Niños con Valor E-Newsletter - March 2009
Greetings from Cochabamba!
Part of our vision statement of Niños con Valor is to bring healing to children who are hurting. Unfortunately, the children we work with have often been hurt in many different ways, and at times we feel helpless in the face of such sickness or trauma. In this we are thankful we have Jehovah Rapha, "the God who heals" on whom we can rely to provide the healing, either directly, or by empowering us (or the wonderful doctors we work with) to do so.
This month has been full of confronting the need for healing and restoration in many areas. Whether it be Guillermo and his heart, one of our girls dealing with past abuse, or one of daycare children developing a resistance to their ARV medications, we have come to rely on and be thankful for God's power to bring healing to them all. What an awesome responsibility and privilege to be a conduit of that power as we interact with these children on a daily basis.
Many thanks to all of you who have been such a great source of encouragement and support. Please continue to pray for us, that we will remain strong and healthy- physically, emotionally, and spiritually as we serve these children and families.
Peace and Love,
Director of Communications
There has been so much going on at Pedacito de Cielo, we thought we'd take the time to update you on our 'regulars':
Mariana is a precocious 3 year old who has quite the sense of humor. We thought we were going to have our hands full when she came for a visit before the daycare got started, but she has made great progress. She has responded well to the combination of structure, fun, and lots of love. She's still not a big fan of the fruit smoothies, but she's really improved in her social skills like learning to share, and has a growing love of books.
Santiago, the younger brother of Mariana, just celebrated his 1st birthday. When he first started coming to PDC, he was very underweight and behind developmentally. In just a few months he had gained weight and strength and was soon sitting up by himself and starting to crawl. He's not quite walking yet, but he's definitely cruising.
Ximena was one of our first children at our daycare and since we opened in November, we have seen great improvements in her. She is so much more social, happier, and, after a slow start, we've seen an increase in her vocabulary. It's such a joy to see how much she loves being able to communicate with people, even if it's only one word at a time. While still on the timid side, she has really taken a liking to the playground and loves the slide (with a staff's help of course).
Miguel is just over two years old, but he's our little man. He's delayed developmentally, especially physically and verbally, but he's very bright and is a good listener. At first he wasn't sure about all the affection he received from us, but now he's loving it and is always sure to greet you with a kiss or hug. He's not talking yet, but we're hoping to see some changes soon now that he is in a stimulating environment. He loves (and is quite good at) soccer and being outside, especially on the playground or in a swing.
Lucas was the first to arrive at PDC as a full-time resident. He came to us very underweight and small for his age, but he has taken off like a rocket! He is gaining weight despite a recent bout of diarrhea and is looking more like the 9 month old that he is rather than a 5 month old when he came to us last month. His misshapen head is beginning to be formed correctly as he spends active time with the staff, learning to sit up on his own and play in the walker instead of lying in a crib all day.
Marcos, 4, and Victoria, 1 ½ , have been living with us for a couple weeks and while it was a tough transition from attending the daycare to being a resident, they are both doing well now. Marcos is much more outgoing and interactive and his vocabulary has grown by leaps and bounds. Victoria continues to be the sweetest and shyest little one who tends to stay on the outskirts of an activity, but is becoming more affectionate as she spends more time with the staff. You can read more about their situation in our Street Light section of the newsletter.
Guillermo… okay, we know we're not supposed to have favorites, but he is such a ham with the most precious smile, it's impossible to not melt every time you see him. Now he's learned to blow 'raspberries' and does it to mimic motorcycles that pass by the house. Unfortunately for the tías, he's also learned to do it with food in his mouth.
Medically, he's been doing well, and has gained some weight, but he's had a recent bout of diarrhea, so please pray that that will clear up immediately so that it won't affect his surgery. We just got the news last Thursday that he will be going in for the first phase of the operation today. It isn't surgery in itself, but he will be put under full anesthesia as they inject dye into his circulatroy system to monitor the blood flow to his heart and lungs. This will give the doctors a better picture of Guillermo's condition before the corrective surgery. (Click here for the detailed medical information).
We cannot thank you enough for your overwhelming support of Guillermo. To date we have received nearly $3500 and with the help of Solidarity Bridge we will be able to cover both the surgery and after-care! We know that things are tight for many of you, so your willingness to give above and beyond is incredibly moving, and we do not take a single dollar for granted.
Be praying for his swift recovery from this procedure, there will be no complications, and we'll see him gaining weight and growing strong before the actual operation. Visit our blog for the most up-to-date information on Guillermo's progress.
*All names have been changed to protect the children's privacy.
Normally, we want to focus on all the positive and wonderful things that are happening at Corazón del Pastor, however this month has been particularly trying, and we need you to join us in praying for our girls and staff.
While not completely unanticipated because of the histories of some of our girls, combined with the reality of dealing with the many changes and questions that come with pre-adolescence, we have been dealing with a number of incidents of inappropriate behaviors. We are working hard to both train the staff to know how to deal with these issues and also teaching and counseling the girls about body safety, privacy, and boundaries.
Please pray first and foremost for healing of past traumas. We strive to provide for our girls an environment that restores their childhood to them, and the results are overwhelmingly positive. Overall our girls are happy and well-adjusted, so sometimes it's easy to forget just how traumatic and abusive many of their lives were before coming to us. Secondly, please pray about funding for this home. We would like to be able to hire additional staff to provide better coverage and more individualized attention to the girls, but are unable to because we lack the finances to do so. If you would like to help fund additional staff for Corazón del Pastor, click here.
