Children
 Bolivia
Project #4209

Rescuing children from a life on the streets

by Kaya Children International
 
Guadalupe, the youngest of four siblings, is only two years old, but in her short life, she has experienced pain and neglect. Guadalupe's father died, leaving his family to live in extreme poverty on the outskirts of La Paz with an abusive mother. Since she was born, Guadalupe has been in and out of state shelters, but each time she was returned to the small room she shared with her mother and siblings.
 
This pattern was repeated until Guadalupe’s five-year-old brother was admitted to the hospital. Tragically, Guadalupe’s brother died due to abuse. At this time, Guadalupe was again placed in a state shelter, where she was mistreated. She was admitted to the hospital due to severe malnutrition and physical violence.
 
A state social worker could not find a home for Guadalupe. She was suffering, and she needed to be cared for. The state social worker knew of Kaya and requested that Guadalupe come and live in our residential program. Guadalupe arrived at Kaya two months ago. Kaya’s social worker, Pamela, says, "When Guadalupe arrived, she didn't seem to have a desire to live. She was dirty, malnourished, and had a head full of lice."
 
Guadalupe was a very sad girl when she arrived at Kaya. The first time Guadalupe had lunch at Kaya, she was so hungry she ate two bowls of soup and two plates of food. Sadly, she was so afraid, she sat silent and alone.
 
But Guadalupe´s life has improved since then. Gradually, we have seen a beautiful smile where before only sadness lurked. Whereas Guadalupe used to awaken unhappy, silent, and pensive, now she gets up with a smile on her face and immediately starts singing songs in her bed until the others wake up.
 
Guadalupe has a long way to go. She still has several signs of the abuse with which she lived all her life; but slowly, with the help of Kaya, Guadalupe’s childhood is being restored. She is well fed, spends time in the park, receives medical attention, and most importantly, she feels love from the staff and the children who know her.
 
Help provide a loving home and specialized care for Guadalupe and the other little ones at Kaya by making a gift today. In the month of May, any gift given to support the littlest at Kaya will be MATCHED! 

It is that time of the year again in Bolivia: The summer is winding down and the children are getting ready to go back to school. For many of the children in La Paz, going back to school isn’t routine. Before coming to Kaya, many of our children had dropped out of school. Some left school because they didn’t have the money to buy the needed school supplies and were forced to quit. Others stopped attending because they had to take care of their younger siblings. Some children fell behind, got frustrated, and quit attending. The reasons vary, but the result is the same: In Bolivia, many children do not attend school. Through Kaya, children are enrolled in school and given the academic support needed to get caught up and be successful in school. 

To attend school, children are required to have school supplies and a school uniform. Please support the kids as they go back to school: Provide a child with a backpack, school uniform, or supplies. $25 buys a backpack and all the supplies needed to start school including pencils, pens, markers, notebooks, etc. $37 provides a school uniform. $110 provides education for a whole year, including uniform, school supplies for the whole year, and tutoring. 

Education is key if these children are to escape the circle of poverty. Thank you for making a difference... one child at a time.

Extreme poverty is a sad reality in Bolivia. Mere words cannot describe the wretched conditions in which many children live. No running water or electricity. Crumbling walls that cannot protect against cold weather. Insufficient food to eat. No one to care for you. These are only some aspects that permeate the environment that some children in La Paz have to face every day.

Recently, I visited the home of a little girl and witnessed this situation with my own eyes. Being there, one is overwhelmed by the abject poverty and cannot help but understand how it affects every aspect of a child's life.
 
The home I visited was that of a little girl named Sofia. She is a four-year-old who doesn´t know what it is like to live a life where there is food on the table (or even a table). She does not know the meaning of clean clothes; she has only the dirty ones she wears each day. She does not know the feeling of taking a shower because she does not have a shower at her house. Her head is constantly full of lice. Sofia lives with her six-year-old sister, her one-month-old baby sister, and her parents. They all live in a two-meter square room lacking all the basic necessities. When we first met Sofia and her family, it was apparent that the family structure was marked by indifference. Sofia´s mom didn´t know when Sofia was born. She thought it wasn’t important since Sofia was the second child and not the first.
 
