A few weeks ago, we were turned down for a large donation because our cost per child is too high. We were disappointed, of course, and we looked into what the average cost per child is for orphanages in countries like Peru to see if we could move our program closer to that expectation. What we learned made us commit even harder to our program exactly as it is, and here’s why.
As a donor, you are always invited to visit us in the Sacred Valley!
We don’t always have a bed available, but we can help you find lodging that suits your budget, and we’d love for you to join us for fresh organic lunches at the Casa every day and get to know the kids.
We don’t have a short-term volunteer program, but some of our donors like to offer the kids a special class, work in the garden, or just hang out and help the kids practice their English skills. I loved taking the kids out for pizza and going on other adventures with them.
We can help you arrange for a driver to pick you up at the airport in Cusco. We can also help you find the tours, treks, and Machu Picchu packages you want while you’re here. Flights are expensive, but the rest is affordable and we’ll make it easy for you.
So remember, next time you’re wondering where to go on vacation, that you have family in Peru who’d love to see you! E-mail me at [email protected] to get the ball rolling, or any time you have a question.
P.S If you’re not a donor yet and would like join our Global Family, we’d love to have you. Click here to add your small monthly donation to our family’s budget.
Dear Global Family,
The year is well on its way! We have all children returning to school after having a great ending to their summer’s vacation thanks to your generous support.
From all 15 children, two were the only ones that previously experienced the sea; now all of them are grateful and happy to have seen the Ocean and played in the sand as they saw how the colors of the sky changed with the sun rises and sunsets.
Avishai took upon himself to organize and care for all kids on this epic journey to the Southern Peruvian Coast; he had great support from Kellie (the children’s in-home tutor) and our two brand new volunteers, Nitzan and Romi, that just arrived on the same morning when everyone was going on the trip.
All kids are thriving and becoming more conscious of themselves and their paths, each of them is excelling at what they do and want to learn more about the world and everything there is for them to contribute to transformation.
Soledad’s two older sisters (Lisbett 16 and Marlitt 13) that recently joined the family are adjusting very well and all girls and boys at home are doing a wonderful job in making them feel welcome.
Our US Board President, Lauren, has been a magnificent addition to de Ninos del Sol’s family, she was with us in Peru for a couple of months, the children enjoyed her loving presence every time she gifted them with a special day at her magic garden. Lauren not only works for the Ninos del Sol home to continue, but she took the time to know each child and their dreams, for that we are all grateful.
The owner of the building in which the NdS’s home is now adding a new third floor in which we’re planning to have spaces to continue with Kundalini Yoga practice, a room for arts and crafts and a space for a ping-pong table. The laundry area is moving up to the rooftop where we will be installing a new washing machine which was donated by our friends from the Telluride Yoga group from Colorado … all kids are very grateful since now they will be able to do part of their laundry in a machine instead of doing all by hand!!
Over the last year, we have seen an amazing transformation thanks to your ongoing support and an effective US Board led by our brilliant new US Board’s President, Lauren Haas. The atmosphere of goodwill and mutual support at home is better than it has ever been.
We thank you all for everything you do, we look forward to having your visit and for you to see the beautiful fruits of our shared work.
May you be Healthy, Holy, Happy!
Much gratitude and love,
At this stage in their lives, things change so fast it makes our heads spin! But here’s a quick snapshot of what all our Niños are up to right now.
At the apartment in Cusco
Leo is the star chef of our family. Last year he started teaching cooking classes with market tours in Urubamba and cooking for our guests. This year, Leo has moved to Cusco and started working at a sushi restaurant, where he’s learning some completely new food techniques. He’ll be returning soon to the Cooking Academy to complete his chef’s certificate. He dreams of owning his own restaurant someday.
Erme is in her final year of Chemical Engineering at the university. She’s grown from a sweet girl into a competent and responsible young woman. We’ve hired Ermelinda to supervise the younger kids at the casa in Urubamba on weekends, when our staff has days off. She hopes to work in the water treatment industry, which is super important in Peru as the glaciers melt and the country heads toward a water crisis.
Jose Luis has a year and a half to go in his Graphic Design studies. He’s been learning to create web pages and will begin computer animation soon. He’s also working part-time as a waiter and leads tours of Cusco for visitors. Next semester, Jose has started his practicum, editing drone videos for a local Cusco firm. He hopes to work in computer animation.
Like several of the other kids, Jorge decided to leave the Casa and try things on his own for a while. It’s been our policy to let them explore and give them another chance if they choose to return, and we’re thrilled to welcome Jorge to the Cusco apartment. He’s working in an Israeli restaurant (where he’s become a favorite of the owner) and will begin his studies in Business Administration in April.
Zenobia has also been out on her own for a while, but she’s chosen to return to Niños Del Sol. She’s recently moved into the Cusco apartment and will soon begin her studies as a pastry chef. We’re so happy to have Zenobia back in the fold.
Marco is in Cusco competing with 40 other musicians for one of just three spots in the Music Program at the university. He’s interested in all styles of music, but particularly in hip hop, fusion, and Flamenco guitar. Marco is also very interested in Kundalini yoga, and he enjoys interacting with tourists and leading tours of Cusco for visitors.
We’re so proud of Rayshiel. Because of her excellent attitude and English skills, Ray was hired straight out of her hospitality studies by PeruRail after she served her practicum with them. She loves her job, and loves living and working in Ollantaytambo, but she spends weekends in Cusco with her NdS siblings. Ray was recently promoted to working in the first class coach, and she is the youngest employee in the company!
At the Casa in Urubamba
Doris’s cheerful personality and million-watt smile light up the Casa every day. We can see the growth in her independence and confidence after her trip to Brazil last year. Doris just completed high school and will soon decide if she is going to work, study or travel; she has expressed an interest in studying psychology.
Ada is holding firm to her intention to become a veterinarian. She makes friends with animals everywhere we go, and is also drawn to babies and small children. She hopes to follow in Doris’s footsteps to Brazil this year to broaden her horizons and explore the world on her own a bit. Ada is entering her last year in high school.
Sonqo is the “old soul” of the casa, a boy with wisdom and maturity beyond his years — and his own unique fashion sense as well. Like many of the kids, Sonqo has enjoyed getting to know his extended family in Peru during the school break. He also takes his responsibilities as an uncle very seriously, doting on Maria Flor and her baby, Gael.
