Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Painting Butterflies

Remember Silvia? We featured her recently during our Kaya Challenge series, but wanted to share even more about this wonderful girl in the Kaya Center!

Silvia just turned 8 years old last month. She has a passion for learning and is extremely hardworking, often asking the teachers at the Kaya Center for more practice math problems or spelling and sentence construction exercises. However, her passion is for arts and crafts. From finger painting to beads and macaroni, she loves being creative and incorporating her favorite animals, “osos” (bears) and “mariposas” (butterflies), into her work. In her world, mariposas have eyebrows. Silvia just finished her latest masterpiece, created at the Kaya Center!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Kaya UNICEF Project Partnership

The Bolivia UNICEF office and the Bolivian Vice-Secretary of Citizen Security posted a public invitation to carry out a consultancy with the purpose of creating an “Integral and intersectional model for prevention and attention for children and adolescents on the streets.” This measure has come about by a request from NGO networks that work with children on the streets that have identified times when there has been a lack of public policies that will guarantee appropriate attention for the kids. With this consulting project, the idea is to answer this need by generating public policies focused on Human Rights, establishing coordinating mechanisms between the different actions of the State and civil society organizations.

Kaya Children International, along with the CDEA, was given the consultancy. The first phase has two steps: firstly to co-construct a model with all of the actors, from four regions in the country, that intervene in serving children and adolescents in the street, secondly the implementation of the model in one or two regions. As an institution, we will achieve political and public impact, as well as having up to date information that will benefit the way we carry out our own programs, continuing with the objectives set out in our strategic plan.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm Thankful For...

the books in the library. I really like the Clifford books. -- Jorge

The kids at Kaya love to read, and most of the books in the library are well-loved with worn pages from constant reading. Help keep our shelves filled with books and stories for the kids to explore.

I'm Thankful For...

for my Kaya family. I have people who look out for me and love me. I also have had many great experiences that I used to not think I could have. -- Nico

I'm Thankful For...

having a warm house to live in. -- Hector

$1,000 will pay a house parent’s salary for 2 months. Being a house parent is a 24/7 job. House parents live in the houses with our boys and help cultivate a strong, positive family environment.

I'm Thankful For...

going to school everyday. My favorite subject is math. I'm learning addition and subtraction now! -- Sandra

$5000 will cover the annual school fees for 40 children. Your support gives kids like Sandra the opportunity to get an education.

I'm Thankful For...

having people who care for me. I am also thankful that my brother is here with me and that I can take care of him. -- Adrian

I'm Thankful For...

all my friends at Kaya. We go to school together and are best friends. We especially like to dance! -- Camilla

This photo was taken at the most recent Kaya Awards ceremony, where Camilla and her friends performed a hip-hop dance routine.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm Thankful For...

all of my friends at Kaya! They are like my family. I like to play chess and soccer with them. -- Eddie

Friday, November 18, 2011

I'm Thankful For...

the chance I have to work with such wonderful children everyday! It is a great blessing to be part of these kids' lives. -- Pamela, a staff and teacher with Kaya Children.

Pamela teaches and mentors the younger children at the Kaya Center, who all love her. Her great patience towards and love for the children are evident in the way she cares for these children. A $500 donation will help pay the salary for a teacher like Pamela for a month.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I'm Thankful For...

how Kaya helped me when I broke my leg and couldn't walk around. Now, I can even play on the trampoline! -- Angel

Kids will be kids, and accidents happen. Your gift provides us the resources to support these kids at every step of their recovery. $50 covers basic health care for 25 kids for a month.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm Thankful For...

being able to go to school and do art projects at the Kaya Center! -- Silvia

Silvia is painting a t-shirt as part of an activity at the Kaya Center which taught the children about peace and human rights.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Why Join the Kaya Challenge?

By joining the Kaya Challenge, you are helping us create new program opportunities to care for children in Bolivia such as this little girl. Your donations will go towards her education, health care, and clinical services. Far more important, however, your support means that she will be able to spend her days in a safe and caring environment.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I'm Thankful For...

the yummy food I get to eat at lunch! -- Jorge

For some of the kids at Kaya, the lunch they eat at the Kaya Center is the only nutritious meal they have throughout the day. $25 provides meals and snacks for 1 child at the Kaya Center for a month.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I'm Thankful For...

the support that I have and the opportunity to do what I truly enjoy. -- Israel

Israel is pursuing his culinary passions by working at a bakery. We challenge you to consider taking the Kaya Challenge because it is your support that helps children/youth like Israel achieve their dreams.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I'm Thankful For...

the many friends I have at Kaya and for the teachers who care for me. I also like reading and there are lots of books in the library. -- Jimena

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Far Does Your Money Go?

