Sunday, September 22, 2013

"Warmi Kaya" Helps Mom in Need
When Miriam came to Kaya she and her five children were living in just one room with no running water. She enrolled in the Warmi (means "woman") program and eventually was able to obtain stable work operating a stand where she sells candy, chips, drinks and other items. Miriam worked hard; she successfully graduated from the program while two of her sons attended the Kaya Center.
But recently, Miriam turned to Kaya for help once again. Her three-year-old son, Marco, fell and broke his arm. He needed an operation, but since Marco was suffering from a chest cold, the doctors were not able to operate right away. They told Miriam that Marco would need to remain in the hospital until he was well enough for surgery. Miriam faced a difficult challenge. With her little boy in the hospital, she would be unable sell at her stand. And, when Miriam cannot sell, she cannot earn the money she needs to buy food for her children...
Fortunately, Kaya was able to help! Kaya staff and volunteers took turns staying with Marco in the hospital while Miriam went to sell at her stand. Kaya also provide much-needed additional food for Miriam and her kids. In the end, Marco's operation was a success and he has since recovered. With the help of Kaya, Miriam did not have to make the same terrible choices that many Bolivian mothers have to make... between being there for their children in the hospital and losing the income they depend on in order to feed their children.
Every day, with God's guidance and the help of our friends and donors, Warmi Kaya makes a difference in the lives of mothers in La Paz, helping them find a way to provide for their children and protect them from life on the streets.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

As Head of His Class, Omar is Honored in Parade
This past month in La Paz was full of excitement, as the Kaya children enjoyed watching -- and marching in -- the Dia De Bolivia parade. To celebrate Independence Day of Bolivia, all the schools in La Paz participate. Each school lines up with the band in the lead, baton twirlers next, followed by the graduating class. Elementary classes and high school classes follow. The students line up, four by four, in their very best uniforms, and march down the street proudly waving Bolivian flags and wearing Bolivian pins.
Many of the Kaya children were marching. While Kaya staff members and Kaya kids who were not marching went to watch the bands and support their friends. It was fun to cheer and clap as the Kaya kids proudly passed by. But one student stood out among the others as an example of determination and hope. In keeping with the tradition, the highest achieving student in each grade is given the honor of holding the flag for the class. This year, Omar, a young man from Kaya's residential program, was given this honor to acknowledge his excellence in school.
Not long ago, we might have found Omar sadly living on the streets of La Paz. But on this day, Kaya staff, and fellow Kaya kids beamed with pride for Omar -- and for all the Kaya children who are growing into strong, capable, caring young people with hopes and dreams for a bright future!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Kaya Vision Trip 2013 - In Deb's Words

Although I felt I had an understanding of Kaya when my husband traveled and shared his experience from the Kaya Vision Trip in 2012, I quickly learned that having my own personal experience in Bolivia impacted me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. There is not one day since our trip last June that I have had flashbacks of all that I experienced with the children and staff.

Scott Gray - 2012 Vision Trip

During the trip I saw how awful some children are treated. I met children that lived in unimaginable conditions; both physically and emotionally. Over and over I saw families that lived in a vicious cycle of destruction. However, I also experienced the vision of hope, support, and love that the staff and volunteers at Kaya help change the children's lives for the better.

Deb Gray - 2013 Kaya Vision Trip

One of my favorite parts of the trip was meeting the children living at the Kaya homes as well as the children who participate in the day program at the Kaya Center. Every time we were greeted with big hugs and huge smiles that made us feel the love that Christ was filling in their own lives.

Deb Gray - 2013 Kaya Vision Trip

I had only one short week that I spent with the children, but bittersweet tears overcame me when it was time to say goodbye. It was a true blessing to be able to spend time with the children at Kaya, who are all innocent precious angels that show the true meaning of life.


Each year a team travels together to La Paz, Bolivia for one week to meet the children & staff at Kaya and learn more about the work we do. If you are interested in learning more about traveling on the Kaya Vision Team in June 2014 please contact Sara at

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lennox Family Gift Brings Smiles
(and so much more!)

Greg Lennox and his family have made such a difference for the Kaya children. With a recent gift of $30,000, they’ve provided Kaya with a beautiful Toyota minivan (to replace one in disrepair) and some additional vehicle maintenance funds. When I asked Greg if he could share his story, to perhaps inspire others, he was eager to help. Here is his family’s story, as told by Greg himself!

Our family learned about Kaya shortly after we adopted our Bolivian son, Christopher.  We heard about founder Chi's book (“When Invisible Children Sing”), read it, and wanted to learn more.  The more we learned about the heart of Kaya, their commitment to sharing the love of Jesus while using researched based interventions in the lives of the boys in their care, the more impressed we became.  At one point, we had an opportunity to help with funds for a soccer pitch near the homes -- something close to our hearts as well, since our son and one of our daughters were avid soccer players at the time. 