Luis has been studying at the Collegio UNI Academia for the past few months, and has just been admitted there as a student. The UNI is a college-prep program for high-achieving students, and Luis worked hard to be accepted. He’s a bright boy with a bright future, and we’re eager to see where he will land. He can usually be spotted spoiling the dogs with table scraps or chasing his younger brother Rusbel, and nearly always has a smile on his face.
As the youngest boy, Rusbel works hard at harassing his siblings and keeping the adults on their toes. But Rusbel is also a gifted artist and a very bright student. He recently tested into the Collegio UNI Academia, a school for high-achieving students, where he’ll be attending with his brother Luis.
Our baby girl is growing up; Sol had her 11th birthday in January. She’s still a bright, curious girl, at the top of her class at school. Sol has developed a serious interest in baking and is always eager to learn new things. Right now, Sol is very excited to be welcoming two of her sisters to the Casa (see below).
Lisbet & Marlit (and Lourdes)
Soledad is one of six siblings, and they’ve all kept in touch over the years. Sol came to live with us because she was too young to be placed in the Catholic orphanage where the other three girls grew up. This year that facility is closing, so we’re very excited to welcome two of Sol’s sisters, Lisbet (13 and Marlit (16), to Niños Del Sol. A third sister, Lourdes (pictured in green) has already graduated, but she’s been spending time with us around the Casa and is a delightful addition to our extended family.
Kids we support out of home
Maria Flor is 18 and living in Cusco with her baby, Gael. We still offer her emotional support and all the Niños are in love with the baby and take their roles as aunts and uncles very seriously.
Soraida is 21 an lives in Urubamba. She works in a local restaurant and intends to go back to school to study early childhood education. If she goes back to school, we’ll help with her tuition.
Luisa, 21, is a young mother now and lives in Yucay with her family. We still stay in touch with her and help her when we can.
Every day we are so grateful to our donors (and especially to Hayley Dickson and friends) who helped us replace our failing van with this wonderful truck last year.
The truck has been perfect for hauling the older kids’ things to the apartment in Cusco so they can begin the next step of their life journey.
The Niños are on their summer break from school right now, and most are visiting relatives in their communities, building family connections and learning about their heritage. Without the truck, we’d never have been able to reach some of these beautiful mountain communities!
Boys, bikes, dogs, and a long pole for picking fruit fit easily in the back — and our dogs Layla and Kiwicha love being able to ride along with us!
Avishai and Viviana have moved their retreat offerings to a new location — Samana Wasi Hostel.
Samana Wasi is a gorgeous, well-established hotel above Urubamba. It offers a beautiful yoga space, an island with a fire pit accessible by foot bridge, a swimming pool, and lush scenery.
The new space is infused with a deeply peaceful spiritual energy, and offers comfy beds, sparkling bathrooms, indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, and, most importantly, a full-service staff that was lacking in our former location.
Avishai and Viviana will continue to provide ceremonies, classes, and connections with local resources to help retreat leaders offer their guests the best the Valley has to offer.
100% of proceeds support Niños Del Sol at this time. It is our intention that, as the Niños grow and leave home, this will become Avishai and Viviana’s business exclusively, but of course their close connection with the Niños will never end.
We’re getting a washing machine!
Erika and her group from Telluride Yoga Festival have worked together to send the funds we needed. Avishai, Rusbel, Luis and I (along with Kiwicha and Layla) went shopping on Tuesday for the machine and picked out a doozy. We’re so excited!
We can’t have it put in yet because our landlord is currently adding another level to the Casa. (We used some of our Giving Tuesday money to prepay rent so he’d have the funds to do it). Soon we’ll have a third floor, with a laundry room, yoga/meditation space, and/or game room.
This is lifechanging for the kids, who’ve been hand-washing their own laundry since they were little.
Thank you, Erika and Telluride yogis, and also Giving Tuesday donors!
We got approved at the last minute for a HipGive campaign, which puts us in line for $50,000 in matching donations on #givingtuesday. When you donate through the link on this page, your donation will be DOUBLED!
We love the whole idea of offsetting the energetic damage from Black Friday and Cyber Monday with a day of giving and thinking of others. Here’s why we hope you’ll choose Niños Del Sol instead of one of the big-box charities this year:
Small Donations Make A Big Difference Here
Ninos Del Sol is raising a group of children in the Sacred Valley in Peru. Our kids came to us with nothing. They had no parents to protect them in the world. We are raising them as a family, with lots of love, yoga, organic food, hugs, education, and empowerment. We support them on a very tight budget, growing a lot of our own food and earning some of our revenue by working in the community. No big administrator salaries here — our entire salary expenditure is less than $5,000 per month for our whole staff. Our donations this year have ranged from $5 to thousands, and every one of them has helped us do this work.
Our Donors Are Making A Profound Difference
Thanks to our donors, our kids — who might never have attended school or known how to read if they hadn’t come to us — are bright and curious, and many are at the top of their classes. Most importantly, we are supporting them through technical schools or universities, so they can achieve their dreams and break the cycle of poverty in their families forever. And it’s working. We’ve already graduated an accountant, we have a chemical engineering student and a graphic design major currently enrolled, and next semester we’re sending a psychology major and a musician. Join us and be part of a program that is working!
We’re Tax Deductible
Ninos Del Sol is supported by a 501c3 charity in the U.S., and your donations are fully tax-deductible. You’ll receive a tax receipt immediately when you make your donation. If you need any further records for tax purposes, or if you have any questions, contact [email protected] for help.
We are a Global Family and we’d love for you to join us!
We’ll keep you up to date on the kids’ progress with our quarterly newsletter and regular Facebook posts. You’ll get to know the kids and root for them as individuals. And you’re always welcome to visit us in the Sacred Valley and see how we’re doing.
No donation is too small for us. Through the generosity of HIPGive, your donation could even be doubled with matching funds!
Your information is secure, and we promise never to share your e-mail address.
We’re often asked what items the Niños need. Here’s our current wish list.
Of course, financial support is what we need most of all. We’re still struggling to create enough income to pay our monthly expenses. Please join our International Family by making one-time or ongoing donations.
It’s often better to buy things locally — prices in Peru are much better than in the US, and the children love to come along on shopping trips for several reasons. They learn important skills by going out shopping, from selecting items to handling money responsibly; but most importantly, there’s pride in selecting items themselves, and in buying things locally rather than thinking everything is a gift that arrives from the US (or other 1st world countries.)
