Niños con Valor E-Newsletter - June 2009
Greetings from Cochabamba!
Whether it was experience speaking, or self-fulfilling prophecy, last month was definitely the calm before the storm. This past month has been a whirlwind of activities, visits, children coming and going and planning for the future. It's been an encouraging, challenging, exciting and exhausting month for all of us here at Niños con Valor, we hope you have enough energy to catch up with all that's been going on!
Peace and Love,
The girls are officially on winter break and have been enjoying their time off, but have certainly kept busy with two teams having already visited and a trip to the Chapare, the rainforest region of Cochabamba.
Left - Mariela and Vanesa splashing in the pool at the hotel we stayed at for 2 nights.
Right - Volunteer Courtney helping Diana take a load off.
Left - Ana and Tía Maritza sharing a moment of laughter at the pool side.
Right - Tía Isabel enjoying the monkey perched upon her daughter's head at Parque Machia animal reserve.
Left - A group of our older girls taking a break during a hike up the mountain side.
Right - At the "Jungla" there were lots of fun things to get ourselves into.
Left - Searching for treasures in the river.
Right - Nohemi building a sandcastle at the riverside with our bus driver, Tío Edgar.
The staff have been busy keeping all the girls occupied during their time off. They also had a visit from Tina Thomas from kidsLink in Ontario, Canada. We have been building a relationship with kidsLink, a social service agency working with children, for over a year now. Last year, Jackie, our President and Director of Projects was able to visit them and learn from their many years of experience, and this year we were so pleased to be able to host Tina, who with her many years of experience, was able to help improve the level of care our girls are receiving. Our staff were really excited to gain a deeper understanding of how to help our girls who have experienced trauma and abuse, learn new approaches and more effective ways of dealing with challenging behaviors. We've seen some really positive changes in the home already and it's been encouraging to see the women excited about exploring new ways to better care for our girls.
Above - Tina having some playtime at the park on Corpus Cristi with the girls of CDP.
Left - Tina, Sophia, Miguel and Cynthia at the park.
Right - Tina with Evelyn and Vicky, our weekday and weekend tías at PDC in charge of educational activities.
Above - Tina showing the staff of CDP some activities they can use with the girls, and later posing with them on her last day with us in Cochabamba.
For Corpus Cristi, everyone from Corazón del Pastor and Pedacito de Cielo went to a large park to celebrate.
Left - Elena ready to take us to the park (she wishes!)
Right - Kattia and Adriana just swingin' around.
Left - Hanging and sliding at the half pipe.
Right - Diana showing what a monkey she is.
Above - Lucas (left) and Miguel (right) playing at the park.
A team from Grace Community Church in Gresham, Oregon just recently came and spent time at both CDP and Pedacito de Cielo. Rhonda and Jacob Patrick and Tia Collins came to help out during vacation and brought some amazing activities for the girls to do while sharing with them how much God loves them.
Left - Rhonda with Camila after a wonderful folkloric dance the children did for the team's goodbye.
Right - The team receiving a thank you gift from the girls- a wonderful banner for their church with all the handprints and names of the girls.
Above - Jacob and Tia playing with the girls on the swing set.
Above - The girls put on two folkloric dances as a way of saying thank you to the team and to show off some of their hard work and talent.
The one recent change we had in the home is after working with both the family and Luz, she has been able to move in with them. Her cousin had expressed an interest in caring for Luz, and we're happy to report that she is adjusting well to her new home. Always a bright spot in the home, she is missed by both staff and children, but of course we're thrilled that we have been able to reunite a child with her family.
Above - Luz throughout her time with us at Corazón del Pastor (2006, 2007, 2008)
Above - Luz maybe hoping to get packed in Tía Jessica's luggage?
*All names have been changed to protect the children's privacy.
Life at Pedacito de Cielo is never boring, that's for sure. Whether it's getting everyone's bottles ready at the right time or organizing the bi-weekly trip to the park, there is always something happening at PDC. This month we have had the added issue of trying to keep our children healthy while the whole city seems to be sick with one thing or another! Thankfully, we've been blessed with extra hands to help with our growing home.
