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Greetings from Cochabamba,

In Bolivia, May begins with a national holiday (Labor Day) and closes with the celebration of Mother's Day (May 27th). We are moving toward winter with less rain and colder nights, but it is still possible to celebrate these very important days. The challenges of school continue, except when a bloqueo (blockade) interrupts the schedule by disrupting the city's traffic flow. This month it seems like that has been once a week! This newsletter gives us a chance to update you a bit on everyday life as well as some projects. In the pictures of the boys and girls, it is possible to see their growth, and we hope, their joy in living every day. We are truly blessed to be with these children as they grow up, for all the worries that accompany their journeys to adulthood. Thank you once again for your investment in the work the Foundation undertakes in God's name, and please enjoy this update.

Peace and Love,



Celebrating Mothers, Without the Mothers Present

Bolivia celebrates mothers and our relationships with the gift of mothers on a very special day, May 27th. The marks are everywhere – special programs in schools, the making of cards at schools so that kids will have something to present for the special day at home, special packages in stores where businesses see a marketing opportunity, the blessing of mothers in churches, concerts and parties. It is really a big day!

For those children who live in the homes of Niños con Valor, this attention to mothers comes as a mixed blessing, because these kids have complicated relationships with the ones who gave birth to them. Often the back story of their arrival at NCV includes the idea that they were overwhelming in the care they needed, or the fact that their parents were not present to care for them, or the presence of active neglect of their needs (Parenthetically, this is true of fathers as well. When we pray "Our Father" an image of goodness is evoked that may be very different from the real life father children have known). So it can be bitter-sweet to have a day to celebrate, when the reality is so often disappointing.

As an example of the stress our children face, on Friday the 24th at the boys' school everyone was preparing presentations for their mothers, who would be coming to school on the 27th. For the seven boys who attend school, this activity made no sense, and the decision was made to keep them at home to avoid unnecessary emotional turmoil. Many boys still have their mothers as part of their life picture, but their visits are often confusing and unreliable.

For the girls at Corazón as well, the mothers in their lives represent a situation of confusion and disappointment. For example, the parents of Johana, Jhoselin, Karina and Nohemi have been granted visits by the courts, and in the past this has had a negative impact on the girls, especially Jhoselin and Nohemi. Our prayer is always that these visits will be a positive experience for the sisters, and that the parents would take their responsibilities seriously, using these visits as opportunities to build positive relationships with their daughters. But so often in life, what we hope and pray for comes in a step or two below the ideal. We understand that mothers are central to the experience of being loved, which is why Mother's Day is often a challenging one for kids living in homes like ours.

So it is. The nation celebrates a really worthy cause, and each year we hold our breath knowing how hard it can be for kids when a mother or a father is not fully present in a loving way in their lives. Yet we are so grateful that, despite this challenge, we have an incredible team of "tías" who are filling this role, who are dedicated to providing all of the love and affection each of our children deserve.

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Above: Twelve of our "moms". (The other 5 weren't around when we took these pictures)

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Along with learning to walk, learning to use a fork for eating is a major accomplishment. For kids, there is a lot of back and forth between fork techniques, the ever present and useful hand, and the novelty of stabbing something on your plate with a knife. Each offers a way to bring food to your mouth, and, as with many learnings of children, repetition, reinforcement and correction from care-givers over time molds the habit that adults take for granted. Younger children use spoons when their eye-hand coordination is not yet up to the acquisition of fork techniques. At a recent lunch, using the fork was the big emphasis for our boys, with varying success, as the following photos will reveal. The album also allows all to see close-up photos of many of the boys as they grow and grow.

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Above Left: Mateo is ready and waiting for his lunch.
Above Right: Alejo uses the spoon and gets help from Tía Gloria.

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Above Left: Tía Biselia eats in between learning moments for the boys.
Above Right: Diego working on his entrance trajectory.

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Above Left: Learning takes concentration and focus (Manolo, Marcos and Bemabe).
Above Right: Abran is still working on the spoon techniques.

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Above Left: Alarico enjoys a moment of success.
Above Right: Zaquiel working on his fork skills.

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Above Left: Lucas holds his fork tentatively.
Above Right: Manolo maintains a firm grip, but his style is not yet perfected.