Why do you give to Kaya Children International? Whatever your reason, we are so grateful for your generosity! Your support means that we will be able to continue to provide long-term, quality care for our children. Some of you may be wondering what it costs for Kaya to provide the services that it does and how far your money goes. We have said earlier that $500 will pay a teacher's salary for a month; $1000 will pay a house parent's salary for 2 months; and $5000 will cover the annual school fees for 40 children. Here are some other numbers to get you thinking:
  • $25 provides meals and snacks for 1 child at the Kaya Center for a month.
  • $50 covers basic health care for 25 kids for a month.
  • $100 covers special activities and field trips for all kids in the Kaya Center for a month.
  • $150 provides clinical services to a child for a year (ex. counseling, case management, crisis support, family support and counseling, assessment, etc.).
  • $375 pays one psychologist working with 30 kids for a month.
Beyond the numbers, your support means that the children in Kaya are able to spend their days in a safe environment, where they are loved, where they are able to dream big, and where they are able to just be kids.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What Are You Thankful For?

Taking a note from the Thanksgiving season, the theme for this year's Kaya Challenge is "Thankfulness." As we take the Challenge together, we encourage you to think about what you are thankful for and how you can give others things to be thankful for as well.

We here at Kaya are extremely thankful for all of our wonderful friends and supporters. We are also thankful for the fantastic staff we have in Bolivia, who have dedicated their lives to helping and promoting justice for street children!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Kaya Challenge Beings!

Are you ready to take the Challenge?

We hope you are...because the second annual Kaya Challenge begins today!

This time leading up to Thanksgiving is a natural time for gratitude and generosity, and the Kaya Challenge offers an opportunity for increased generosity and gratitude in a fun and creative way. The Kaya Challenge is for you, as a friend of Kaya, to spend time reaching out to your personal networks to share about the good work that Kaya is doing and to help us raise funds and friends. Whether you are a longtime friend to Kaya or just someone with a healthy competitive streak, we've made it very easy and fun to take the Challenge. Just follow the three simple steps below:
  1. Set a goal: You can raise funds individually or on a team of friends and/or coworkers! Set a financial goal. Any amount is a great help, but here are some numbers to get you thinking: $500 will pay a teacher's salary for a month; $1000 will pay a house parent's salary for 2 months; and $5000 will cover the annual school fees for 40 children.
  2. Create a personal online fundraising page: Go to https://kaya.myetap.org/fundraiser/KayaChallenge/.
  3. Spread the word: Tell your friends and family that you are taking the Kaya Challenge to help raise money for street children in Bolivia. Share stories that explain why you are supporting Kaya and what the work that Kaya does mean to you. Email, update your Facebook, Twitter or even try good old-fashioned phone calls. Small donations add up quickly and make a big impact!
As the Kaya Challenge continues, keep visiting this blog for daily updates and stories from our kids in Bolivia. We also encourage you to go on over to our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kaya-Children-International/264721063556376) and "like" us. We hope you will join us this month to help make a difference in the lives of many children!

Ready? Get set. Go!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kaya Founder Featured in the August ACP Hospitalist

Kaya Founder, Dr. Chi Huang, sits down to talk about medicine, his career, his favorite way to spend free time, and Kaya Children International.

From the August ACP Hospitalist, by Jessica Berthold.

Chi-Cheng Huang, ACP Member.

Occupation: Chairperson, Department of Hospital Medicine, Lahey Clinic Medical Center, Burlington, Mass.

Age: 39.

Current residence: Lincoln, Mass.

Hometown: College Station, Texas.

Family: Married with three daughters.

Medical school: Harvard Medical School.

Residency: Harvard Combined Internal Medicine/ Pediatrics Residency Program.

Specialty: Hospital medicine in internal medicine. I still moonlight sometimes in pediatrics at a walk-in clinic in East Boston.

Something I wish I'd learned in medical school: The interpersonal bedside management skills with patients and families that are required to be a caring physician. You might be the most intelligent physician in the world and not be able to get to “yes” to take care of a patient's needs, without these skills.


Most meaningful non-medical accomplishment: Being a husband and father, and then the nonprofit organization I founded, Kaya Children International, which helps assist Bolivian Street Children.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Kaya Children De Nuevo

Written in Bolivia by Stephanie Kuei, Communications Officer with Kaya Children.