This month we welcomed two new residents, two year old Raeka, and 6 month old Mireya. Raeka's mother is very ill and is unable to care for her, and Raeka's other relatives are either unwilling or unable to care for her. She was very shy and quite sad when she first came to us, but has adjusted well to the other children as well as the staff. Mireya was living on the streets with her parents and we were asked to take her in while we do the necessary testing to see if she is appropriate for a long-term placement or not. She is small for her age (the same size as Lily at 3 months), but appears strong and healthy. She is also a very happy baby who needs little excuse to smile, just as long as you are feeding her fast enough, otherwise, you'll hear about it!
Left - Raeka's first day with us, being comforted by Tía Evelyn.
Right - Raeka after a few weeks with us, at the park, a much happier child!
Left - Mireya after waking from her nap.
Right - Mireya next to her much younger yet same sized housemate, Lily.
Recent short-term team duo, Rhonda and son Jacob, did some much needed renovation on our main office. This is a place where we do intakes with parents, counseling, and trainings, and it wasn't exactly the most welcoming room. Now, thanks to their hard work (with extra help from Tyson and Peter), we have a lovely room to meet with parents and advocacy groups. ¡Muchisimas gracias!
Left - Tyson and Pete prepping the walls (not pictured, Barbara with her mad ironing-off-the-old-wallpaper skills).
Right - Pete and Rhonda working on the toughest wall, and Jacob looking on helpfully.
Left - Proof that Jacob worked hard too :o)
Right - The finished product- a fabulous room that's bright, clean and welcoming
Thanks to all at Grace Community Church that made this possible!!
These past few weeks we have had to keep little Guillermo isolated prior to his surgery to ensure his health. There have been terrible colds and the dreaded Influenza H1N1 going around, and we need to make sure that he doesn't have anything that would weaken his immune system going into his surgery. Guillermo went in this morning in preparation for the surgery which is scheduled to actually take place on July 6. Please continue to keep him, and us, in your prayers as he goes in for a very delicate surgery to correct his heart condition, Tetralogy of Fallot. After the surgery, he will have a long recuperation time where he will again need to be isolated while his body fully heals from the surgery.
Left - A recent photo of Guillermo looking chunky!
Right - Guillermo with Jackie, he loves any technology- cell phones, computers, etc.
Above - Guillermo also LOVES his bath time!
Although we are praying and hoping for a successful surgery, the very high-risk nature of this procedure has been a sobering wake-up call for us. The reality is we have chosen to serve children who are very sick, some of them who may arrive already with a terminal illness, where we are providing them hospice care. Therefore in preparation for this dreaded reality, we need to purchase a garden crypt in one of the local memorial gardens. Thankfully, the director of the memorial gardens has been very generous in reducing the cost of the crypt, and we now need $1480 to cover the cost. Anyone interested in helping us with this should write us or visit our webpage to learn how you can make a donation.
If you would like to sponsor Guillermo or one of our other children living at Pedacito de Cielo, 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
*All names have been changed to protect the children's privacy.
Sara, one of the girls that we have been working with the longest has just given birth to a healthy beautiful baby girl, and we are very excited for her. Sara has a knack of giving birth when we are busiest with teams, it has happened twice now! Two years ago at around 8am we got a very distressed phone call from her saying that she was going to have her baby and that she would rather have Tyson and me there instead of her boyfriend. It is so wonderful that her relationship with her boyfriend is much better two years later, as he actually brought her to the hospital this time instead of sending her on a bus!
She is still undecided as to the name of her new baby, but for now she is content to have her first little girl. It is incredible the similarities from when Kevin was newly born, they are so alike! Prayers for both mother and child would be greatly appreciated at this time as it certainly isn't the easiest thing to do taking care of a toddler and a newborn at the same time!
Left - Sara with her new baby girl in the hospital.
Right - Kevin and his baby sister with mommy - all smiles!
Above - The whole family at home days after the new arrival.
*All names have been changed to protect the family's privacy.
One of the opportunities that we offer to all of our short-term teams is to do a 'reality tour' where they get a chance to visit places both in the city and in rural areas that gives them an idea of where our children at NCV come from. Part of that tour involves visiting and supporting rural families living in abject poverty. On a short visit to Cochabamba, one might think that most Bolivians live a simple yet relatively comfortable life, when the reality is that 95% of rural Bolivians live below the poverty level- this is the highest percentage in the world. Many families struggle daily to meet their basic needs and the disintegration of the family is a constantly looming threat.
The goal of the One Child at a Time program is to be able to intervene on a community and individual basis to improve the living conditions of the families and therefore improve the chances of the family being able to stay together. We had the opportunity to do site visits with three families this month.
