Rescuing children from a life on the streets

 
$40,909
$9,091
Raised
Remaining

Do you remember making forts in the living room out of a blanket or a cardboard box when you were a kid?  An explorer, an astronaut... who doesn’t recall the carefree joy of believing that you could do or be anything at all.

 

For many children in Bolivia, whole families live in cardboard boxes -- an existence so terrible that some children bravely leave them in search of a better life. What they find is the street -- a hard reality where thieves, drug addicts, and prostitutes are their mentors.   

Kaya Children International addresses these challenges and offers street children the chance to dream of a life where not only basic needs are met - but all things are possible. Thanks to the generosity of people like you, we have successes to share. But there is much more work to be done and we need your help.

Let me tell you about Jorge. We first met Jorge on the streets. We spent a year seeking him out, talking, praying, building a relationship and finally convincing him to give Kaya a try; leave the streets behind. He eventually did. His stay in the transitional house was typical. He ran away many times -- he swore, stole, lied, cheated, and manipulated -- skills that served him well on the streets. He couldn’t imagine a life where he didn’t need to do those things.  

But Kaya never gave up on him. We sought Jorge every time he ran; talked him through every struggle; forgave and allowed him the space to try again. Even after his last year of school, Jorge struggled to figure out what comes next. Kaya helped him find something that lit his fire, culinary school. He enjoyed it, excelled, and secured a job. But there was still something missing.  

Jorge mourned the loss of his family.  So we helped him realize that dream too. Kaya sponsored visits and phone calls, and family-centered clinical support. Our efforts paid off! Jorge reunited with his mother and brother. He moved in, contributes to the household and he beamingly reports his happiness.  

Kaya always believed in Jorge and finally he did too.

This is an example of the unique care that Kaya provides. Our holistic approach provides a nurturing and spiritual home environment with an emphasis on developing critical self-help and life skills.

This is radical and life changing work. And work that depends on support from people like you. Will you help Kaya’s children with a gift today?

Thank you in advance for your support. Your generosity will allow street children to break the cycle of cruelty and believe in a hopeful tomorrow. We pray that your journey of faith, forgiveness and reconciliation will be as rewarding as Jorge’s.

Your support makes it possible for us to serve more children at the Kaya Center. By increasing the number of day students at the Kaya Center we are able to begin positive intervention in a child's life before he or she makes the streets a permanent home. 

Earlier this summer, the Kaya Center moved to a new building better capable of serving the needs of the children, the staff and the organization as a whole.  The building, rented by another international non-profit for over 10 years, is conveniently located for children in the residential program, children from the community and family members. The space will serve as the Kaya Children International headquarters in La Paz, Bolivia for years to come.  In addition to being the center of the program’s administrative team, the space also has 4 classrooms, a small library and a large meeting room.  There are also three private offices that house the Program Director, the Clinical Team and the Administrative Team.  The kitchen is sufficient for producing over 80 hot meals everyday and the children eat in a nicely furnished outdoor dining space.  There’s a large patio and a garden that has already seen its fair share of soccer matches.  Also, the space includes an in-law type apartment in the back that is currently housing the 5 young men in our Independent Living Program.  They are close enough to receive daily support but have their own space and freedom to start to experience independence.  Although they have their own kitchen, many continue to use their charm on the cooks resulting in well cooked meals nearly every day.

Children spend their time at the center organized into groups based on their ages and abilities.  Each group has between one and three facilitators based on the need.  Having a high staff to child ratio allows each child to receive as much individual attention as possible and gives the educators freedom to invest in transformative relationships. As a group, children participate in homework help and educational tutoring, arts and crafts, martial arts, soccer, field trips, occupational therapy and spiritual formation.  Additionally, every child is given a hot meal and at least one snack.  If needed, they are also given the opportunity to take a shower.

We couldn't be doing any of this without your support. All of us at Kaya Children International, both in Bolivia and in our U.S. office, are incredibly grateful for you because without you, we could not move forward with such important work for children on the streets everywhere.

A new child recently moved into one of our Kaya homes. José is 9 years old.  Until recently, he lived with his mother who worked as a prostitute.  His mother is now dying and there are no friends, no family, and no next of kin to care for José.  Another organization caring for his mother reached out to us and we welcomed José with open arms.  He has never lived on the streets but experience shows he would have ended up there quickly after his mother's death.  We are just beginning to learn the depth of José's trauma, grief and heartbreak. The staff at Kaya are accompanying José weekly to spend time with his dying mother.  We are sitting with him in his darkest moments willing to share the burden.

But in the midst of all this, there is hope.  José, a brave young boy, is playing soccer, attending school, making friends, and starting in the smallest ways to imagine his spring.

Although none of us will hopefully ever experience the pain this young man has, we can join him in his struggle. At this point of extreme vulnerability, he is heavily dependent on the staff at Kaya.  He is also heavily dependent on partners like you, although he doesn't know it.  Without the partnership of people like you, we would not be able to work with children like José.  Kaya is so much more than just us and him.  It includes you.  These small children have joined a global community committed to a more positive future for children like José. Your support and gifts are essential to the current and future work of Kaya.  There are more children like José that we continue to meet every day.  Please consider making an additional or an increased financial gift to Kaya.

