Niños con Valor E-Newsletter: Thursday, July 31, 2008
Greetings from Cochabamba!
This month has been a very full month for all of us at Niños con Valor- difficult, exciting, challenging, heartbreaking, joyful, frustrating, encouraging. We often find ourselves struggling with the difficult realities of injustice, abuse, and poverty in our work and our daily lives. Yet it is often these realities that motivate us to create positive change in our world. History is full of movements borne out of adversity and even tragedy. It is in our commitment to "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before our God" (Micah 6:8) that we have created all facets of Niños con Valor, and most recently Pedacito de Cielo and The Carol Patiño Fund.
Thanks to all of you who have joined us on the journey of humility, mercy, and justice. We are grateful for your dedication and generosity.
It was with great sadness that we shared with you in a special mailing that Carol, the 9 year old daughter of one of our board members, passed away after a long battle with leukemia. It was particularly difficult for us knowing that if she lived in a country with better medical facilities (Bolivia does not perform bone marrow transplants) she would have had a 70-80% survival rate.
We thank you on behalf of the family for your donations that made it possible to cover all of the debt incurred from the medical bills. With your donations, we were also able to provide a bit of fun and comfort for Carol in her last few days by bringing her a whiteboard so she could communicate with her family and visitors, art supplies, and a few toys. Her parents were so grateful for those few moments with her daughter.
Out of this tragedy, our hope is to be able to bring comfort and healing to other families by establishing the Carol Patiño Fund. Carol's family is an incredibly giving family, always wanting to bless those less fortunate than they, and we've created this fund in that spirit. This fund would provide financial relief to families with huge medical expenses due to costly treatments, often times running higher than years of income.
If you would like to donate to the Carol Patiño Fund please click here.
One thing we can always be guaranteed is that there is something going on at the girls' home. This past month, the girls have had some unexpected 'vacation' time as the teacher's resumed their strikes with roaming blockades and marches throughout the city. While some have not been too excited about it, the tias have been continuing the girls' studies, and reinforcing the basics. There's also been extra time for arts and crafts, made possible by visiting teams' donations of supplies. We've also been seeing some new 'fun' hairstyles with the fabulous hair care products we received.
Sadly, we had to say goodbye to our eldest girl last week. After much counsel and many difficult conversations, we honored her wishes to live with her oldest sister. Please be praying for her as she makes this transition in her life, that she will continue her studies, and that she will make wiser decisions that some of her older siblings have. Niños con Valor continues to support her and her family, and is working with her father to improve his living conditions to the point that his two younger daughters, still living in Corazón del Pastor, can return to a healthy family environment.
Things have been progressing quickly with the plans to open the daycare. Our partner, Vivo en Positivo, already has the list of children who will be attending, and the families are eagerly awaiting our projected start date of mid-October. There is much excitement within the HIV/AIDS community as they have often been made promises by different groups, and they are thrilled to finally be seeing real responses to their expressed needs. It's already been an exciting journey, and it's just getting started!
We've been so encouraged by the outpouring of support and generosity for this pilot project. We decided to step out in faith on this project, everything but the finances was falling into place, and we had heard so many requests, pleas even, for a facility such as this, that we felt it had to be done, and we would just trust that God would move people to give. Many thanks to you who have already given both financial and in-kind gifts; this would not be possible without you!
There are still many opportunities to give toward ensuring that Pedacito de Cielo can provide care to these marginalized children long-term. Please consider becoming a partner by making a one-time or monthly donation, or fulfilling one (or more than one) of the one-time needs we have in setting up the daycare. For a detailed list of needs, please email us.
This aspect of our work with children and adolescence is always the most trying, the most draining, and seemingly most fruitless. Working with the street population takes an endless supply of patience and hope. It is also not something you do if you're looking to get patted on the back for doing something nice for someone.
