Kaya Children International

The mission of Kaya Children International is to address the unique needs of street children in Bolivia and around the world through direct service, research and advocacy.
Dec 18, 2013

Angel's Wish at Kaya

The Children. They are the common thread that runs through our stories... about why we support Kaya; why we feel drawn to this cause. Children on the streets may feel invisible to most, but when we hear their stories and look into their eyes, we truly "see" them. By listening and caring, we've decided that these children, and their life stories, are important. And by taking action, we're doing something about it. Through our decision to give, we are changing their lives for the better, letting them know that they are not forgotten. 

One of our earliest promises was to "tell the stories" of the children whom Kaya is privileged to serve. So this Christmas season, we share with you the story of one boy, Angel, who -- abandoned by his mother -- spent his earliest childhood years living on the streets with an alcoholic father. The one wish he held onto was that he would, one day, be reunited with his brothers again. With your help, this wish came true. Please remember the many other children like Angel, living on the streets of Bolivia in severe poverty, beyond what most of us can imagine, holding onto nothing more than the hope that their lives might change.

Consider Jonathan. His mother, with whom he lived on the streets for years, was involved in the sex trade and contracted AIDS. When Jonathan's mother died, our friends asked Kaya to welcome Jonathan into our home because Kaya was the only organization they trusted to care for him. Or little Hector, whose mother died when he was just five. To help his father suppport the family, he left school at age 8 to earn money, watching cars. With Kaya's help, Hector now attends school in the mornings, and returns to the Kaya Center for lunch and academic support in the afternoons. 

When we hear their stories, we are reminded, too, of how our own lives sit in stark contrast to the lives of these young, struggling children. How blessed we are to have the means to help. So, please consider a gift in the amount that is right for you. It is your caring that makes a difference in the lives of the children!

Dec 18, 2013

A Boy Named Grover

It was May 2005. Michelle and I had been working in Bolivia for nine months. Kaya was completing construction of its first permanent home: the Barnabas House.  For the past several years, the one and only home of what was then called the Bolivian Street Children Project was bursting at the seems.  So this new home would not only transform our ministry, but would transform children's lives.  We’d developed trusting relationships with children ready and waiting to enter a new life….


"Grover" was one of those young boys.
 
Living in a tarp under a bridge, Grover, who was by far the youngest in his group, had left an abusive home for life on the streets.  He'd felt the heavy hands of abuse, and had been kept from attending school so that he could earn an income – something common among the children of Bolivia.  Michelle and I had spoken with Grover many times about leaving the streets. And finally, the day had come.  Grover’s only problem:  the older boys wouldn’t let him leave (because he owed them 50 cents!)  We took care of Grover’s debt and he came to live in our apartment as we awaited the opening of the new home.  In the first weeks, we taught Grover some basic life lessons, from bathroom hygiene to trust.  Having spent years wondering where his next meal would come from, Grover never left the table without squirreling away food in his pocket.  Eventually, however, Grover adjusted and grew to love his life in the Kaya home.

But then one day, years later, Grover unexpectedly disappeared.  He left the Kaya home and, despite our best efforts, we were unable to locate him.  We feared the worst.  Having buried more street children than we ever thought possible, our greatest fear was that Grover had returned to the streets and lost his precious life.  But about a year later, Grover contacted us.  He explained how he had tried to go home to help his family, but found that his family had not healed as he had.  He realized that his home was not a safe place and -- being then an adolescent – decided to enroll in the military for his obligatoryservice.

This past summer, as I visited La Paz once again, I had the honor of seeing Grover for the first time in many years. Having completed his military service, he lives on his own, and is planning to go to military college in the hopes of becoming an officer. Grover works an overnight shift at a bakery to save money.  Even more, he continues to be in contact with his “Kaya Family” often even giving of his own money to help his “brothers” in their times of need.  Grover’s story is one of an amazing transformation.  He once lived a desperate life of abuse, neglect and hopelessness in the streets. Yet, today, he is a beacon of hope to everyone around him and his face glows with pride.

Since 1997, Kaya has made deep investments in the lives of the children we serve. As Grover’s story demonstrates, Kaya changes the life of a child forever.  But the full cost of Kaya’s programs for a boy like Grover is about $350/month.  I don’t know about you, but I think it's worth every penny. While we might struggle with our own financial issues, the cost of saving a life is “priceless.”  Please consider making a gift to Kaya Children. Today, Kaya serves over 100 children in our programs, but we cannot do this work without partners like you. Will you join us?
Dec 18, 2013

Christmas Reflections from La Paz

 

When we think of Christmas (or "Navidad," as we say here in La Paz) some of the first things that come to mind are time with family, the birth of Jesus and what presents we are going to give.  Here in Bolivia, it is summer and the school year is finishing; the girls, boys and teenagers are starting vacation.  On one hand, it is a time of joy as the streets of La Paz are filled with people returning home to celebrate the holidays with their families.  But, at the same time you find many boys and girls performing in the streets or knocking on doors to get money, toys and used clothes.  Others beg for change or do acrobatics at stop lights to earn money to help their families to buy food and other necessities.
 
As we look at this reality and the differences between those who have plenty and those who suffer, Christmas can be a sad time.  However in all the time I have worked with the boys and girls who have lived on the streets or in extreme poverty, I have learned that Christmas is a time of hope.  This hope we bring to those who suffer.  Thanks to God and those of you who support Kaya, we have the great pleasure of bringing joy and hope to our boys and girls.

We see the eyes of the children glisten as they ask us if we will be able to buy presents for Christmas and if they will be able to ask for a certain toy.  Christmas is one of the only times when they will be able to receive a new toy.  At Kaya, we take the kids out to select presents and many choose to buy gifts for family members, especially their siblings, with the money that they are given.  This is why it means so much to us here, in La Paz, when you support Kaya Children with a donation especially this time of year.

Christmas is a day when our kids can be kids, without the worries that their complicated lives bring.  The children are always so excited to participate in the Kaya Center activities at Christmas time.  Their faces are filled with happiness.  Their smiles fill my heart with joy!  Until one feels the true joy of Christmas, it doesn’t exist.  All the rest is just "appearance" and a lot of ornaments.  Christmas is the warmth that changes the hearts of the people, the generosity of sharing with others and the hope to continue forward.

You, who support Kaya,  are part of the team that brings this joy to the children’s eyes, smiles to their faces, dreams, hope and this precious moment of happiness!  Some of us are close by, while others help to make all of this possible from a distance, but all are part of the Kaya Christmas.

Gracias por ser parte de la familia Kaya!
(Thank you for being part of the Kaya family!)

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