As someone who has been a supporter of Kaya, we ask you to step forward with us and continue to make a difference towards the work we are doing with kids like José. Your gift could go even further to support street children in Bolivia.  The world sadly enough, needs organizations like Kaya and Kaya needs us.  

Help Kaya Children work towards a better future where no child will call the streets home.

Back in December, six boys whom have been with us for years, moved from their permanent house to an on-site apartment as they prepare for more independent life. All had graduated high school and are in their first or second year of university and/or technical school. The transition to independent living hasn't been completely smooth sailing for the boys, but with the support of the team in Bolivia, particularly that of Javier, the case manager who works closely with them, they have made great strides over the past couple of months and we celebrate their progress!

The boys are perfecting their cooking skills, budgeting for real life, and starting to get a sense of what it really means to be an adult in practice. From here, each boy has a very individualized case plan depending on his skills and goals. One young man is preparing to return home to his mother's house after many years apart. She is both excited and a little nervous to have him back, but we are working with both to ensure a successful transition. Two other boys are excited to start moving towards their own apartments as true independents. The other three are looking to live together in a more traditional roommate setting and will benefit from such connections for at least another year or so. 

Since the new school year began earlier this month, there's been a sense of excitement at Kaya for some new opportunities and experiences. The Kaya Center recently started their own soccer team that has been playing against other local teams at various soccer clubs. The children are learning to swim at a local pool and some are also taking judo lessons.

The children at Kaya are doing the things that kids do -- going to school, learning, playing sports -- and they are thriving. Your support makes all these things possible and we, here at Kaya, thank you for helping make a big difference!

A little over ten years ago, I sat in a small Bolivian living room, listening to a nine year old boy recite Psalm 23. Marcos beamed with pride as he impressed a room full of adults. We fought back tears. Marcos was a child living on the dangerous streets of La Paz. For the week we were there, he stayed with us, but when we left we knew he would return to the life he knew. 

 
" - the Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing...Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me...Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life - "
 
Those words were real for him in a way most of us will never know. He walked nightly through the shadow of death.
 
When I returned to Bolivia a year later, I attempted to find Marcos with no success. He was rumored to be living in a brothel for children up near the airport.
 
Two years ago, someone ran into Marcos in an abandoned movie theater. He was close to being a grown man; tall, skinny and still living on the streets.
 
As I write this, I am returning from Bolivia. This was my first trip as the organization's new Executive Director. As I worked and traveled through La Paz, I watched for Marcos. I would have loved to find him, not only to hug him close but to ask why he never came inside. Did you ever see our outreach workers on the street? Did you know of Kaya? Why didn't you come live with us? What could we have done differently?
 
I may never find Marcos but we are able to ask these questions and do everyday. How are we failing? Who are we missing? Who needs us?
 
What started as a small street ministry has grown into an organization serving the holistic needs of over 50 kids everyday. But, there are more. There are boys sleeping in doorways. There are girls testing out prostitution at bus stops. There are families lost for what to do to keep their kids off the streets. There is extreme poverty forcing unthinkable decisions.
 
 And in the midst of this, there is Kaya.
 
If Marcos had come off the street to join the Kaya family, he would have found safe housing, nutritious food, and access to education, psychological services and a sense of community within Kaya. We would have asked him who he missed, who he cared about, who he wished he could see. And then we would have worked to find those people and do what we could to restore those relationships. We would have made sure he succeeded in school, not simply attended. If he had special education needs, as so many of our boys do, we would make sure he'd get the extra services necessary. He would have gone camping, played soccer, done chores, attended church and been accounted for everyday. We would have loved him - the good, the bad and the ugly - with a love that can only be of God.
 
In the 12 years of our work in La Paz, Bolivia, we have learned much. We are reshaping and expanding our programs to adapt to the changing needs and faces of children of the street, children in the street and children with a real strong likelihood of moving to the street. Because we have been successful, we are now seeing Kaya youth graduate, enter university and begin to embrace their potential as young adults. We are developing a program specifically focused on these youth transitioning into independence because we need it. Who would have thought 12 years ago that we'd need to talk about funding college for the children?
 
Kaya is growing. Not because we have extra resources, but because there are kids like Marcos still living on the streets. There are kids we are missing. There are kids living in the valley of the shadow of death. And we have a responsibility to create options for them.
 
Our fiscal year ends December 31st. As I write this, we remain over $100,000 behind budget for this year. Please faithfully consider a generous gift to Kaya Children International. Your money goes far in Bolivia. $500 will provide psychological services for a month to 40 kids. $1,000 will fully furnish a home for 10 youth.
 
Please join us in rescuing 9 year olds like Marcos from a life on the street and in providing the opportunities needed to make that slow transformation from street kid to graduated, successful young adults full of potential.
 
We appreciate your partnership this year and in the future. We cannot do what we are doing and what we still need to do without you.

Thank you!
Sarah Porter
Executive Director

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.

donate now:

An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
  • $25
    give
  • $50
    give
  • $100
    give
  • $150
    give
  • $250
    give
  • $375
    give
  • $25
    each month
    give
  • $50
    each month
    give
  • $100
    each month
    give
  • $150
    each month
    give
  • $250
    each month
    give
  • $375
    each month
    give
  • $
    give
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?

Organization

Project Leader

Sarah Kwok

Development Associate
Lincoln, MA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Rescuing children from a life on the streets