Tag Archives: Children Incorporated

New Teachers with Fresh Ideas in Chile

Our affiliated project, the Maipu Center, is located on the outskirts of Chile’s capital city, Santiago. Santiago lies nestled between the towering Andes Mountains to the east and a smaller, coastal range to the west. Nearly five million people — more than a third of the country’s population — reside here, many of which are underprivileged Chilean families.

Concentrated in the city’s southern and northwestern regions, the slums of Santiago are home to impoverished children who are forced to live in makeshift dwellings or deficient public housing. Many of their parents work in the service industry or for small businesses, making low-wages with very little chance for upward mobility.

Helping families in need

The Maipu Center was founded over 80 years ago by a Roman Catholic congregation of women, the Daughters of St. Joseph. Today, 70% of students at the Center are from families living below the Chilean poverty line. Without the support of the Maipu Center, or their Children Incorporated sponsors, these children would not have the chance to receive a quality education, which is the key to helping them break the cycle of poverty in which they live.

Functioning as a private school and community center, the Maipu Center is a spacious, well-kept complex of buildings comprised of classrooms, a kitchen, a dining hall, a church and a community room for activities. Students receive two nutritious meals a day. In addition to standard academic courses, children also take dance and aerobics classes.

Improved academics and new energy 

During a visit to the Maipu Center, Children Incorporated Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, and International Projects Specialist, Kristen Walthall, were excited to find that the school academics have improved over the years — thanks to the support of a recently hired energetic principal and new, young teachers who are bringing more knowledge of technology and modern methods of education to the school.

“The school’s new principal has renovated all practices and academics in the school, implementing a new information technology department, as well as music and arts departments,” explained Luis.

Thanks to their sponsors, children are not only receiving help while in school but outside of school as well. With the children’s basic needs met, their parents don’t have to worry as much about affording these necessary items.

“Sponsored children are benefiting greatly from these changes, and according to the principal, they are doing better academically because of the school’s new programs and the enthusiasm of the staff.”

On top of receiving a great deal of support from the Maipu Center administration, children enrolled in our program also benefit from their sponsors. Sponsorship funds are used to help cover school fees; to provide school supplies, book bags and daily snacks; as well as to purchase clothing.

Thanks to their sponsors, children are not only receiving help while in school but outside of school as well. With the children’s basic needs met, their parents don’t have to worry as much about affording these necessary items.

Still more To accomplish in the future

Although an academically progressive school, the principal expressed to Luis that he still struggles to find local funding for operating costs. Still, he wasn’t going to let it get in the way of him giving children every opportunity they deserved to succeed.

Before Luis left, the principal talked about his desire to remodel some of the classrooms, as well as cover the playground area with a roof so it can be used during the hot summer and cold winter months for outdoor activities.

***

How do I sponsor a child in Chile?

You can sponsor a child in Chile in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Chile that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

Faith and Joy for Students in Lima

After spending two weeks visiting our affiliated projects in Colombia and Peru, our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, and I were scheduled to visit with our last school before returning home– The Villa School outside of Lima, Peru.

Located in the Villa El Salvador slum district in the outskirts of the capital, the Villa School is a “Fe y Alegría” school. Fe y Alegría schools are a federation of local organizations which offer educational opportunities to the poorest sectors of society.

About Fe y Alegría

Founded in 1955 by the Society of Jesus in Venezuela as a movement to promote comprehensive education and social development, there are currently Fe y Alegría schools in 19 countries around the world. Fe y Alegría schools work to strengthen education for marginalized populations through specific methods:

-Teacher Training: Ongoing training provided for teachers and school directors, including in computer technology.

-Technical Education: Fe y Alegría schools provide students with technical training that prepares them for the workforce, with the aim of promoting sustainable development.

-Higher Technological Education: Training is also provided to prepare children for technical careers that respond to the needs of the local/regional economy in which the institutes are located.

-Rural Education: Fe y Alegría schools provide capacity building in rural areas of Peru, working to develop educational materials suitable to the needs of the local region.

