Children
 Bolivia
Project #8851

Prevent the next generation of street children

by Kaya Children International
Vetted

 

We met Noemi, her little sister, and two older brothers on the streets, where they worked to earn money for their family. We quickly discovered that their home was full of abuse, and for the children’s safety, they needed to be removed. The two brothers came to live in Kaya’s Boys’ Residential Program, but at that time, Kaya did not have a girls’ home and could not offer a safe place for Noemi and her little sister. There were no spaces available for girls in La Paz’s other residential programs, either. The girls were stuck.

Noemi and her sister attended the Kaya Center, a full-day program for at-risk children, but it was not enough. For years, our hearts broke for these two girls and the conditions in which they lived. We served the girls as best we could at the Kaya Center, but as we watched Noemi withdraw, we knew they needed more. They needed a safe home.
 
With the opening of Kaya’s Girls’ Residential Program in December of 2014, we felt a spark of hope. We finally had a home to offer Noemi and her sister. After many years of work and prayer, Kaya was able to welcome these two precious girls into a safe and loving home. 

On the first day in their new home, the girls were joining the others for tea, and Noemi’s little sister took a piece of bread before the others had sat down. Noemi screamed, “Don’t touch that! We’re going to be hit!" Vicky, the house mom, responded, "Girls, you will never be hit in this house. Here we all learn with love.” The sisters looked at each other, and slowly the shock on their faces turned into smiles. Things were going to change. They were safe. They were loved. 

This is why Kaya Children International exists.  At Kaya, we depend on gifts from supporters to continue our work. We are able to provide a loving home for Noemi, her sister, and the other children at Kaya because of individuals like you who believe in the work we do and love the children we serve. I ask you to consider partnering with Kaya by making a gift. Your gift today, will help keep all of Kaya’s programs running strong to ensure that each child receives the care they need.

 
As you know, Kaya is much more than an institution; it is an opportunity for many young people to have a better life. Every day,Kaya makes a difference by working with each child individually. We do more for the children than provide food, send them to school, and give them a roof over their heads. We provide them with a home and a family where they are welcomed, loved, and protected. We give every child in our care an opportunity to reach their potential and fulfill God’s unique plan for their lives.
 
At Kaya, we have the honor and privilege of watching the children develop and grow–physically, socially, and emotionally. Here, they are able to experience a childhood free of worry. They can begin to dream. We see them begin to trust again. Gradually, we see them open their hearts.
 
We have so much for which to be grateful. A year ago, one of our dreams became a reality. We opened a home for girls who were living on the streets with no protection. We were able to receive girls aged from seven months to twelve years old. Each brought with her a heartbreaking story that showed us how flawed the state system of protection is, a system that routinely demonstrates that child welfare is not a goal or even a consideration. Girls are moved from house to house, mistreated and abused in every way. Escaping to the streets, they again face extreme vulnerability, violence, and abuse.
 
Thanks to your support and donations, together we were able to realize our dream of opening a girls’ home. It took hard work, determination, and passion, but in this first year that our home has been open, we have already seen incredible results. It is with humble and profound gratitude that we thank each person who has played a part in opening this home to provide protection for our girls.
 
Thank you for your support that helps boys and girls who are physically far away from you but close to your hearts and to God’s will. Thank you, because what we have received from you has allowed us to serve each of our children at Kaya so that they truly have a “better tomorrow.” Thank you for your partnership with Kaya and the work we do.
 

"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.

This is the first time in my life that I am full. It feels so weird not to be hungry. Is there always food here?

Working at Kaya, I consider myself pretty tough. I have dealt with a lot of hard situations, witnessed awful circumstances and thought I had heard just about everything. However, there are moments that break my heart all over again, floor me, and remind me of the reality that our children deal with each day.

Recently Ricardo joined the Kaya family. Ricardo has a similar story to many of the children who call Kaya their home. After the devastation of losing his mother, he was left in the care of a family member who was abusive. To escape the abuse, he ran away to the streets. After being picked up by the police, he was taken to a state-run emergency shelter. It was at that shelter that a state social worker requested Ricardo come and live in Kaya’s Residential Program.

