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.
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.
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.
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!