If you’re headed to Peru and can come meet the kids and take them shopping, that would be a fantastic way to truly connect with them. If not, and you want to do a goal-oriented fundraiser, send used laptops or camping equipment, or send some items we can’t buy locally, we, of course, appreciate all donations.
- Homeopathic remedies for common flu and stomach upsets, Arnica Cream and Pellets, Calendula Cream, Dr. Bach Rescue Remedy, chewable Vitamin C, Multi Vitamins.
- Laptops (good used OK).
- 3 Sleeping Bags, 2 quality tents.
- Head Lanterns for the dark nights and camping.
- USB’s/ discs on key- for music, photos, and homework.
- New Clothing and shoes for kids, in constant need. Can be bought with the kids locally. About US$100 per child twice a year.
- Addition to the food budget to include more fresh fruits, honey, olives, nuts, olive oil, butter, coconut oil, cheese and animal protein. Additional US$80 a month will be great!
- Nut butters/ Nuts. Tahini and nuts are hard to come by locally- and make a great gift to bring along (pistachios, almonds, cashews, pecans…)
- CD player.
- Tooth paste and dental tape of the better kind, no sugar and chemicals etc. (Tom’s tooth paste)
- Dr. Bronner’s liquid and bar soap.
- Shampoo/ Conditioner of the natural style. Any natural style cosmetics/ lotions for the girls.
- Cool puzzles/ cards/ games- for indoors and outdoors.
- Healthy Camping Snacks/ Bars.
- We need help with the ongoing monthly expenses of the Casas (one in Urubamba, the other for the older Ninos in Cusco) which is about US$8,000. We have about half of this coming with ongoing monthly donations. Please consider fundraising on our behalf with your own fundraising page in our current campaign!
- Seeds of flowers and vegetables for our new gardens. Hand pruners.
- Cool movies for 10- 20 year old youth. English with Spanish subtitles is great!
- Cool books for teens in Spanish or Spanish/ English; dictionaries Spanish/ English. Materials for learning English.
- Your favorite music CD’s.
- Art supplies: sketch paper, color pencils, pastels, temperas, play dough, markers, glue, scotch tape.
Thank you so much for your ongoing support and love. We could not do this work without our Global Family!
If you’re coming to Peru, consider supporting our kids by booking a hike, guided walking tour, class, meal, or other adventure with our Niños!
We’re looking for a few heroic individuals to act as fundraisers for Niños Del Sol. Will you help?
Support the U.S. Board
Nearly all of our financial support is managed through the U.S. Board, which is made up of five volunteers who give as much time as we can. The board is rich with ideas but short on manpower. We need help coordinating our fundraising activities, social media, newsletters, etc.
If you can donate 5-10 hours per week and have experience with any of the following, we need you!
– Blogging/social media (WordPress, Buffer & Mailchimp skills)
– Clerical/communications (Bookkeeping/Mailchimp/Microsoft Word)
– Fundraising/grant writing experience
– Import/auction/online store experience
We need independent self-starters who don’t need a lot of direction, as we have no staff to offer any training or supervision in these roles (I’m available to answer questions and have loads of ideas to pass along).
If you’re interested, e-mail me at [email protected] with your relevant skills & experience and your experience in working independently.
We’re occasionally asked about the path to becoming a board member. It’s our intention in the future to invite new supporters in as volunteers first, and offer board membership to those who are consistently working on behalf of the Niños.
Heading to Peru?
We always need long-term (6 month or more) Spanish-speaking volunteers to work with the kids in Urabamba. We also love visitors, especially if they’re interested in doing a service project with us. Visitors who will share their photos and stories with their friends and family and help us encourage new monthly donors are the most valuable resource we have.
Can you help us?
We are in need of volunteer help in several areas, both in Peru to supervise the kids and in the U.S (Spanish translation, grant writing, and WordPress help).
We currently have no volunteers at the Casa to help with the kids, so this is an urgent need. Volunteering at the Casa has been a life changing experience for many people, and we appreciate the volunteering requests we get from visitors who want to help out. But we are very choosy about the primary volunteers who take responsibility for our kids’ care. Our ideal candidate will:
- Speak Spanish well enough to communicate with the kids on a daily basis
- Be available to stay with us long-term (6 months or more)
- Have experience working with kids, particularly teenagers
- Pass an Interpol background check
- Contribute a token amount to help pay room and board (about $100 a month is what we look for)
If this describes you, and especially if you are available immediately, please contact Avishai at [email protected] to discuss the opportunity.
In the U.S.
Our U.S. board could use some part-time, occasional, and project-based help. If you have experience in the following areas, please contact me at [email protected]:
Translation: Occasionally we need documents translated from Spanish into English and vice-versa. This might include hand-written documents, Excel spreadsheets (just the text portions), video clips, or e-mails. We don’t need this kind of help very often, but when we do need it, we usually need it done quickly. The ideal candidate will be familiar with Peruvian dialect
WordPress: Joshua and I are in the process of moving this site to a WordPress site. We both have experience with WordPress, but neither of us has much time. It would be wonderful to have some help porting the existing pages and blog posts over and replicating some of the reporting and social media functions we currently have in place. The ideal candidate will be very experienced with a wide variety of WordPress functionality, plug-ins, and integrating with Paypal.
Grantwriting: Anyone with any experience in grantwriting out there? We need help (or training) in all facets, from seeking opportunities to crafting successful applications. The ideal candidate has more experience than me, which is ANY AT ALL.
Again if you can help with any of the above please e-mail me at [email protected]
None of these are a fit for you, but you still want to help?
Good! We need you. Watch this space for opportunities to help us raise funds, which is our number one need at the moment. I’ll be creating a page with some ideas for you soon!
The best way to help
Also, remember that what we need most are regular monthly donations, even if they are small.
Now is a great time to get in your end-of-year donation for tax purposes, too!
We appreciate you all, and thank you from the bottoms of hearts for your support. What we are accomplishing with these kids is amazing, but we cannot continue this work without your help.
Maybe you’re not able to make a regular donation to help support the Ninos right now, or maybe you’re already giving what you can. But there’s another way for you to help, by using your social network to help us fundraise!
