Thursday, December 27, 2012

Kaya by Gabriela

Gabi is 11 years old and has been a member of the Kaya Center for over 2 years.  When she first joined, she did not attend school and was not really interested.  She worried intensely over her mother and wanted to continue working to help her financially.  After much work with both Gabriela and her mother, Gabi is now doing well in the 5th grade and her mother is receiving support through the Warmi Kaya program.  Gabi, like so many young girls, loves to play with her friends and can often be found running from one place to another giggling like crazy.

These are her reflections on Kaya.



Oh Kaya!  Siempre tan linda,
con sus flores adornando su espléndido jardín,
siempre ayudando a los niños que más lo necesitan,
tan noble el corazón de Kaya.

Las tutoras ayudando a que mejoren,
la directora controlando que est,én en paz y armonía con su inmenso corazón,
la Karina, Carlita, Guisela, Sandrita, la profe Zare, Anahí, Lorena, Marith, el profe Erick, Juanca, Norman  todos los de Kaya son un futuro para nuestra querida Bolivia.


Oh Kaya! Always so beautiful,
with flowers adorning your splendid garden,
always helping the children who need it most,
so noble is the heart of Kaya.

The teachers helping us to improve,
the director who keeps everything in peace and harmony with her immense heart, 
Karina, Carlita, Guisela, Sandrita, Zare, Anahí, Lorena, Marith, Erick, Juanca, Norman 
all of those at Kaya are the future for our beloved Bolivia.

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Kaya Family

by:  Robin Sale

In 2010, I decided to move from Melbourne, Australia to La Paz, Bolivia.  My fiancé, Ana, had been offered a job in La Paz and I couldn’t resist joining her in a place I had never been and, to be honest, knew little about.

We landed in La Paz with my few works of Spanish, few ideas about Bolivia and even fewer friends.  Well, I actually knew absolutely no one who lived there.  I had a feeling, driving down the steep streets of La Paz on the way from the airport to El Centro that the next chapter of my life would be very different from anything that had gone before it. 

Within a week, Ana had begun work, leaving me to figure out the multitude of challenges that face a non-Spanish speaker alone in La Paz  -- from getting around the city, to buying milk at the local shop. After a couple of weeks, I began Spanish classes and volunteering at Club Bolivar, a professional football club. The club wanted to further its social reach while giving back to the community.  I started to research potential partner organisations in La Paz, and continually the name Kaya Children International would pop up on my screen. 

A week after emailing Kaya, and with Ana enlisted as a translator; I jumped on a mini bus and headed south to the Zona Sur. I was somewhat apprehensive about visiting Kaya; I was not sure exactly what I was in for.

I vividly remember my first visit to Kaya, the front gates, and the view of the mountains, the warm welcome, and the interested looks from the children.  Most of all, I remember my confusion in trying to understand the rapid-fire Spanish of Carla.  And so I began to visit, twice or three times a week, to help Carla with a football program. 

My first impressions of the young people at Kaya were that they were tough. I was also taken aback at the age of some.  They were too young, I thought, to have been living on the streets. However, living in the centre of La Paz, it became clear very quickly that there were a lot of young people living and working on the streets.  I could not imagine the mental fortitude that it must take to survive on the streets of La Paz for just one night, yet for so many young people, the street was their home. 

My visits to Kaya quickly became the highlight of my week. Although I am a horrible football player, and the altitude meant I could barely run, I enjoyed playing with the children, and I’m sure they enjoyed playing against me! I soon realised that there was nothing different about the young people at Kaya.  They had the same interests and aspirations as other young people anywhere in the world. Although I could still understand very little Spanish, my visits gave me the opportunity to observe other aspects of the children and staff at Kaya. I noticed how well the children took care of one another, how much the workers cared for and respected the children and the familial atmosphere that engulfed me as soon as I walked through the front gates.  

One of the highlights of my time in Bolivia was the day that the players from Club Bolivar visited Kaya. Although I was severely limited in the work I could do while at the Club due to the language barrier, I was proud that I had played a small part in organising the visit. There were many smiles that day, and just thinking about it now, sitting in an office back in Australia, brings a smile to my face. 

After six months of living in Bolivia, visas struggles meant we needed to leave.  Although I was happy that I would see my family again, I soon realised that I would be saying goodbye to another. When I told one child at Kaya that I was leaving.  He asked me “why?” I told him that I was going to see my family and he looked me very seriously in the eyes and responded, “That’s good.  Family comes before everything.” It is something that I will always remember.

