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Niños con Valor E-Newsletter - February 2010
Greetings from Cochabamba:-
We are a little over a week into the season of Lent, the days leading up to the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, days of reflection and preparation.
Much moreso than New Years, for me this is a time to take stock of where I stand personally in my faith journey, where lie my failings, from what things I ought to fast. This year, however, I have been thinking along more opposite lines. Not what can/should I do without, but what have I been doing without that I should include. The fact is, cutting out coffee, television, internet time, are relatively easy things to do if you have good support like I do in my wife to hold me accountable. These things are easier because they mean cutting non-necesities out of our complicated, busy lives.
What is not easy is to add things. To actively seek out justice through volunteering, to love our neighbours by giving them our time and listening to them, to carve out time for prayer, meditation and reflective reading - these things seem impossible with all our "normal" commitments.
The fact is, the two things go hand in hand. When we cut junk food out of our diets, we are still hungry, and so ought to fill that hunger with something more nutritious. If we can be intentional about cutting back on things that drain, replacing them with things that nourish, we will be better prepared for the challenges that face us at the Cross - the challenge of sacrifice, of bringing new Life.
February has been an interesting month at NCV. School has started up again, we have two new girls at Pedacito de Cielo, and Carnaval celebrations have dominated most aspects of life across the country. This last point has given us an opportunity to reflect. So much time, so much preparation for these incredible parades, dedication of homes and businesses, and yet, so much less preparation on a personal level. In the midst of this, we have begun to plan more strategically than ever before in the history of NCV for the future. What really matters, what are we hoping to see in our staff and our children as a result of our work. In this newsletter, we hope share with you some of what is coming out of these conversations - while, of course, showing photos and telling stories of the fun and revelry of Carnaval!
Peace and Love!
Executive Director, NCV Bolivia
We began this month in CDP with a dizzying flurry of school supplies, uniforms, class placements, covering a million notebooks in plastic, and somehow in the midst of it all, managing to get our 21 girls to four different schools just at the right time.
Above - The girls who attend school in the morning ready for another day - and smiling!
Things are only now starting to settle down as we all get accustomed to the new schedule and routine. It's always amazing to observe how these women are able to manage this massive logistical undertaking with relative ease and calm.
Left - Mariela, Jhoselin, Paty and Kattia enjoying icecream on an outing.
Right - Cynthia and Angela horsing around at a poolside in a city park.
Left - Vanesa and Paty checking out the new city fitness park near Pedacito de Cielo
Right - Vanesa and Johana resting outside the soccer stadium.
We celebrated 4 birthdays since our last newsletter at CDP! It is wild to us how big and mature our girls are getting, and we kind of wish they would stop growing so much - or at least slow things down already!
Left - Ana and the girls at her birthday party.
Right - Vanesa, Ana's youngest sister, showing off her gift as friends look on.
Above - Honestly, look how big they are getting!
Above - Some of the girls who recently had their ears pierces at "Jimmy Tattoo Shoppe".
A welcomed addition to this controlled chaos is our new psychologist, Marisol, who has begun to do both individual and group therapy, and the girls have responded very positively to both her and their time with her. We're also excited to have Patricia, our new tía who's working alongside Tania in the area of educational support. They've quickly become a strong team, and we're already seeing positive results from their work with the girls.
Left - Patricia with Paty.
Right - Marisol with Karina and Mariela - all the girls already LOVE Marisol - yay for cool psychologists!
All the girls got into Carnaval this year, especially the oh-so-fun part of using water pistols and throwing water balloons- in school, at the home, and the older girls got to head out with a very brave Tía Kelley to the major water throwing events in the city.
Above - You would think from these photos that we are exaggerating when we talk about water fights...
Left - We're Not!
Right - Apparently holding a towel in front of you does not signal surrender or peace in our girls' minds.
*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.
Growing, Growing, Growing
Above - The kids from PDC cooling off on a hot Carnaval weekend.
At our baby home and day care center all of the kids are getting bigger and stronger and February has been a fun month of growth. We have two new girls in day care and they are already making great advances. Josefina, 3 months loves her bottles and her vision is starting to focus. Catalina, 15 months, wants to walk, eats a ton, and is learning to play well with other kids. Both of their smiles only add to the joy and fun at PdC. With the great nutrition of the home, we are very hopeful for their growth and development.
Left - Josefina, all warm and snuggly.
