Greetings from Cochabamba,
Carnaval, the grand celebration leading up to the beginning of Lent, has ended. No more masks and wigs, no more water fights. No more parades and dancing in the streets. No more balloons flying from cars and apartment buildings. In Bolivia, Carnaval is just as big as the celebrations of Easter and Lent. The Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday are holidays here, and everyone takes to the streets dressed up and armed with water balloons—a city wide water fight!
Amidst this chaos, Carnaval allowed us to enter into Lent with an earnest desire to ponder and reflect about how we can improve ourselves and our relationships. What type of improvements can we make? Moreover, how do we start this process, which can be draining and difficult?However, the Lenten season is upon us now, which gives us a break from the mayhem and the celebrations. It gives us time to reflect and strengthen our relationships and our beliefs. As Joan Chittister writes in The Rule of Benedict: Insight for the Ages, "Lent is the time to make new efforts to be what we say we want to be." As we begin this sacred 40 days, we hope to instill a sense of renewal and understanding and a new, improved sense of faith in the girls from Corazón del Pastor and the younger children of Pedacito de Cielo. Carnaval and Lent are times of reflection and celebration for the kids of Niños con Valor, as we search for answers about our faith and strengthen our beliefs, as well as have fun!
Peace and Love,
We began March with Carnaval celebrations at Corazón del Pastor. With no school on Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, sleepovers and water fights, games and art projects were part of the week's activities. The girls had a blast!
Above Left: The girls having a huge water fight on the back patio. They used buckets, hoses, and water balloons to drench each other.
Above Right: Jhoselin completely soaked and very cold!
Above Left: Adriana holding a very wet Zamora after the water fight.
Above Right: Paty trying to hide from Kimber and her balloon in the study room - Kimber got her :)
As much fun as the girls had with the water fights, for many in the lower valley areas around the city the heavy rains this past month caused catastrophic damage and thousands of people lost their homes and their livelihoods. In this season of sacrifice and giving, our girls went through their own clothes to be able to give to those who lost everything. We then packed up the van with the girls' donations along with other donations we had received to take to the flood victims in Quillacollo. After delivering the bags of clothes, shoes, and blankets, the girls were taken on a tour of the devastation and rubble that had been left behind. The recipients were incredibly thankful, and the girls were visibly affected by the destruction. They asked numerous questions about the flooding, and were especially interested in the number of children who were affected.
Above: Before the flooding, this area was covered in houses and stores. Now, it is covered by water and rubble.
Above Left: Sandbags being used to prevent further damage to this house.
Above Right: Working together as a team with the coordinators of the project.
Above Left: A group of the girls helping. They make us so proud!
Above Right: Paty and Elena helping to unload the bags from the van when we arrived.
The volunteers shared a special night out with the older girls. The group began the night at Strike, the local bowling alley in Cochabamba. The girls and the volunteers had a great time! And after working up an appetite, they headed to Las Islas, an outdoor food market for a late night snack.
Above Left: Elena getting ready to bowl!
Above Right: Abigail and Elena having fun watching the game.
Above: Elena, Sofia, volunteer Sarah, Olivia, and volunteer Clare waiting their turns.
While this month was filled with many fun activities, we have been going through a difficult time with one of our older girls. A few weeks ago it became clear to us that she was manifesting symptoms beyond normal teenage moodiness and we have been going through the process of getting her the proper mental health attention that she needs. We've been including her in our weekly prayermail updates, but we would like to reach out to our entire support community and ask for you to join us in praying for 1) healing for both her heart and mind as we see these two inextricably linked in her situation 2) wisdom on how to best support her as she goes through this unimaginably difficult time 3) the additional finances to cover these unforeseen, yet vital, medical expenses. If you'd like to be kept up to date on this issue, please join our prayermail list for weekly updates.
The children of Pedacito de Cielo also had a special Carnaval celebration! They made colorful masks and marched around the neighborhood with instruments and decorations.
Above Left: Victoria modeling her Carnaval mask.
Above Right: The children and the volunteers beginning the parade.
Above Left: Guillermo and Lucas are taking a break after a long walk in the neighborhood.
Above Right: Bemabe playing the tambourine during the warm-up before the parade!
Lily turned two this month! The children of Pedacito put on their party clothes and helped celebrate this special occasion. We enjoyed delicious jello and cake, and the little ones had fun collecting the surprises that were in the piñata.
