Niños con Valor E-Newsletter - October 2009
What We Need is Here
Abandon, as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.
- Wendell Berry, from his poem 'The Wild Geese'
There are times when it feels like there is so much going on that it is hard to step back, breathe, reflect, and appreciate the here and now. We have so many hopes for the future, so many places we want to go and things we want to achieve. It can be hard to value and care for the present, while holding onto and moving towards our dreams at the same time. This poem by Wendell Berry always reminds me that "What we need is here." It does not mean that things are ok as they are, or that nothing needs to be changed. Indeed, we must press on and pursue justice. But in that pursuit, we can remember that God is here, and God is what we need. What we need is also in each other, a community that challenges and encourages us; and we have what we need here in our hearts. God works in mysterious ways, and my prayer is that we could gain the wisdom to "see" what is often left unseen, and to "hear" what we need to hear amidst all the shouts and screams and desires of the world.
There have been many challenges and many things to celebrate this month at Niños con Valor. We celebrated the official third anniversary of the foundation, we welcomed a new girl to Corazón del Pastor, and we visited the two communities out in the 'campo' whom we will be visiting for Christmas. There have been the big events and the daily interactions through which we grow in faith and love. Hopefully, with these stories you can appreciate the here and now and also dream with us as we keep on going.
Happy Anniversary Niños con Valor!
Left - Lucas, our little Spiderman in action, was the star of PDC's little theatre presentation.
Right - Elena spreading her beautiful red skirt, ready to dance.
On Saturday, October 17th we celebrated our official third-year anniversary as a foundation, even though we have been working for longer than that. This was a chance to share and celebrate what we have been up to and how our kids are doing. We invited friends of the foundation, and friends and family members of our staff also got to see what we are all about.
Left - Nohemi is looking pretty cool beside PDC volunteer Nic.
Right - Zuleika, with her birthday on the same day, ready to dance for the celebration.
Pedacito de Cielo hosted the celebration, and we had quite an ambitious program planned. The decorations, the food and performances were great, and most importantly there was a spirit of joy and recognition that what our foundation is doing matters, because every child matters.
Left - Paola and the girls huddled around the snack table, enjoying the food and helping serve.
Right - The PDC ants ready to go marching.
Jackie, our foundation's president, was the M.C. and there were traditional dance performances by the CDP girls, comedic skits by the tias of both homes, a play and dance from the PDC kids, a special guest performance by a traditional Bolivian dance group, and a music presentation by the Christian folkloric group, Suriel, headed up by none other than PDC's head teacher, Evelyn.
Left - Angela and Nehemias clearly amused as she holds his hair and he twirls in circles.
Right - The big NCV birthday cake ready to serve!
Niños con Valor has a lot to look forward to in the future, as we hopefully acquire our own land to become more integrated and accept kids with a diversity of needs. Regardless of future plans, what we celebrated on our anniversary was the here and now, and the kids were the stars.
Check out the highlights of the day on Youtube: Anniversary Highlight Video
Above - All of the CDP girls entering the stage to dance the 'Polera Colorada'.
*All names have been changed to protect the children's privacy.
Last weekend, we made preliminary visits to the communities out in the 'campo' (what we call the rural regions of Bolivia) that we will be visiting and supporting for the Christmas season. Leaving at 5am on a Friday morning, we made the 4.5 hour trek to Misque, a small town that is known for its fruit production. We had a mid-morning meeting with their 'Defensoria', or child protection agency. A knowledgeable compassionate social worker named Hilda accompanied us to the small mountain village of Patawasi.
Left - A view of our travel van and the mountain road, parked for our visit to Patawasi.
Right - View of Patawasi from the hill where the daycare is located, the community members gathered in front of the school.
Left - The sheep grazing in the heat in Patawasi.
Right - Mothers, kids and community leaders gathering and waiting for a snack of bread and jam.
Patawasi is almost solely dependent on potato farming, and it is very dry and isolated, but the community felt very welcoming and hope-filled. Most of the children understood Spanish, and although shy at first, they eventually allowed us to take some photos, and some adventurous boys used the camera themselves! We were able to meet some of the village leaders, including the daycare leader who showed us their very humble and under-resourced daycare. The social worker helped us learn about the families' needs so that we can return with gifts for the kids and share a meal with them at Christmastime.
Left - The girls enjoying their snacks, less camera shy than when we first arrived.
Right - The boys, excited to have their photos taken with their friends.
Left - Looking down the road towards one of the sections of Mina Asientos.
Right - The view from up high in Mina Asientos, looking down the Rio Caine.
We thought that we were going to return to Misque to spend the night, but our guide had plans to take us to his home mining community, called Mina Asientos. We made it up the steep mountain roads through a thunderstorm and arrived by dark, with a warm meal served to us by local storeowners. Over several of our meals there, we heard stories from our guide, a community leader, and the storeowner about the lives and struggles of the people of Mina Asientos. Over half of the community is unemployed, and those who work in the mine live lives very separate from those who do not. It is very hot, dry and dusty and they have been struggling with crop production and water shortages. There are also many orphans who live with extended family.
