I'm Speechless. It's difficult to describe the emotions in my heart as I reflect on our experience the day we visited the families of the Kaya Children...
We visited several of the homes (or should I scaled/climbed up rough & steep terrains to access the areas they call home) of the children who come to the Kaya Center. We saw first-hand the conditions in which they live and got a feel for the only family dynamic they have come to know. Each has a very unique, usually heart-breaking story. No water, no electricity, sometimes four walls, no floor. A recurring theme of filth, abuse, neglect, absence of a father, children (as young as 6) going out to find work to support their families.
As we went around, staff members of the Kaya team assessed their needs (medical or otherwise), gave the children and their family members oranges, water and clothing (clothing that our friends back in Nebraska had donated).
It was great to see the gracious smiles on their faces. A true sign of the strength and resilience they have & so desperately need just to survive.
Really puts things into perspective...
* The first home we visited, was that of Fabiola.
* Second we hiked to the home of Hector, Alberto & Humberto. Their mother passed a year ago and Dad is an alcoholic. From what recall, their older sister lives with them as well, with two babies.
*Marco Antonio - who lives with mom & 10 siblings.
*Visited a place where adults who are severe alcoholics congregate and live. assessed their medical needs, etc...
*Had lunch downtown. Didn't have much of an appetite for the typical pollo (chicken)/rice/potatoe dishes, so several of us just pigged out on some Papos Fritas!! (aka french fries).
*Next we visited Nico's house (he's 6) - lives with grandma, sister and his niece & nephew.
*Many others...much the same - Lots of climbing to get up to their "home" properties.
|We started the day off by visiting a market that is known to employ young children. The market owner has a good relationship with Kaya and leads them into the direction of possible "at-risk" children.|
|Andrew just gave this young boy an orange.|
|This one too.|
|Little girl looking through the marketplace window.|
|three sisters sitting on a bench.|
|oh, could they be any sweeter? :(|
|yep, that's chicken. Just chillin' out in the open air. Not an uncommon site as we wondered the streets of La Paz & El Alto. Kinda makes me wanna pass on the Pollo.|
|this little guy kindly asked John if he could be picked up by the TALL MAN. hehe "El Scotto" was starting to get used to these photo-op requests...:-)|
|The boy was just so genuinely excited to have such a view from so high up!|
|Karla (a social worker with Kaya) approaches this young boy who was sitting alone out in the parking lot of the marketplace.|
|A young girl washing cars in that same parking lot.|
|had to take a picture of the Huggies billboard. I spotted several of them around town.|
|Next we ventured over to Fabiola's house.|
|She's over in the corner of her yard comforting her dog. Seems most of the "residences" have large dogs. Probably as a security precaution I'd imagine.|
|a view of Fabiola's family home.|
|Anthony standing in front.|
|the "kitchen" area of the one room home.|
|a suitcase hanging on the wall.|
|the headboard to her bed...cards, truck, toothbrush & toothpaste.|
|Fabiola is quite the athlete - as demonstrated at the Kaya Center the day prior. She was proud to show me her soccer medal.|
|A fairy-princess tu-tu hangs in a black plastic bag up on the wall. This made me both happy and a little bit sad at the time.|
|she excitedly points out her medal hanging over there (to the left) by the calendar|
|such a beautiful girl.|
|driving in the mini-bus, I spotted the young boy high up at this house. appears to be locked out.|
|yep, locked out...knocking on the door, trying hard to push it open. no go. :-( hmmm.|
|If I remember correctly, this is the home of Marco Antonio. Where he resides with 10 siblings...|
|a view of their property from above. It is situated down low. We had quite a climb to get down there. To think they have ten kids. And have to hall everything, including large water buckets, etc. down there.|
|love the expression on the littlest one's face. priceless! She's like "who the he!! are you?"|
|trying on her new coat from her Nebraska friends. remember its WINTER in Bolivia right now.|
|perfect fit! her mom was so excited :-)|
|brother tries the red one on for size.|
|Andrew & Anthony|
|Andrew & Yan|
|Andrew, ME & Yan. :-)|
|yep, that's a pig...tied to the wall outside, what appears to be, his owners home.|
|aagggh. I wish I could remember these guys' names. Now that is has been a week since our visit, they are starting the get lost on me. :(|
|a brick-layer, layin' some bricks.|
|Hector & his brother Humberto takes us down a long windy path, that crosses a muddy stream and leads to their home on a hill.|
|I just love this shot. They are proud to be taking us to their "place". :-)|
|we pass a pig farm on the way. You can't see them...but there are about 10 pigs living in that small fenced-in 8x20 area.|
|Karla passing out candy bars & oranges.|
|Little baby, well, she's three apparently, but you wouldn't have guessed that by looking at her. Sits on a dirty blanket on the filthy ground.|
|her siblings surround her as Karla passes out clothing.|
|If this photo had audio, you would over-hear Cindy, talking to her boys, Cooper & Slade, through her video camera, telling them how happy these kids are to be receiving their old coats, pants and jammies.|
|Xemena (Kaya Director) hugging a very loving Hector.|
|Me and Alberto|
|pretty sure this pic speaks for itself.|
|this is how they wash their dishes.|
|hats hangin' out the dry.|
|old, dirty, broken bike.|
|a young family seen washing their clothes off in the distance. This is a way some families make money as well. Washing people's laundry.|
|sweetie-pie Hector. I could just KEEP HIM!!|
|Scott was showing his bruises he obtained during Rugby yesterday at the park.|
|Sarah, Humberto...and Bolivian license plate...|
|Brenda & Bolivia license plate. ;-)|
|took a break for lunch...her was are with those aforementioned PAPOS FRITAS! Didn't have much of an appetite for much else that day I'm afraid.|
