The COVID-19 pandemic has made it really hard to stay focused on all the immediate and urgent needs – and plan for the bigger future. This is particularly important when it comes to building opportunities for the older boys who ‘graduate’ from the Casa Girasoles program. They are getting older – in-spite of the social isolation and mandatory quarantine, and we need to help them build bridges to the next phase of their lives.
Ideally, every boy in our Casa Girasoles Program would apply and be granted a government supported scholarship to study at university. The challenge – not all the boys are best matched to a university education; and, the program is extremely competitive. As such, we face a daunting challenge of building our own graduation program.
We’re fortunate to be in partnership with Paths of Hope and their amazing team of Kate and Billy Greenman. Together we’re working on a plan for the older boys – but everything has been stalled with COVID-19. So, without a lot of formal programs – we’re taking it case-by-case, boy-by-boy.
Yesterday I had a call with a faith-based NGO that runs a program in Cusco. They accept young adults transitioning from orphanages or homes. In addition to helping with school enrollment – university, technical or trade school – they also provide housing, case support, psychological therapy and life skills development. It’s a great program. They’ve graciously accepted three boys from our Casa Girasoles in the Sacred Valley.
Yesterday on our call, the director told me of his hope that all the young adults participating in their program gain access to the skills that will allow them to be successful adults. He went on to tell me each program participant receives a small monthly stipend for basic hygiene supplies. This amounts to – for many – some of the only money they get. During this challenging time, the boys have been donating their money to an NGO working with families living in extreme poverty.
The money they donate goes to purchase food for families that would not otherwise eat without support. The families are also the same families many of the children came from them. This is an amazing story that exemplifies the drawn we all feel to be servants and supporters in the lives of others. It is a story of the power of resilience and growth.
I feel so fortunate to be in this work. It is such a huge privilege to serve the boys in our Casa Girasoles. In the midst of the complexity and challenge that is COVID-19, there are amazing bridges being built.