-Basic Alternative Education for Adults: The schools offer adults who were unable to complete their school studies the opportunity to pursue elementary and high school-level studies.

-Inclusive Education: Fe y Alegría seeks to promote the participation and integration of children with disabilities in the education system. It does so through teacher training and the development of learning materials catered to the specific needs of disabled students.

Currently, Fe y Alegría is running 79 high schools, 161 schools in 6 rural networks, 268 technical schools and workshops, 7 institutes of higher technology, and 20 centers of technical and production education.

Many spoke of how important sponsorship was to them and how sponsors helped not only the children, but the entire family.

The Villa School

When we arrived at the Villa School, we met with our volunteer coordinator, Ines, who had a special presentation prepared for us. We gathered with a few dozen of our sponsored children and their mothers in a large room where chairs had been set up in a circle.

Luis and I sat, and a group of older children performed a traditional Peruvian dance for us. When the dance was over, mothers and students expressed to us sentiments about their sponsors.

Many spoke of how important sponsorship was to them and how sponsors helped not only the children, but the entire family.

A few of the mothers became emotional as they spoke, mentioning how grateful they were to know there were people in the world willing to help their children get through school so they could have the chance at a better life away from the slums of Lima.

Happy children all around

Afterward, Luis and I took a tour of the large school, where multiple basketball courts and soccer fields were surrounded by classrooms, carpentry workshops, and buildings with spaces for dancing, music classes and other recreational activities.

As we made our way around the rectangular path of the school with Ines, hundreds of smiling students dressed in matching Fe y Alegría School uniforms walked, ran and skipped past us gleefully. It was apparent that they were enjoying their time with their friends and teachers.  I could tell this was, indeed, a place of faith and joy for all the children at this special Fe y Alegría School.

***

How do I sponsor a child in Peru?  

You can sponsor a child in Peru in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Peru that is available for sponsorship.

Valuable Lessons Learned in Manizales

For our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, and me, our trip to Colombia ended in Manizales, where we visited the last of our three affiliated projects in the country, Centro de Orientación.

Established by an order of nuns, Centro de Orientación functions as a community center to rehabilitate mothers who have fallen victim to the ravages of poverty, often having no other choice than to work on the streets of Manizales to make money.

In addition, the Center provides nutritious meals and a safe place for children to enjoy recreational activities while teaching them how to become mature, confident and educated young adults. Support from Children Incorporated sponsors ensures that the children have clothing, school supplies and food to take home each month.

Lifting women up through training

Located in the San Jose neighborhood of Manizales, the Center serves children ages 6 to 16 years old, as well as their mothers, during the weekdays.  The children attend local schools where they are taught core academic subjects such as science and math.  In the afternoons, they receive tutoring and vocational training, in areas such as hairdressing or sewing.

During the school day, the children’s mothers are taught how to use industrial sewing machines, how to make crafts to sell in local markets and how to cook — skills that they can use to obtain employment so they can support their families.

During the school day, the children’s mothers are taught how to use industrial sewing machines, how to make crafts to sell in local markets and how to cook — skills that they can use to obtain employment so they can support their families.

When Luis and I arrived at the Center, we were met by Sister Solidad, our volunteer coordinator, and her assistant, Claudia. While taking a tour of the facility, Sister Solidad explained that four Sisters live at Centro de Orientación who all work closely with the children to teach them self-worth. They encourage the children to believe in their potential to do more than just finish primary and secondary school. They also strive to help mothers pursue educational opportunities at the Center so they can support themselves and lift their families out of the impoverished situations in which they live.

Waiting to start a family

After our tour, we met with our sponsored children and their parents in the basement of the Center, where a large, open room full of plastic chairs had been arranged in a circle.

As Luis spoke with the group about their sponsorship experiences, Claudia explained to me that since Centro de Orientación has been offering its skills training programs in the community, she has noticed over the years that the younger women are waiting until they are older to have children. And when it comes to teaching their own children valuable life lessons, they are confident in explaining to them the importance of getting an education before they start a family.