Left - The view from outside our sleeping quarters, looking down on the central part of Mina Asientos.
Right - The boys on the giant soccer field in Mina Asientos, during our morning meeting.
Left - One of the village girls who was the first one to jump to be in a photo.
Right - Our guide's little son, overwhelmed and excited by all the new people.
After a good night's sleep, our guide arranged a community gathering the next morning, at the village's giant soccer field. There, we met many of the kids and mothers and the community leaders. These kids were not camera-shy at all! The various community leaders are going to help us organize our Christmas visit and give us more details about the needs of the familes. In late December, like in Patawasi, we will bring gifts for the kids and share a special breakfast.
Above - The big group photo of some of the village workers and community leaders.
While we are not sure how the relationships we are developing with Patawasi and Mina Asientos will develop beyond the Christmas events, we hope that we can take on a supportive role for their children. We welcome your prayers and support as we have lots of organizing and relationship-building ahead of us.
More photos of One Child at a Time Events events can be found here.
Much of the beginning of the month was spent practicing and preparing for the big anniversary celebration. The girls were dancing daily, and some of their artwork was used for the event's programs. The volunteers also made lots of visits with the girls to the Cancha, our giant open market in Cochabamba, where we got some great clothing deals and bought them all new jeans for the event.
Left - Mariela and Johana enjoying their afternoon snack.
Right - Kattia and her new friend, our newest girl Zuleika. Check out those mischievous eyes!
The day before the anniversary, we welcomed a new little girl to come live with us at CDP. Her name is Zuleika, and she celebrated her 6th birthday the same day we celebrated our 3rd year of the foundation. Zuleika is coming from a very difficult situation, and we are working with social services and doctors to make sure she gets the care she needs. She is an energetic, playful, affectionate girl and is fitting right in to CDP. With only one day under her belt, she put on the traditional dance dress and performed with the girls for the anniversary celebration. We are glad she is now in a safe, loving home where she can grow and enjoy her time as a young girl.
Left - Zuleika enjoying the climber at the neighbourhood park.
Right - Jhoselin also had a lot of fun at the park, and gave us her giant smile.
Left - Karina admiring her skirt as the girls dress-rehearsed for the anniversary party.
Right - Adriana, Vanesa and Angela at the Cancha, happy with their new clothing purchases.
After finding out about Paty's eye condition, we decided that all of the kids we care for at NCV should take a trip to the eye doctor. Thanks to the kids at Grace Community Church in Gresham, Oregon, we were able to make this happen. This has proven to be very worthwhile, as we've been able to catch some other minor eye issues and hopefully can prevent possible problems in the future. The girls' school year is winding down as well, and soon they will be studying hard for their exams, with vacation on the horizon.
Left - The younger girls, in the early stages of rehearsing their dance for the anniversary.
Right - Three of our girls helping Tia Celia remove the peas from their pods, to put in the evening soup.
*All names have been changed to protect the children's privacy.
More photos of all the girls at Corazón del Pastor can be found here.
We can always count on the little ones at PDC to entertain us and cheer us up in the midst of a hard time. We recently accepted a new daycare attendee, a little 11-month-old Alexis. She spent a lot of time crying at the beginning, but the kids love her and were quick to offer her toys and smiles. She is getting more comfortable in this new, overwhelming atmosphere.
Left - Lucas in the playroom at PDC, super excited about his car discovery.
Right - There are no words to describe this photo - Guillermo's face says it all.
Left - Lucas seems a bit confused by the bucket he decided to put on his head.
Right - Guillermo, is absolutely loving the bucket.
Raeka's playful spirit continues to stay strong despite her frequent bouts of sickness. She is a very affectionate little girl, and we can always count on her big smile. Her affection sometimes masks her mischievousness, as she will often bug the kids to get their reaction and then will be quick to apologize with a hug. She also likes to comfort the younger ones when they are crying.
Left - Raeka helping in the kitchen, joyfully taking the peas out of their pods.
Right - A giant smile from Raeka while eating her oatmeal.
Left - The kids at PDC celebrating around the table for Victoria's birthday.
Right - Victoria, her brother Marcos and their mother marveling at the cake.
Some of our kids are making major milestones - Guillermo is now walking completely independent of any help. He's a little wobbly on his feet but the joy on his face when he walks into someone's arms, with everyone clapping, is absolutely precious. Lily is proving to be a very strong girl and is now crawling, after lots of practise rolling over from her back to stomach. Also, Ximena is regularly attending the daycare and is making great progress, playing well with others and with a more amicable attitude.
Left - Lily, on her hands and knees, ready to crawl!
