Niños con Valor E-Newsletter: Sunday, August 31, 2008
Greetings from Cochabamba!
As we're sure you've noticed over the past few months, our foundation is expanding. We are excited about what is happening here in Bolivia, and we hope you are too. We've got several exciting projects in the wings, and we're looking forward to sharing those with you in the next few months. As our foundation grows, we'd like to see our support base grow too. Would you consider sending this update to just five people who you think would be interested in becoming part of the Niños con Valor family?
We are also on Facebook. If you have a Facebook page and are not already a member of our online community, visit our Niños con Valor causes page and get connected! (Please note this link will only work for those registered and logged in to their Facebook account) As this community grows, you'll be able to get additional updates, follow our blogs, and get connected to others who support or have served with NCV.
Speaking of serving with NCV, we've seen an increase in short-term mission trips, which is always an encouragement and blessing to all involved. If you are interested in planning a trip with us, contact Kimberly Setzer at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
We're excited to welcome back our long-term volunteer Amy Johnson, who has just returned from the States. As much needed answers to prayer, we will also welcome two new volunteers who will be joining us next month, one who will be working at CDP, the other at PDC. We have many opportunities for individual service with us, if you're interested, please contact Ana Carolina Malo at email@example.com.
If you've been receiving our newsletter, but haven't really gotten involved with what Niños con Valor is doing, now is the perfect time. We have many opportunities for you to get involved- child sponsorship, in-kind gifts, one-time gifts, monthly support, prayer support, and volunteering on a short-term or long-term basis. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how you'd like to become more involved with the work and ministry of Niños con Valor.
Oh, and more more thing - another way you can support NCV is by using the goodsearch.com search engine. We are currently registering, so soon you will be able to donate to NCV just by surfing the web! You simply go to the GoodSearch website and select 'Ninos con Valor' as "WHO DO YOU GOODSEARCH FOR?". Then, everytime you search online - NCV receives a donation! Just remember that if you clear the cookies on your web browser you will need to go to the GoodSearch website and reselect NCV as your charity of choice to ensure we get your support.
The girls have been able to return back to school after a prolonged teacher's strike, and that's good news for all involved. The girls certainly had fun with an unexpected vacation of sorts, but being in a known routine feels good too, and it's especially helpful when living with 21 girls and 3-4 tías (aunts).
We've had some changes in staffing this past month, and we're happy to introduce Noelia, our newest tía. She's made a smooth transition into the home with both the girls and the other tías, and already has a good rapport with the girls- not an easy feat. She has a background in education and has been a big help with augmenting the girls' education as well as with homework. Noelia is young and energetic and we're thankful for what she has brought to the team and the home at large.
This past month, the theatre troupe that the girls have formed had an opportunity to perform an original play written by the girls themselves called "El Amor Curador" (The Healing Love) at Bethsaida Community Church. Bethsaida is part of a network that Corazón del Pastor is also a part of called Red Viva (The Viva Network). The Viva Network is a worldwide network of organizations working with children in need. Annika Vargas, the director of the troupe, helped the girls write the play and has made amazing progress in helping some of our shier and less confident girls realize their artistic abilities. The play speaks to a concept that we hold true for our girls, that there is a beauty within all of us, and we must be willing to have the courage to discover it.
Plans for the opening of Pedacito de Cielo are coming along nicely. We've hired our staff for the daycare, and we've been blessed with a great group of women who are just as excited as we are to open PDC. Starting in September, all of the staff, both national and volunteer, who are connected to PDC will be attending a training entitled, “Holistic Care for Children Affected by HIV/AIDS”. This training will be the first of its kind here and will be a cooperative effort of Niños con Valor, Mujeres y Vihda, and Vivo en Positivo. Our vision is to be able to tailor this training to already existing daycare centers to be able to bring about a major change in the way children affected by HIV/AIDS are treated here in Bolivia.
Pedacito de Cielo has been created because there is no other place for children affected by HIV/AIDS to go where they will receive quality care. Because of the high levels of ignorance and discrimination these children are seen as modern-day lepers- untouchable, undesirable, unloved by society. This reality is played out in the rejection of these children from daycare centers and schools throughout the city. However, our long-term goal is to be able to work with these already existing daycare centers and pre-schools to be able to provide trainings that show that these beautiful children can be successfully integrated into society.