My time in Bolivia deeply changed me and my outlook on life. I learned so many things from my experiences and from the Kaya kids. One of the biggest things that I took out of my time with Kaya was that I loved working with young people. Although I worked as an environmental consultant for a year after returning to Australia, I have now begun a career as a youth worker. I work with at-risk and vulnerable young people in Canberra who are often homeless or at risk of homelessness, and I love it. Young people, no matter where they are in the world, just need to be in an environment in which they can flourish and grow. Kaya provide this, and my time there made me realise that we can all help in some way to provide this environment. 
I often reflect on my time in Bolivia and I look forward to the day that I can come and visit my Kaya family again.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Warmi Kaya's First Participant

Warmi Kaya’s first participant is Ms. Miriam Yapu, single mother to 5 children attempting to support them financially.  She moved to La Paz in an attempt to make more money as a street vendor.  She has some serious health struggles as does her youngest child, an 18 month old.  The Kaya team began working with her on the children’s health to ensure his safety.  Additionally, one staff member, her “mentor,” is working with her to identify and set expectations for her own family as well as assess her motivation for supporting her family.  Two of her children, Jhonatan and Yamil, attend the Kaya Center and participated in the extra academic support offered during the school holidays.  Both are far behind in terms of their reading and writing skills.  They made some progress during the holidays but not enough and are still receiving support.

Miriam Yapu and 3 of her 5 children.

Miriam was recently evicted from her one room home.  The owner needed the space and asked her to leave the next day.  Her children had accidentally broken the window in the room.  The owner of the house room kept her cylinder of cooking gas as payment for the damage.  Miriam had a small amount of savings that she used to rent another room but she didn't have any money left to purchase another container of cooking gas therefore her children were unable to have hot meals.

Warmi Kaya provided Miriam a small loan to purchase the gas.  She has been repaying the loan by cleaning the Kaya Center several days a week.  Miriam recently learned how to make alpaca scarves and is selling them for approximately US$4 each to earn money for her family.

Miriam Yapu proudly identifies as a Christian.  Even though she faces extreme difficulties, she often wears a smile.  "God won't' let me know.  I have a lot of faith," she says warmly.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Kaya's Seeking a Volunteer to Assist the Board of Directors

Kaya’s Board of Directors is comprised of generous, thoughtful and committed leaders throughout the United States.  Responsible for the overall management of the organization, they meet as a large group approximately every other month through conference call.

We are currently seeking a volunteer to assist with those Board meetings.  The main responsibility will include producing minutes of bi-monthly Board meetings.  This will include attending Board meetings through conference call, taking notes, and creating a draft version of minutes within a reasonable timeframe.  This is a significant, and hopefully, rewarding position.  It helps to maintain the structure of the organization.  There may be further opportunities beyond this in time.

The ideal volunteer has strong writing skills and a pleasant personality.  He or she is dependable and prompt.  He or she is able to work with little supervision while maintaining a high level of confidentiality.  The volunteer must be able to meet deadlines in a timely manner.  Great communication skills, proficiency in English and access to the Internet and a phone line are essential to the position.

Additionally, the ideal volunteer will be available for a minimum of 1 year with an average time commitment of 5 hours every other month.

For more information or to apply, please contact Sarah Porter, Kaya’s Executive Director, at or 617-207-5438.

For more information on Kaya, please visit  Thank you.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why Kaya?

John Eggen, Chairperson of Kaya's Board of Directors

It’s been over eight years since I was first involved with Kaya.  I was introduced to the ministry and family of then the Barnabas House through Dr. Chi. Over the past 8 years Kaya has become a part of my life and has had a formative role in who I am today.  As we celebrate and honor Dr. Chi’s 15 years of service to Kaya we cannot overlook the prophetic imagination that Chi, Park Street, and La Iglesia Communidad had so many years ago to love, serve and live with these young boys abandoned to the street.  Thank you to all who were a part of those early moments in Kaya’s life.  Without your bold stance against child homelessness the lives we celebrate today would not be.

This love and passion for serving, loving and sharing is exactly what drew me to Kaya eight years ago.  Kaya has always had a history of sharing and living out the whole Gospel to the whole person through love and service to each child Kaya has served.  I grew up in a mainline church and experienced a rich history of serving those in need, but often disconnected from the Gospel message.  Later in life I’d work with an Evangelical organization that spoke openly about the penalty of sin, the gift of grace and new life in Christ.  The struggle was sharing this message to a hurting world where people suffered from immense poverty.  To those suffering, words did not convey love.  Action conveyed love.