A few years ago, we had the privilege of visiting La Paz with our son, and spent time with the Kaya team.  We continued to be impressed by the integrity and humility of the leadership team and staff.  It would have been easier to just run a conventional orphanage, but Kaya is committed to continually monitoring the effectiveness of its programs and making appropriate adjustments. For example, Kaya shifted resources to support families in El Alto, when they recognized that well-meaning orphanages, and even Kaya, can create unintentional incentives for families to abandon their children.

Recently, we learned of the need for a new van to make the long journey between the school in La Paz and the "suburban" location of the boys' homes.  We jumped at the chance to help out.  We remembered the old vans, which had already seen a lot of use a few years ago...

Greg & Lillian Lennox along with their family (Meredith & Nathan Chase, Emily, Natalie, Abigail and Christopher) have made such a positive difference for Kaya. We feel so fortunate to have been blessed with their friendship and support!

Katie’s Kaya Story
Katie Harris was born and raised in California, but now feels blessed to be serving the needs of Bolivian children at the Kaya Center in La Paz.  She first learned about Kaya Children International in 2008 through Park Street Church in Boston where she had moved for employment. By 2012, Katie began feeling the need to make a change in her life.  She knew that she wanted to work with Spanish speaking children in Latin America. The more she learned about Kaya, the more she knew it was a perfect fit. Before long, Katie had given notice at her job and had booked a flight to La Paz!

When Katie first arrived at Kaya, it was clear to her that each staff member truly loved the kids. She says, “This makes the Kaya Center a very special place. The kids receive food, clothing and academic support, but – more importantly – they also receive encouragement, love and acceptance. One of the things I value most about the Kaya Center is that it is a space where our kids can be typical kids—they play, laugh and even sometimes fight.”

Katie finds each day at the Kaya Center to be full of new activities. The kids’ excitement, she says, “is contagious.” Her typical daily schedule with the kids includes classroom time (for homework), a “family style” lunch, and playtime (soccer, tag, Uno, dolls and blocks are some favorites!) Special activities include field trips, music or dance lessons and birthday celebrations.

Though she finds the children’s stories to be “heartbreaking and at times overwhelming,” Katie Harris believes the Kaya Center is truly a place of hope and healing. We, at Kaya, feel very blessed to have Katie in our lives!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Light of Hope...  To Escape a Dark World
by Andrew MacDonald, Kaya Volunteer

Having returned from volunteering for two months in La Paz with Kaya, it’s hard to express what I’ve taken away from it. The first word that comes to mind is “numbness.” It does involve a certain distance from the society I’ve returned to, or “reverse culture shock” as they call it. But it’s more than that. To some extent or another, I feel alienated from much of human society as a whole; I’m still too confused by my species to start dealing with them again like I used to.

This is because working at Kaya showed me the best and worst of humanity, at least as much as my short 21 year life has been able to witness thus far. Hearing the horror stories of some of the children’s past lives - the particular details of which are often too despicable to publish - and still seeing the reality of the present state of many of the poor and neglected in Bolivia today (the ones resisting Kaya’s help for whatever reason) has caused me to doubt us all- myself included.

But the kids at Kaya, whether they have been thriving in the program for years or are even only a few months fresh off the street, are a light of hope for anyone trying to escape a dark world. They are a glimpse of true redemption, even if they might have trouble concentrating on homework every now and again.

But their light does not cancel out the darkness I saw; it only seems to muddle it. What a mystery it is that some of these kids- young, innocent children - were living a life more sordid than swine, and now have far better attitudes than American students their age about learning their times tables or how to sound out words. Why do some parents choose to love their children with their fists? How is it that any single person can be capable of both hatred and love, even in the same instant? How in the world are these kids so good and holy, while I’m still not? How do the Kaya workers keep going year in and year out when I am already so tired? What evils would I be capable of, had I not grown up rich, comfortable, loved, and disciplined with kind words?

The answers frighten and elude me, but my comfort remains a faith in grace; the grace that has been extended to me, by friends and family alike, for my whole life; the grace Kaya is extending to every child they can find in La Paz; and above all, the grace of God saving us all from the sins of our society, the sins of our parents, and whatever unspeakable past we are also being redeemed from.
(posted by S.Callard for Andrew MacDonald)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Teaching children to understand their value

Written by: Matt Priest, Supervisor of Foster Family Services at Boys Town and Board Member for Kaya Children International

“Are you a police officer?” said the young boy.
"No,” I responded.  “Why did you think such a thing?”
Visiting a local children’s shelter, I was there to identify services for a young child who had been a victim of abuse and neglect. He had responded that he thought I was a police officer by the appearance of my shoes. My shiny black shoes reminded him of the shoes he had seen many times on the feet of police officers. This saddened me to think of the amount of times police officers had intervened in his life. Presumably so many times, that he recognized the shoes on their feet. It also saddened me to think that he identified people not by personality or relationships but by physical clothing.
Kaya's children do  not have many belongings. Their worn and tattered clothing demonstrate the difficulty and instability of street life. Kaya strives to help these children understand their value and worth. They are strong and resilient, no matter the appearance fo the shoes or clothes they may wear.
Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. -Matthew 10:31