Written by Anne-Milda Pu, a volunteer who worked with Kaya Children in Bolivia the past two summers.
Going down to Bolivia to visit Kaya Children for a second time last summer, I sort of knew what to expect—the temperature is cold at night and warm during the day, the air is very thin, the sidewalks are busy but the streets are busier, and the people speak too fast. Yes, I knew the factual aspects but I realized that I had forgotten so much of what pulled me back to Bolivia in the first place. I had forgotten about the care that these kids share for one another and for their genuine love of life and their Kaya family.
While I was mainly painting their new school building a mural during the week I was there, I was able to spend two mornings with the kids. The morning I spent with the kids from Hogar Renacer brought back all my memories of what I had forgotten. I remember thinking that these kids really knew how to live their life. They weren’t stuck behind computer screens like so many kids their age are, but they were playing in their yard, they were doing their chores, they were playing marbles with the other boys there.
One of the boys I remembered from the year before was a boy named Rafael. Josh Lee (one of my teammates) was going to take pictures of their faces for the 31 Days 31 Faces interview so after we interviewed them he would snap a picture of them. Well, Rafael disappeared for a little while and when he came back, he was wearing a clean collared shirt, a nice pair of pants, had newly combed hair, and was shining his shoes! I thought it was so precious that he wanted to look his best from head to toe for a picture that was only going to feature his head. It breaks my heart to know that so many people label street kids as thieves and drug addicts because they haven’t even taken a week out of their busy lives to meet these kids. It amazes me that these kids who have had a past that is more difficult than I could ever imagine have completely turned their lives around and come this far.