Ricardo arrived to Kaya so incredibly frightened. With just a simple look in his direction, he would turn away in fear. He arrived carrying only a plastic bag with a pair of sweat pants and one sweater. These were his only possessions. After lunch on his first day at Kaya, Ricardo looked at me and said, “This is the first time in my life that I am full. It feels so weird not to be hungry. Is there always food here?” The expression on his face was full of wonder and bewilderment. 

Later that day, Ricardo kept looking around and I asked what he was looking for. He quietly whispered, “Why aren’t there any policemen with guns here?” I cringed remembering Ricardo had just arrived from the state home where the kids are locked in houses with bars on the windows and policemen guarding the doors with guns. I swallowed a lump in my throat as I explained how things at Kaya are different.

Abuse, the streets, locked in, hunger—this is what Ricardo is accustomed to. In moments like these, it is easy to become overwhelmed with sadness. Ricardo's next question and my answer quickly reminded me how important it is we keep going. He asked, “How do you keep kids here if there are no police and locks?”

I could have answered we have great programs at Kaya, and we really do. We work hard so children have new opportunities. I could have said children stay because they have no other option but the streets, which also is true. But in that moment, I knew why the children really stay at Kaya: It is because at Kaya each child is loved. At Kaya they find a home where they are wanted and this simple fact makes them want to stay.

Because of you, we are able to welcome children like Ricardo into the Kaya family. Because of you, Ricardo is learning what it means to be loved by the Kaya staff, his Kaya brothers and by his perfect Heavenly Father. We cannot do this without your support. In the U.S. it is nearing summer when people will enjoy time in the sun; however, in Bolivia we are entering the winter months. While families in the U.S enjoy the fun time of vacation, Bolivian children are in the middle of their school year. The summer months are the most difficult time to raise funds here at Kaya, but it is critical that we do so. Please pray that we will raise the support needed for our children in Bolivia and please consider how you can support Kaya this summer. 

                                                                                                                            

Imagine with me for a moment. You’re a 12-year-old child. You live with your family of four in extreme poverty. You and your family sleep, eat and live together in one small room, roughly 10’x10’ in size. The home is made of clay and there are large holes in the walls, letting in the cold and the rain. There is no front door and your floor is made of dirt. Inside your home you have no heat, no running water, and practically everything you’ve ever owned has been discarded by someone else.

Stay with me. Instead of going to school to learn and instead of playing on the playground with other children and enjoying the innocence of childhood, each day you are sent by your father to work in the streets. Now imagine the fear of knowing that if you don’t bring home enough money you will receive a severe beating from your father. Your parents, the ones who are supposed to protect you, encourage you and love you, instead are the ones who put your life in danger each and every day. This is Maya’s story.

We met Maya and her little brother while they were doing acrobats in the streets to earn coins. Cold, alone, vulnerable, they would work late into the night. After many invitations, the children started attending the Kaya Center. We supported the children in every way we could and tried to find ways to work with the family. However, knowing the nightmare these precious children returned home to each night was heartbreaking.

Then one day Maya showed up on the doorstep of one of our staff members with her little brother, Angel. They were scared and couldn’t go back home. Just a few months ago, having no girls’ residential home, we would have had to turn Maya away. However, now that we have opened a girls’ home, we were able to welcome Maya and her little brother into Kaya’s Residential Program. A new chapter has begun in Maya’s story, a chapter full of HOPE.

Kaya Children International exists to fight for Maya and other children like Maya. Children who have no one, children who are losing hope, children who are vulnerable. With your support, Maya has a voice, a life, and a promising future. Maya’s story is full of darkness, but the light of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter morning shines more powerfully than any darkness. It transforms lives and brings restoration and rebirth. 

 

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Organization Information

Kaya Children International

Location: Lincoln, MA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.kayachildren.org
Project Leader:
Sarah Kwok
Development Associate
Lincoln, MA Bolivia

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