Boys At Play

Every day at PDC is full of fun and learning. During the free time, the boys usually invade the yard and find many opportunities to use their muscles. The riding toys are universally popular, and it is a joy to see the younger boys become strong enough to use them. Healthy bodies allow the boys to grow stronger in a cycle that reinforces their development at all levels. Whatever they find in the yard becomes a possible toy.

After an hour of this, the time comes to wash their hands before lunch, a habit that the Tias help them develop, because around the world washing hands is not a natural idea for children. Usually during this period, the Tias squeeze in basic hygiene ideas like taking a bath and clipping nails for some of the boys who are called out of the yard for these activities. Bathing 13 boys in an hour is a pretty daunting task that involves undressing, scrubbing up, and redressing in clean clothes. But, habits do develop after years of reinforcement. The Tias spend time on the brushing of teeth every day for similar reasons, emphasizing the importance of cleaning habits for growing boys.

This photo album includes snapshots of some of these aspects in the everyday life of PDC.

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Above Left: Eneas is not always to be found at ground level.
Above Right: The boys pass this icon as they play with the toys.

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Above Left: Zaquiel smiles for the camera.
Above Right: Cedro is prepared to defend the yard if an invader comes.

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Above Left: Washing hands before lunch is a learning ritual also. Eneas holds the soap.
Above Right: The toys in the yard, ready for play.

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Above Left: Diego really loves the garden. Here, he waters a zucchini plant.
Above Right: Abran, who is walking well now, sits for a moment to consider the lawnmower.

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Above Left: Mateo puts toys away in the yard.
Above Right: Tía Isabel prepares for bath time.

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Above Left: Diego and Cedro are watering the zuchinni plants the boys planted.
Above Right: Bath time at Pedacito.

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Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Most "free time" during the week is focused on homework and preparing for the next day. This reinforcement is so very important to academic success, but the natural work for children is play. Recent school closures due to protests gave the girls at CDP some free mornings and afternoons, and their playful spirits took over. It is extraordinary for most children to have so many playmates, and a number of other kids of different ages with which to play. Most Bolivian children are very accustomed to free play – entertaining themselves without adult supervision in imaginative ways. Cards, a stick or piece of string, dolls or playing house give them opportunities for social interaction.

The following album of photos is meant to show the girls having fun in the back yard, while the adults are preoccupied with a training inside the house. This is also an example of one way that volunteers are valuable at the homes – as a presence with the children when the Tias have other matters to focus on.

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Above Left: A volunteer helps push the girls on the house swings.
Above Right: The Uno game is endless. This game involves Johana, Evelyn and Alandra.

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Above Left: Everyone wants to do yoga! This is Raeka's pose.
Above Right: Victoria shows off her yoga moves.

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Above Left: Nohemi practicing yoga.
Above Right: Karina contemplates her next course of action.

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Above Left: Bryssa, Jhoselin and Johana are preparing for a game of Speed.
Above Right: Bryssa and Abigail continue playing Speed outside.

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Above Left: Nohemi and her popcorn, the afternoon snack, served by one of the older girls.
Above Right: Alandra shows off some Origami she helped make. Johana is in the background.

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Above Left: Kids learn to play complicated games with the help of adult volunteers. Then, they can play on their own. Here, Raeka and Victoria are on a team for Go, Fish!
Above Right: Sofia and Alandra plan Jenga for the first time.

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Above Left: Karina playing Jenga.
Above Right: And they all fall down!

And here are some photos of the girls on their day off on Mother's Day :)

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Above Left: Mariela and Zamora play together near an empty fountain.
Above Right: Raeka with flowers in her hair for Mother's Day.

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Above Left: Karina, Zamora, Raeka and Mariela in the center of the fountain.
Above Right: Evelyn is a natural athelete.

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Above Left: Zamora in the park where everyone went on Mother's Day.
Above Right: Mariela and Raeka sharing a swing in the park.

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Above Left: Victoria tries a very difficult swing.
Above Right: The girls love climbing and balancing.

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Above Left: Climbing a tree is always fun!
Above Right: Two sisters create a picture near a tree.

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Above Left: Kattia tries her luck on the bars.
Above Right: Climbing together is an example of fun in the park.