Above Left: Wearing the special birthday hat, Lily patiently waiting for her cake.
Above Right: Lily waiting as everyone sings "Happy Birthday."
Above Left: The kids waiting anxiously for their cake too!
Above Right: Kimber helping Lily cut her birthday cake.
Above Left: What a big help! Manolo cleaning up after the festivities.
Above Right: Zaquiel and Monolo monkeying around.
March was full of fun daily activities for the little ones—coloring and singing, playing instruments and watching movies, playing outside and helping in the kitchen. Marcos and Miguel have begun their first years of school, and it is exciting for the little ones to help pick them up!
Above Left: Victoria and Manolo waiting for the lawnmower races to begin!
Above Right: Raeka and Victoria share a hug!
Above Left: Lucas enjoying playing outside. Look at that smile!
Above Right: Music time! Guillermo focuses intently on his drum.
Above Left: Raeka shaking her maracas!
Above Right: Mateo relaxing on the trampoline at the park!
Above: The whole gang picking up Marcos and Miguel from school! What a fun outing!
Above Left: Alarico all smiles in the playroom.
Above Right: Lucas and Guillermo, not the scariest pirates we've seen, but very likely the cutest.
Above: A group of the kids revving up for a very serious race.
We also took in a special little guy this month- six month old Cedro, who came to us from the local Center for Malnutrition. We had no idea what to expect, as many times children being released from the center are just barely doing better, but Cedro is healthy, chunky and happy. All the children are just loving on this sweet baby (okay, honestly, the two youngest ones are a bit jealous, but the rest of the kids are). He has already had surgery to correct his cleft lip, and will be going back in for corrective surgery on his cleft palate later in April. Join us in welcoming him to the NCV family!
Above Left: Tia Evelyn with Cedro on his first day at PDC.
Above Right: Victoria letting Cedro know who's Mama.
This month is a very exciting month for the OAT project as we saw our first ever sponsored child start college! She's super excited about everything she's learning, including English. Zandra reports that although she has to study hard, she's doing well and has already established good relationships with her professors as well as her classmates.
Please keep her, and the rest of the family, in your prayers as this is a major change for her entire family. The university where she is studying is in the city center and takes a long time for her to get to. The family has worked out a new schedule so that the grandmother and the two youngest children are taken care of, but it is a lot of work for both Zandra and her younger sister, Trella.
She, and all of us who work to support her family, are incredibly grateful to the Living Waters Fellowship Church for making her studies possible. This is an exceptional opportunity for her and for her family to stay together and remain financially stable, and wouldn't have been possible without their generosity.
Above Left: Jackie is excited that Zandra will be attending her alma mater.
Above Right: Trella, who will be graduating this year, with older sister Zandra.
If you'd be interested in sponsoring one of the other children in Zandra's family to further ensure that this wonderful family can stay together and remain healthy and stable, please visit our website and specify 'Quiroga family' in the Child Sponsorship Details section.
As we transition into the season of Lent, may it be a time of renewal, reflection, and peace. May we walk with God and continue to be inspired by His love and blessings.
We hope you have enjoyed a peek into the lives of the children of Niños con Valor. Also, thank you for the ongoing support—we continue to grow and thrive because of you.
Love and Peace from the kids, the staff, and the volunteers of Niños con Valor!
Check out our Blog!
Keep up to date with what is happening in NCV on our blog. You can also catch up on previous newsletters here. Enjoy!
If you are in the US, you can either send a check made out to "Ninos con Valor" to the address below, or use our Groundspring online donation page.
Niños con Valor
c/o Karen Mitchell
PO Box 223
New Hampton NH 03256
For instructions on donating outside of the US, please visit our donations page.
We know that God loves kids too, so please keep us in your prayers, using these updates as a bit of a guide on what is happening, or by writing us here. We send out weekly prayer requests to those who join our prayermail list. We really appreciate the support!
Learn More about our Projects
All of our programs seek to provide holistic care, as well as integrate children and families living with various physical and mental health issues, including HIV/AIDS.
Our home that provides care for up to 24 girls who have been orphaned, abandoned or removed from high-risk situations.
Our baby home for up to 12 children, and daycare for up to 12 more, who have been orphaned, abandoned or removed from high-risk situations.
Our program working with families and communities to strengthen community care of children and to prevent family disintegration.