***

HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN COLOMBIA? 

 You can sponsor a child in Colombia in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.orgor go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Colombia that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

Easing the Burden on Families in Santiago

Spanning over 2,000 miles of South America’s western coastline, with deserts in the north, rainforests in the south, and the snowcapped peaks of the Andes Mountains ranging throughout, Chile is a stunning country.

Children with disabilities receive support thanks to the Handicapped Children’s Center.

Yet despite its natural beauty and reputation as politically progressive when it comes to human rights, Chile suffers from excessive inflation and an ever-increasing unemployment rate. Due to these economic realities, millions of Chileans are desperately poor.

A big telethon in Chile

The anguish typically associated with poverty becomes even starker when impoverished families are caring for a disabled child, such as the families with children at our affiliated project, the Handicapped Children’s Center in Santiago.

Thankfully, children with various disabilities receive treatment and support in an educational environment and help from their sponsors at the Handicapped Children’s Center. Without the much-needed aid the Center provides, disabled children and their families would have nowhere to turn to receive services and resources they so desperately need.

Beyond support from our sponsorship program, the Handicapped Children’s Center receives funding year-round thanks to Teleton, Chile. Teleton is a charity event held in various locations around the country in the first week of December. During the event, Chilean television networks hold a 27-hour telethon to raise money to help children with developmental disabilities. Since its inception in 1978, over $286 million has been raised, and 13 rehabilitation centers have been built all around Chile. Currently, Teleton is the world’s most-watched telethon.

Because the Handicapped Children’s Center is a well-funded organization, it provides children and young adults up to age twenty years old with medical care and therapy for free.

Free care for kids in need

Because the Handicapped Children’s Center is a well-funded organization, it provides children and young adults up to age twenty years old with medical care and therapy for free. The Center is equipped to provide care and support to children suffering from the effects of polio, congenital disabilities, Downs Syndrome, and other mental and physical handicaps.

The Handicapped Children’s Center is located in the rehabilitation wing of a local hospital in Santiago. The hospital itself is a large, modern building, comprising of examination rooms, physical therapy, a swimming pool, and a center for making prosthetic aids, which are provided to children free of charge. Transportation to and from the facility, when needed, is also offered at no cost to families.

New surgery techniques are helping disabled children in Chile to walk normally again.

The staff of the Handicapped Children’s Center includes physical therapists, orthopedists, podiatrists, neurosurgeons, urologists, dentists, occupational therapists, teachers, psychologists, social workers, nurses, audiologists, and a full prosthetic staff.

The Center emphasizes self-care and independence in its therapy, and families are encouraged to play an active role in the children’s rehabilitation. The goal is to prepare the Center’s participants to become entirely independent at school, at home, in the workforce, and society. Children who are able to attend local public schools to learn independence, and those who are not able to due to their disabilities are educated at the Center.

Helping children to walk

The support children receive at the Handicapped Children’s Center is individualized, involving physical and recuperative therapy as well as psychiatric care. Children also enjoy arts programs as a part of their participatory therapy. Doctors, nurses and technicians are available with access to robotics technology, providing the best possible support for maximum recovery.

Additionally, special new surgery techniques have been performed on children with physical limitations so they may walk normally. Recently, three children that are enrolled in the Children Incorporated program have benefited from the surgery with staggering results.

Along with the care they receive at the Handicapped Children’s Center, sponsored children receive school supplies, food, clothing, and transportation allowances so they can participate in regular therapy sessions. Over the years, children and their parents have expressed gratitude to Children Incorporated staff members for the support they received from sponsors, as it lowered the family burden on treatment expenses.

***

How do I sponsor a child in Chile?

You can sponsor a child in Chile in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Chile that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

A Shining Light in the Culture Capital of Argentina

Renowned for its wealth of culture, arts and beautiful European-style architecture, Buenos Aires draws thousands of tourists each year.