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Preventive Education Workshops in Mizque

Jacqueline 'Álvarez Daza (Jackie) is the very talented Program Director at Niños con Valor. She has been with the foundation since its inception, in 2005. Besides her many skills in organization and coordination, she has degrees as a lawyer and a psychologist. This makes her uniquely qualified to navigate the complicated world of social services in Bolivia. Court decisions are significant in making decisions that affect the lives of these children, and Jackie navigates the legal world with great skill. Besides her daily coordination work, Jackie plans big events such as field trips and community presentations. She also represents Ninos con Valor to other communities, such as Tarija and Mizque.

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Above Left: A recent photo of Jackie outside our girls' home.
Above Right: Some of the municipality workers we coordinator with surveying communities on a recent visit.

Currently, Jackie is planning for workshops which will, we hope, be given to community leaders in the middle of June in Mizque, the focus of the community outreach portion of our One Child at a Time program. Leaders of 20 rural communities will be present, and these leaders will return to their communities to give workshops on the same topics. This is a program directed at early intervention, and the prevention of social problems endemic in Bolivia, including substance abuse and domestic abuse. The three areas of the workshops are health, nutrition and education.

The health focus is on the care of infants under 6 months. Infant mortality is still very high in the rural areas of Bolivia, as families are far from hospitals and formal health care, and babies are often born at home without the benefit of health assessment at birth. Many children die before the age of two years, due to preventable health conditions such as diarrhea and lung infections. People are living in poverty, which affects the health of children significantly. Jackie will also address the importance of health for pregnant women.

In terms of nutrition, rural families grow healthy food, such as onions, and carrots, but sell most of that to support their families. Many rural families have diets heavy in potatoes, rice and pasta, meaning that children are not getting the nutrition necessary for a good start in life. These bad nutritional conditions lead to poor health.

Education is the third challenge in rural areas. Children are taken out of school as early as second grade in order to work in the fields. The value of education for women is minimized, as women's work is often in the home or the fields. So, many rural children stop their education at 7 or 8 years of age, and most do not continue beyond the fifth grade. The parents insist their children are just helping the family. While this may be the case, the reality is that many children have the work load of adults, and are only able to receive salaries for their work when they reach the age of 13. Early marriages are also a challenge for completing an education. Many girls marry at the age of 13 or 14, and begin having children, allowing the cycle to be repeated.

Jackie will also talk to these community leaders about domestic violence. In this culture, women tend to defend their husbands when they are abusive. It is tricky to help women see patterns that might be able to change. With increased self-esteem and community support, women can resist violence in more healthier and more effective ways. Our hope is that through more education, women may be able to realize that they are victims and speak out with more courage.

The workshops have already been set back from April, but we hope that Jackie will be given this important opportunity to do preventive education.

In another effort to help strengthen families, Niños con Valor has been asked by by the municipality to assist in the creation of a community center for children and families with a range of social services including after school help and healthy activities such as volleyball, basketball, and soccer. This type of a center would counter the effects of alcohol, drugs, and early pregnancies on adolescents, which are higher in Mizque than in other areas of Bolivia. Gangs are an increasing problem, and adolescents do not have many healthy role models, which makes these "communities" an attractive alternative.

One success story of preventative family intervention closer to home, is the involvement of Niños con Valor with the Quiroga family. This is a family of six children who have lost both of their parents. The eldest son moved out years ago, and the five remaining siblings live with their elderly grandmother, who has health problems. Due to the involvement of NCV, these children have been able to stay in their home and continue their education. The oldest child is studying to be a lawyer, and the second oldest is studying auto mechanics. The third has begun culinary school. All three work to support their grandmother and two younger siblings.

With early intervention, much is possible. We are grateful to Jackie for her vision and energy as she uses her extraordinary skills to create positive change in communities beyond Cochabamba. May the ripple effects of her work continue!

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Above Left: The living situation for children and their families are often challenging, with minimal resources available.
Above Right: A group of teen boys walking in their community. With little to do, boredom often leads to potentially negative situations.