Right - Catalina looking much more docile than she really is :o)
Lily, 11 months is walking now! Not just her little steps, but really walking everywhere. Still amazed she can actually get around on her own, we are not because she is doing amazingly developmentally. Lucas and Zaquiel, not yet 2 years, are also walking on their own, getting around, on the move. We definitely have our hands full with all these little ones exploring with their new abilities. In addition, we had a rough month with little Zaquiel in our isolation room for a couple of weeks. His respitory system never developed adequately, thus leaving him more prone to complications such as pnemonia. But - he's out and healthy without a day in the hospital!
Left - Lily, sporting on of the many hats donated by Nate and the folks from __________.
Center - Lucas, trying hard to prove us wrong, really can walk.
Right - Zaquiel, who had a couple rough weeks inside, enjoying the light.
On February 3 we celebrated Guillermo's 2nd and Mariana's 4th birthdays. The party was very fun for the kids with jello, cake, and lollipops. The kids loved the pinata and being all dressed up for the fun event.
Left - Mariana, happily enjoying her (or someone else's) cake.
Center - An explosion of impossible to remove confetti from the birthday piñata
Right - Guillermo enjoying a moment with Kimber.
Left - Mariana and her helpers blowing out the candles
Right - Guillermo's turn!
Left - Santiago, Mariana's little brother.
Right - Alexis found something green from the piñata - how exciting!!!
Raeka and Victoria are loving playing Moms. With donated dolls, you can't get them away from their "babies" They carry them everywhere and spend lots of time wrapping, changing, and making them comfortable for their "naps." We have two great nurturers who also love playing with our Mateo, 7 months. Mateo, who was a very tiny preemie is now huge. His big belly and lots of giggles show just how great some love and nutrition can serve children.
Left - Mariana showing Alexis how to use one of the toys.
Right - Raeka knows how to take care of the little ones.
Left - Victoria still tends to be a "little bit" rough.
Right - Raeka doesn't settle just for dolls, as she feeds Mateo through the nose.
Miguel and Manolo are more energetic than ever. Walking around with backpacks on and kicking the soccer balls, they certainly keep us busy. Marcos loves music these days and so we are always listening to "Bingo" on our kid's cds. All of the kids are proof that what we are doing is working, and though it is always a challenge, caring for the kids of Cochabamba is extremely rewarding.
Left - Miguel, wondering if it is okay to be this dirty - "Am I in trouble?"
Right - While Manolo could care less - "This lolli is too good to care!"
*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.
We returned a couple weeks back to visit Virginia and her family and bring much needed school supplies for her kids. The cost of school supplies can be a major obstacle for children coming from impoverished families, so being able to help out in this way made a big difference for the family. We spoke with Virginia about being our first family to receive support from child sponsorship, and she is
Left - Pictures from a month ago and two weeks back. We are so happy to be able to continue to help this family, and have high hopes for their future.
*All names have been changed to protect the children's privacy.
More photos of One Child at a Time Events events can be found here.
Left - A photo of Kattia shortly after arriving at CDP last year.
Right - A more recent photo of Kattia, now willing to show her beautiful smile to the camera.
Kattia is a sweet quiet 7 year old who is just now coming into her own, after almost a year of living with us. She arrived at Corazón del Pastor a withdrawn and painfully shy girl in need of both medical and emotional care, having lost her mother and her father subsequently struggling to provide for her.
She has responded very well to the loving caring environment of CDP and welcomes the many hugs from the tias and volunteers. Kattia also enjoys having many playmates right in the home, as she was struggling with building friendships in school. She is in a new school this year and is much happier there as she really likes her teacher and is already fitting in with her classmates. She likes playing dolls with the other girls as well as drawing and listening to stories.
Kattia has been very self-conscious of the state of her teeth, covering her mouth when she smiles, but as she visits the dentist for reconstructive care, she gains more and more confidence, not being afraid to show her cute smile. She's also improving her attitude toward her glasses, and it's been helpful to see the other girls encourage her to wear them regularly.
Kattia has many special medical needs, but since coming to CDP and receiving regular appropriate medical care, she has been very healthy and has gotten progressively stronger. She works with Cynthia, one of our tias who is also a physical therapist to help her strengthen her muscles on a regular basis.
Because of Kattia's medical needs, her sponsorship is $40/mo. to help with the additional costs.
*Her name has been changed to protect his privacy.
If you would like to sponsor a child like Kattia, 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
Often we provide you our short-term reports on the major events of the month- holidays, birthdays, team visits, etc. But this month we also get to report on a long-term goal coming to fruition.
