The Harnisch Family

The Harnisch Family

Jul 5, 2012

La Paz, Bolivia Day 3: The Kaya Center!

Day 3 in La Paz.

Arose and had some morning devotions with my roomies.  I had also Recieved a surprise from back home...a very thoughtful card and note from my dear friend & neighbor Cheryl.  She served as my "prayer advocate" :-)  Her kind words brought warmth and smiles to my heart. Just what I needed!
Left hotel around 9am & walked over to the Kaya Center (which was just a few blocks from our hotel)

Most kids who come to the Kaya Center, live in extreme poverty, some on the streets or have a one room house that is shared with several family members. No water or electricity is common.
As you could imagine, these children look forward to coming here.
The Kaya Center is a place that is safe.  A place that provides warmth and shelter from the hot hot sun.
A place where they will be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
A place where positive reinforcement is demonstrated.  Which is not generally the case in their home situations, where strict discipline and many times abuse is the result of poor decisions.  And let's face it, these are kids, and kids make bad choices.  We all do, it's how we learn and grow.  At least at the Kaya Center, they can come and, in a sense, live a proper CHILDHOOD.

The challenge that the staff faces and battles head on each day, is to simply encourage them to STAY IN AND FINISH SCHOOL.   I'm sure this is no easy feat.  Especially without any kind of encouragement or motivation happening in their homes.
We were introduced to all the staff members.  A few that stuck out for me are, of course, Xemena (Kaya Director), Sandra (psychologist), Maria (Social Worker), Yan (from London, England, volunteers as part of her medical mission, has been with Kaya for a month & this is her last week).
Along with Andrew (one of our group translators), who is also here on a medical mission.
Ariel has been here for two years, working in administration, this is her last week as well.  Next she will help out over at Casa De Esperanza (a place in El Alto that helps women get out of the sex-trade - that's a later post)
Korina - who is a coordinator for events at center.
All of these people I mentioned above are amazing, kind and patient.  They work so well and have such a close knit bond with each of the children's hearts.  This was clear to see.  God placed them here for a reason.  They are an integral part in allowing these kids to feel comfortable and TRUST. Trust is the key!  Without trust, they would get nowhere. (as Scott shared during devotions one night - trust starts with the cross & ends with the cross).  Trust is not something that these kids have "handed out freely" in the past.  On the streets, or in their homes, they have been neglected & abused.  When they step foot in the Kaya Center and experience an instantaneous BREATH OF FRESH AIR, are surrounded by good vibes and positive, color, stimulation, a world (in the middle of a crowded city), where they have access to several gaming options, educational opportunities, medical attention (when needed), counseling, a healthy meal and FRIENDSHIP!
You can see and feel God working in and through everyone here.

Yesterday, we played games, dolls, cards, Janga!  Made jewelry, knitted scarfs. Played volleyball, soccer, soccer/tennis
We were part of a birthday party celebration.

I enjoyed ALL the kids!  I was especially enamored with sweet young girl named Claritza (6).  She was shy and very quiet at first, just wanted to push her bebe around in her stroller ...but once the two of us sat down, I taught her how to play Jenga, her true, vibrant personality came out!  She was calling out inviting other kids around us to join in our game.  Before you knew it, we had 10+ kids circled around our one game of Jenga.  It was awesome!!

They served up lunch, which today consisted of peanut soup, steak, rice, tomatoes & lettuce.  I was still suffering from "Montezuma's revenge", so I ate lightly!
Later in the day, our Bethany Kaya team ventured up stairs to unpack and sort the clothing, winter gear and shoes we had brought over from the states.  Due to the enormous response of people donating so generously, this proved to be a huge task.  Had to sort everything by age, gender and clothing type.  Ay Yai YAI!  I don't even like sorting the laundry of my little 'ol family of imagine the 17 of us...trying to be on the "same sorting page (cuz we all have different ideas in mind of how it we think it SHOULD be done).  HA!  Glad there were no cameras.  But we worked it out (without conflict) and got the job done.  Whew!!
Now the Kaya has tons of very good clothes to distribute to the kids who come to the Kaya Center and give to children who live on the streets - and their families.
We actually had a chance to go along and hand deliver some the very next day (again, more on that in a later post).