Child Spotlight: Alvaro

Health is always in the forefront of our minds, as so many of our children face complicated medical situations. This is particularly the case for our tiny young boy, Alvaro, who came to us in the fall and who will be two-years-old in July. He has been back and forth to the hospital in the last few weeks, dealing with lung infections. For some time his health has been very delicate and he is susceptible to infections.

To understand what his body is dealing with, it will help to have a little medical background. In addition to having a weakened immune system, Alvaro has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, affecting his brain function, and is blind. He is also being treated for epilepsy, and he suffers with a deformation of a valve in his trachea controlling the distribution of air to the lungs and food to the stomach. This sub-glottal difficulty allows food, when eaten, to pass easily into his lungs, which creates constant worry about infections for his lungs. Earlier in the year, a gastric feeding tube was inserted to allow for direct feeding into his stomach. Gastric reflux, (stomach acid coming up from the stomach into the esophagus) is also a condition for which he takes medications. At this point Alvaro must take nine different medications every day for these various conditions affecting his little body, which places a burden on his kidneys as well.

The possibility of an operation to correct the valve problem is at present ruled out because of the significant risks. Both the assault to his system from a surgery and the possibility of infections are relevant dangers, given his delicate situation. At the same time, the consulting specialists are concerned that an operation of this kind will not improve the child's overall health picture or address what is an irreversible situation.

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Above: Alvaro: Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013

In last month's letter, Sister Gloria compared Alvaro to the one Gospel sheep that was lost. "Watching the staff members work with Alvaro gives me a glimpse of Jesus in the gospels, particularly the story of the 100 sheep and the one that got lost. He receives so much care and love from the Tias. Even though they fear that this baby will not survive, they are doing their best to take care of him."

At the present time though, to provide the best possible care for Alvaro, it seems that it will be necessary for him to have the care of a private nurse daily, so that one person can be in control of his medications and his feeding with the gastric tube. However, public agencies in Bolivia will not fund this medical need because the primary diagnosis of cerebral palsy is not one that entitles him to this sort of medical care.

Please keep this special little boy in your prayers as he struggles to remain alive. In addition, we are short of funds needed to provide the medical care that seems best. We are asking our friends to help if they can and to pray that we will be able to fund his care through the providence of God. While we are still working out the costs, it is possible that we will need between $400 and $500 a month, in addition to our regular operations budget, to ensure Alvaro is receiving the best available care. Anyone interested in supporting Alvaro through a one-time gift of through monthly sponsorship can do so here (in the US) or here (in Canada).

So that is the month that was. It would be great if we could have a camera present for every giant step a child takes, but sometimes we are not ready. As the months roll by, the pattern is clear: Being loved is very good for children, even when those who care for them are challenged by the realities of an residential home setting. It is our profound hope that each child can feel the care we are trying to give them, in the midst of all the complications and questions that growing up brings.

A big "thank you" to Bill and Kathy Collins, who have been faithfully pulling together our newsletters for the past several months. Starting in June, Andrea Valdéz, our PDC psychologist, will be helping us put them together.

Peace and Love From the Children, the Staff, and the Volunteers of Niños con Valor.

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Keep up to date with what is happening in NCV on our blog. You can also catch up on previous newsletters here. Enjoy!

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If you are in the US, you can either send a check made out to "Ninos con Valor" to the address below, or use our Groundspring online donation page.

Niños con Valor
c/o Laurel Fortin
23515 NE Novelty Hill Rd SteB221-#301
Redmond WA 98053

For instructions on donating outside of the US, please visit our donations page.

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We know that God loves kids too, so please keep us in your prayers, using these updates as a bit of a guide on what is happening, or by writing us here. We send out weekly prayer requests to those who join our prayermail list. We really appreciate the support!


  Learn More about our Projects

All of our programs seek to provide holistic care, as well as integrate children and families living with various physical and mental health issues, including HIV/AIDS.


Our home that currently provides care for 22 girls who have been orphaned, abandoned or removed from high-risk situations.


Our home that currently provides care for 13 boys who have been orphaned, abandoned or removed from high-risk situations.


Our program working with families and communities to strengthen community care of children and to prevent family disintegration.

NCV Newsletter

23515 NE Novelty Hill Rd SteB221-#301
Redmond, WA   98053
Questions? +1 425-891-6237

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