While we've always offered our staff periodic trainings, we are now moving into the next phase where we'll be offering comprehensive training to all of our staff, as well as to the parents in our daycare. We are intentionally moving toward truly being able to realize our vision and mission by providing our staff and the parents involved in our daycare with the knowledge and tools to not only provide the best level of care to the children in our care, but to also in turn share with other children's homes and parents what they've learned.
Taking a holistic approach, we'll be offering trainings in areas such as child development, behaviour management, emotional care, spiritual development, teamwork, and special needs in education. We'll be utilizing our partnerships with organizations here and abroad such as Vivo en Positivo, Mujeres y VIHda, the Red Cross, Kids Alive, kidsLINK, and Nuturing God's Way to provide the most comprehensive trainings we possibly can. We look forward to sharing with you the growth and positive changes these trainings will bring throughout the year.
If you would like to help us better equip our staff to care for our kids, either by coming down and providing expertise, or by making a donation, please send an email to Kimberly Setzer.
"Where are we Going?
Creating a "culture of training" is something we have spoken about since Jackie first visited kidsLink in Canada, then Tina from kidsLink came down to see how we do things here in Bolivia. Now, thanks to a lot of planning (and sticking to it) and generous donors it is becoming a reality. Here, we would like to share with you a few things that are "on the table", both so you know what we are working on, and to give you the opportunity to invest and help us make one more dream a reality.
We have been dreaming of having our own chunk of land for 3 years now. We have visited several possible sites, spoken with municipalities and banks to guage our options, and feel that we are getting closer to seeing this come to fruition. We are looking for 20000 m2 (2 hectares) that will provide enough space to offer residential care for 120 children, provide the first child hospice care in Cochabamba, offer a temporary rehbailition centre for impoverished single mothers of children with special needs, provide medical and dental care to our children and those of the surrounding communnity, and many other exciting new things. If we were to buy such a plot of land, which is the most costly, but ideal scenerio for the sake of premanency, we need to raise $250-500K! So, a HUGE prayer request. If you are interested in receiving by email a detailed plan of this long-term project, which we have called "Ciudadela Niños con Valor" please email us.
As you may or may not remember for previous newsletters, our Street Light program is on hold. This is a tragedy, as the situation on the streets is deteriorating rather than improving, and several solid groups and individuals who have been working on the streets have stopped in the past year, leaving more work and less workers. We estimate that we need $18K to cover the first 2-year phase of the long-term project we have worked out, that eventually will include the first complete street-to-success project for young women here in Cochabamba. If you are interested in receiving by email a detailed plan of our Street Light program, please email us.
Also, you may have be wondering what happens to boys in Pedacito de Cielo, like Marcos who will be turning 6 before we know it, when they get too old for Pedacito de Cielo. Well, once we have land, there will be homes for babies, boys and girls all on the same property, thus allowing us to keep families together while avoiding the difficulties of co-ed residential care. However, if the land things doesn't happen soon, we will be needing to open a next-phase boys home in the next year or so. The cost of running a home of the quality of care we are able to provide runs between $36-$48K a year depending on the number of children. If you are interested in receiving by email some details on what we need to open a boys home, please email us.
That our foundation has grown so much in its few short years of existence is all thanks to YOU, or supporters. If any of the things we have mentioned above catch your interest, and you feel you could get behind them financially, please let us know!.
Normally, we talk about volunteer opportunities with NCV in our newsletter. Don't get us wrong - we need volunteers desperately and if you are interested you should contact Carolina today at email@example.com before the moment fades and life convinces you (falsely) that you can't do it. But in this newsletter, we want to talk teams.
For us, a team is anywhere between 2 and 20 people, from little kids to adults, who want to invest in the children of Bolivia in some hands-on way but only have a short amount of time to do it, or who want to travel to a developing country to experience life through a new set of eyes. It can be a group from church, of co-workers, of friends or family. The key is to leave lots of time to prepare, to get to know the members of your team, and to plan out the activities you will be doing.
Each team experience is divided into 3 parts: grunt work, hand-os time with the kids, and a reality tour. It is our desire to give as complete a picture as we can of the needs facing children here in Cochabamba, and show you just how much you CAN make a difference.
Remember, there are endless ways to use your skills and passions here with Niños con Valor, and if you are interested in joining us as a team send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope you have enjoyed catching up with us; remember to send us updates on how things are going with you - we love to get to know our supporters!
May this time of Lent be one of reflection and blessing in your lives and those of your families, and don't forget, now is the perfect time to take stock about what non-essentials you can set aside, so the essentials have where to abide!
Peace and Love from the Kids, Staff and Volunteers of NCV!
Previous NCV newsletters can be found online at http://www.ninosconvalor.org/updates.html