You can be a fundraiser on our team!
I’ve set up a team campaign on Razoo.com, with a goal of raising $10,000. Why? Because right now were at least $3,000 a month short of being able to pay our bills. $10,000 will buy us three months of time to build our monthly income. If we can raise a little extra, we can also hire a grant writer to help us generate a more sustainable income for the Casa.
Here’s how it works:
1) Click on this link to go to the Razoo fundraiser team.
2) Click the “fundraise” button and sign up
3) Personalize your page. Set your own goal. Tell your friends and family why you want to help the Casa, and if you have your own photos or video clips you can add them to your page, too.
4) Share your page on your social media and ask your friends and family to help you reach your goal. You’ll probably have to share it every day for a while; people often respond emotionally the first time you post but need to see your message several times before they sit down and make the donation.
It’s that easy. Avishai and I set up our pages and we each had donations come in right away! Donations go directly to the charity, so you don’t have to handle any money and your donors get a receipt on the spot for their tax-deductible donation.
If you have any questions or need support, I will help you. Just e-mail me: [email protected]
Please, join us. Thank you!
We are trying hard to stay on top of the ever-changing financial situation at Niños Del Sol.
I wanted to share this information, because, sadly, we live in a world where people have to protect themselves against dishonest charities, and smart people often ask “Will my money really benefit the children, or will it line some administrator’s pocket?”
So read on for the real scoop on where your money goes, and learn just how lean our organization really is.
How we handle our funds
Every month, our US Board President, Darrin Davis, empties our Paypal account and wires the money to Peru. We keep no share of it in the U.S. The money he’s able to send is never enough — right now what we have in monthly commitments is less than 1/4 what we need to pay our bills.
Every month we simply hope and trust that we’ll get enough single donations to keep things running. We have no reserve; one bad month would destroy us. It is very scary for all of us, to be honest. As much as we love one-time donors, we really need the safety net of knowing we have enough coming in to pay the bills. That’s why I push the monthly donations so hard.
What we don’t spend money on
The most important thing to note is that we aren’t spending any money at all on salaries for administrative staff in offices. Our board members are all volunteers, and we each work from home and pay for our own expenses. We haven’t been spending any money on fundraising, either, although we’re going to have to carve out some small figure in hopes of increasing our donations if we want to survive.
Where the money goes
The kids help with cooking and clean-up on a rotating schedule, but we still have to pay for adult supervision.
Our biggest expense is staffing. We pay two full-time co-directors, Viviana and Avishai. Together, they handle all the work of managing the home and the apartment in Cusco for the college kids, as well as raising the children on a day-to-day basis. They have at times chosen to work without pay when our funding is low, which is simply unacceptable, but as you can see from the pie chart, the alternative would be to not feed the children. This is why I am constantly begging for more donors. We cannot function this way.
We also have part-time staff who help with meal preparation and laundry, and one man (full-time, pardon my error in the graphic) who helps with gardening, driving, and maintenance around the property.
This is one big reason why our expenses are higher than you might imagine when you compare them to a family. We have to pay adults to do the jobs that would normally be done for free by parents in a household. And caring for 20+ kids requires more than two adults. If you take out this piece of the pie, what’s left would look much like any family’s budget.
We grow as much of our own food as we can in our organic garden,
and the kids are learning gardening skills and doing chores there, too.
Although we grow as much food as we can, we have many mouths to feed and there is simply no way around the constant need for food. Especially now that the kids are teenagers, their bodies require a lot of energy. If you’ve raised teenagers, you know how much they eat — and how quickly they go through expensive goods like toilet paper, sanitary products, and shampoo.
Rent and utilities: 16%
Our next largest expense is rent and utilities. We are paying for two properties at the moment, the Casa for the staff and kids and the apartment in Cusco for the kids attending college. We hope to move the younger group to a less expensive space when our lease is up, but we need to maintain a home with space for the college kids to visit on weekends and holidays as well.
College tuition: 6%
Tuition is far more affordable in Peru than in the U.S., but we are paying for either University or Institute (vocational) training for 10 kids now, so this has grown into a serious expense.
Other expenses: 24%
School and art supplies help keep the kids engaged and help their minds and spirits grow.
Those are our main expenses, and make up more than 75% of our budget. The rest goes to pay our bookkeeper, buy clothes for the kids (donations help a lot but it will always be necessary to buy some things), provide medical and dental care, shuttle the kids back and forth to their schools and bring the Cusco kids home for weekends and holidays, and so forth.
That’s it. No corporate fat cats, no gala events, no office somewhere. Just the children, and their need for love, and food, and shelter, and education.
We are so proud of our kids! They are growing up to be fine young adults.
Graphic Design Artist
Chemical Engineering Student
Natural Born Leader
Ninos Del Sol is a home for children in the Sacred Valley of Peru. Our children came to us when they were young; many arrived under 5 years of age, some as toddlers and infants. Now we have kids in middle school all the way up to University, some have graduated and started lives of their own. This post features three of our kids and gives you a taste of what we are all about.
Jose Luis, age 18, has been with us since 2004. He is a kind, helpful young gentleman who loves to lend a hand. He’s studying Graphic Design at a technical school in Cusco, but has always dreamed of being an actor.
We currently have 10 kids in college, and the others are growing up fast. This is expensive, but we don’t want to turn our backs on these kids at this most pivotal point in their lives. Click here to offer Jose Luis and the others your support!
Ermelinda was just three when she arrived at the Casa in 2000. Now she’s 19 years old, and is already in her third year studying Chemical Engineering at San Antonio Abad University in Cusco.
This is Ada. At 14, she’s in between the older and younger kids at the Casa, but she tends to hang with the younger crowd where she’s a natural leader. She’s a quiet girl, but very bright and friendly. She arrived at Niños Del Sol with her three brothers, Raul, Luis and Rusbel, in 2010.
Last week, our board had a meeting via Skype to review our financial situation. The news isn’t good, and we need your help.
We’re in trouble.
Two years ago, in our crisis, we turned to you and you saved our children. Since then, we’ve been getting by financially, but barely. Our US board takes no pay; except for Paypal fees and maintaining this website, our President sends every dime we collect to Peru. We’ve been getting by with a mostly volunteer staff as well, and even our directors have had to go without pay at times. But we’ve been grateful to still have a home for the children, and we’ve managed.
