Niños con Valor E-Newsletter - May 2009
Greetings from Cochabamba!
It is great to be back home after a packed-full three weeks of visiting Niños con Valor supporters in the US and Canada.
I think the thing that struck me most during my trip was how much our NCV family abroad knew about what has been going on here in Cochabamba. I mean, we do our best to keep people in the loop, but for me this highlighted the genuine interest and care that our supporters have for our kids and their well-being. It also reminded me of the importance of building genuine relationships between our kids and staff in Bolivia and all those working to realize the NCV mission in other countries.
The fact is, spanning continents puts pressure on relationships. But as someone who has family in both Canada and the US, whom I am able to see every one or two years, I have realized that it is not proximity not frequency of visits that make for genuine relationships, rather the love and interest in one another and one another's lives that keeps things going strong.
It is our hope that these newsletters help bridge the distance, even a bit, and that the stories and photos we share help you feel that much more a part of our family.
Peace and Love,
May has been a relatively quiet month at Corazón del Pastor. It's the calm before the storm really. We are about to start up winter vacation here, and so the girls are mostly just doing their studies and chores, with great anticipation of the upcoming break.
The girls have been practicing hard for all their parts in the Mother's Day celebrations at school, with some doing poems, others musical performances, and of course lots and lots of cards.
Left - Evelyn, as Bolivian tradition calls for, taking the first bite of her birthday cake.
Right - Kattia with Eliana, our psychologist, on Día de la Madre (Mother's Day).
Left - Angela with a friend from school on Mother's Day.
Right - Tía (aunt) Isabel with Abigail and Camila.
Above - Camila (left) and Sofia (right) looking beautiful and dancing at their school on Día de la Madre.
The older girls have been enjoying their 'sewing circle' time with volunteer, Courtney. In the evenings once all the homework and chores have been completed, they have an opportunity to do their embroidery and other handiwork while chatting with Courtney. She's found it a great way to get the girls talking about what's going on in their lives in a more informal way. The girls have really improved in their skills and of course it's always nice to see young teenage girls forgetting to try and look 'cool' and just be relaxed with smiles on their faces.
Above - Courtney working with the girls on their sewing.
Please keep praying about funding for this home. As mentioned last month, we would really like to be able to hire additional staff to provide better coverage and more individualized attention to the girls, but are unable to because we lack the finances to do so (each caretaker's salary costs us around $240 a month). If you would like to help fund additional staff for Corazón del Pastor, either with a direct donation or by sponsoring one of the girls, click here.
Our big news at Pedacito de Cielo is that we finally got a date for Guillermo's surgery. One, we're glad that after the catheterization that he was cleared for surgery, and that we have a date: he'll be going in for preparation on June 30 and will have the actual operation on July 3. Please be in prayer for him that he will remain healthy and strong beforehand and that all will go well during the surgery. He's been doing really well, he's standing up all on his own, and the doctors were impressed at his good skin coloring (which means better blood oxygenation). He wants to be on the move all the time now, which is a great improvement from when he couldn't even sit up by himself four months ago.
The other children are progressing and learning so quickly as well! Lily, our youngest at 2 ½ months has already doubled her birth weight and is very alert and smiling at everyone. Santiago has truly begun walking on his own and is constantly on the go and thinks he's the best thing ever (and let's be honest, we do too!). Miguel is making more vocalizations and is indicating what he wants; we haven't had our first word from him yet, but it feels really close. Knowing that he understands everything that's being said, once he gets the talking thing down, we suspect we're going to have a chatterbox on our hands.
Keep PDC in your thoughts and prayers this month as well, as we have been asked to consider three additional children. We could have some new faces to introduce to you in our next newsletter! We are also looking for additional funding for more beds, plus volunteers! These kids keep us on our toes, so we could really use some extra hands.
Left - Guillermo and Lucas chilling in the play room
Right - Lily, only getting cuter!
Left - Guillermo enjoying snack time a little too much.
Right - Santiago, a picture of pride, showing off his struts.
Left - Marcos showing off a recent construction.
Right - Mariana, Santiago's older sister, playing mamá.
*All names have been changed to protect the children's privacy.
It's been a challenging month trying to deal with the many ups and downs of Cristina's life as she struggles to manage her past, present and future all at once. The overwhelming drama that is largely considered normal for the street and ex-street community is a difficult reality to try and empathize with for those of us who come from relatively stable backgrounds. There are fights and threats and accusations. There is resurgence of past abuses that have never really healed. There are many tears shed, and often times there's violence mixed in with it all.
Coming out from underneath all of this, Cristina seems to be very committed to wanting to make the necessary changes to create a positive future for herself and her children. She is working, and she's awaiting an interview for a community that helps people like herself. We're really hoping that she's admitted into this program because we feel it's the perfect blend of both the independence and assistance she needs to get her life on a solid foundation and start rebuilding her family.
By the way - SL coordinator Barbara-Ann McVean is heading to North Carolina for a few weeks, and will be speaking at the church she is connected with there called "The Well". She will be sharing at the South Park location on Sunday June the 7th at 9 am, so if you are in that area she would love to meet you - directions can be found here.
Above - Cristina and Barbara spending some time together on a gorgeous Cochabamba sunny day.
Left - Lucas' latest sponsorship photo
Right - Eyes that never fail to get what they want.
Lucas* was one of the very first full-time residents of PDC. He came to us from a large orphanage in the city where he was one of 40 babies in one room. He was very small and underdeveloped for a 9 month old, not being able to sit up on his own, or even hold his head up properly. His head was also misshapen because of spending long periods of time in his crib.
Lucas just turned one year old this month and he's grown so much since he arrived in February. He's a very good-natured boy with an infectious smile and giggle. He loves to be in his walker and scoot around. He also loves playing with blocks and eating Auntie Anita's yummy food.
*His name has been changed to protect his privacy.
If you would like to sponsor a child like Lucas, 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
Just a reminder - we need more volunteers (like Kim in the banner photo)! We are excited about the response so far, with 3 more volunteers committed to joining us this year. Most of these volunteers, however, are here for just 4 months, so when they go we will be needing more.
If you'd be interested in volunteering with us short-term, long-term, individually or as a team, let us know. There's so much going on at Niños con Valor, there's something for everyone. While we can always use just general help in caring for our children at both Corazón del Pastor and Pedacito de Cielo, we can also utilize any skills you bring to Bolivia in different ways - the sky is the limit!
We hope that you enjoyed catching up on some of the latest happening here at NCV. We love to hear from you as well, so please send us an email!
From all the staff and volunteers here in Cochabamba, Bolivia,
Peace and Love!