In Acts 28:31 we read the apostle Paul lived, “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”  This is precisely what Kaya’s ministry has been and will continue to be about.  We believe that the kingdom of God is a kingdom where the sins of society do not rest on the shoulders of a 6-year-old boy.  Instead the kingdom of God is one where the Church loves, serves, cares for and brings hope to those abandoned by society.  We believe in Jesus Christ and we believe that ultimately it is his love, grace and forgiveness that transforms each of us.  The ministry of Kaya exists to provide healing to children for the pain, suffering and trauma the world has placed on their shoulders done in and through the love of Christ.  Through the work of Kaya children experience a restored childhood, a family, a future.  Through this work they not only hear the Good News of Jesus’ grace, they experience love and grace for the first time.

Over the past eight years I continue to be encouraged by the stories of transformation I witness, yet my heart continues to be broken.  For every Daniel, there are dozens who simply do not make it.  For every child we help, children wait locked in rooms while parents work.  For every child in our homes, more are sold by parents to seemingly innocuous people; into an unknown future.  For every girl in our Kaya center, learning, playing, making crafts and jewelry, dozens more live turning tricks every night.  Daniel has a story, Kaya a partnership, and our staff a helping had to over each of these children, but they cannot do it without our help.

Whatever your faith is, or isn’t at all, we are proud to count as a partner all who share our love, concern and care for our children.  This live changing work is not cheap and cannot be done alone.  We need your partnership.  Kaya has an important future ahead of us as we continue to serve children of Bolivia, restoring dignity, hope and their childhood.  Your monthly sponsorship of $37/month helps support a child within our Kaya Center.  Your annual sponsorship of $5650 covers the full costs for a child in our most intensive programs for a full year.  A gift of that level provides the kind of life changing care and service that transformed Daniel’s life.  What’s more important than the future of Kaya are the futures being lost this very moment as children wait for hope and restoration to enter their lives.  Join us today, bringing hope, grace and change into their lives.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ximena and Daniel's Nebraska Visit

Written by Michelle Eggen.

Day 1:

On Saturday, we had a small dinner with Daniel, Ximena, and group of Nebraska supporters.  Daniel in particular was thrilled to have “meat!”—the Hollings fed them our best traditional Nebraskan food: steak, loaded baked potatoes, and corn on the cob. During dinner, a storm swept through that felt like the wind of the Holy Spirit over our conversation as Ximena shared her story of coming to work for Kaya and her love for street children, and Daniel shared his story of redemption from a life on the streets to a life that he hopes will be marked by love and service to other children who have grown up experiencing the hopelessness, anger, and emptiness he felt for so long. It was a beautiful night of laughter, tears, and sharing of hearts and a special chance for us “American supporters” to affirm and encourage Daniel and Ximena and offer our prayers and continued support.

After dinner, we took Daniel by the church so he could get a feel for the space before his big day on Sunday. He was a bit taken aback about the size of the church, but said with confidence that he had spoken in large places before and he was going to be a little nervous but just fine!

Day 2:

On Sunday, Daniel and Ximena went to all three services and shared their stories. At the end of each service, they shook hands as people exited, and so many people stopped to wish Daniel luck, thank him for everything he is doing and for sharing his story so openly, and just affirm him on his journey. Between services, Daniel and Ximena really enjoyed walking through the church and seeing the many, many pictures of the children of Kaya that are on the walls. We have many large prints and Daniel in particular was struck by the fact that so many miles away, these huge groups of people are seeing the faces of him and his friends and so many children he has known and worked with and loved. He said he just never realized that there was this much love and support being directed their way, and it really impressed him to see this demonstration of people’s commitment to Kaya.

Another big demonstration of support was our Kaya jewelry table. Sunday morning, we sold every piece of jewelry Ximena had brought, made with love by the kids at the Kaya Center. We set a suggested price but asked for “free will donations” and people were incredibly generous. Ximena was thrilled and also encouraged by people’s willingness to give freely and abundantly in this way.

