Children who have lived on the streets have so many needs. The basic need for food and shelter is obvious. Medical care and education are critically needed, and so vitally important too. But to feel that they are loved, that someone out there really cares about them, is far more important to the children than anything else. Which is why we at Kaya are so grateful for all of our volunteers who make the trip to Bolivia to work face-to-face with the children, taking the time to get to know each of them as unique and wonderful individuals. There is no amount of money that can buy what the children receive from caring volunteers who give the kids what they need most of all... LOVE!Kaya volunteers hail from all over the globe, bringing different talents, languages, experiences and skills. Whether it's playing futbol or guitar, the children truly crave quality time with caring adults. Our latest group of volunteers from Germany have truly enjoyed working with the children, and a new volunteer just arrived last month from Belgium! Since she is a psychologist, she is helping to evaluate children when they first arrive.
A US volunteer, Katie Harris, is working alongside them. One of Katie's jobs at the house is to help plan the boys' birthday celebrations. When Katie first arrived at Kaya, it was clear to her that each staff member truly loved the kids. She says, “This makes the Kaya Center a very special place. The kids receive food, clothing and academic support, but – more importantly – they also receive encouragement, love and acceptance. One of the things I value most about the Kaya Center is that it is a space where our kids can be typical kids—they play, laugh and even sometimes fight.”
Your support means that the children at Kaya are able to spend their days in a safe environment, where they are loved, where they are able to dream big, and where they are able to just be kids. Thank you for recognizing the children at Kaya and playing a part in their lives. We are grateful for you!
What if you were born into poverty in Bolivia – the poorest country in South America? What if the parents you looked up to were unable, or unwilling, to care for you? What if they drank too much, got angry a lot, or abused and neglected you? Or what if they truly loved you and tried, but just could not manage to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders?
Maybe they told themselves that you were “better off” without them when they left you on a street corner saying they’d return. Maybe you convinced yourself that you’d be better off without them out there in the world with no rules, no chores and no school. After all, you’re only eight and you believe in magic. But the magical wishes for a better life fade and are replaced with a harsh reality.
Out on the streets alone, you try to steer clear of those who hurt you, try to stay warm in a cardboard shack with no heat, no clean water, no toilet, and no food. And worse… you soon realize that there is no one in the world who cares; no one to bandage your wounds or hold you when you cry; no one who loves you with an unconditional love. Imagine you’re only eight years old and, somehow, you’ve found yourself all alone with no place to call home and no one to call “Mom” or “Dad.”
But what if someone, far away in another country, decided that your life mattered; that you deserved help. Thank you for recognizing the children at Kaya and playing a part in their lives. We are grateful for you!
Kaya Children International brings these children home to a clean, safe place where they are not only given a warm bed, food, education and medical care… but the love and concern of dedicated staff members 24 hours a day. Kaya provides each child with “wrap-around” services that address not just the physical solutions, but also the root causes and invisible psychological wounds these children bear. Kaya psychologists help the children deal with feelings of loss and mistrust while Kaya’s “Warmi” (means Woman) works with “at risk” mothers to prevent the financial and emotional crises that may lead their children to a life on the streets. Together, let's restore childhoods and change futures.
I want to tell you about Esmeralda, a beautiful three-year-old girl who is a newcomer at the Kaya Center. Esmeralda’s mom, Angelica, was one of the first mothers enrolled in "Warmi Kaya", one of our newest programs which works with the mothers of children who are on the streets or “at risk.” With the help of Warmi, Angelica obtained stable work but struggled to watch Esmeralda. Sadly, she left the child with her aunt where Esmeralda was badly neglected. This sweet little girl became seriously ill and depressed. And she was soon diagnosed with "chronic malnutrition."
Now, Esmeralda lives temporarily with a dedicated Kaya staff member while her mother finds a better childcare option. Esmeralda is receiving the food, clothing and medical attention she needs. Each day she is growing stronger! She eats very well and is gaining weight once again. Though Esmeralda’s language was very limited, she is now learning quickly, mimicking what she sees and hears around her. One of our Kaya Center volunteers, Katie, has taken a special interest in her.
Perhaps the best news of all is that, at the Kaya Center, Esmeralda is happy! Her sadness has faded away, and now her contagious smile lights up the room as she tries to make the other children laugh. Esmeralda is truly loved at the Kaya Center by all the staff and children. Your support makes this new beginning for Esmeralda and so many other children possible. Thank you for your generosity and compassion.