Rusbel, our youngest boy
But nothing is forever. We’ve lost some of our sources of funding as time went by — and now we find ourselves in a crisis again. We’re applying for grants that we hope will help us pay our bills, and one of our new board members has graciously offered to hire a professional grant writer for us — but that takes time.
In the meantime, we are several thousand dollars short of what we need to pay the bills every month, and we have no cash reserve. The situation is serious.
Our sweet, wise Rayshiel
We really need your support. Can you help us?
1) A monthly donation — even a small one — helps us to know we’ll be able to put food on the table for the kids in the future.
2) If you’d rather make a one-time donation to help us get through the next few months, that is also very much appreciated.
3) Please spread the word on social media, let your friends know about the great work we’re doing and direct them to this link:
Marco, our house comedian
All donations are tax-deductible in the United States. If you have any questions, please e-mail me at [email protected]
Thank you so much, always, for your beautiful hearts and your loving spirits. We couldn’t do this work without you.
How much of your donation to Niños Del Sol goes into the pockets of the administration? None. Here’s the scoop on how we do that.
Our board in the U.S. and our Peruvian board are composed completely of volunteers. Darrin Davis, our U.S. board president, is a volunteer. I am a volunteer (this is Lauren Haas writing, I’m on the board and I chair the fundraising committee). Joshua Sandstrom is a volunteer.
We all spend many hours of our free time fundraising, looking over budgets, creating this website, writing these blog posts, maintaining the Facebook page, and trying to keep up with the law regarding our nonprofit status. When we go to Peru to visit the kids, we pay for our own flights.
ALL of your donations get wired to Peru every month. The only money that stays in the States are a few very small expenses like our web host and Paypal fees.
The only people in our organization who receive salaries are Viviana and Avishai, our Directors who are with the children every day, and the cooks, launderer, and tutors who directly care for the kids. We try to provide them with a living wage, although Viviana and Avishai have donated a great deal of time (and most of Avishai’s salary comes from running the B&B, not from your donations).
So please, don’t hesitate to support our kids. Even small donations are appreciated.
Lauren here. Remember me? I’ve been gone for about a year, traveling in Southeast Asia, but I’m back with you now!
I’m heading back to the U.S. and Darrin (our fearless leader in the States) has appointed me to the U.S. Board, where I’ll serve as fundraising chair.
I know the current board and staff have buried in their work with the kids and haven’t been able to write much, so I’ll be working with Joshua Sandstrom to keep you up to date in the future. Here’s your first update.
Another Year in the Valley
Thanks to you, we’ve survived another year in our new home. We still love it here but it looks like we’ll have to move again when our lease is up. A houseful of teenagers makes a difficult neighbor in a quiet village, especially in an area of yoga retreats, and our landlady isn’t sure we’re a good fit.
That works out well, though, because so many of our kids are getting older and heading to Cusco for college and university! Here’s a quick rundown on our post-secondary kids — all TEN of them. We couldn’t be more proud.
The Scholars of the Casa
Education is vital to breaking the cycle of poverty in Peru. Our dream is for our kids to break the cycle of poverty in their own families and help provide a brighter future for their own children and all the future generations of their families. We also hope they will become leaders in their communities and pay your generosity forward in ways that benefit all the people of Peru.
• Guadalupe (19) Accounting – Graduates from a Technical School on December 2016 as a CPA’s Assistant – Will continue into the University 2 year program to get CPA degree to be an Auditor.
• Yulissa (21) Graduates from a Technical School on December 2016 as a Hotel and Restaurant Manager’s Assistant – Will continue 1 year program at languages academy to obtain certificates: English, French
• Rayshiel (19) Graduates from Technical School on December 2016 as a Hotel and Restaurant Manager’s Assistant – Will continue 2 years program at languages academy to obtain certificates: English, French, Japanese, Mandarin.
The three graduating this year are beginning their practices working at centers according to their career. Once they begin to receive a monthly salary or stipend they will be contributing a percentage to their own expenses, according to their earnings. They are also expected to have a savings account at a local bank; by the time they move out they should have some money saved. ~ Viviana
• Ermelinda (19) Chemical Engineering – 3rd year (2 more to go)
• Belisario (18) Economy – 2nd year (3 more to go)
Both are at the Cusco University. Require 5 years academic training.
Oscar (left) is in his first year of Production Mechanics. Belisario (right) is Ermelinda’s brother. He’s studying Economics at Cusco University. Belisario once said he dreamed of becoming the President of the World Bank so he could wipe out poverty. We hope he makes it.
• Leonidas (18) Gastronomy – 1st year (2 more to go)
• Oscar (18) Production Mechanics – 1st year (2 more to go)
• Zenobia (16) Accounting – 1st year (2 more to go)
• Melina (16) Food Production – 1st year (2 more to go)
• Jose Luis (18) Graphic Design – 1st year (2 more to go)
All of them are attending Technical schools. 3 years academic programs, plus a year of practice.
Soraida (18) left home 2 weeks ago; she’s living at her brother’s home in Calca (village 30 minutes from us) – she decided she couldn’t follow requirements for those out of high school and home rules. As with all, she knows that doors are open to return if she’s willing to comply and respect agreements. ~ Viviana
All the post-secondary kids are expected to help with chores at the Casa on weekends in return for our continued support of their educations.
Rayshiel, who many of you may recognize as the adorable moppet from the original Youtube clip about Mama Kia’s kids, is now 19 years old! She’ll graduate from technical school at the end of 2016 and go on to study languages.
Of course, as the kids become teenagers and young adults, we have the same issues as any family. Four of the older boys who have left to try life either on their own or with relatives in the villages have recently returned, seeking emotional and practical help. Oscar, Belisario and Leonidas, all 18, had left voluntarily but found themselves in survival situations, living in extreme conditions. Raul, 15, went to his community for three months to learn more about his roots and daily life in the community and to make choices about his behavior. All four boys have returned with a clearer understanding of what’s needed for success in life.
Viviana, in her loving and wise way, has welcomed them back with open arms and firm expectations. The 18-year-olds are expected to work part time, continue their academic education, and help around the Casa on weekends. Raul, she reports, has returned mature, conscious, loving and respectful of himself and others.
