Niños con Valor E-Newsletter: Friday, June 27, 2008
Greetings from Cochabamba!
Many of us have relied upon the truth of Romans 8:28 that says "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him..." In difficult times we find comfort and encouragement knowing that even when things happen that are beyond our comprehension, God will somehow use it for good in the end. But this verse doesn't just speak to the tough times in our lives, but covers all times, all things, including the seemingly mundane routine of daily life.
We here at Niños con Valor often see this truth present in the workings of our personal lives as well as the organization as a whole. We see this especially true in our relationships.
Despite the many challenges in creating collaborations here, we are blessed to have the partnerships we do, both here in Bolivia and with our donor partners around the world. We also see the fruits of threads that are woven together through the many personal relationships and friendships that we have developed over the years. In this month's update we share some of these stories with you. We hope that you'll be encouraged by these accounts, and either be reminded, or realize for the first time that each act of generosity, each 'chance' encounter, every friendship you form has a potential beyond what you’ll ever see at the time.
Living in Bolivia often requires a great deal of flexibility. The flexibility of the staff of Corazón del Pastor was put to the test when winter vacation started a week earlier than expected in order to take away the impact of an attempted teacher's strike. Despite the short notice, the staff have managed wonderfully, and have even recently returned from a weekend excursion to the Chapare, the tropical region of the Department of Cochabamba.
Our girls were recently gifted a trip to a camp in the jungle thanks to the children in Rathoe and Ardattin Primary Schools in Ireland who were generous enough to give our girls an opportunity to get out of the city and have some fun in the relative warmth- swimming, visiting with some monkeys, and eating a mountain of citrus fruits (literally!).
What that group of kids far off in Ireland didn't realize was what they gave beyond a mere fun vacation. Many of our girls originally come from this region, and they do not have fond memories of their former situations. This trip offered those girls the chance to build positive memories in a place that formerly held much fear and pain. Our vision statement says that we seek to bring hope, healing, and a sense of value to each child we work with, and this group unknowingly provided such an opportunity for all of these goals- hope of a better future, healing from past hurts and creating positive new memories, and a realization that there are people who think enough of them to provide them a vacation.
Not only did this gift benefit the 22 girls, but it also afforded the staff a vacation as well. It was rather surprising to learn that only one member of the staff had ever been to the Chapare, despite it only being three hours away from the city. One of the staff even commented that she was so thankful because it had always been her dream to be able to go to the Chapare, and had not been able to go before this trip.
We're very excited about our newest project, the HIV/AIDS daycare/orphanage slated to open in October of this year. As Niños con Valor's goal is to serve the children most neglected by society, those most in need of services, the children affected by HIV/AIDS certainly meets the criteria. While there are many people involved in making this center a reality, one of the key reasons that we are able to move this from dream to reality is because of the partnership we have formed with Vivo en Positivo (Living Positively).
Vivo en Positivo is part of RedBol+, a grassroots advocacy group that is run by people who have been affected by or are living with the virus themselves. They have experienced first hand the cruelty of discrimination and ignorance that is rampant amongst all classes here in Bolivia, and were therefore excited to join with us in creating a program that would meet the needs of the children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Their role will be helping in the selection of the children who will be attending the daycare, as well as providing training and education on all levels- staff, parents, and children. They will also continue to act as an advocate for these families in capacities outside the realm of PdC, but important nonetheless.
While we may have been able to put together PdC without the help of Vivo en Positivo, joining with them has made the journey shorter, and will more effectively meet the needs of the children we will be serving. Through their connections, we are hoping to be able to have Pedacito de Cielo serve as a model to other organizations for both exemplary care and integration of these children into mainstream society.
An unfortunate reality for most of the international volunteer staff is intestinal parasites and amoebas. It's not fun, and it's not pretty, and when you feel like you're going to die, you're not thinking about how these little "friends" may lead to something positive.
One of our staff (who shall remain nameless) seemed to be having a bad string of cases and was visiting the doctor quite frequently. In their doctor-patient chats, the doctor asked what s/he was doing here and responded that we were working with street children as well as working to open a daycare for children with HIV/AIDS. The doctor made mention that his wife, also a doctor, was opening a free OB/GYN clinic and offered her services to our street girls.
We're now working with Dr. Marilyn Yañez de Fernandez, at her clinic, Eligo la Vida (Choose Life), where she provides free medical care to the street girls we work with. Adequate health care is a huge issue, but it's even more so for a population that is viewed as barely human. The girls are often refused services at other clinics or receive only basic care. At Eligo la Vida, Dr. Marilyn treats them with respect and dignity, and one of our girls was absolutely blown away by the care the doctor took with her, how she listened, and thoroughly explained things to her. She wasn't used to that kind of treatment.
We recently had a team from MacMaster University who heard about Niños con Valor through a former volunteer of ours, and they were able to bring down donated medical supplies. We couldn't use some of the materials, and thought that maybe Dr. Marilyn could use them. When we brought them to her clinic, she lit up! She was about to do a PAP smear campaign out in rural communities, and the supplies we gave her was just what she needed.
Jhoselin & Johana
Jhoselin and Johana are 7 year old twins who came to live with us a year ago. Despite their coming from a background filled with much instability and violence, they have sweet dispositions and get along well with the other girls in the home. They are also protective of their two younger sisters who also reside with us.
Jhoselin enjoys all subjects in schools and it has been a joy to watch her learn to read and write. Johana has more difficulty in school and needs lots of individualized attention due to her high level of distractibility, but she too is making great gains in her education.
They are both good in sports with Jhoselin liking soccer and Johana basketball.
These sisters are very close and even in their future plans they want to work together as one wants to be a doctor, the other a nurse.
*Their names have been changed to protect their privacy.
If you would like to sponsor a child like Jhoselin & Johana, 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, 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
If you would like to join us in making a difference here in Cochabamba please let us know! We welcome individuals and families as well as short-term groups.
We also have long-term volunteer opportunities available. Click on the link to learn more:
If you are interested in volunteering, please write our volunteer coordinator Ana Carolina: firstname.lastname@example.org
Help us Launch Pedacito de Cielo!
As October/November approaches and we prepare to open our daycare/orphanage for babies and children affected by HIV/AIDS, we are realizing the importance of this center more and more, and are anticipating the need to accept more children than we have funding for sooner than later.
Please consider donating monthly to help us cover the staffing costs as well as regular expenses such as diapers, formula, and medicines.
Also, we will soon be launching an online and printed alternative gift catalogue, where you will be able to help us purchase specific items, and send the children we serve on exciting trips. We will let you know as soon as the option becomes available.
At times we see God working things for the good in miraculous ways, in financial gifts of just the right amount of money, or sending us just the right person at the right time to meet a need, other times we see it in the sweetness of the generosity of children who want to be able to share with those less fortunate than they, and other times we see it in God's sense of humor in creating blessing out of an unpleasant circumstance like intestinal distress. In all things we see God working, and we see people allowing themselves to be conduits of God's blessing, sometimes without even knowing it. We look forward to sharing more of these stories with you in the future.
If you'd like to learn more about any of our programs, please visit our website at www.ninosconvalor.org.
Much Peace and Love,
The Staff and Volunteers of Niños con Valor, Cochabamba