Having gone into this work realizing the low rate of 'success' with these children, we were immensely excited and encouraged to attend Jhoan's 1st birthday party. Jhoan is the son of a young woman we worked with while she was still living on the streets. Over the past two years she has been able to stop sniffing glue, have a room to live in, earn money honestly- first through our program, then running her own food stand, and is providing a good home for her son. A child's first birthday here is a very big celebration, so it was with immense pride that they put on a no-holds-barred Bolivian-style birthday party complete with giant sound system, two cakes, and even clowns.
Seeing this small family doing so well was wonderful proof that change is possible. When we first started building a relationship with her, we certainly weren't imagining that we would be able to celebrate with her like this in just two years.
Another encouragement has been the health of the twins of a young woman that was a part of our day program until a few months back. Unable to commit to change, the young mother decided to give her malnourished boy and girl in a baby home. We were so relieved when she made this decision as the babies were dangerously thin, and are even more relieved and full of joy to show photos of these siblings only a couple months later - nice and fat!
We've also been encouraged by our partnering with another relationship-based outreach, Performing Life. This outreach works with street kids to help grow their artistic abilities both to help make an honest income as well as express themselves in a constructive manner. We envision a mutually beneficial partnership that allows us to refer the kids we've been working with to their program when there's an expressed interest, and we can help them with the more formal social work aspect. We're also looking to the future where we will be able to combine our efforts in creating more long-term options for the children looking to leave the streets and where returning to their biological homes is not an option. You can check out their website at www.performinglifebolivia.org
Mariela is a spunky 6 year old who has a very curious nature and loves to laugh. She is very sociable with both her peers and adults, but also enjoys playing by herself. Mariela loves to be active and enjoys arts and crafts as well as basketball.
She and her older sister came to live with us two years ago, and they have both made major strides in all areas of development. Life before coming to Corazón de Pastor was unpredictable and unsafe at best, and the staff have worked hard with Mariela ensuring that she understands that she will always be taken care of and always have enough while she is with us. Despite some challenges, Mariela likes school, particularly math, and hopes to one day be a teacher herself.
*Her name has been changed to protect her privacy.
If you would like to sponsor a child like Mariela, 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
Niños con Valor has had an awesome month filled with people with servant's hearts coming along side us in the work that is being done here. We've had two teams, Elevation-Embassy from Ontario and the Vineyard Bolivian Partnership from New Jersey, as well as one volunteer, Allison Braun come down and bless us and those we serve with their time, talents, finances, and gifts. It's been such an encouraging time to see how much has been given by these people, and then to see them be blessed even more in return. God’s math is a curious thing for sure.
We also had to say goodbye to two wonderful volunteers who had been with us for quite a while, David Cooke and Kristen Davis. Dave worked with CAT, a home for disabled children and Casa Nazaret, a home for boys, where he created an ultimate Frisbee craze and took the boys on numerous outdoor excursions. Kristen was the answer to our prayer for someone who could help us create a video for the foundation. After many crazy hours of editing and subtitle work, we are thrilled to have the ability to share our work with others through video! Many thanks to both of them for all of their hard work and dedication!
We need more volunteers!!! Whether you have one week or one year to give, we have a place for you here. If you would be interested in volunteering in any area of our foundation, please contact us. Don't let feelings of doubt or inadequacy stop you from at least inquiring about your place with us. Everyone has a gift, that combined with a servant's heart is the makings of a wonderful volunteer experience! Please write us Ana Carolina, our volunteer coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also have long-term volunteer opportunities available. Click on the link to learn more:
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 major need that this center meets in our community. We are currently seeking funding for both the daycare and orphanage aspects of the center. We will be initially opening as a daycare, and then expanding to offer full-time care as finances allow.
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 offer different cultural and educational experiences for the children we serve. We will let you know as soon as the option becomes available.
We thank all of you who have come along side us and partnered with us in this journey. We're grateful to have such people who are willing to give above and beyond to bring about justice, show mercy, and pour out love on the needy children of Bolivia.
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