We are all “being the change”
Without you, we couldn’t do this work. Without your generosity, these kids would have been in a state-sponsored home, where they would have been provided for and then turned out at age 16 to fend for themselves. Together, all of us — the kids, Vivian and Avishai, the U.S. and Peruvian boards, our volunteers, and our donors — are living the changes we want to see in the world. Sometimes it’s difficult; sometimes it seems impossible.
Viviana and Avishai’s work, supervising a house full of hormones, often leaves them so exhausted at the end of the day they can barely move. Those of us on the board are up all night worrying about finding the funding to keep things going. And I know you, our donors, have probably been frustrated at times with the lack of communication and you may have considered abandoning us more than once. I’m so glad you didn’t. (and if you did, I hope you will come back!)
I’m so grateful for each of you.
Today is Giving Tuesday, a global day dedicated to helping others in the midst of a worldwide season of materialism. What a beautiful concept.
Of course, our donors have been generously giving all year. We’ve been in a near-crisis state this year, and you’ve pulled together and gotten our kids through a very difficult time. I’d like to give you an update on where things stand.
A bit of background if you’re not aware of the situation
After Mama Kia’s passing (our founder), the children went through many challenges. One man, John, took responsibility for saving Mama Kia’s kids. John has single-handedly supported the entire project since 2010. But he couldn’t do so forever, and early this year he let us know that we’d need to find a broader base of support by October of this year. John is still supporting our college kids in Cusco, and paying for Urpi’s care in her new facility (Urpi is severely autistic and as she grows to adulthood, she needs a more specific kind of care than we can offer). We are forever grateful to John for his financial support, and for hiring Viviana and Avishai.
Viviana and her husband, Avishai, provide the kids with daily love, support and therapy. They love our kids as individuals and are interested in developing their spirits as future leaders. They crafted a vision of combining the children’s home with a retreat center, just as Mama Kia had done, and of creating a self-sustaining program that will someday be run by the kids who are growing up there now.
Viviana (far right) with the kids outside their former home in Calca
Avishai (center) taking the kids on a hike
With John’s help, Viviana and Avishai found a beautiful property and moved the kids there. The retreat center is already turning a small profit and helping to support the kids, as well as exposing them to visitors, languages and ideas from around the world. Older kids have opportunities to work, earn money, and build skills in the hospitality industry. It is a beautiful program.
The children’s new home is securely tucked away inside a wall, just outside Urabamba beneath Chicon Mountain.
The new home is a retreat center, with guest lodging and a large yoga studio space. The children’s spirits absorb the natural splendor of the Sacred Valley every day, and the retreat center brings in revenue and allows the children to interact with the world, as Mama Kia intended.
The interior of each guest cabana has been painted in spiritual themes by a local artist.
A financial update
Meanwhile, we’ve been working hard at raising funds. Through this website, and with the help of our community of supporters (that’s YOU) we’ve collected over $20,000 in donations since we began working in late spring. We are ending the year with commitments of $2,000 in monthly donations, toward our ongoing need of about $10,000 a month. Combined with the income from the retreat center, that goes a long way toward giving us stability for our future.
But we still don’t have a certain income that will cover our expenses. We’re highly dependent on the occasional large donation that comes in to help carry us over. We’re incredibly grateful that those donations have so far been enough to sustain us, but we desperately need to offer Avishai, Viviana and the kids the peace of mind that comes from knowing there will be enough income to cover the most basic expenses.
How you can help
If you’ve given one-time donations in the past, please consider an ongoing monthly donation as we go into 2015. Most of our donors give $15, 20 or 50 a month and it adds up quickly. All donations are tax deductible. Please visit www.ninosdelsol.org/support to set up your monthly donation if you haven’t already done so.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for every dollar we’ve received this year. We asked for your help, and you shone in your efforts. Some of you have helped us spread the word and brought in new supporters to our family, and we are grateful for that as well.
Love and light
P.S. This video will introduce you to the new directors and show you the kids’ new home. A new video, with more footage of the children, is on its way, along with more information about our finances for 2015.
Hello, everyone! Lauren here, with an update from Peru.
I’m going to put the most important bits of information at the top of this post, so if you don’t have time to read it all, you can skim the first few sentences.
Most importantly, there’s a minor glitch in some of our donation receipts. If you receive a receipt that says that your donation is NOT tax-deductible, please don’t be alarmed. Donations ARE tax-deductible, we just need to work things out with our new Paypal account so the receipts will print correctly. If you receive one of the faulty receipts, please forward it to me ([email protected]) and I’ll make sure you get a corrected one as soon as we’ve resolved the issue with Paypal.
Our incoming president, Darrin Davis, is currently in Peru to meet with the Peruvian board and our Directors to work on next year’s budget. He may not be able to attend to the Paypal issue until he returns, so please be patient.
Viviana (far right) with the kids at the old location in Calca.
Viviana and Avishai put together this wonderful letter for me to share with you:
The end of year 2014 is approaching; a year that brought many changes for Ninos del Sol. In February of this year we moved from Calca to Urubamba. It was an unforgettable move!
The children immediately fell in love with their new home. They liked their rooms, bathrooms, green areas, and everything surrounding this home. The land itself felt very healing and brought great energy from everyone.
The children transferred to a new school. The adaptation process still continues. Many of them are making new friends, and they are proud to invite them into their home. This is also a new development; children at Ninos del Sol are learning to demystify terms like “orphan”, and “orphanage.” They are learning that an orphan has absolutely no one; they have all of us making sure they grow healthy & safe, having the opportunity for growth at all levels.
The Niños with our Director, Viviana, our volunteer, Andrius, and Co-Director, Avishai.
All children are doing very well academically. The school year ends on December 15, and most of our kids will be graduating with honors. We have three teenagers graduating from high school this year and they are beginning to prepare to go into higher education centers in Cusco, as well as in Urubamba.
Lisa Sragovic, a school teacher from Orange County, California, invited our kids to enroll in a PenPal project; those that chose to participate are already receiving letters and pictures back developing thus new connections and frienships.
We are renting a small apartment in Cusco for the students attending Cusco University and other Colleges; these 4 students (Ermelinda, Belisario, Guadalupe and Exwar) are doing very well, and learning to live on their own. Two of them are working part time, and all of them travel home on weekends to do their laundry, help with the chores of the home and hang out with their siblings.
Besides changing home, school and meeting new friends, we have a new board of directors, both in the USA and in Peru.
