Niños con Valor E-Newsletter: Tuseday, September 30, 2008
Greetings from Cochabamba!
I was particularly moved today to hear that some of our newest supporters are currently living in a homeless shelter. It seems like every time I'm online the top news story is about the economy and how things just keep getting worse. That kind of news certainly isn't what tends to prompt people to open their pockets and give, and yet in the midst of impending economic disaster (or at least as it's portrayed in the news), there is this amazing example of sacrificial giving.
I can't help but be reminded of the poor widow who gives everything she has as recorded in Luke, "Just then he (Jesus) looked up and saw the rich people dropping offerings in the collection plate. Then he saw a poor widow put in two pennies. He said, "The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they'll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn't afford-she gave her all!"
There is no doubt in my mind that those few dollars we receive in support will somehow be multiplied by God's amazing math. In these difficult times, I challenge you to not reduce your giving, whether it be to Niños con Valor, your church, or wherever you choose. In Malachi, God asks us to be faithful to Him in our riches, and in return, he promises to bless us beyond our comprehension. I encourage you to remain faithful in your giving, of your time, resources, talents, gifts, as well as money, and trust that God will remain faithful in fulfilling his promises to you.
We have seen God's amazing faithfulness throughout our newest project, Pedacito de Cielo, a holistic daycare for children affected by HIV/AIDS, and we can already see that it will have an impact on the community we're serving and society at large. Just how large an impact remains to be seen, but we're encouraged by the response we've already had, and by the relationships with other groups that we've been able to build through this process. You can find out more about this project, as well as updates on the other NCV projects in this month's newsletter.
Thank you for you continued support of Niños con Valor and the many children we serve.
Director of Communications
The grand opening of Pedacito de Cielo (Little Piece of Heaven) is only a few short weeks away, and things here have been a whirlwind of preparations and excitement! Everyone involved in the process of making this dream a reality is thrilled with the way things are coming together.
These past two weeks have consisted of in-depth training in several areas, but specifically focusing on the facts regarding HIV/AIDS, nutrition for children with compromised immune systems and living in poverty, medical care and medication concerns, psychological concerns in dealing with children affected by HIV/AIDS, and team building. These trainings were made possible by partnering with Vivo en Positivo (Living Positively), a grassroots advocacy group; Mujeres y VIHda, a women's support group for those living with HIV/AIDS (VIH is HIV in Spanish, and vida means life); and IDH, the Institute of Human Development, and we're grateful for all the wonderful information and insight they brought to the group.
The trainings have been an amazing experience of cooperation amongst several groups, and it was evident that all benefitted from meeting together. In speaking recently with the new staff, all were very excited about having the opportunity to be a part of the development process, and looking forward to working as a team.
Above Left- Alejandra from Vivo en Positivo at our recent training seminar.
Above Right- Ximena from Mujeres y Vidha explaining the importance of the language we use with the families.
Much thanks goes to Joe Sherman for his invaluable guidance on all things health related for the daycare, and Becky Sherman for her team development workshops which have helped so much in creating a positive team dynamic and a vision that brings these women to see their position as more than just a job. We know that the work ahead of us is going to be challenging and difficult, and at times, even heartbreaking, so to be able to have already such an atmosphere of camaraderie and support is wonderful.
Above Left- Becky looks on as a team enters into a role-play.
Above Right- Katie, Glenda and Podge presenting another role-play.
It was particularly encouraging to hear from some of the ladies that they were excited about the knowledge they had gained through the trainings because they could then educate their families, friends and others in their sphere of influence about the truth of HIV/AIDS and its reality here in Bolivia. We often speak of believing in the ripple effect when working with children, but here we see that same principle coming into play with our staff as well.
Above- The Pedacito de Cielo Staff, from left: Anita, Eliana, Cecilia, María Eugenia, Katie and Glenda.
We've been overwhelmed with the generosity that we've seen pouring in for Pedacito de Cielo. To date, we've received over $25,000 in one-time gifts for this project. It's exciting to see that we're already half way to our goal of the yearly operation costs for PDC. Many thanks to all who gave to make this project a reality!
We recently received the list of the children who will be attending the day care and we're already over our original maximum of 12. We knew that the need was great, but we had no idea to what extent a place like Pedacito de Cielo was needed. We haven't even opened yet, and we have a waiting list of children, who would benefit from the center. It has been difficult to say no to families that are in desperate need, but we have decided that we shouldn't take any additional children in until we are able to cover the salary of an additional staff member to provide the level of care needed.
As we have learned more about the families of these children, we have been saddened to learn that all are living in poverty, with some making fewer than $100/mo. with nearly 2/3 of that income going to rent. Working with that kind of knowledge, we felt we had to be able to provide for all their nutritional needs while they are with us (this includes two full meals and two nutritious snacks) and to provide full-day Saturday care as well, as clearly, their families have been able to do so due to their economic situation.
If you would like to help us expand this ministry by giving a one-time or monthly donation, please click here to go to our secure giving page.
Above Left- One of our girls celebrates her brithday with her niece.
Above Right- Our youngest is growing up so fast!
While not technically only for use by the girls' home, the girls are clearly very excited about the newest addition to NCV, as are we. Due to the generosity of the children, families and teachers of the Our Savior Lutheran School in Livermore, California, we finally have our much needed trufi (mini-van) to be able to transport the girls to their many appointments and activities.
Above Left- A few of the "tias" and girls with the new trufi.
Above Right- Our 4 year-old taking a turn at the wheel.
This huge blessing is a result of one individual allowing their short-term experience with NCV to spill over into their personal life. Rebecca, a teacher at the Our Savior Lutheran School was part of short-term team that came in the summer of 2007. Their team had a great impact on the girls, but the girls also had a great impact on them as well. When Rebecca returned to school, she suggested that their chapel offering be designated for a vehicle for us. Throughout the year, the school raised over $10,000! Many thanks to all of you who made this possible.
Above Left- Rebecca with one of the girls at CDP when she was here with us.
Above Right- Rebecca with some of the children in her class who helped make this dream a reality.
Above- Kari, Katrina and Rebecca, affectionately known as "our Cali gals" on their last day with us.
The volunteers meet together weekly for some time to hang out together and also reflect on our lives, our work, and living in Bolivia. We recently began reading Compassion by Henri Nouwen et al. to add to our understanding of the work that we do here. He points out that compassion moves beyond mere pity, and beckons us deeper, to actually come alongside someone who is in need, to enter into their suffering with them. "Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to entire places of pain, to share in the brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish."
In this context, having compassion when working with street children is a serious endeavor. Working with these children requires a willingness to meet them, join them, in all of these tragedies of hurt, pain, brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Often times it is difficult to do so, if only because we cannot truly understand their daily experience of abuse, discrimination, and the many realities of poverty. Please continue to pray for the workers and the children they serve as they move toward deepening relationships and creating lasting positive change in their lives.
Evelyn is an 8 year old who at first seems quite shy and quiet, but is actually very outgoing and quite funny. Evelyn has gone been through a lot in her young life, including the loss of her mother, but despite these difficulties, she has not hardened herself, but remains a sweet girls who loves life.
She loves drawing, singing, and basketball, and is very creative. She is also one of our best students and is very dedicated to her studies. While she excels in academics and Math is her favorite subject, she hopes to one day be a model or singer.
*Her name has been changed to protect her privacy.
If you would like to sponsor a child like Evelyn, 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
With all this growth, we are need of more volunteers! 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:
Please write us Ana Carolina, our volunteer coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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