Coming back to Bolivia to work with Kaya Children again has been such a tremendous blessing for me! When I came two years ago, I honestly had no idea what to expect nor what I was getting myself into, but I ended up spending a beautiful summer falling in love with a new culture and with all the kids at Kaya Children.

When I left Bolivia two years ago, the kids asked me to stay, or at least return to visit them again. I promised I would return, but did not know when I actually would be able to. Imagine my excitement when I realized I would be able to fulfill the promise I made to the kids!

When I arrived at the Kaya Center on my first day of work, I was greeted by the smiling face of Luis Angel, one of the boys who came to Kaya Children on my last day at the Kaya Center two years ago. He immediately ran up to me and gave me a huge hug, all the while exclaiming, “You’re back! You’re back! You promised to come to visit us again the last time you were here, and here you are! You kept your promise!”

The rest of the day was spent reuniting with all the kids I met the last time – after they got over the initial surprise of seeing me again – and meeting all the new kids in the expanded Kaya Center program. It was awesome to see just how many more children are now able to benefit from Kaya Children’s programs and the dedication of all the staff to the kids. It is truly a wonderful place full of amazing people.

The past two months I have spent with Kaya Children have gone by very quickly, and it is hard to believe that I now find myself at the end of my time in Bolivia. I am going to miss helping kids with their homework, playing random games throughout the day with the kids, waiting in the dining hall for one of the younger kids to finish up her one-and-a-half hour lunch, the constant sound of chattering voices, the millions of hugs that I give and receive every day. I will miss my Bolivian family.

The past few days, the kids have been trying to convince me to stay. “No te vayas, mami, no te vayas!” – “Don’t leave, mommy, don’t leave!” And even though I will be leaving tomorrow, I know that leaving does not mark the end of my time with Kaya Children. The memories I have from these two months will continue to stay with me, and I know that I will be coming back again in the future.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One of Lincoln, Nebraska’s churches travels to La Paz, Bolivia to do mission work.

As reported by Jessica Fitch

Kaya Children International is a nonprofit organization who works with street children and getting them off the streets and into a stable environment. These children come from abused families, sexually and physically. Kaya hopes that one day no child has to call the streets home.

Pastor John Eggen led Sheridan Lutheran church on a six-day trip and brought school supplies for each child. We have been partnering with Kaya for the past several years. For more information about Kaya or to meet some of the children, see www.kayachildren.org or to read more from this trip visit www.sheridanlutheran.org

In Genesis 1:26-27 we read about how God created humanity in His image and declared it to be good. I believe each individual is created with inherent dignity. Each child and adult we saw on our visit around La Paz deserves the same level of respect as those most revered.

Yet we know, even though Jesus even tells us we serve him when we serve those in need, it is rarely the case they are well cared for. Extreme poverty tends to make us uncomfortable about ourselves, about our possession, and can leave us feeling helpless. In these places there is darkness, a darkness that exists because of the collective sin of the world, what some call institutional sin.

As much as talking about 12-year-old prostitutes makes us uncomfortable, it is the reality of our world. What’s needed isn’t for us to ignore this reality but confronting it with the hope of the Gospel and an attitude of service, humility, care and dignity.

We were able to see one of the ways that happens through the Kaya Center, a place where we focus on dignity, individual children, and the innocence of childhood. Their goals: living the love and grace of Christ, and returning childhood to these children with a hope for a better future.

We live in a dark world, but I still believe in the power of Christ’s body, the Church to overcome this darkness.

About the author: Jessica Fitch, 26, is a four-year member of Sheridan Lutheran Church. She works as an ultrasound technician at an imaging center in Lincoln.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Reflections on Bolivia

Written by Anne King, a Kaya Children board member.

I have had a special place in my heart for Kaya children since I first became involved with the program more than 5 years ago. But, in contrast to my enthusiastic support of Kaya’s mission, I must admit, the thought of traveling to Bolivia was, frankly, something I feared. I had fears about water and food safety, altitude sickness, language barriers, and fear for my personal safety. But above all, my biggest fear was “What if I meet the children, and what if God calls upon me to stay in Bolivia to help them?”

Kaya’s community, La Paz, Bolivia, is located 12,000 feet above sea level in a sunken valley of the majestic Andes Mountain range. Half of its 1.5 million people live comfortably in the beautiful protected valley, but those who live in the mountains above, do so in extreme poverty. They face sometimes brutal weather conditions, living in tin roofed dirt floor shelters without clean water, electricity, or heat. I witnessed a contrast between the lives of the valley people and the mountain people of this beautiful region of the world, and it was more illuminating than I could have imagined.