With gratitude and anticipation, we are warmly welcoming Darrin Davis of Austin, Texas, as our new President of the US Board. Darrin has known the Ninos for several years, through regular visits, both while Mama Kia was alive, and also after her passing. Welcome aboard, Darrin!
Both boards are working to fund raise enough funds to continue supporting this fantastic home where 23 Quechua children are given the opportunity to excel at everything they are and everything they do.
Most of our children are now teenagers. A group of them learned how to knit and make woolen boots, others learned how to make beautiful baskets woven with recycled newspaper and used plastic bags, plus we have those that are producing their own designs of bags, scarfs, hats and wallets. Our aim is to make this apprenticeship into a self sufficient cottage industry that would generate income both for each child involved in the project as well as for the home.
Under the guidance of our oldest girl, Yulisa, (who is studying Hotel and Restaurant Management along with Rayshiel at a Technical Education Center in Urubamba) 5 younger boys are eagerly cleaning the guest rooms at our B&B, and learning the Art of Hospitality. They get paid for their hard work, and are proud of it.
Our adjacent Sacred Valley Retreat B&B has been hosting a stream of visitors, many of them extending their stay as long as possible, as they so much enjoy their time next to the Ninos, at the foot of Apu Chicon (the spirit of the snow capped mountain towering above us.)
Income from the B&B has been a vital support to keeping us going. We are planning upgrades and renovations to the guest area, and are welcoming specific donations for this project!
In August we had a visit of a group of 20 women through Trekking for Kids, who organized an epic trip to our region, and brought substantial donations to Ninos del Sol. They took the Ninos to a fun day of shopping for clothes in Cusco, played with the Ninos, helped in finishing a state of the art Greenhouse which they provided the funding for, hosted a feast and a party, and left us with an abundance of gifts: a small van, a pick up truck, laptops for our Cusco students, sheets and towels, kitchen and dining ware, and funds for a Solar Water System to replace the gas heaters. Muchas Gracias!
Later in August, for their Winter School Break, we all travelled in a bus on a 4 day camping trip to Quillabamba, which is the border of the Jungle. Warm weather, swimming in the gushing river, eating fresh tropical fruits, soaking in the Thermal Baths of Santa Theresa… They had a fantastic vacation!
The Ninos are shouldering more responsibility, now that there is very limited paid staff. Under the supervision of our fantastic volunteers, the kids prepare their own breakfast and snacks for school, starting at 5:15 am on all school days.
A new system of work groups is proving successful, supervised by the older Ninos. Every day after lunch, the groups take care of all chores: cleaning the kitchen and dining room, taking care of the ducks, chickens, turkeys and geese, cleaning all outdoor areas, and one group working with Fernando in the Greenhouse and vegetable gardens.
Learning how to plant, prepare organic compost, care for plants, harvest, and cook with what they grow- our Ninos are fully participating in the essential cycle of Nourishment- from Garden fork, to Table fork.
Instead of paid tutors, we have been relaying on volunteers, and have had the privilege of working with 3 fantastic long term volunteers who recently moved on. Thanks Andrius, from Lithuania, who stayed for nearly 6 months, and helped construct a lovely Play Structure and a darling Tree House. Both were made possible through donations from Dutch Villem who left his mark with the Ninos, Danke!
The kids in their fabulous new treehouse, with Avishai and Andrius
Hadar and Maya of Israel also left their mark, following 3 months of dedicated work. Toda Raba!
We are looking for new long term committed volunteers – 6 months or more!
Anyone who knew the Ninos before, and gets to visit, sees how happy and healthy they are. They are thriving at all levels.
We are grateful for John, who was the President of the US Board of Directors, and the main funder for the past 3 years. John will continue to support specific programs, however, in a much lower level than before. This means, that we need new funds and funders, to assure that this family of children without biological parents, originally gathered by Mama Kia, will continue to thrive.
We thank all our generous family of supporters, and call on you to keep helping by inviting everyone you know to join our circle of support.
Please plan to visit Ninos del Sol in their new home, and stay at our B&B.
By joining the circle of Monthly supporters, you get free nights’ stay at the B&B and the satisfaction of knowing that you are instrumental in providing a quality life to this group of children.
Welcome Home, and please keep in touch!
This is the update I just sent out to our supporters. I wanted to make sure this information is shared with everyone.
Hola, Amigos De Los Niños!
As you know, we are entering our final month of support from our former sponsor, and transitioning to a time when you, our donors, will be the only financial support we have.
You have responded so beautifully to our urgent need, and we appreciate it.So many of you have initiated monthly donations, or made generous one-time donations to help us through this transition. You’ve given us hope, and we are responding with new energy.
We are setting out with new energy on a multi-faceted plan to generate support. Our plan includes work on the ground in Cusco, where Vivian and Avishai will be approaching the new mayor and the local Bishop’s office, and business owners throughout Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
Meanwhile, our new US president, Darrin Davis, will be hosting a fundraising event in Dallas next month. And we will continue to update this site and work through our network on Facebook to generate more monthly donors. Avishai is gathering informaiton about the Bed & Breakfast income so we can project future earnings, and the entire Casa is looking at other business ideas to generate more income on the ground in Peru.
Some donors are having technical problems with the site. If you’ve had trouble getting Paypal to work properly, or if you’ve noticed that your ongoing donations aren’t being transferred every month like they should, please contact [email protected]. I am collecting information for our technical support to identify and fix the problem, and I will try to find an alternate way to set up your donation in the meantime.
Every dime of help buys us a little more time, and is appreciated whole-heartedlly.
We desperately need experienced volunteers to help with fundraising. If you are experienced in grant writing; research regarding potential donors; bilingual English-Spanish/bi-cultural if possible; willing and able to access, pursue, and engage local hotels, restaurants, business people; are an experienced event organizer; experienced publicist or have any other relevant experience and would like to help, in the US or in Peru, please send an e-mail to Avishai [email protected] or Viviana ([email protected]).
At the same time, we’re working to cut all unnecessary expenses. For instance, we’re in the process of moving Urpi, a severely autistic girl who’s been with us under 24 hour care since she was a baby, to a more suitable placement, and our outgoing president John has agreed to sponsor her care in Lima. That will immediately free up the salaries of her 24/7 caregivers. Viviana is going over the budgets with a fine-tooth comb to whittle down our budget.