For lunch, we took Daniel and Ximena out to Valentinos, which is quintessential Nebraska. Valentinos is a huge “Italian” buffet that has not only pasta and pizza, but just about every other kind of food you can think of (Mexican, Chinese, a million deserts and salads, etc.). They ate until they were going to explode, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Sunday afternoon, we headed off to our last event at Bethany. It was a little dinner with about 15 or 20 people. We had some local BBQ, and then we had just an open Q&A session. Ximena went first and fielded questions about her education, family, and decision to start working with Kaya. She shared some really wonderful personal details about how her family and her own daughter have reacted to her work with street children. Ximena was especially proud to share her daughter’s desire to follow in her footsteps and how supportive and understanding she has been with Ximena’s schedule and with being a part of life at Kaya. Next, Daniel took questions about what he’s doing with his life now, what his hopes and dreams are, and what he likes most about working at Kaya. He talked about how he relates to the kids in the home and really works hard to share with them, be patient with them, and encourage them as they struggle with the same questions, fears, and temptations that he dealt with before. It was touching to hear him describe how much he loves those children and how much he truly hopes he can be an example for them in his life.

Day 3:

Monday was zoo day! We took Daniel and Ximena to the Henry Doorly Zoo, one of the premier zoos in the country. We did a LOT of walking, saw a million animals they had never heard of or had only seen in a book or movie, and generally had a great day just relaxing together. After the zoo, John took Daniel and Ximena shopping at the BIG stores. They hit Walmart, Old Navy, Scheel’s (huge sports store), and Best Buy. Daniel and Ximena were truly impressed by the incredible size and endless contents of these stores. Daniel got a great deal on a new laptop he had been saving for (he was excited because the boys in the independence house all pretty much share a couple of computers, and this would greatly ease the congestion on the technology front). They also took time to pick out a little something from Old Navy for each of the guys at the independence home. Daniel showed off the gifts when he got home, and then he and John got to work setting up his laptop. We grilled out and shared a late dinner at our house. Daniel stayed up into the wee hours of the morning taking advantage of our very fast internet (“oh my gosh your internet is CRAZY fast!!”) to get all the programs and apps he wanted loaded onto his laptop.

Day 4:

Tuesday was time to say goodbye. We got Daniel and Ximena loaded up and said our farewells. I took them to the airport and walked them to security for one last hug. Then the funniest thing happened. I left the terminal and stood just outside the airport doors worrying. I needed to get to work, but should I leave? What if something happened with their flight? What if it got delayed or cancelled or they missed it somehow? Who would they call? Did they even have my number? As I stood there debating, someone walked up and said, “Michelle? Hey!” It was Anthony, a member of our small group at Bethany. I was surprised to see him, but even more surprised when he told me he was going to Ohio for a conference—via Dallas. “What flight?” I asked him. Of course, the same one as Daniel and Ximena. So Anthony went and got himself checked in and about 20 minutes later I had a phone call from Ximena, laughing about this stranger who just walked up and with no Spanish explained that he was my friend and was going to hang out with them until the flight! Anthony texted me later that he “loves these guys, they are great!” and sent a picture of the three of them. It was just an awesome way to end their trip with a God-sent assurance that He was watching over and blessing their trip to the very end.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Caritas Felices" in Bolivia

Written by Kessa and Ryan Scott, volunteers with Kaya Children in our Bolivian field office.

We are Kessa and Ryan Scott and have had the honor and blessing of working with Kaya for the last 4 months.  Our adventure to South America began because we both felt called to serve in South America.  God works in mysterious ways and brought us together quickly after knowing each other through our work at an Elementary school in Vancouver, Washington.  We were married on September 18th and on September 27th we were on a plane to begin our adventure.

Working at Kaya has been an experience of a lifetime.  We have had the privilege to get to know so many wonderful children and to be a part of their lives.  There are many inspiring stories to tell; about the Kaya kids and their abilities, personalities and their overwhelming resilience in the face of giant obstacles in their lives.  One of the most memorable parts of our work at Kaya included working hand-in-hand with the Bolivian school, Santa Rosa, where a majority of the kids at Kaya attend.

The first day we visited the school, we were overwhelmed.  Parents and staff alike were disgruntled.  We were discouraged to hear that there had been organized meetings and attempts to kick all of the Kaya kids out of the school because they were labeled as irresponsible and unteachable.  We saw that we had our work cut out for us. Most of the work had less to do with the kids’ actual behavior (which wasn’t nearly as terrible as reported) but more to do with changing the hearts and minds of the people working with these kiddos. To do so, we worked at opening communication and bettering relations between the school and Kaya.