However, there is a hidden side of the city that few tourists experience. Extremely high inflation, rising unemployment and an increasing poverty rate leave many parents struggling to feed their children.  As a result, impoverished families are forced to live in Buenos Aires’s slum neighborhoods, packed together in wooden shacks with tin roofs, separated by narrow footpaths with few resources and little hope for a way out.

Impoverished families are forced to live in Buenos Aires’s slum neighborhoods, packed together in wooden shacks with tin roofs, separated by narrow footpaths with few resources and little hope for a way out.

Located in the Florencio Varela slum neighborhood, our affiliated project Casa del Niño – Padre Jose Kentenich Daycare Center provides for the physical and social needs of impoverished children throughout the day. Serving as a daycare center and afterschool program for children while their parents are at work, Casa del Niño offers tutoring and recreational activities as well as a secure place for kids to escape from the poor conditions and uncertainty that are typically associated with urban slums.

Serving many children in need

According to Luis Bourdet, our Director of International Programs, Casa del Niño alternates their hours of operation with the local public school’s schedule.

“For those students that have school in the morning, they come to the Center in the afternoon, and vice versa.  About 300 children attend this Center daily,” explained Luis.

The Center receives funding from the local government. The children most in need are enrolled in our sponsorship program to ensure they are provided with additional food, clothing and educational support — as well as the emotional and psychological support in knowing their sponsors care about them and their well-being.

On a recent visit to Casa del Niño, Luis, along with Children Incorporated International Projects Specialist, Kristen Walthall, found that the Florencio Varela neighborhood had received much-needed improvements in infrastructure since his last trip to Argentina nearly four years earlier.

“Roads have been improved, as well as housing. Families lives have been steadily improving too,” said Luis.

Besides the changes Luis could see outside of the home, he also found that Casa del Niño has made quite a few improvements under a new administration, which included an entirely new board of directors. Luis and Kristen toured the facility’s fully equipped kitchen, which serves children nutritious meals twice a day. A new arts program had been added as well as a sewing group for parents. The Center also began hosting parent meetings in the evenings and established a sports program for the children in the afternoons.

A dedicated and loving staff

Luis was impressed.

“The children are well cared for at the home, and their parents’ needs are being met as well — the sense of camaraderie and support can really be felt here. This Center has a bright future,” he said.

Kristen felt similarly to Luis during their visit to the Center — her first to Casa del Niño.

Casa del Niño offers tutoring and recreational activities as well as a secure place for kids to escape from the poor conditions and uncertainty that are typically associated with urban slums.

“The Center has both paid and volunteer staff members who are some of the most dedicated and passionate people I have ever met,” said Kristen.

“One board member volunteers to work with the children on a daily basis, as does her sister, who regularly teaches music to students, opening their hearts and minds with her guitar playing and hearty singing voice.”

“During our tour, we also had the chance to meet a loving and committed cook who attended the center herself as a little girl,” explained Kristen.

“When she grew up and started a family, her daughter started attending Casa del Niño. She then began volunteering as a cook and was eventually hired to run the kitchen full-time. More than twenty years later, now her granddaughter is in attendance, and benefits from the culinary talents of her grandmother and the nurturing ambiance of the Center.”

Meeting Ale

Before their visit ended, Luis and Kristen had a chance to meet a staff member at Casa del Niño named Ale. According to Kristen, Ale, who is a former attorney, is a vivacious young woman who has taken on a critical role in the Center’s growth.

After becoming involved with the Center’s recreational activities, Ale found that there was a divide among the kids that prevented them from getting along with one another during their allotted sports recess times. Since soccer was the only game the children played, some of the kids were much better at the sport than others — and fellow participants criticized those that weren’t very skilled.

Ale came up with a plan that would help to level the playing field among the children. She introduced baseball into the afterschool curriculum, giving kids a chance to try something new so the focus wasn’t solely on their soccer abilities.

