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 (Lauren@LaurenHaas.com) 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!