycare, Alejandra and Marcela, and Marcos and Victoria. We had been warned that Marcela could be very hyperactive, but she has shown herself to be rather calm and can enjoy playing quietly and listens to directions well. Her little sister Alejandra speaks mostly Quechua with only a little Spanish, so she is very quiet as she picks up more vocabulary.
Marcela and Alejandra one of their first days, resting at the kitchen table.
Marcos and Victoria are a sweet brother and sister who have been coming to the daycare since the end of last month after some time away. Miguel has taken to Marcos as an older brother figure, and they enjoy playing stereotypical boy games with lots of good natured roughhousing. Victoria is a toddler in the truest sense of the word as she always seems to be on the brink of falling over, but she somehow manages to stay on her feet fairly well.
Victoria (left) and Marcos (right).
Left and Right - Little Ximena shelling peas and taking a nap
Center - A few of our PDC kids enjoying a moment with Denise Bender from our most recent team.
*All names have been changed to protect the children's privacy.
For our girls, this month has consisted of two major events- back to school and Carnaval. Back to school (remember we just finished summer vacation) is always a frenetic rush of sturdy black shoe buying, making sure everyone has a backpack, and bleaching and ironing their white dusters- 21 in all since Karina started kindergarten this year. Then there is the long list of supplies that each girl needs for their class. We are so grateful for the supplies that teams have brought us that have made our trips for school supplies so much quicker and easier (and more affordable!).
It is certainly an achievement in logistics as the tías manage to get everyone fed before school and get all the right girls to the right schools in the morning. The few girls that have school in the afternoon enjoy a quiet morning, finishing up any homework and helping around the home.
Carnaval is supposed to be only the week before Lent begins, but here in Cochabamba, the festivities seem to start earlier every year. Beginning now even before New Year, avoiding the water balloon throwing and water gun squirting is an every day challenge. We managed to be able to confine most of the water based activities at the home to the actual week of Carnaval.
This past weekend, the girls had an absolute blast soaking one another, and then turning outward and besieging the entire neighborhood with water and foam. They always have so much fun, it seems to be a special victory for them when they can get the staff soaking wet. This is when it's better to just join in and have as much fun as possible, since you can't avoid getting wet. Below are some photos of the event:
Left - Sisters Jhoselin and Johana filling up some 'globos' to wet passers-by.
Center - Johana loving the swimming pool.
Right - Tía (aunt) Isabel dancing with a couple of our girls.
Left - Honestly - is this the day to ride your motorcylce past Corazón del Pastor?
Right - The aftermath...
*All names have been changed to protect the children's privacy.
This past Christmas we had an opportunity to celebrate with a small mountain community, Kaluyo, and bring the families some much needed supplies, and the children some fun and gifts. When meeting with the community leaders to see how we could continue to stay involved with them, and help them meet some needs on the community level, we discussed the possibility of building greenhouses to enable the community to grow more of their own produce. Even though there is plenty of sun, they are at such a high altitude that not many plants can grow in the cool temperatures and their nutrition suffers.
Tyson and Podge have met with the community leaders along with members of another foundation working here, Kinder Not Hilfe (KNH), and we are pleased to report that this project is moving ahead. It's a cooperative effort as each group adds what they can to be able to accomplish the goal of building family sized greenhouses for the nearly 300 families living in Kaluyo.
Seeing how many children here are malnourished, this greenhouse project is vital to this community and its children. What a wonderful gift to be able to provide a healthy future for the children of Kaluyo. If you'd like to donate to this project please click here.
Left - The winding road up the mountainside to Kaluyo
Right - Podge, the volunteer heading up this project, striking a pose 3800 metres above sea-level.
Left - Sofia and Lourdes, two girls from our our girls' home, by the river that runs by the Kaluyo community center.
Right - A photo taken from up on one of the surrounding hills - literally in the clouds.
Left - The community center where we will be installing the trial greenhouse and later on a solar oven.
Right - No matter where you go, it is hard to find a community without the essential football pitch.
Left - Cynthia's latest sponsorship photo
Right - Trying to warm up after Carnaval.
Cynthia is 8 years old and just started 2nd grade. Cynthia and her younger sister have lived with us for 2 1/2 years and have made so much progress from when they first arrived. She is a very healthy child who loves to play with her friends as well as the volunteers and staff- dancing, singing, and laughing almost all the time. She's worked hard on learning to control her feelings when she is upset or angry, and has improved both in the home and at school. Cynthia also likes to cook with the older girls and tías. She hopes to one day be a teacher.
*Her name has been changed to protect her privacy.
If you would like to sponsor a child like Cynthia, please go to our website, www.ninosconvalor.org, and click on Sponsor a Child, where you'll learn more about the sponsorship program and have the opportunity to sign up for sponsorship.
If you do not have internet access, or would prefer to send a check, please write our US sponsorship coordinator, Leslie Cooke, at the address given below, and she will send you the sponsorship form (please be sure to include all of your contact information).
Ninos con Valor, Attn: Leslie Cooke
208 Melrose St.
Melrose, MA 02176
There are all sorts of ways to join us in serving the children of Bolivia!
Our most recent volunteer, Jessica, on her 1/2 birthday celebration - she just left last week and we already miss her!
We still have openings for volunteers in all areas of the foundation! We are particularly looking for bilingual volunteers that have experience in child psychology and/or early childhood education and/or nursing. If you're wondering how you could be of service, we're pretty sure we can find a place for you here, you just have to let us know. Write our volunteer coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about volunteering opportunities by visiting our Volunteer Page.
Come as a Team!
Teams play an important role in our work as well, providing much needed support for larger one-time projects. We have had teams paint rooms, build a playground, organize and run events for the kids such as a week of VBS - the sky is the limit! We coordinate plans with the team leader, to ensure the best possible experience for your time here in Bolivia.
To learn more about coming as a team, please visit our Team Page.
Help us Spread the Word!
This is another form of volunteering, but without the Spanish lessons and plane ticket. We need people to champion our work, whatever country they live in, to create interest in our work and help us raise funds to keep it going.
If you would be interested in helping us out in this very important way, please visit our Friend's Page.
Become a Partner!
We are a very small organization with big dreams. All the money donated to our foundation is invested directly into our projects with virtually no out-of-country administrative costs, so you can be assured that the money is getting where you want to send it.
If you, your business, the civic organization you are a part of, or your church, is interested in partnering with us financially, please visit our Give Now Page.
As we are off to an exciting start to 2009, we ask that you remember to make Niños con Valor a part of your plans! We are so grateful for our extended family outside of Bolivia, and nothing we do is possible without your support.
From all the staff and volunteers here in Cochabamba, Bolivia,
Peace and Love!