We began by listening to the concerns of the parents, administration and teachers alike.  Just being able to voice their concerns began to open up doors for mutual understanding and a commitment to working together.  We also were given the task of turning around the 3rd grade classes.  We implemented a positive behavior system called “Carita Feliz” (Happy Face) which continually rewarded kids for being respectful, responsible, and hard-working.  Within a week, the Bolivian teachers took over the system and the classes’ behavior drastically improved.  We were very proud of them!

We also implemented a separate program for the students at Santa Rosa who are also part of the residential program at Kaya. This system was comprised of communication notebooks that the kids were responsible for filling out and getting signed off by their teachers. The notebooks communicated to Kaya: the homework for each class, if the homework was completed in Kaya Center, and the overall behavior of the kid.

On our last day at Santa Rosa we had a meeting with all the teachers and administration.  Although the concerns were still alive, the staff had noted that the kids were significantly improving.  But the most exciting part of this meeting was the fact that we were all in a meeting together, discussing Kaya kids and how to best serve them. What a blessing and a testament to God working to change hearts.  The conversation went from, “How can we get these kids out of classrooms” to “How can we work together to help these kids.”  God is good!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Chorrellana Recipe

Courtesy of Kaya house parent Griselda and the boys of the Renacer house. Written by Katherine Chiu, a volunteer with Kaya in Bolivia.

If you try this dish and like it, please drop a line or share a photo with us on our Facebook page!

Chorrellana, a traditional Bolivian recipe, is a simple and versatile dish. Kaya house parent Griselda has been teaching the boys of the Renacer house how to cook, and she is proud to name this among the several recipes the boys have perfected. They also use it as a base recipe for other Bolivian dishes. It is usually served with rice, but you can also try it over a fried egg or amplify the dish as chicken or beef a la chorrellana!

Serves 4-6 hungry boys

4 medium onions
2 medium tomatoes
2 T Canola oil
Salt, pepper and oregano to taste

Dice onions and tomatoes; set tomatoes aside. In a large saucepan, heat oil. Add onions and just enough water to cover the onions. When onions turn clear and become soft, stir in tomatoes and add salt, pepper and oregano to taste. Heat through and serve over rice.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Meet Our Staff: Franz and Griselda

Written by Katherine Chiu, a volunteer with Kaya in Bolivia.

As Kaya house parents, Franz and Griselda have the unique experience of seeing the children in the residential program grow day by day. They live and work in Kaya’s Renacer home, where they take care of 10 boys ranging from seven to 12 years old. The boys call them tio and tia, or “aunt and uncle.” Here the couple shares their experiences working with the Renacer boys—their challenges, their proud moments, and their hopes for the boys’ futures.

Have you both always worked with children?

Franz: Yes, we have. We actually met each other because we were working with different children’s programs associated with the same church.

Griselda: Ten days after we got married, we moved to Sucre [a city in central Bolivia] to begin working together at a children's home. We each were in charge of 50 to 60 children.

With that background, how did it compare to when you first started working with the Renacer boys?

Griselda: It was challenging. Despite the fact that we are working with fewer children now than we have in the past, these boys come from extreme poverty and from very troubled families.

Franz: A few would be aggressive towards us. You see it most in the boys who have experienced abuse.

How did you approach working with them?

Franz: We knew we had to build trust with them, which we have been able to start doing over time. They began to see that we don’t use violence when we need to discipline them; we talk with them and explain what is the difference between right and wrong behavior. We read passages from the Bible with them, and we try to show them movies with values rather than movies with violence. Don Bosco [a movie about an Italian who dedicated his life to working with street children] is a good one. They all really liked that since they could relate to the children in it.

Do you two have similar parenting styles in the Renacer house?

Franz: I am more tranquilo [calm], and Griselda is more estricto [strict]. It’s a good balance.

Griselda: It’s a partnership, as it is between any two parents. I see when two boys are fighting, for example, and will tell them not to fight. Franz is good at talking to them afterwards, he will sit with them and tell them why one shouldn’t fight.

Since your work happens at home, what are your hours like?

Griselda: We are up at 6 a.m. for a house wake-up call. Usually we are in bed around 10 p.m. after we have put all the boys to bed. In the past if one of the boys has had unfinished homework, we would stay up late with them until they finished, sometimes until midnight or 1 in the morning. We never go to bed without them finishing their homework.