|I think this was on the way to Nico's house. From what I remember they collected a lot of boxes, bottles and other recyclables to make money.|
|it was cool to see this list of house rules on the wall of their one-room house.|
|blankets on pallets for beds...|
|hanging basket shelving system.|
|Pastor John getting a really great shot of the city below.|
|nice to see toothbrushes...even though they are stored outside the house.|
|climbing down the rough terrain from Nico's house.|
|young girl up high on the roof top. just her and her doggies. and yet again. an all too familiar site...No adult appears to be around.|
|Christina and this young girl walking up the LONG STEEP sidewalk to the next group of homes.|
|little girl and her brother peek out to see us standing outside her home.|
|the fact that she was alone, on a narrow wall standing 13+ feet high, with no railing, didn't seem to bother her family inside.|
|I mean why would it?|
|gotta love the door to nowhere.|
|and the shelf of kid toys on the 2 foot wide patio. It's a long way down from there. seems like a logical place for toys...|
|awesome view overlooking the more wealthy area of La Paz.|
|she sure loved that popsicle!|
|Lyn helping this young girl try on her new coat.|
|her little bro gets a bag of goodies too.|
|oh the wonder every time we passed a gate similar to this. They were EVERYWHERE in Bolivia. Every residence is surrounded by 13+ feet brick walls and gates similar to these. Of the wonder of what goes on behind those locked gates?|
|a group of people washing a bunch of laundry down below the bridge.|
|two young girls run to fill their water buckets.|
|This young girl had the most expression-less look on her face. Just seemed blank.|
|Yan gets out her medical bag and assesses the young girls needs.|
|looking very interested and compelled|
|Christina took a photo and shared it with this young girl. Could not believe she got that smile out of her. It was a neat moment to witness. :-)|
John's blog below... http://bethanyelkhorn.org/blog/the-kaya-families
Yesterday was the day were we were able to meet many of the Kaya families; the places where our children come from for both the residential program and the Kaya Center. The families Kaya works with have an average income of $100USD per month, or about $3.25 a day. While the average wage in Bolivia is a little above $2 a day, that is challenging enough in rural areas but $3.25 a day is no livable wage in the city for families often of 5 or more. Many of the families we visited today have no formal jobs, instead relying on sparse jobs washing cars, washing dishes, or "guarding" cars. Those families make closer to $60 a month. Out of that comes rent, food, and, if the kids go to school, uniforms and materials. Most kids don't go to school. Instead they work alongside their parents at very young ages. They learn how to earn money, learn the streets and have no vision for a future, only temptations of the street.That's where Kaya steps in.
What you quickly realize is that Kaya isn't just about the individual children we work with. In the residential homes and Kaya Center we serve nearly 100 children. Not only does Kaya serve those children - through enrolling them in school, tutoring and providing pshychosocial services, the services of Kaya ripple into the families. We know that the root causes of the problems children in the street face cannot be treated one at a time, nor can the child be helped alone. For better or worse they have families, know, and care for their families. All the problems contribiting to where that child is at - poverty, abusive parents, alchoholism, abandonment are woven together. It's in this messy area of broken families, abusive relationships and desperate poverty that Kaya works.
Kaya is first and foremost about changing the lives of children in the homes and the Kaya Center. It's done through living out the love of Christ, returning them to their childhood, introducing them to hope, trust and faith. It makes a tremendous impact in their lives, yet that impact fights daily against all those other problems. Many children have no legal records (no birth certificate) nor do their siblings or parents. They go home to homes with mud floors, with parents who can't even work as a housekeeper because they have no idea what "clean" means. So we work there. We get birth certificates, we vaccinate children, we enroll them in school, and get even parents their birth certificates and national IDs. At least then they are a legal person, with a legal name. It's important, because it makes trafficing children more difficult.
Then we work with the parents as we are able. We provide parenting classes for healthy parenting. We work with families to define roles. When possible, we teach them how to cook and clean and help them find a new job. (This is a new program we are trying to start as Warmi Kaya.)
Hope starts at Kaya when the kids come, but it never ends there. It's a big uphill battle, but we are taking steps, changing lives of children, and hopefully of families for generations to come. Today we saw some challenging realities, you'll get a sense of it in the pictures. Kaya remains connected in the streets and with this families. Tomorrow evening we come full circle, celebrating the graduation of Daniel Mamani from Kaya - one who lived a past just like these children but has a very different future ahead of him.
As you look through some of our pictures and begin to sense what life is like for these children and families I invite you to reflect on Genesis 1:27 - "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Reflect on how the dignity of being created in the image of God is present in the lives you witness.
Photos from the Homes
Like usual, direct link to photo album if the pictures don't load on the blog
now some of his pics from the day that I wanted to share as well :-)
|walking down a hill - on our way to Nico's house|
|inside Hector's house.|
|more of Hectors family house.|
|I wasn't exactly prepared for all this hiking we had to do. Note to self for next time...wear better shoes :-)|
|more climbing...here you can kind of see an example of how some people living in extreme poverty are neighbors with the wealthy. People who have maids, etc...|
|Jacey and me|
|nice dramatic shot John! I think this says so much.|