Valeria is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer, which has been made possible by generous donors who met her last November on a reality tour. She and her 5 children live in a very small one room home with no running water. The chemotherapy leaves Valeria very weak and often unable to provide for her family, and her children often take on those responsibilities. During Tina's reality tour, we were able to provide Valeria and her family with a new solar oven which will allow her children to cook more safely, will cut down on fuel costs, and provide clean water through solar pasteurization. Visit www.cedesol.org to learn more about how CEDESOL is working to improve the lives of Bolivians through appropriate technology.
Left - Valeria with all 5 of her children at the birthday part of her eldest boy.
Right - A photo of the one-room adobe home that Valeria, her husband, and 5 children live.
Above - Three of Valeria's children watching potatoes cook in their new solar oven.
With our most recent team from Grace Community Church, we were able to visit with two families, both facing unimaginable circumstances. One is a widow with 4 boys who is being pressured by her in-laws to put her boys in a home and get off of 'their' land, and while there is this ongoing dispute, the community leaders will not approve installation of water or electricity, so they are living without both at the moment.
Left - Widow with her youngest child. Although we came to share with her, she was wanting to share with us too, she shared these peanuts she had from the recent Corpus Cristi celebration.
Right - A group shot of everyone listening while we explained this family's situation. The leaves in the picture are a shade roof made from dried eucalyptus branches.
Left and Right - Two of her four boys (the other two were very camera shy).
The other family is an orphaned sibling group of 5 being cared for by their grandmother (who is somewhere between 70 and 80, she wasn't sure). The truth of the matter is that the children are really taking care of her as she cannot walk due to some unknown trouble with her hip. She thinks she might have broken it about a year and a half ago, but she has not been able to go to the doctor to have it looked at.
Left and Right - Two of the five orphaned siblings living with their elderly grandmother. They had never had so many visitors at once and were extremely timid at seeing so many gringos! We eventually coaxed some smiles out of them though.
Left - Edgar, our host in that community, was explaining the family's situation to us and also translating as the grandmother only speaks Quechua.
Right - Tyson presenting the family with some of the team's gifts- warm blankets, dried goods and oil, and some fun gifts for the children.
Above - This grandmother was so sweet and humble but with a strong spirit. Although she's somewhere in her 70s or 80s and is unable to walk, she's still trying her best to care for her grandchildren after both her son and daughter-in-law passed away.
If you would like to help support either of these families, or help us cover the medical expenses of the grandmother, please contact us or visit our website at Give Now, specifing how you would like your donation to be used.
*All names have been changed to protect the families' privacy.
With all that is going on, we are very grateful for the wonderful volunteers we have helping to support our programs. There is no way that we would be able to give the high level of quality care to our children without them! We also appreciate their willingness to share their talents with us in helping us grow and improve the foundation.
This month we welcomed four new volunteers!!
Nic who is volunteering with us part-time at Pedacito de Cielo, has already been a great help and a wonderful male influence at PDC.
Pete and Sydney are currently traveling through South America and will be volunteering with us for about six weeks. They have been helping out at Pedacito de Cielo as well as Sydney helping with grant writing and Pete being on hand to do some home maintenance.
Liz is a volunteer that comes to us through our partnership with the Maryknoll Language Institute. She'll be working at Pedacito de Cielo for six weeks, and we're looking forward to using her expertise as an elementary school teacher.
Left - It's a good sign when a volunteer can already manage two kids at once! Although, admittedly, Nic's got quite a bit of practice ;o)
Right - Pete with Raeka on their way to the park. It's been great to see Raeka begin attaching to the staff and volunteers.
Left - Sydney with Marcos in the padded play area where he loves to tumble.
Right - Liz with a very distracted Mireya.
While our numbers are high right now, we do need more volunteers! We are in desperate need for volunteers at our girls' home as well as for our Street Light program. If you'd be interested in volunteering with us in any capacity, please write Carolina at email@example.com so we can get to know you better!
Are you exhausted yet?! Bravo for making it all the way to the end of this month's newsletter! We hope you've been as encouraged as we have been through all the growth and improvements we've been experiencing. God has blessed us with a wonderful family of supporters and prayer partners that spans the globe. None of these life-changing accomplishments would be possible without each of us giving of ourselves. Thank you for being a part of this family and joining us on this journey as we serve and minister to children and families in need.
From all the staff and volunteers here in Cochabamba, Bolivia,
Peace and Love!