Franz: We don’t always sleep through the night. A few of the boys are afraid of the dark and have trouble sleeping at night. You see it in the boys who had violent fathers. When this happens we stay up with them and pray with them. We tell them that they don’t need to be afraid because God is with them.

What accomplishments are you most proud of, in your time with Kaya?

Franz: The changes we’ve seen in the boys.

Griselda: Some of the chiquititos [little ones] weren’t reading or writing when we first came, and now some of them are starting to read and write. The older boys finish their homework every day now. The boys have also become more stable, responsible and respectful towards each other and us. Beymar, for example. We were both standing in the kitchen the other day, and we both said to each other, Beymar has changed.

Franz: He used to challenge everything we said. He would say, “Why should I?” when we told him to do his homework. He was little, but he would hold his fists up and challenge me to fight. Now we joke about this and shadowbox with each other. Every day he runs to show us that he’s finished his homework before he goes outside to play.

Griselda: Sometimes you don’t see it, because we are with them 24/7. But when we step back and think about what changes we’ve seen, we can really see them in each of the boys.

We also recently started teaching the older boys in Kaya's Renacer house how to cook.

Really! Are they good at it?

Griselda: Yes, they can make a few dishes all by themselves—I stay in the kitchen with them and give them guidance, but that’s it!

Do they have a specialty?

Griselda: Chorrellana. [A traditional Bolivian recipe; see here]

That is an accomplishment to be proud of. And what is the most challenging aspect of your work?

Griselda: We can’t just tell them how to behave; we have to set the example. We can't just tell them, “don't lie,” “don't fight.” We have to set the example, in how we treat each other and how we treat them.

Franz: Building trust with the boys is still the main challenge. It's an ongoing process. It doesn’t all happen in one day, but we are making progress, poco a poco.

What kind of progress do you hope to make with the boys during your second year with them?

Griselda: Some of them hopefully will be able to reunite with their families, and we want to prepare them to be ready to adjust. Others, it looks like because of their family circumstances, they will be staying with us permanently. For them, we hope they can become more and more stable and adjusted to their new home at Kaya.

Franz: We want to continue to help them improve their relationships with God. We also will continue to help them focus on their studies. I always tell them they need to have higher goals. Graduating from high school is good, but maybe one would like to be an engineer, another a doctor. We encourage them to make these goals, and we help them think about what they will need to do to get there.

As you know, Kaya Children has many supporters in the United States. They support your work from afar, but most have not had the chance to visit Kaya in Bolivia in person. What would you like to tell them?

Griselda: That the job is difficult, but it's worth it. Knowing that I can change even just one life gives me the passion for this work.

Franz: There is a verse from the bible, “Know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” This is a phrase we keep close to our hearts, and that we remind of the boys of as well, whenever we run into challenges that may feel overwhelming….Are there Christians in the United States?


Franz: Please ask them to pray for us, for all the children and staff at Kaya, and to keep us in their thoughts. We pray for them and keep them in our thoughts too.

Thank You For Helping Me Change

Written by Katherine Chiu, a volunteer with Kaya Children in Bolivia.

Twelve-year-old Beymar easily comes across as your typical adolescent boy. “Nada,” he'll reply when asked about his favorite subjects in school, before proceeding to list a mouthful: math, language, science, social studies, music. His face lights up as he emphasizes the last—he’d like to learn to play the drums someday. “Nada, Beymar? You listed practically every subject!” “I guess so,” he'll say.

Underneath this practiced indifference is a cautious attitude towards his academic accomplishments. Beymar is in fifth grade; he knows he is two years behind. But three years ago when he moved in to Kaya's Renacer house, Beymar hadn't yet learned how to read or write.

Before Kaya, Beymar lived with his parents, his mother working in kitchens and earning five bolivianos (about 70 cents) a day. Escalating family problems forced him and his siblings to move in with his aunt, until she could no longer care for them between her poor health and limited financial resources. Throughout this time, Beymar skipped school, sometimes for weeks at a time. At seven, he started hanging out on the streets with a group of older kids, sometimes stealing alongside them for money.

On his ninth birthday, Beymar’s life slowly began to change when he moved in to Kaya. At first he couldn't sleep at night. "I was scared; I would hear knocking on the window," he remembers. But with time, even those nights became surmountable. “The tios (Kaya house parents Franz and Griselda) stayed up and prayed with me. I’m not scared anymore because God has helped me."

