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.