We have been meeting as a team weekly for training.
Left - The bedrooms during a recent "spring cleaning".
Right - And after.
Left - One of our girls looking very happy while doing her chore :)
Right - The older girls are learning embroidery in their schools.
*All names have been changed to protect the children's privacy.
One aspect of our Street Light program is to give support to people wanting to leave street life or who are at risk for returning to the streets. Since my return from Scotland I have been working more in depth with one of the mothers of children that we have at Pedacito del Cielo.
Christina previously lived on the streets after suffering physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her father. She made a living working in a bar, getting the clientele to buy drinks and then prostituting herself. Thankfully she managed to get herself off the streets, but whenever she was short on money she would return to prostitution. Christina is now working at Pedacito del Cielo, cleaning and is also learning how to be a mother to her 2 children. Unfortunately, the past two weeks she has been very sick, with a near case of pneumonia, stomach problems, anemia and something that has not yet been diagnosed - please pray for a quick recovery for her as she has been in so much pain. It has been difficult for her only having her children with her on the weekends, but she is very thankful as she has been too weak to take care herself, let alone Marcos and Victoria.
I continue to visit with Sara once a week and communicate with her and her boyfriend throughout the week. She is nearing the end of the second trimester of her pregnancy, and is excited about being a mum again. Her son Kevin is now almost two years old, it is so hard to believe, I remember getting the phone call saying that she was in labor with him as if it were yesterday. Sara really is in need of stability in her life. Every week she has a different idea as to what she wants to do with her life and at the moment seems unable to stick to one thing, but as soon as she does, we will be there to help her on her way.
Written by Barbara-Ann McVean, SL Coordinator
The One Child at a Time program was started to be able to respond to individual situations that do not fall under one of our other existing programs. While the focus is purposely broad, a main focus is to be able to provide intervention and support for individuals and families that would prevent children from needing to enter into the social service system.
One such case is Valeria. She is an extremely poor mother of 5 who is battling cancer. For the vast majority of people here in Bolivia, health insurance is not an option. While there are some programs directed by the government, they do not cover major things like chemo-therapy, and so Valeria has to pay for her care out-of-pocket. Thanks to a generous US donor, we have been able to help her with the cost of her medications up until now. Unfortunately, we have run out of resources.
She is a sweet and humble woman who wants to be able to continue taking care of her children, and we don't want her children to be orphaned just because of a lack of funding. If you know of any organizations that could help Valeria, please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you'd like to help directly with her case, you can click here and make a secure donation through our website.
Left - Abigail's latest sponsorship photo
Right - Is that the look of someone who REALLY finished her homework?
Abigail is a sweet-natured 10 year old who loves to play dodgeball, soccer and basketball despite her vision problems. She has one prosthetic eye and the other only has 60% vision in it because of an infection she had as a toddler. She also has a benign tumor that is causing malformation of her ribcage and scoliosis of the spine. Although difficult at times, she is an overcomer and doesn't let her challenges get her down.
Abigail is an excellent student and is dedicated to doing her best in whatever she is involved in. She one day hopes to be a doctor.
*Her name has been changed to protect her privacy.
If you would like to sponsor a child like Abigail, 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
We want to welcome Courtney to the distinguished list of NCV volunteers. Courtney comes to us from the Seattle area, but has recently spent time in Africa. While she's been here for a few weeks studying the language and adjusting to both altitude and culture, she started with Pedacito de Cielo on Monday. She will be spending time at both the girls' home and PDC, but we never want a talent to go unused, so we will be utilizing her grantwriting ability too. Welcome Courtney!!
If you'd be interested in volunteering with us short-term, long-term, individually or as a team, let us know. There's so much going on at Niños con Valor, there's something for everyone. While we can always use just general help in caring for our children at both Corazón del Pastor and Pedacito de Cielo, we also have needs of specific skills:
- Medical professional to oversee the daily medical needs of the children at PDC. We're not too picky, you could be a doctor, nurse, or physician's assistant, we would be glad to have you on board helping provide the best care possible to our children with immuno-deficiences.
- Counselor(s) for our Street Light program. We are in need of both male and female counselors to help us provide services to both the at-risk and street populations. Experience in dealing with addictions, abuse, trauma, and domestic violence would be extremely helpful. This position has a minimum commitment of 1 year because of the relationship-based nature of the program.
- Special-needs educators for a number of our girls at CDP. Many of our girls struggle with learning disabilities because of neurological problems, abuse, trauma and/or neglect. While they receive special attention at school, they need more individualized and specialized attention while in the home doing homework and reinforcing their skills.
While this newletter has focusing on needs, specifically the need of healing, we want to close on a note of hope :) One of our sibling sets at Corazón del Pastor has been assigned an adoptive family! After nearly 3 years with us (they arrived when we opened the home), three years of waiting desperately for adoptive parents, it would appear that the court has assinged them a family from Italy! We still need to wait and see how things play out, as currently international adoptions are on the decline, but this news has given us hope, and we hope it does the same for you.
From all the staff and volunteers here in Cochabamba, Bolivia,
Peace and Love!