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Greetings from Cochabamba,

The road upwards always involves obstacles, challenges, and sometimes changes in direction. Alone, as individuals, this climb can be overwhelming, paralyzing even, and even cause us to consider turning around. Together, as family, however, we can help each other through the important next steps in life, and reach the top together.

In this month's newsletter, we are going to share with you some of these "next steps" in the lives of our children, and hope that you will consider continuing on this journey with us as well.

Paz y bendiciones,

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Our Children Celebrate Birthdays!

For every child, the biggest "next step" of the year is usually his or her birthday. For many children, a birthday celebration is coveted and desired. For many children growing up in a healthy family, a birthday means celebrating at home with friends and family, receiving lots of presents, discovering mountains of treats in a piñata, having the best party their parents can muster. While it's just not financially viable for us to provide such elaborate celebrations for each of our children, we do our best to make it a wonderful time celebrating each child. At PDC, having "Happy Birthday" sung to them, eating cake and jello, and dancing around for an hour, certainly makes for a happy day and a welcomed break in the daily routine.

June was the Month of the Five-Year-Olds at PDC. Lucas, Bemabe, Zaquiel and Diego all turned five, and it is so exciting to see how they are growing to be young gentlemen, rising early the morning of their special day, picking out special clothes, and waiting patienly for the morning snack time, when we sing and share, and finish up with some crazy playtime in the yard.

Among so many princes, two princesses celebrated their special days too. Karina turned 9 years old, sharing a fun day with the girls and "tías" of of Corazón del Pastor, who sang to her and wished that the coming year would be full of blessings for her. The girls of CDP have become wonderful bakers over the years, and like expressing their creativity in the birthday cakes they prepare for each other. We are so grateful for each of these children, and our greatest desire is that God continues to protect them, and bring them hope that they dreams for the future will come true.

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Above Left: Singing "Happy Birthday" with some of the other boys..
Above Right: Zaquiel, together with his mom and brother, after blowing out the candle.

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Above Left: Diego, happy after biting into his cake.
Above Right: It isn't just the birthday boy (Lucas) who is happy with the cake... everyone loves a birthday!

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Above: Bemabe, and his cake, ready to dig into the final cake of the month!

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Above Left: Karina, walking near the home.
Above Right: Here, with a group of the girls, enjoying her special day out in the sun.

Our Quinceañera, Elena

A girl's fifteenth birthday is a time full of sweetness and dreams, as well as one of new concerns for the near future, since many things change in the life of a QuinceaƱera. From this age, your childhood is left behind, and you set off on the journey of becoming a woman: a process of maturing, and gaining confidence, independence, respect, autonomy and motivation, in order to achieve your dreams and ambitions.

The first of these dreams is the Fiesta Quinceañera: It combines the love of being with your family and friends, and the excitement of sharing your hopes as this new stage of life begins. This is reflected in the traditional entrance of the birthday girl, surrounded by her ladies in waiting, a waltz, speeches, cake and, of course, dancing into the night.

Elena has been anxiously awaiting this day like no other; even as a little girl she longed to grow up faster than her years allowed her, which has at times led her to try and skip many of life's steps. Reflecting on this, Elena shares that her constant desire to want to do "big girl" things was truly a desire to belong to a group, to have more privileges and freedoms, to feel like one of the older girls who have a natural leadership role in the home. She wanted to fall in love, was caught up in emotional dramas at school, and struggled to gain an understanding of who she truly was. She (and we) survived this rollercoaster phase of life, and now Elena understands that the privileges of being older are accompanied by responsibilities, that experience brings a maturity to how we deal with conflicts and make decisions. Finally, Elena has come to know herself, respect herself, and today we see a young woman so radiant and beautiful, a blossoming flower reflecting a new maturity and determination. We pray that as she moves forward into this new phase of her life, God will guide her and protect her.

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Above Left: It's gonna look good :)
Above Right: This is just the first part of the hair style.

