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.