Niños con Valor E-Newsletter - December 2008
Greetings from Cochabamba!
Last month, I mentioned how few things bring us joy like the smiles of children. In this newsletter, we want to show you some photos of the fun we have been able to have this December with our kids.
What has been so beautiful to see this December as we have been celebrating Christmas, is how children seem to always be able to put aside the challenges facing them in order to focus on the present. Children without parents, without a home, or who are living in desperate situations, for the simple gift of love we were able to share with them, rewarded us so much more with their laughter and enjoyment.
It is my hope that this newsletter warms your hearts (especially those covered in snow!) and help you, as it has us, remember that despite the many challenges facing us, most notably the current economic situation, if we focus on the present and what really counts, we can smile too!
Peace and Love,
p.s. We are launching our new website to bring in the New Year - it is still under construction, but please do check it out and send us your suggestions - www.ninosconvalor.org
It is strange celebrating Christmas with a BBQ, but when its 80 degrees out it makes sense! Along with those from Performing Life we decided to take the kids that wash car windows and live under a bridge, out of the city and up into the mountains for a BBQ.
We had initially thought that between 10 and 15 would show up, but as the bus pulled up we saw that it was going to be lot more. In total we had 22 boys and 2 girls! We fought with them for a while over taking their glue away from them (they sniff it and it gives them a high, takes away their hunger, and basically dulls pain), but once we arrived at the park and they started playing football they forgot about it. I ended up with my pockets full of glue bottles, holding on to them until the end of the day - quite a new experience! For one little boy it was too much though, after various warnings he decided that he would prefer to be high than have a day out, so we accompanied him to the front gate and sent him on a bus home. It is so sad to see when they can't even bare to be clean for a few hours.
Serving lunch was a lot of fun - when you have 23 (minus the one little 12 year old who went home) very hungry kids running at you for food it certainly makes for an interesting time! We served up a feast of mashed potatoes, rice, salad, steak and chicken. Everything actually went very smoothly considering the unpredictability of the children. After lunch everyone sat down for a little rest, some went off to play football again and others took a quick nap. I was sitting down under a tree and a 15 year old boy came up to me and asked "sabes buscar piojos?", which means “Do you know how to look for lice?", as he was itching his head. He sat down beside me and a lice hunting I did go! Another boy then came up and I continued on the hunt... it must be said that it is a bonding experience! Under the tree next to me there was a line of kids sitting one in front of the other, all picking lice.
After a quick rest all the children went off hiking with a couple of volunteers while the rest of us cleaned up and by the time we all got back on the bus the kids were exhausted. Most of them slept the entire way back, it was adorable! It was just so wonderful being able to take them out of the city, away from their work, and let them play and be kids. They can be difficult to work with, but we love them all lots despite the craziness! When we dropped them off they were all so grateful, each and every one of them said thank you and left with big smiles and full stomachs. A lot of fun was had by all.
Street Light Coordinator
What fun! That is about the best way to sum up how vacations have been going with our girls at Corazón del Pastor girls' home.
Eliana, our psychologist, worked with the girls on a presentation of both the traditional nativity, and a modern day version. In the modern version, the context was present day Bolivia. It was really incredible to see our older girls, so mature, touching on the difficult issue of the poverty that surrounds us in the context of Christmas.
Once again, we are so grateful to Elevation Church in Canada for sending enough money to stuff our girls' stocking, buy a new Christmas tree - and a swimming pool! Also, special thanks to a volunteer that was with us earlier this year, Allison Braun, who sent all of our girls new bedding!
The girls really enjoyed the day, and had already set up and entered the pool by the afternoon - there is nothing more refreshing than a Christmas dip!
We are officially on a two weeks recess at our daycare, which is giving us a chance to provide additional training to our staff. We had a Christmas lunch on the 22nd with the kids and their families, and passed out stockings - which the kids greatly appreciated! Here are a few photos.
We are looking forward to re-opening on Monday, January 5th. We recently received a new baby in the daycare, and we may have two more coming soon! Please keep this project in your prayers as we did not get a much hoped for grant we were seeking and are needing additional support in order to ensure the project can keep going. We need approximately $2800 a month, which will allow us to provide care to up to 16 children, who are living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, ensuring them a safe and discrimination free environment to receive quality education and much needed affection.
As we have found ourselves continually helping out individual children and families outside of our regular projects, we have decided to bring together these mini-projects under the banner of "one child at at time". This year, we have been able to provide support for the following:
- Luis, a 17 year old boy in La Paz, who we have been helping for 3 years now, is a year away from graduating highschool
- Rosalia, a 16 year old girl in Cochabamba, who we have been helping since she decided to leave Corazón del Pastor to live with her older sister.
- Virginia, a young mother of 5 who, who with her husband, earns approximately $120 a month. Virginia has been unable to work as she was recently diagnosed with uterine cancer and has been through 2 difficult sessions of chemotherapy.
- Carol, who we helped in her fight against leukemia for over a year before she passed away this year. It is in Carol's memory that we created a special fund to help out children on a one-to-one basis.
Another way we are reaching out to children and their families, is by reaching out to the communities they are a part of. On the 28th of December, we brought a hot breakfast and a ton of toys to the community of Abra. This was an event coordinated with the local government, who provided, in addition to what we brought, free vaccinations and dental checkups for all the children present. Our connection with Abra goes back nearly two years. We have been taking visiting teams out there to see how the majority of Bolivian families live - in deep poverty,and have been helping Virginia (see above) who lives there. Here are some photos of our Christmas event:
There are all sorts of ways to join us in serving the children of Bolivia!
We love volunteers, and some of our projects wouldn't function the same without them. We offer short- and long-term opportunities, and we make every effort to place you based on your experience, skills and interests.
To learn more about volunteering with us, please visit our soon to be up 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 soon to be up 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 soon to be up 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 soon to be up Give Now Page.
We want to thank you all so much for your interest in our work this past year. Your participation, whether it be through supporting our kids financially, or through your prayers, none of our work would have been possible without you.
So, from all the staff and volunteers here in Cochabamba, Bolivia, we want to wish you a very Happy New Year!