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Above Left: Laughing, as onlookers take photos of the evening's princess.
Above Right: Ready to dance the waltz with Tío Tyson.

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Above: Elena with a group of her damas.

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Above: Here, with her mom, brother, and two sisters.

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Winter Solstice

The Andean-Amazonian New Year (Willka Kuti: Return of the Sun) is a national holiday in Bolivia, celebrated on June 21st, along with the winter solstice and the beginning of a new agricultural cycle. The timing of the Andean New Year celebration was chosen by the amautas (Andean priests) who believe it is the best moment in the year for the renovation of the land.

The belief is that on the morning of the 21st, you should rise to receive the first rays of sun. In Bolivia, the sun has long been considered sacred, so by placing your hands in the sky and palms upwards towards the sun, you are able to receive the first energies of the new year.

The children at Pedacito de Cielo love to hear stories and legends about their culture. For children, listening to cultural narratives can help them build an understanding of where they come from. For children living in a residential home, being orphaned, abandoned or removed from their homes due to family desintegration, being able to talk about "where I come from" is therapeutic. The culture of a child provides historical roots for the larger question of "who am I". By embracing their culture, children develop a sense of identity and security, giving them a confidence often lacking in children who know little of their past.

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Above Left: The boys sitting outside, listening to stories of the Aymaras.
Above Right: Receiving the energy of the Sun.

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Above: Diego is focused on absorbing the sun's energy.

Giving our House a Make-Over

It is always a blessing when people arrive, full of energy to help us out in whatever way they can. Over the first couple weeks of June we received two dynamic and hardworking teams, through our local partner, Amizade.

They were both fun groups, motivated to do as much as possible in a short amount of time, managing to paint several of the kids' rooms and stairwell, which had become marked up with tiny little handprints. The groups left their own mark as well in the lives of our boys, spending quality time in the mornings singing and playing, getting to know the mischievous and sweet personalities of each of them.

It is so fun to watch how, even though we are adults, through play we can become children again, running, playing tag, laughing, and even pouting when we're caught playing hide-and-seek. Being surrounded by children is such a blessing, helping us remember our own childhood; seeing the innocence and purity in their faces and their smiles fills us with a calm, giving us confidence that even when life seems chaotic, everything will turn out okay.

We are so grateful for these two Amizade teams and the love they shared with our boys. We hope that they carry in their hearts the love Pedacito de Cielo has for them as well, as they return to their studies in the US.

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Above Left: The first team was made up of 4 team members, who spent time with the boys playing, doing different activities, and started on the painting project.
Above Right: John, painting the stairwell.

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Above Left: Great Job Team!!
Above Right: The second group playing with the kids.

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Above Left: Receiving a "pedacito" (little piece) of thanks for their time shared with their boys.
Above Right: Goodbyes are always sad...

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San Juan - the coldest night of the year?

It is said that the night of San Juan, celebrated on June 21st, is the coldest night of the year, which is why many families have traditionally gathered around campfires, singing songs and drinking hot chocolate, while children played with fireworks and sparklers as a way to set the night alight. Unfortunately, this latter tradition led to many cases of severe burns, and the smoke from campfires and fireworks caused severe air contamination that would often force schools and businesses to shut down the next day. Three years ago, campaigns were launched across the city to increase awareness about pollution and to prevent injuries and burns in children, and now we are grateful to wake up on the 22nd with clear skies, and no more reports of senseless accidents.

Even though we no longer sit around a campfire or play with sparklers, we stay warm with our friendships and good conversation. This was the case for our beautiful young ladies, who shared a meal on San Juan at board member, Claudia Rivero's home, filled with laughter and plenty of active games to keep warm.

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Above Left: A group photo.
Above Right: A wheel barrel race! (Johana y Evelyn)

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Above Left: And Tug-o-war!
Arriba Derecha: Enjoying some candy and chocolates.