Some of their beautiful faces...
another sweet shot of Hector
sweet Maria gazing out the window.
Formed a circle out in the yard and did introductions of some of the staff & Kaya Center volunteers.
Andrew, Yan, Ariel, Xemena & Korina
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The kids close in and join our circle  :-)
playing "kitchen" -  this made my heart melt for sure.  They like to play pretend games JUST like my baby girls back home :-)
Jacey tying ribbons in all the girls' hair.
more kitchen play
the kids learn how to use a computer at the Kaya Center.
Me & Claritza playing Jenga...
Fabiola joined in our game.
teaching Lee his secret hand shake...
step by step instructions
"you got it now?"   :-)
Three of the girls putting on a dance show for me.
I wish I had my video camera going...cuz it was really good!
Brenda and Adrien making bracelets.
Robert & Marco Antonio working on some scarves
intense volleyball action!
Birthday celebration

Fabiola standing proud next to her birthday cup cake.
blowing out her candles!
These kids sure love their foos-ball.
Willy eatin' some cake.  :-)
Fabiola deep in thought!
A friendly game of soccer (or at least a rendition of soccer)
more crafts!
Bob playing dominos with a few boys.
One of the classrooms.  This boy was sitting in here all by himself
He just looked so sad, it broke my heart.
Pastor John chatting with a group of the older boys.
girls everywhere love PAPER DOLLS!
Hanna working hard on a bracelet.
Teri too  :-)
beaded jewelry being made over at the other table.
I purchased several of the pieces made that day and brought them home to my family as souvenirs.
eating a hearty lunch...The Kaya center serves up BIG portions, as this is more than likely the only meal they'll get that day.
Brenda tries the Peanut soup
so what does 5 young boys circles around 1 iPhone look like? Well, this!  :-)
more paper dolls!
the gated entrance to the Kaya Center
A few of the kids leaving for the day and heading back to their homes.
Palm trees out in the front yard.
sorting through piles and piles of clothing that we had brought with us.
I think we had close to 17 suitcases to sort through
Go Antlers!
Cesar kindly poses at the front gate for me.  :-)
Cesar & Pastor John
so what does 15 boys ploppled in front of the only TV in the place after a long & exhausting day look like?
well...THIS!  :-)
Gotta love Marco Antonio passed out in the middle.
Hola Claritza!
Andrew (Andres) making a pretty bracelet
Leanna, Hanna, Bradie & Sarah making bracelets.
nice smile? Adrian!
Humberto finally shows us how it's really done.
he flung it high into the air!
 Afterwards, although exhausted, we still managed to find some energy for "souveniour" shopping over near St. Francisco square.  Busy place!  We got tons of really great homemade Bolivian souvenirs.
Apparently no La Paz shopping experience would be complete without encountering a few llama fetus (part of witch alley)

A boy sitting with his mom in one of the market shops...eating a sandwich.  There are lots of little ones who go to "work" all day with their parents.
Scott tries on a pair of Alpaca slippers.  This is one of the souvenirs I brought home for Joe.  They are SOOOO soft!!
Quick group shot in St. Francisco Square.  BEAUTIFUL church and museum right behind us.
We successfully hopped in 5 cabs and made the trek back to our hotel...

Gathered for Evening devotions, then had a Fabulous dinner at El Asador.  It was delish.  Scott was especially thrilled about their special BBQ sauce.  ha!

Enjoyed a Nice, long, brisk walk back to hotel....
Stayed up probably a little too late once again chatting it up with Teri.  She is just so neat!  :)  I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her better on this trip.

Below is what Pastor John had to say about our day over at his blog...

Kaya Center

Today our team headed off to the Kaya Center. The Kaya Center was just full of energy, as the kids enjoyed their first day of winter vacation and many got to meet the team for the first time. The Kaya Center is a core part of the Kaya ministry. It's where the kids go before or after school and get help with homework, tutoring and time to play and psychosocial services. Today was filled with games, including little girls playing house with a doll, kids playing some new games we brought with us and anyone who could playing with Lyn's iPhone. We spent some time playing volleyball and "soccer tennis." Soccer Tennis, what's that? you ask. Soccer Tennis is where you send the ball back and forth to the other team using only your body/legs/feet and head, essentially touching the ball only in ways legal in soccer. My crowning achievement of the day, with the help of Daniel, was beating the "unbeatable" team of the day. I enjoyed my proud moment, but in my pride was quickly beat by a couple younger boys. We also had the joy of celebrating a birthday today. In the Kaya Center it is a time to focus on the positive of each child and really a spiritual moment. We sing happy birthday, pray for the life of the child, and then sing a coupe of praise songs It's about honoring their lives and asking God's blessing over their next year of life.
After time in the soccer game we headed downtown for shopping and spent some good time there shopping. Miraculously I was able to send the team back to the hotel in five different taxis without incident!
Today during our devotionals we talked about the dignity of creation. We know we are each created in God's image and I believe we are called to honor that by seeking, expecting and honoring the best in others. In the coming days as we learn more about where the Kaya kids come from I hope we can continue to seek the positive and honor the goodness inherent in each child. As Boystown says, there are no bad children, just children raised in bad environments. The last few days we've seen the fruits of significant investments of love and dignity in the joy and hope the kids have. Tomorrow we begin to realize just how much that means.
Here are some pictures and videos from today. Here is the link to the photo album if you have problems loading full sized images on the blog.

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