Our incoming U.S. president, Darrin Davis, is traveling to Peru this month to meet with Viviana and Avishai and to get some support from other orphanages in the area who can brainstorm with us on more cost-cutting and fundraising ideas.
So, the situation is urgent, but we are nowhere near giving up hope at this time. We will keep you posted on anything you can do to help as opportunities arise!
Thank you so much from all of us. Without you, we couldn’t do this work that means everything to these children and their future families.
So sorry for the long delay in getting information to you. We appreciate your ongoing support and patience. Here’s what’s happening with us at Ninos Del Sol right now.
We’ve been transitioning from the outgoing president of our U.S. nonprofit (in Florida) to our incoming president (in Texas), which has meant jumping through legal and banking hoops. Meanwhile, we’ve been working as a team to get a complete sense of where we stand financially.
What we’ve discovered is rather chilling, to be honest.
As you can imagine, taking care of two dozen teenagers and kids doesn’t leave our Peruvian directors, Viviana and Avishai, much time to keep up with the books, despite their best efforts. But they’ve been working with a local bookkeeper and brought back some projections based on the current spending trends. And those expenses are more than 50% more than the $10,000 a month we previously thought.
Meanwhile, we’ve had only limited success in getting ongoing commitments from donors. We have received some generous one-time donations through the website and from other sources, but our ongoing donations have been stuck at about $2500 (including a generous commitment from our ougoing President) for several months now.
We have received our last contribution from the outgoing President (who has been single-handedly supporting the kids for several years, bless his soul). We have enough cash reserves to feed and house the kids for about one more month. Then we have only a fraction of the income we will need to continue our work. There is some income from the Bed & Breakfast operation, but I have not been able to collect those figures yet, so even I don’t know exactly where we stand.
Our incoming President, Darrin Davis, is in the midst of some fundraising projects and has high hopes, so we are not giving up the fight.
Meanwhile, every donation will help us keep the kids together as a family a little longer. Commitments to monthly donations give us hope and could enable us to continue our work. Your donations are tax-deductible and you are in complete control of them at all times, you can cancel scheduled future donations at any time through our website or through Paypal.
Thank you. I will do my best to keep you updated during this time of transition, and I’m committed to always giving you honest information in as timely a manner as possible. Thank you again for your continued patience and support as we get through this together, with the kids’ best interests in all our hearts.
We’ve had over $4,00 in donations through the new website since our campaign started in June. It’s come from more than 45 donors — so we’re averaging less than $100 per donor. Those who give $15 or $25 or $50 a month are the heart and soul of this effort. Those who give $100 a month or more are rock stars! And one-time donations are always welcome, of course.
Here’s our co-director, Avishai Pearlson, talking about donations.
Right now, we need another $500 in monthly commitments to hit our goal for July. And most of it will come $25-50 at a time. Will any of it come from you?
If you’ve been looking for an easy, stressless way to leave an impact on your world, your dreams have come true.
Our Children’s Home is making the biggest impact imaginable in the lives of two dozen children.
We’re not just feeding their bodies with nutritious, organic foods and filling their hearts with love and family (but we are doing those things).
Our kids are getting a top-notch education, graduating high school, and going on to college. The cyle of poverty will be forever broken in the families of every one of these kids (who might otherwise have grown up homeless and illiterate — if they had grown up at all. O
But our children’s home is in trouble. We are losing our funding in October, 2014. We’ve had to appeal to the hearts of individuals to generate the $10,000 a month we need to provide food, education, staffing and housing for our kids. This money supports both the kids in the center AND the kids who are away at college.
So far, we’ve received pledges of about $2,000 a month. We are encouraged, but we still need a great deal of help. And we’re running out of time.
Won’t you help us? As little as $15 a month helps. Telling your friends our story and asking for their support helps. Visit www.ninosdelsol.org to learn more about our program. Or stop by www.ninosdelsol.org/support to set up your tax-deductible monthly donation right now!
Thank you so much. Your actions can change the whole world — not just for these children, but for generations of their families, and future leaders. Our program is built to ensure that these kids will grow up to give back.
Our Children’s Home is in trouble. We need your help FAST. Can you help us?
Niños del Sol (formerly Casa de Milagros) has been struggling since the passing of our founder, Mama Kia. The kids were so fortunate that an American benefactor discovered the Casa during its struggles. John lifted up the children and carried the financial burden of supporting them, for several years.
But of course one man can’t do that forever. John’s time is drawing to an end in just a couple of months. Our community of supporters has begun to pull together, to pledge monthly support for the children. We are encouraged… but there is a very long way to go. Please visit www.ninosdelsol.org and set up a monthly donation to help us with our remarkable mission.
It’s impossible to help all the children in the world, or even in Peru. What can one person do?
Unless you’re Mama Kia, or Mother Theresa, or Ghandi, it feels like the answer is “not much.” But even the great humanitarians of history have been backed by a group, funded by the collective.
A small group of committed funders is all it will take to keep the doors open to children at Ninos Del Sol — and this program needs to continue. Why? Because we’re not just keeping children alive with bowls of gruel and a dreary roof over their heads. We are feeding their spirits, their minds, and their hearts.
Our kids are attending universities and colleges in Cusco. They are not just surviving, but exceling. These are the future leaders of Peru, and the future board of directors of Niños Del Sol (one of our older boys is already serving on the board). Some are studying economics and chemical engineering. Others have more modest goals, but they will be the parents and citizens of the future.
Your small investment in these children will flow into the future like pond ripples.
You can have a tremendous impact on the future with a small, tax-deductible monthly donation. Click here now to set up a monthly donation you can afford (as little as $15 a month).
That’s what one person can do. And for any one of these children, it’s lifechanging.
Learn more about us at www.NinosDelSol.org
~ Lauren Haas
If you set up a recurring donation during June or the first part of July, there’s a possibility our system will only process your first payment.
I apologize for the inconvenience, but our system was going through some changes during that time.
The issue is now fixed.
If your payments were affected, we”ll send you an e-mail around the time your second payment would have processed, asking you to set up your donation again on the new (repaired) page at www.ninosdelsol.org/support
Don’t worry, there’s been no hacking or security breach of any kind. We only process payments through the Paypal system. We do not store your credit card information on our system at all.
I apologize for the inconvenience. We value our donors more than we can possibly tell you!