August 2016

Transforming lives, one child at a time

Fundación Niños con Valor (NCV) believes that every child deserves the best care that can be provided to them – a nurturing, loving family, and people who believe in them and help them believe in themselves. The non-profit currently cares for 39 boys, girls, teens, and young women; with a focus on integrating children who are living with special needs, including HIV.

By: Melanie Hazenberg
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Hilversum - Netherlands


Photo by: Laura Crowell

Their vision is to bring hope, healing and a sense of value to Bolivian children in high-risk situations. I spoke with Carolina Malo, the volunteer coordinator of Niños con Valor. She and her husband shared her story.


“We believe that each child needs the love of a family”
Photo by: Laura Crowell

While the majority of children in Cochabamba grow up with their families with a constant support structure and a stable living situation, and many are able to count on this support into adulthood, this is not the reality for all children in Cochabamba. There are many children in the city who have been orphaned, abandoned, or rescued from high-risk situations. Niños con Valor is one of many organizations that is taking care of these children, and they have set out to do it in a way that focuses on quality over quantity. They run two residential homes, one for boys and one for girls, as well as a transition program to assist teens as they enter into adulthood. I met Carolina in the girls’ home.

Caregivers

“We have 26 girls in this house at the moment. Most of our girls are in their teens, but our youngest is just 9 months old. It is a different environment than in our boys’ home, where we have 12 boys who are all under 12 years old. Both homes have the same amount of caregivers. In total, we have 12 caregivers, two social workers, two psychologists, a coordinator for our transition program, and an executive director. In the mornings, there are only three caregivers between both homes, because most children are in school at that time. In the afternoons, there are four caregivers, plus a rotation of teachers who come to assist with homework throughout the week.” “They have suffered so much”

Abuse and Neglect


Photo by: Laura Crowell

“In general, our boys and girls are not completely orphaned. Most of them come from broken homes. We often receive children who have suffered through emotional, physical or sexual abuse, or whose parents have denied them the life’s basic necessities. Helping our children work through their pasts and find healing is very difficult, especially when they arrive when they are already several years old. They have seen so many things. For example, remembering what they have lived through, and yet they also remember having a family of their own. Those who arrive as babies or infants recollect less from their pasts, so although they still have trauma to work through, it is generally less complicated. Each home has a psychologist and social worker who provide individual and group therapy on a regular basis, and we have seen incredible progress. We have found the most important part of this work is working with each child as an individual, meeting his or her unique needs. It is hard work. It is upsetting and angering that they have suffered so much.”

Empowering Girls and Young Women

Niños con Valor’s first project was their home for girls and teens, Corazón del Pastor. Each girl works on developing her own Life Plan with the support of their caregivers, psychologist, and social worker. NCV seeks to help the girls gain confidence, understand their rights, and discover who they want to be as they grow up. Our teens receive workshops on life skills as they prepare for adulthood, and they participate in extra-curricular activities that help them discover and develop new skills. This also helps form character. “For example, we have a volunteer who teaches piano. The girls likes that a lot.” The girls have also participated in taekwondo, track and field, dance,gymnastics, swimming, as well as volunteer activities with their church and other local organizations.


Photo by: Laura Crowell

Reality tour

“We have had many volunteers come to help us, individuals and teams, mostly from the United States and Canada. The majority are from churches or schools who also partner with us to help cover our operation costs. They help with maintenance in our homes, or work on building projects such as bathrooms with schools and other organizations that we partner with. A volunteer or team is involved depending in his interest and experience. Our kids love having volunteers and share their life with them. Teams also share activities with the children when they are not in classes, and participate in something we call a ‘reality tour.’ This tour includes visits to other residential programs where some of our children have come from, to help the volunteers get a clear picture of the different challenges facing kids who have entered into the childcare system.”


Photo by: Laura Crowell

Child Sponsorship

“Since 2007 we have run a child sponsorship program, and now all of our boys and girls have multiple sponsors from Bolivia, the United States, Canada, and Sweden. Since the needs of our children are significant, we need 12 sponsors for each child in order to fully cover his or her monthly needs. We seek out as many sponsors as we can for each child, both for the financial support it provides, and also for the emotional support they often give to our kids. Some sponsors send letters and presents regularly, while others do not; therefore, we aim to make sure that each child has at least a few sponsors who are actively engaged in their lives.”

Niños con Valor believes that each child needs the love of a family. Each child should understand and accept how valuable he or she is. The mission of this organization is to respond to the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of Bolivian children with traumatic pasts, empowering them to reach their maximum potential and to pass on the values and experiences to other children in high-risk situations. They have great plans to keep going with this mission. In the future, they plan on purchasing land and building smaller family-style homes where brother and sisters can live as a community. Ultimately, though, they will continue to focus on each individual boy and girl, transforming lives, one child at a time.

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