We continue to look for supporters of this desperately needed ministry. Due to several factors- the falling dollar, soaring inflation, and worldwide increases in food costs, we have had to increase our budget. Please click here to find out how to provide a safe, loving, supportive environment to Bolivia's most needy children.
Above Left- "Piedad" and her baby.
Above Right- The boys taking a break from washing windows.
Bottom Left- "Piedad's" sister with glue in her hand.
Bottom Right- Home for many children.
It can be very difficult not to feel hopeless when you are working with street children, seeing them make mistakes that will affect their lives and feeling that there is very little that you can do to help them change. Piedad is a 17 year old, who recently gave birth to her second daughter. Her first was taken from her by social services and placed in a home, as Piedad was living underneath an overpass and inhaling 'clefa' (the cheap toxic glue which is the drug of choice for street children). When she became pregnant with her second child, Bella, she decided to leave the streets, moving in with her mother to a "telo" or shelter. These shelters are barely a step up from living on the streets. Large rooms filled with straw mattresses, each with a number; full of animals, excrement, and garbage - this is where many of Cochabamba's poorest reside. On the occasions that I saw Piedad after she gave birth to her beautiful daughter it appeared as though she was improving. She had stopped sniffing glue, and her baby was healthy and well taken care of, it seemed that she wasn't going to make the same mistakes as before and lose Bella also.
Regrettably things took a turn for the worse. A friend informed us that allegedly Piedad had been drinking and feeding her little girl at the same time, and somehow accidently suffocated her. To make matters worse Piedad needed to make a statement to the police, but disappeared without telling anyone of her whereabouts. The police are now searching, with the intention to arrest her. We continue to pray for this situation, that Piedad will accept responsibility for her choices, and that this tragedy will be a catalyst for change in the other children that were affected by the death of baby Bella.
On a much happier note we continue to further our relationship with Performing Life, planning the next phase of street outreach together. The kids we work with are so talented! They step into the make-shift recording studio, which consists of a sound proofed wardrobe connected to a computer outside and then freestyle entire songs! (see photos of the equipment below) They rap about their lives on the streets, about how they are treated and of their hopes and dreams. I really enjoy my time with them when they are recording as they tend to let their guard down, not worrying about washing car windows or where their next 'peso' is coming from. I get to see them acting more like the children that they actually are. We're looking forward to sharing with you what this partnership will come to bear in the near future.
Barbara-Ann McVean, Street Light Coordinator
Above Left- Some of Performing Life's sound equipment.
Above Right- The Make-shift recoding studio in John's closet (John is the founder of Performing Life).
Elena is a 10 year old girl with a charming smile, soft spoken voice, and a strong personality. Elena and her two sisters, who also live with us, come from an all too familiar situation of extreme poverty and domestic violence, leaving them very vulnerable. She has lived with us for over two years now, and made an easy transition to the home, making friends with girls and working well with the tías.
Elena is strong in all academic areas and is athletic as well. She enjoys swimming and basketball, and is quite competitive in the games of pelota quemada (Bolivian dodgeball). She also loves to sing and dance. One day, she hopes to be a hairstylist.
*Her name has been changed to protect her privacy.
If you would like to sponsor a child like Elena, 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
Niños con Valor is excited as we await the arrival of Jessica Coudriet next week, and is excited to have Katie Wenzel coming on in October as our first volunteer for Pedacito de Cielo.
Despite all our excitement, we still 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 email@example.com.
We also have long-term volunteer opportunities available. Click on the link to learn more:
Niños con Valor has been able to expand from just one small home for girls to a multi-outreach foundation in less than three years due to an outpouring of people's generosity and willingness to use their gifts and talents for the children we serve. Through the financial gifts of individuals, churches, and civic organizations; short-term teams; and individual volunteers, we have seen our ability to reach out to those children most in need grow exponentially. Despite the wonderful growth we have seen, the reality remains that there are many children still lacking the holistic care we are seeking to provide and we wish to be able to continue to expand to be able to reach these children, and create lasting change in their lives.
For those of you who are already supporters of Niños con Valor, we are extremely grateful to you, as we can only do what we do with you as a partner. Those of you who are not yet supporting us, please consider joining us as we continue to work toward changing the lives of Bolivia's neediest children, one life at a time.
Much Peace and Love,
The Staff and Volunteers of Niños con Valor, Cochabamba