Friday, April 3, 2009

Hasta Junio

It's been a busy week here in La Paz, but thoroughly exciting watching the new Kaya Center in action. Early tomorrow morning I head back to the States and back to our US office far away from our kids. Though I'll be back here for the summer and I'm in constant contact with everyone via phone and email here while I'm stateside, it's always a bit sad leaving. Here there is daily inspiration and more hugs than I can count, and just enough chaos to keep things interesting.

One of the highlights of the week was meeting the father of one of the kids in our residential program. His son, I., is in the process of transitioning back home, a process which will take some time. This past weekend was his first full weekend visit with his family and by all accounts it went well. The father was checking in with our clinical staff to give them an update of how things went. He was so proud of his son and he told me he saw a marked difference in him since he entered our program. His son spent the weekend talking about school and his goals for the future. Quite a difference, his father noted, from the kid who used to inhale paint thinner and hang out on the streets all day, avoiding school. For his part, the father has been working hard to control his drinking and has secured a good job. He admitted that he's definitely not ready for I. to come home yet, but little by little he is getting there. When the time comes, I. will continue to attend our full day program so that we can continue to support him and his dad as they adjust to being a family once again.

Another highlight was hanging out with some of our newest students, two 12 year old girls. Both are attending our day program while living at home with their families, and neither has ever been to school before. Our clinical staff has been working quite a bit with the girls to help them recognize the dangers of street life and begin pulling away from various street activities. Two days ago, one of the girls announced that for the past 2 weeks, she has not gone out on the streets in the middle of the night - something she was doing regularly. "I made a decision," she said, "I'm not going to do that anymore. I want to focus on school now." While we took this announcement with a grain of salt, having seen many kids make statements like this and then go back on their promises, we nevertheless were extremely proud of this accomplishment and celebrated her decision.

Baby steps. That's what it's all about down here. Each step forward feels like a miracle and is infinitely rewarding.

Now onto the miracle of getting myself out the door and onto the airport at 4am!

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