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.
Sep 8, 2015

Celebrating Miracles Many Years in the Making

"Sometimes you need 15 years to see a miracle."-- Dr. Chi Huang, founder of Kaya Children International in his book When Invisible Children Sing

Waiting is incredibly difficult. Sometimes we feel frustrated, anxious and disappointed when things do not happen quickly. At Kaya Children International, we are engaged in the long-term work of changing lives. This change happens slowly over the course of a child’s life, and at times it is difficult to see the impact that we are making. However, there are amazing moments, by the grace of God, when we clearly get to see the fruits of our labor. One of these moments is when a young adult graduates from Kaya’s Residential Program. Graduation signifies the successful completion of a cycle. The graduation ceremony at Kaya is a time for celebration as we look back on the graduate’s life and see the incredible transformation that they have gone through over their years with us. It is a time where we honor the graduate and bless them as they transition to the next phase when they will live independently. Last month, we had the privilege of celebrating the graduation of two very special young men, Nicolas and Israel.

Both Nicolas and Israel came to live in Kaya’s Residential Program when they were still very young. Nicolas was eight and Israel was eleven. Kaya staff members found Israel living in an abandoned building with no home to sleep in each night. At such a young age, he had already experienced the terrors of life on the streets—neglect, violence, and abuse. Nicolas' story is similar. He had no family to care for him; there was no place for this little boy to call home. Nicolas and Israel were welcomed and grew up in Kaya. They consider Kaya their home, their family. Over the years at Kaya, they faced many ups and downs. There were very hard moments, but the staff at Kaya never gave up on them. Through the hard times and good times, we were committed to Nicolas and Israel. This was a long-term commitment that included feeding and clothing these two boys. It meant sitting by their bedside when they were sick and making sure they attended school. At times it meant going out and finding them when they had run away and bring them back home. We celebrated birthdays and drove them to soccer practice. We accompanied them and listened to them. We modeled for them and taught them about the love of God.

At the graduation ceremony for Nicolas and Israel, we looked back and remembered the many challenges they had faced and saw how far they had come to conquer adversities. Today, over ten years since arriving to Kaya, Nicolas and Israel are healthy adults. Israel has completed a technical institute where he trained to be a chef. He is currently working in a bakery. Nicolas graduated from high school and is working at a local restaurant. After graduation, Israel and Nicolas will remain in close contact with the Kaya staff and their Kaya brothers. Kaya will always be their family; we will always be there if they need help or advice. Along with all the other Kaya graduates, Israel and Nicolas will come home to celebrate holidays. However, we are confident they are prepared to live independently.

When Dr. Chi Huang founded Kaya over 18 years ago he wrote, “Sometimes you need 15 years to see a miracle.”  Immersed in joy, the children and staff of Kaya and guests at Nicolas and Israel’s graduation had the amazing privilege of seeing a miracle that night, a miracle many years in the making. The work that Kaya does is hard. The work that Kaya does is long-term. From a scared little boy who had no where to turn but the streets, to independent, thriving adults, the work Kaya does is truly life changing.

We are very thankful to be a part of Israel and Nicolas’ lives. We also thank each person who has supported Kaya over the last 18 years. You too have played a part in Nicolas and Israel’s stories. Because of you, these two young men had a childhood. Because of you these two young men grew up in a loving home. Because of you, these two young men are now independent adults.

Aug 6, 2015

The effect ONE girl can have on future generations

It is not easy to get reliable statistics about the poverty in Bolivia, despite how widespread it is. Even so, estimates confirm that 35.3% of the population lives in extreme poverty, which means they cannot meet basic needs such as water, food, and shelter. If those statistics are accurate, over 1,883,000 women live in poverty, many of them very young, still girls. These women are the most vulnerable segment of Bolivian society.
 
Of those people living in extreme poverty, over 70% are children. As a result of this rampant poverty, research shows that more than 12,000 children have been abandoned on the streets of Bolivia due to neglect, abuse, poverty, or their parents’ addiction. In 2011, statistics indicated that 900 children per year were abandoned and only 40 children per year were adopted.This is why Kaya Children International exists.
 
Twelve thousand abandoned children means at least 6,000 abandoned girls. These girls are marked by that abandonment for life and are unable to break the cycle of poverty by themselves. The cycle of poverty creates a new generation of women that practice the same neglect toward their children as the one before them. Having known only neglect, they cannot envision another way of being. If nothing is done, for every girl who has been abandoned today, a new generation of girls marked by abandonment will follow in the future.Just imagine that one girl is left to survive on the streets alone and she has three daughters. Those three girls will in turn create a generation of nine girls growing up in extreme poverty and at high risk of being abandoned.
 
These numbers are overwhelming. These numbers are humbling, but these numbers make us realize something important: When you save a girl who has been abandoned, you break that cycle, and you are not just saving one child, you are saving future generations of children. The children at Kaya experience what it means to have a home and can in turn raise their children, the future generations of Bolivia, in the safety and love of a home. For every girl Kaya saves, we are saving girls in the near future and in the distant future. Imagine the impact if we had the resources to save more girls from the streets.
 
As many of you know, nine months ago we opened our first girls’ home at Kaya, rescuing five girls from the streets. These five girls might be a very small percentage of the 6,000 abandoned girls in our country, but we know that these five girls represent a lot more than that. They represent breaking the cycle, they represent escaping their expected future, they represent a much larger number than five—they represent a better tomorrow.
 
Please join the Kaya team and help us provide a family and a home for the most vulnerable girls in Bolivia. A home where the girls will grow in safety, learning about the love God has for them. Every child we save at Kaya represents a better tomorrow for future generations of children. There is no better way to invest in the future! Thank you for your partnership with us!
Aug 6, 2015

Making a Difference

Lucia Cuño is a teacher at the Kaya Center. Lucia has a degree in elementary education. At Kaya, Lucia is in charge of the classroom with the youngest children. She helps the children do their homework and gives them the support they need to do well in school. Many of the children in Lucia’s classroom arrived at Kaya very behind in school due to an absence encompassing years or never having attended school at all. Lucia gives each student the individualized attention needed to get caught up and be successful.
 
Born in a small town in the jungle region of Bolivia, Lucia had a childhood similar to many of the children who are part of Kaya. She was born to a poor family with parents who couldn’t read or write, so they never saw the need for Lucia to go to school. “My father refused to let me go to school because I was only a woman,” she says, “and he said there was no need for women to learn something. They are only supposed to clean the house and help raise their brothers.”
 
But her parents’ opinion didn’t stop Lucia from achieving her goals. She convinced her mother to allow her to go to school with the condition that she didn’t neglect her home tasks. After graduating, Lucia was awarded a scholarship to go to university, where she earned her degree and became a primary school teacher.
 
“I identify with the kids I am working with at Kaya. Many years ago I was just like them. I try to teach them that it is possible to have a better tomorrow; that it is possible to change your life.” Thank you, Lucia, for all your hard work and for being a living example to the kids that there is a “better tomorrow.” The Kaya children love you very much, and your knowledge and teaching will stay with them forever.
 
   

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