Even more pronounced was the contrast in living standards and opportunities afforded the families and children who participated in Kaya’s programs versus those forced to live on the streets. In the safety of Kaya Homes, I met happy, healthy, children engaged in family activities with the house “aunt” and “uncle” and their “brothers.” At the Kaya Center I saw joyful boys and girls completing their schoolwork and playing soccer and other games. The children are provided hot meals and clean water in safe and sanitary buildings. Despite their difficulties and the language barrier, the children were secure and outgoing and cheerfully worked with me as we both struggled to communicate. At the Kaya Independence Apartments, I watched proudly as the first few high school graduates of the program were training for future careers as an auto mechanic, computer technician, and physical education teacher.

The joy and security of the children I met at Kaya was in stark contrast to the nightmare conditions of so very many children who call the streets of La Paz their home – a place with little humanity, without the love, guidance, or hope for the future that every child deserves. I learned that to sleep “safely” during the day, an eight-year old boy or girl, will pay the equivalent of 30 cents to sleep indoors on the filthy threadbare seat cushions of a run-down movie theater in a dangerous part of the city. I saw at midday, on the side of a busy downtown street, young boys lying down in a confused haze with swollen faces from fighting and inhaling paint thinner. I observed a young mother sitting with those boys holding her perfectly beautiful, curious, and smiling toddler, and I could only wonder if this beautiful child would soon end up on the street like the other children, alone and struggling for survival, or if through the embrace of the Kaya programs we will be able to help him avoid such a fate.

I saw firsthand how simple things like clean water, a school uniform, a warm nourishing meal, and support from educators with homework, basic medical care, and healthy families made the difference between children staying in school and seeking a future, or dropping out. I saw firsthand just how critical it is that Kaya’s programs continue to provide services to the street children of La Paz, and to those children at high risk of becoming street children. The trip I feared to take let God show me the importance of what I was doing and solidified my commitment to continue to advance Kaya’s mission. But where do we go from here? We have made such a profound difference in the lives of Kaya children, but there are so many children in desperate need.

Traveling back from La Paz, I found myself sitting next to a woman, who as it turns out, has spent her entire career courageously working for a large organization that provides leadership in global health matters. I asked her, “How do we make a difference for the children and families we serve through Kaya?” With a lifetime devoted to helping those most vulnerable and with the most need, she encouraged me: Keep making a difference, one child, one family at a time. She said that, over time and with perseverance, small steps provide opportunities, and through those opportunities we do change lives.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Kaya Family

Written by Rafael Torrez Montaño, one of the boys at Kaya Children. Translated by Stephanie Kuei, Communications Officer with Kaya Children.

I would like to tell you something that happened to me, but first let me say that I am very happy here. I have learned many things and have had many experiences which have taught me a lot. One opportunity is being able to go to school where I can learn to read and write. I also have many friends at Kaya Children, so it is very fun even though we also have to do chores. I am twelve years old and enjoy playing basketball.

My Life at Kaya

It is a joy to be at Kaya Children because I don’t lack anything. I have food, clothes, a house to live in, a bed to sleep on, and many friends. I like the daily devotionals we do every morning because I learn new things everyday that are important for my life. These days, we pray a lot for the people affected by the landslides in La Paz and those who were affected by the earthquake in Japan.

After devotionals, we head over to school in our minibus. On Mondays, we salute the flag, pray, sing the national anthem, and march to our classrooms. I love recess at Kaya Children because I can play on the patio.

I get along well with my teachers, tutors, and mentors at the Kaya Center, and they have taught me many things, such as being respectful to other people, especially those who love me. My best friend is Juan Manuel. Together, we do all sorts of things, like homework, chores, and fun activities.

When I grow up, I want to be a doctor, but a Christian doctor because of my beliefs and all the Christian values I have gained from going to church. I know that to become a good doctor, I will need to study hard. I am doing well in school, and my teachers constantly encourage me.

I want to continue to learn more about God because He fills me with His grace and protects me. I love everyone who works at and supports Kaya Children with all my heart because I am so grateful for the opportunities you give me. I hope that God always blesses you.

With love,

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Written by Ruth Härlin, volunteer with Kaya Children (August 2010 – August 2011).