Nighttime was one thing. During the day, Franz recalls, “Beymar used to challenge everything we said. He would say 'Why should I?' when we told him to do his homework. He was little, but he would hold his fists up and challenge me to fight.” In the past year, though, Franz has noticed Beymar’s changes: “Now we joke around and shadowbox with each other. Every day he runs to show us that he’s finished his homework before he goes outside to play.”

A stable home with Kaya helped Beymar overcome his night fears and get back on track at school, but he is especially proud of how he has changed his behavior. "Aaaaaantes!" he says of the time when he used to "escape" from school, and when he used to steal: in the past, in a different childhood. "Without Kaya," he reflects, "I would be on the street."

This past Christmas, the residents and tios of the Kaya houses gathered under one roof to celebrate with a traditional Bolivian dinner. When the tios asked if anyone would like to say a few words, Beymar stood up. Facing his Kaya family, he kept it brief, in typical Beymar fashion: "Thank you for helping me change." Beymar, thank you for letting us into your life.

Hairdresser in the Making!

Ericka is a sixteen year old girl who has been with Kaya Children for over two years. She was one of the first girls to come to Kaya when we opened the doors to the Kaya Center. Back then, she was at high risk of becoming a full-time street child because she was constantly leaving home to work, effectively dropping out of school for many years. Since she started coming to Kaya, she has been able to regularly attend school. She is now in the seventh grade. Even though she is still currently three school years behind her peers of the same age, her hard work and dedication have allowed her to experience great academic achievement.

Ericka is also studying under a program called CEMA, which allows students to take a two-year management course. She is working towards becoming a hairdresser, attending classes at the Berlin Institute in which she learns different techniques for braiding and cutting hair. She practices these skills – mostly just the hair braiding – with her friends at Kaya. The girls love having Ericka try out new hair styles on them! Ericka is very happy with this opportunity and hopes to work in a beauty salon in a few years.

Ericka attended these classes at the Berlin Institute for three hours every morning for the past three months. She graduates from the program in a couple weeks and looks forward to also specializing in makeup and nails. She continues to attend school in the afternoons. Even though she is excited at the prospect of working once she is licensed as a hairdresser, she plans on staying in school until she graduates from high school.

In her free time, Ericka loves to listen to music! She likes romantic music, and her favorite singer is Pipe El Calderón. She also enjoys playing soccer and supports the team Bolivar, a national club soccer team. Ericka is a wonderful girl, with an outgoing and cheerful character, which brings a smile to all her friends faces.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Kaya's Child Sponsorship Program

Do you like hearing the stories about the everyday lives of the kids at Kaya Children? Are you a new Kaya supporter who is just beginning to learn about the work that we do? Or are you longtime supporter who has witnessed the growth and success of the first cohort of young men from our program who went on to attend university? Do you wonder how you can make an even bigger impact in the lives of the children in Bolivia?

If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions, Kaya’s new child sponsorship program is a perfect opportunity for you to partner with us in the work that we are doing in Bolivia, while getting to know the children in our program! We are so excited to launch this program and hope that you are just as excited to jump on board with us.

By sponsoring a child, you are helping us fill kids lives with people who love, care, encourage, and support them. Your sponsorship allows us to address children’s:

* PHYISCAL NEEDS such as safe housing, healthy meals, and medical care;
* SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL NEEDS such as healthy relationships, birthday celebrations, and opportunities for community involvement;
* EDUCATIONAL NEEDS such as remedial and special education, computer training, and career counseling;
* PSYCHOLOGICAL NEEDS such as counseling, crisis support, and evaluation;
* SPIRITUAL NEEDS such as faith exploration, church participation, and mentoring.

You will be joining a sponsoring team of caring people providing housing, education, medical and clinical care, love, and consistency in a family setting. There are three levels of giving:

* PADRINOS commit to $469 per month or $5,625 annually
* TIOS commit to $100 per month or $1200 annually
* AMIGOS commit to $37 per month of $444 annually

For as little as $37 per month, you can transform a child’s life. By sacrificing a fancy meal out once a month or brewing your own coffee instead of buying Starbucks every day, you will be provide a child with all the necessary support he/she needs to be able to dream big and hope for a better tomorrow. As a sponsor, you will receive annual updates on your child with a new photo, in addition to letters and a handmade Christmas from your child. This is a fantastic opportunity to get to know the faces and personalities of the children at Kaya.

Most importantly, we are a family at Kaya, and your sponsorship represents a special bond between you and your sponsored child. We cannot wait to welcome you into our family! What are you waiting for?