Care for Kids La Paz was born out of a need to find a more consistent way to feed and help children. Before Care for Kids La Paz had been founded as a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity, two people, who are now board members, had personally been buying food for three large families in La Paz. Three impoverished families were just the tip of the iceberg.
Helping others gave us great joy. We recognized that if we had more financial resources we could help even more families. In November, 2005, we founded a charity in order to bring dignity and independence to families and at the same time to give our donors the means to participate in the delight of helping children thrive.
In 2005, we began giving children breakfast before they went to school. A number of children were going to school on an empty stomach and couldn’t concentrate. We saw breakfast as a priority.
A number of mothers in the community volunteered their time and would rise at 5:30 am to begin the preparation of the meal. The breakfasts would consist of eggs, beans, tortillas, pancakes, chicken, cheese, fruit, a hot drink with either oatmeal or rice, cinnamon and milk, and a piece of fruit to take to school.
We served anywhere from 55 to over 100 children three times a week. For the first six years, not having a special room, we served the meal in the yard of one of the volunteers. The children sat at donated tables and benches perched on a stone covered ground. Our resources might have been limited but not our love for these kids.
In 2011, we were blessed to move into a building built by an order of missionary priests that housed a kitchen, dining room, running water, electricity and bathrooms. It was a dream come true!
Year by year, little by little, the community improved. From a community of houses built of tar paper, pieces of wood and metal, families were able to build homes of out concrete block. Services were installed, families bought cars and installed cable TV. Fewer kids came for breakfast.
A few years back, the federal government opened up another section of land still considered part of Vista Hermosa. Numerous families from mainland Mexico moved to this area with a hope for a better life. For the most part, these families lacked education and could only find poorly paid menial jobs. Many live like the first wave of families – in one-room houses built of patches of wood or tar paper, dirt floors, and no electricity or piped-in water. They lived just far enough away that their children didn’t come to our breakfast program.
The Winds of Change
It was through Hurricane Odile, (September 2014), and the work our charity had and has been doing to help get people back on their feet, that we were privileged to meet many of these families, hear their tragic stories, and assess their needs. It was then it dawned on us that our charity could close down the breakfast program and help out on a family by family basis. This would put us in a better position to offer a more flexible, tailor-made support to meet the needs of families and at the same time allow us to have more of a community focus while meeting the people in their homes. Never forgetting, of course, that children are our first priority.
From 2004-2011, we provided a Christmas fiesta for 150 children with piñatas, food, games, entertainment, and of course gifts. To witness the anticipatory look on the faces of the children as they awaited their gift is worth all the many hours of work put into the planning and organizing the event.
Many generous people donated gifts such as knitted scarves and toques, handmade jewellery, clothing from the Justice Company, toothbrushes, toothpaste, school supplies and much more. Not to mention those who helped raise money by selling baked goods, donated funds to the event, or wrapped gifts. Over the years, we would never have been able to pull off this event without the many kind people who donated their time and resources to bring something exceptional to the children of Vista Hermosa.
The mothers who helped in the breakfast program would receive hampers of dried food – beans, rice, sugar, flour, pasta, canned tuna, vegetables, mayonnaise, chilies, oil, juice, milk, coffee, toilet paper, and cookies – as a way to thank them for all their hard work. Without the moms, there would never have been a breakfast program.