There’s only half an hour left until the bell is going to ring. Adrian sits in front of me, busy entertaining his peers, laughing, telling the stories of the last weekend – busy doing anything but his homework; and it’s my task to make him do it. It could sound like an easy thing to do: helping the boys and girls with their homework after lunch. I really like working with them, these guys have conquered my heart within my first days at Kaya Children International in La Paz, Bolivia. But there are moments in which I wonder whether I have
the capacities to motivate them to do tasks like looking up the meaning of difficult words in
their small dictionaries. Especially on a day like this, with the sun shining in the blue sky, knowing that the boys already had a hard day at school filled with tests and presentations and teachers who want them to quietly pay attention…

“Adrian, look, you are going to have a break within a few minutes. Let’s finish this task, and you’ll be free to play whatever you want to,” I make a last effort.

“I know, but I think I’ve lost my encyclopedia. Someone must have stolen it. It was here, in
my bag. Now it’s gone. It seems like I won’t be able to do this task, then.”

He smiles at me, and I’m trying hard to resist his big, bright eyes that want to convince me
to not insisting on his task anymore. But I know there’ll only be more trouble for him. So I start searching. More boys and girls just finished with the same task, there must be some free dictionaries around here…

“Gabriella, could you pass us that dictionary, please?”


“Come on, Adrian needs to finish his task.”

Having thought about it during some seconds, Gabriella decides to be generous today. Adrian does not seem to be very happy about that, but I am willing to help him doing his homework as he should. We look up words like “tension”, “architecture” and “speculum”, Adrian writes them down, complaining that he’ll probably never need these words, and that the spelling is really strange.

Later, two minutes left until the break, he notices three words somebody has written on the first page of the encyclopedia: “I am silly.” His eyes lighten up. “Ruth! Look, it says 'I am silly!' It’s mine! It must be mine! The girl sitting next to me in class has put it there when I
stole her pencil case! Wow, that’s great! I found it! I am silly!” He wraps his arms around my neck, kisses my cheek, and runs outside, into the sun, singing along “I am silly, I am silly…”

This is just one of many experiences since I got here, and I’m so grateful to be with these boys who somehow manage to warm my heart every day I see them.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Celebrating Christmas at Kaya Children

Written by Paula Vargas, the Field Director, and translated by Stephanie Kuei, the Communications Officer.

Christmas at Kaya Children was a month-long period of preparation and celebration. The children at Kaya began the month of December with reflections and devotions in the homes. The staff, too, went on a staff retreat led by the new Field Director, Paula Vargas, and were able to reflect on the past year, renew their commitment to Kaya Children, and prepare for the upcoming year.

On Friday, December 17, the children went to the Iglesia del Evangelio Total (Full Gospel Church), where they heard a moving message and took part in a nativity play.

There was also a Christmas choir which delighted everyone with their Christmas carols, accompanied by flutes and guitars.

To conclude the celebration, the children decorated a white Christmas tree with homemade ornaments. There
was also a time of sharing where the children were able to give thanks for the blessings they experienced during the year.

On Christmas Eve, a special dinner was prepared in each of the homes and gifts were exchanged. Everyone had a very fun time!

Meet Our Staff: Paula Vargas

“This job found me!”

Kaya has hired Paula Vargas Salamanca as our Director in La Paz. Paula joins Kaya with a long history serving children, families and communities in need. Paula holds degrees in Social Education, Children’s Rights, and Social Policy from the University of Bolivia in Cochabamba.

Paula’s most recent role was as the Executive Director of Amistad Mission in Cochabamba. The organization oversees rural development programs in the mountain villages surrounding Cochabamba and Villa Amistad, a home for abandoned and abused children. The 10 homes in the village currently serve 112 children between the ages of 2 and 25.
Paula moved to La Paz in May 2010 with her family thinking that perhaps she’d pursue a different type of work. “It was very hard to leave my position at Amistad because of the close relationships I had with the children. I wasn’t ready for more close relationships, I thought. But then this job found me,” she reports. “It really is a God thing, I have to tell you.”

“I dream of a world where there is zero tolerance for children living on the street, “ Paula says. She speaks passionately about creating a safer future for children. “Kaya can be a little Christian community based in a safe model for children helping them rehabilitate back into a family life.” Paula firmly believes that those of us who have chosen to help children living on the streets have a moral responsibility to do what we can to prevent children ending up in that situation. “The Kaya Center can be that integral service for children, families, communities and schools.”

Paula sees her primary life role as that of a mother. “I’m a mother in Kaya and a mother in my home.” In addition to the 40-some children associated with the Kaya Center, Paula has a 13 year old son and a 9 year old daughter.