Right - Lily wide-eyed and intrigued by volunteer Amber's camera.
Left - Alexis, peacefully enjoying her bottle after lunch.
Right - Alexis content in the playroom, curious about the camera.
Marcos and Victoria have continued to receive visits from their parents on a regular basis, and it's been very beneficial for them. We recently celebrated Victoria's birthday, and her big brother sweetly helped her blow out the candles on the cake. There are always silly stories and special moments at PDC.
*All names have been changed to protect the children's privacy.
More photos of all the kids at Pedacito de Cielo can be found here.
Christmas is fast approaching, and it's hard to believe we have less than two months to get everything ready. We have a new opportunity for individuals to donate in the form of a gift, where you can support our kids in very tangible ways. This is something we have wanted to do for a while, and it is finally ready for the 2009 holiday season.
To find out more and donate, click on this link:
You can also download our pdf flyer, which you are welcome to forward, or print out and distribute to as many people as you like :o)
November the 8th is Orphan Sunday! This is a time for churches to rally together to raise a voice for children at risk across the world.
There are 6 billion people on planet earth. There are 2 billion children 14 and under. At any given time, 85% of the world's children are "at risk" of dying from starvation, disease or violence. Millions of those "at risk" are orphaned because of abandonment, AIDS, war, and other physical and social tragedies that destroy families. (Source: Orphanos.org)
To find out more about this event and how you can get your church involved, please follow the link below:
And don't forget, the most effective ways to help the children we serve here in Bolivia is by sponsoring a child and promoting our alternative gift options, so if you decide to promote Orphan Sunday in your church - please remember to promote these two great ways to get involved!
Left - Valeria's current sponsorship photo.
Right - Valeria presenting her knowledge of Cochabamba, at her school's open house celebration for Cochabamba Day.
Valeria is just about to turn 13 years old. As one of the oldest girls at CDP, the younger girls look up to Valeria a lot and she is strong leader. She is one of 8 children in her family, all of the same parents. In 2004 her mother died of cancer and her father began to drink heavily. Valeria's four oldest siblings, all over 25 years of age, took on the responsibilities of their younger sisters. In time, seeing that they did not have the economic ability to continue, they decided to place them in a home.
In May of 2006 Valeria and two of her sisters came under the care of our foundation, moving into the newly founded Corazón del Pastor when their previous home closed. It took Valeria some time to adjust, but she is now well integrated with the tias and the other girls, many of whom are her close friends and close in age. She recently took it hard when her older sister decided to go back to live with another sibling.
Valeria works very hard and is doing great in her studies, her favourite subjects being math, social studies, and gym. She is very mature and has a big heart, and she enjoys helping out in the kitchen. She is also a good athlete and loves listening to music. She and her younger sister get to see their father twice a month, but right now returning to live with him is not an option. We have great hopes for Valeria's future, and she herself wants to be an author, scientist, chef and teacher. She also wants to travel the world andlive in a house with her family with gardens and animals.
*Her name has been changed to protect her privacy.
If you would like to sponsor a child like Valeria, 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
It's that time of the year again, and while we hope lots of people consider our alternative gifts this season, we know that lots of us will be shopping online to find the perfect gift for our friends and family. So.... Why not GoodShop this year?!? Use the badge below to go to the GoodShop webpage. It doesn't cost a thing, but if you purchase from a participating online store using GoodShop - Niños con Valor gets a donation!
We are glad to welcome back Kim, our long-term volunteer at Pedacito de Cielo, who just got back from a visit home. She is also thrilled to be back with the kids whom she cares about so much.
Niños con Valor is always in need of volunteers with a diversity of skills and experiences, and there are endless ways to participate with us. Too see what our volunteers are up to, you can check for their weekly blog updates here: http://www.ninosconvalor.org/blog.
If you would be interested in volunteering with us in any capacity, please write Carolina at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can be part of the Niños con Valor family.
Dreaming with Both Feet on the Ground
As always, there has been a lot going on with our community here in Cochabamba, Bolivia. There are some harsh realities we have to work through every day, a lot of problem-solving that needs to happen, and a lot of love to give and receive. There are many reasons to be angry at the world, at the past situations of our kids and the current situation of so many struggling families. We cannot ignore the reality, but we can keep on dreaming, an active dreaming for justice. It is ever-important to keep believing in justice, and we catch glimpses of it in the work we do, in the love shared by the kids and caregivers, the changes we see in their lives.
Really, we do not know exactly how we will get to where we want to go. But we believe strongly in what we are doing, and in God's power to be the strength when we feel vulnerable and overwhelmed. We also have supporters, like yourself, whose faith in us and whose prayers encourage us. May peace and joy be with you this month, and thanks for dreaming and being with us. Blessings, from all the staff and volunteers here at NCV.
Previous NCV newsletters can be found online at http://www.ninosconvalor.org/updates.html