When Luis and Kristen visited the Center, they witnessed the newest sport being introduced: field hockey. Ale explained to them that thanks to a generous donation, she was able to obtain field hockey sticks and balls and give the children another sport to learn together for the first time. 

***

How do I sponsor a child in Argentina?

You can sponsor a child in Argentina in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child who is available for sponsorship in Argentina.

SPONSOR A CHILD

 

Head of the Class in Peru

Located along South America’s central-western coast, Peru comprises arid Pacific coastlands, spectacular mountain ranges and the vast Amazon rainforest. This land has been home to indigenous peoples for thousands of years, including the Inca Empire, the culture that constructed Peru’s most iconic landmark, Machu Picchu.

Peru’s rich culture, breathtaking beauty, and wealth of natural resources, however, belie the abject poverty in which many of its residents live. Many rural areas are still recovering from the Sendero Luminoso terrorist attacks of the 1990s, which claimed countless lives and caused thousands of families who had relied on agriculture for generations to seek shelter in large cities where they encountered even deeper poverty.

A safe place for girls

While Peru as a whole suffers from high unemployment, hyperinflation and all the difficulties that poverty entails, problems like disease, malnutrition and crime are most pronounced in its overcrowded urban areas. These problems are the worst in the nation’s capital, Lima, where our affiliated project, the Puente Piedra Girls’ Home, is located.

Established by an order of nuns, the home offers girls ages five to twenty-two shelter and a safe place to receive a quality education all within the same vicinity. Today, the Puente Piedra Girls’ Home serves over a thousand children in kindergarten through twelfth grade and is run by a dedicated staff of educators — many of whom grew up in our sponsorship program.

Seeing Lima for the first time

When International Director of Programs, Luis Bourdet, and I arrived in Peru, we made our way to the Puente Piedra neighborhood to meet with our volunteer coordinator, Sister Ana Maria.

Located about an hour’s drive outside of the center of Lima, the extreme poverty in the sprawling urban areas was apparent just from looking out the window of the moving taxi.  Small shacks made of wood and corrugated tin towered above the highway perched dusty hills. For these low-income families, their only option was to build homes without permission in places where no one else wanted to live. As these communities became more established, locals would then ban together to collect money to build roads or towering staircases leading up to houses — things that the government might otherwise do if these shantytowns were legally recognized.

When we arrived at Puente Piedra, Ana Maria took us on a tour of the beautiful facility. Well-kept dormitories were divided by age group, and a house mother was assigned to each dorm to look after the children. An adjacent school offered classrooms, a library and a computer lab. The spacious grounds also had plenty of places for girls to play, with trees and gardens surrounding all the school buildings.

No other place to go

Ana Maria explained to Luis and me that many of these girls come from homes where they are neglected because either they have no immediate family to take care of them or their families are so poor they cannot feed and clothe their children properly.

For these girls, living full time at Puente Piedra allows them to thrive under circumstances under which they otherwise would have not been able to attend school. It also prevents them from experiencing the poverty their parents’ experience. Even on school holidays, most of the girls stay at the home, having no reason to return to their families where they would have nothing to eat and nowhere to sleep.

Former sponsored children ARE the next generation

We made our way to the school administration offices, which are centered among basketball and volleyball courts, where hundreds of students were enjoying recess.

As we approached the principal’s office, a teacher arrived and introduced herself as a former sponsored child. Luis and I were pleased to meet her, listening to her talk about her fond memories of her sponsors, even remembering their name after more than 30 years.

A moment later, another teacher appeared and greeted us as a former sponsored child as well. Before I knew it, we were surrounded by ten administrators — including the principal — who had all been in the Children Incorporated program.

For these women, the motivation and encouragement, as well as the financial support they received from the sponsors, gave them a reason to stay in school, graduate, continue onto higher education, and return to Puente Piedra to lead other girls to success.

*** 

HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN PERU?

You can sponsor a child in Peru in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Peru that is available for sponsorship.