A Morning of Music and Talents

La Trinidad church is by far more than just a building where sermons are heard and worship songs are sung. Apart from learning about and reflecting on faith and life, its members are invited to be a part of the family of God. It is a church that integrates the culture it is a part of, and is made up of a diverse congregation, with lots of children, youth, young adults and adults. It is a place where different people with a shared faith join each other to do life together. One event that seeks to foster this sense of community is the annual "kermesse".

Church members shared music and dance performances, including our girls, who demonstrated their skills at folk dance, contemporary dance, and singing. It was a morning full of talent, rhythm, humor, and lots of fun, surrounded by a loving church community.

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Above Left: Some youth from La Trinidad playing some folkloric music.
Above Right: Some of our younger girls sharing a traditional dance from highland Bolivia.

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Above Left: Evelyn and Vanesa showing off their rythmic gymnastic skills
Above Right: Karina along with Bryssa, dancing with pom-poms.

Art, in your Fingers!

Art and music are creative ways to express our moods and feelings. Annika, who founded the home that is now Corazón del Pastor, was the piano teacher for a group of girls this past year, and through the keys of a piano, taught the girls coordination, self-awareness and, above all, a form of self-expression. It took months of dedication, yet the girls now enjoy having a new language with which to share themselves.

The classes culminated in a morning concert a week before Annika moved to Sweden. It included not only performances by the girls who were a part of the piano classes, but also a group of girls who had been taking singing lessons with Annika as well. We are always so impressed and encouraged to see our girls demonstrate their uniqueness through the talents they are acquiring.

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Above Left: Mariela playing a piano piece.
Above Right: Abigail taking a deep breath before she begins.

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Above Left: Ana singing before the audience.
Above Right: The small choir arranged by Annika.

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Putting into Practice Lessons Learned

In Bolivia, there are public schools that include a vocational componenet, where teens study in high school, and simultaneously take classes in a technical field, such as cosmetology, carpentry, sewing, and artisan crafts. When they graduate, not only do they receive a high school diploma, but also a diploma for the technical skill acquired, which is an invaluable tool for young men and women whose family incomes make entering directly into university directly a challenge. They are more easily able to obtain work, and begin to save for future studies.

While our girls do have the option of receiving support from Niños con Valor for post-secondary studies, they have taken to their technical areas of study with dedication, understanding that they will need to cover many of their expenses upon leaving the home, and having a practical skill set sill open up more job opportunities.

We have been pleased to see that the teens involved in these studies are very excited to have opportunities to implement what they are learning in the homes.

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Above Left: Sofia giving Zaquiel a haircut.
Arriba Derecha: Finishing up, with some curious onlookers.

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Medical Assistance

For a week, our Program Director, Jackie, traveled to Mizque with a team of doctors and medical students from the US, who came through one of our local partner organizations, Sustainable Bolivia.

Due to the poverty that is widespread in Mizque, a lack of medical services creates layers of problems that affect the education and health of children from the many communities scattered throughout the province. The lack of adequate hospital infrastructure, materials and medical supplies, often means that options available to this population are minimal, which is why we have been coordinating with the local government to better equip and assist this population, focusing primarily on two key focus areas: health and education.

On this particular trip, the doctors and medical students were able to treat many patients with different diseases and illnesses, while Jackie offered psychological consultations. Some of the more complicated cases were referred to private clinics in Cochabamba, with the support of the main public hospital in Mizque.

We are so thankful to the visiting team who, with a commitment borne of compassion, came to offer help and support to one of Bolivia's most needy populations.

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Above Left: In a wawawasi (village daycare) with the medical team.
Above Right: Some mothers awaiting free medical consults.

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Above Left: The team providing initial medical checkups.
Above Right: Educational activities were also planned in local schools, where an anti-parasite campaign was held.

We hope you enjoyed the pictures and updates from June, and thank you for continuing with us in our journey. If you want to support us in any way, please visit our website for information on how you can get involved.

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

pencil  Check out our Blog!

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.

pray  Pray!

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.

CDP

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

PDC

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

ONE

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
USA
www.ninosconvalor.org | info@ninosconvalor.org
Questions? +1 425-891-6237

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