Sofia's father works in the informal market as a mason. He needs to find construction work every week. If he is lucky, he makes 50 Bolivianos ($7.50 US) a day—if he is able to find a job that day. If not, the family suffers through another day of hunger and unfulfilled needs.
 
Sofia attends the Kaya Center. She is part of Kaya’s prevention program, a program that exists to intervene before children make a permanent transition to the street. When I visited Sofia’s home, my instinct was to want to remove this child from her home. How can a little girl live in these conditions? But there is a bond between Sofia and her mom, however imperfect the relationship may be. We work to keep families together. The hard truth is we have limited space in our houses. Our girls' house filled up so quickly with girls who had NO place at all to call home. 
 
Kaya can't eliminate poverty in Bolivia, but we can work to lessen the burdens of some of the children living in it. Sofia is not the only child in Bolivia who lives in these conditions; indeed, every child in Kaya´s prevention program does, and this is why the Kaya Center exists.
 
Kaya believes there is hope for the future for children like Sofia. Thus, we gave her the opportunity to attend kindergarten. We also make sure she eats a nutritional meal every day at the Kaya Center. In addition, we continue to work with her family to help improve conditions so they can escape extreme poverty one day. At Kaya Children International, we are engaged in the long-term work of changing lives. Your support to Kaya helps make a difference in Sofia's life and for many other children who would otherwise call the streets home.
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!
Update on the Kaya Graduates  
 
After being prepared in Kaya's Transition-to-Independence Program to live independently, the young adults who grew up in Kaya's Residential Program transition out or graduate from being under Kaya's formal supervision, though they remain a part of the Kaya Family forever. Here is an update on what some of the young men are doing since graduating from the Kaya Programs:
 
               Daniel
Daniel was one of the first young men to graduate from the Kaya Residential Program in 2012 after arriving to Kaya at age 9. Daniel just completed his 1st year at university where he is studying Education. He works as the House Parent in Kaya’s residential home, “Casa Juvinil” with boys ages 16-20. Daniel is thankful for the second opportunity that Kaya gave him.     
 Ariel
Ariel joined the Kaya family in 2003 at age 12. Since graduating from Kaya in January of 2013, Ariel has continued his studies at a local university to be a Physical Education Instructor. In January, he started his 5thand final year of university. He is currently working hard to finish his thesis. At night and on the weekends he works at a restaurant. Ariel loves to play sports and is a talented athlete. 
 
 Marco 
Marco was one of the first boys to enter the Kaya family in December of 2001 at age 10. He graduated from Kaya in June of 2013. Marco is currently finishing his 2nd year of university studying Business Administration. He also works at “Chocolandia” selling chocolate and other sweets. Marco enjoys running, and he recently got a puppy that he named Denali, that loves to run with him.
 
 Henry 
Henry came to Kaya in 2003 at age 13. Henry is finishing his 3rd year of university studying Psychomotor Activity. Henry works part-time in Kaya’s residential home, “Casa Betania” with boys who are 13-16 years old. Henry enjoys working with the boys in "Casa Betania" and thinks it is important to support children who have similar stories and background to his.
 
Kaya supporters have provided a family and a future for each one of these young men who at one time called the streets their home. Your continued support will allow Kaya to continue to rescue children from the streets and provide them with housing, clothing, food, medical care, protection, love and a future.
 
On behalf of all the Kaya graduates and all the Kaya graduates to come, THANK YOU for your generosity! Your support truly makes a difference…one child at a time!
 

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Organization Information

Kaya Children International

Location: Lincoln, MA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.kayachildren.org
Kaya Children International
Project Leader:
Sarah Kwok
Development Associate
Lincoln, MA United States

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