It's been a rich and full Spring....

CatsCorner

Enjoy some images of activities the kids have been enjoying, due to you support and sponsorship!

...a day at the theatre

...a day at the theatre

...a day at the water park...

...a day at the water park...

extra credit school work...

extra credit school work...

...movie night for the younger kids

...movie night for the younger kids

...our SOLAHIS dancers!

...our SOLAHIS dancers!

Besides the activities shown here we also have been holding a God based sexual education series for the teenagers. Early teenage pregnancy is a huge challenge we face with our kids and, thankfully, with proper and full education we are facing this less and less with our kids...both the boys and the girls. We also are hosting a youth group twice a month for the teenagers. This group is open, not only our sponsored kids, but also, to those teens in the community who are not in our program. It is exciting thing about this is that most of the kids and a huge blessing to be able to help those beyond our sponsorship program!

We continue to offer the willing parents of the community health and wellness classes, which continue to be a success.

Some of these things may not seem like a big deal, as they are common place in our world. We can not stress enough, to you, how important all of these events are for the strength and well being of our children and their families. If The Center was not there, these children would not be experiencing any of this...these children would not be experiencing love, or hope. They would not be experiencing the opportunity to dream. 

Thank you for allowing this to happen for these precious babes. Without your help, cycles would be continuing and healing would not be taking place. We can't do this with out you. Humble gratitude...

Keeping the Kids busy...

Cats Corner

Our staff is always implementing an bringing in new activities for the kids. Some of these events are not only for those in our program but for the kids of the community as well.  an example of such events would be dance instructors, who were brought in to host a dance class. They also host a regular movie night for the Youth.

Such a activities are important to give our kids a place to be and fun activities to do. Like all children, these kids like to be entertained. What's different for them is that they live in a high risk community. High risk for drug and alcohol use, crime, gang related activity, and prostitution. If our kids are kept busy they are less likely to fall into the destructive life styles, that are so prevalent. The center offers them an loving environment, that is strictly free of all those outside pressures; and allows them to be, as much as they can, normal kids just hanging out with their friends.

There are so many kids in the community that could use out help. But in order to give quality over quantity we offer a limited amount of spots in our program. What we do offer is extra classes for kids who are not in our program but are willing to learn and take the extra help. We also offer an open-feed on Saturday to the whole community.

We can not say enough about our staff at the center. Their tireless commitment is what makes this all possible. Please pray for them as they nurture and lead the children of our center. Pray for wisdom, courage and an over flow of love. Because when it comes down to it, Love is what is needed most by the children of out center.

Thank you for checking in!

click on the image below to see more what's been going on!

A Last Look at 2016

  • Cats Corner...

Truly it has been another amazing and blessed year here at SOLAHIS. Looking back over the success of our kids this year is truly inspiring and also give us much incentive to keep moving forward with the work we are doing at the center. This is not easy work. it is slow and can be daunting on the spirit, body and mind. But when the younger children commit to their studies by utilizing the tutoring program we offer, it shines the light of Hope just that much brighter. When we witness the older young adults completing training and university programs; achieving careers and moving forward in their studies, the light of Hope grows even stronger. 

We have been a presence in this community now, for over 10 years and it is really beginning to show, not only in the children who are part of our program but also the parents and caregivers. this year we witnessed a number of marriages in which the couples attended marriage counseling offered by our pastoral staff. We believe that for our kids to achieve the greatest success, the love and care needs to come from their homes first. For many of our kids this is not happening and they depend greatly on the centers staff to take the role of mother, father, elder in their life. Part of our goal is to shift that and by offering parents and caregivers support by way of classes and counsel we are beginning to see that shift.

This year we were blessed to have our first full time Canadian volunteer be at the center for a full year. Candace was part of the administration and teaching staff of the center. She offered a unique view into day to day life at the center, which offered tremendous insight to the other volunteers back home, in Canada. Though the year came with its challenges she deeply felt the blessing of being down at the center in such a unique capacity and looks forward to returning.

The saddest day of this year happened in June; the day one of our promising young men, Estiven, was killed in a tragic drowning accident during a weekend trip to the ocean. The ripple of this loss was felt all the way to Canada. Steve was 18 years old and had been involved with us from the beginning, at 8 years old. He was a natural leader, smart, funny and wise beyond his years. He said that he lived in two worlds...when he was at the center he lived from his heart, but when he was outside the center gates he had to live from his head. The community in which we have the center can be a dangerous and violent place for. The constant push of drugs and alcohol is all around, along side the pressure of gangs and the gang life. This lifestyle is a real threat for our kids. Estiven knew about this fully and it was a constant delicate walk of navigating this world to keep himself outside enough to save himself. He was dedicated to the center and believed in what it stood for and offered the kids and people of his community. He was well aware that the opportunities offered there were not to be taken for granted. Her is greatly missed by all who knew and loved him. We still morn his unexpected passing deeply and will for the days to come.

The year ended with out 9th Annual Fundraising Banquet held at Colombia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C. This was out first time holding this event at this location and, hopefully, it will not be our last. The event sold at at 425 attending and raised over 150,000!!! this is a HUGE blessing as this is our biggest fundraising event, besides sponsorship...which btw all of our kids in our program are fully sponsored! While the sponsorship program covers food, medical, dental, extended education and some of the extracurricular actives, we still need money for property maintenance and expansion, staff wages (our paid staff is those who work at the center...administration, pastoral team, cooks, and maintenance team, and continual extracurricular activities. 

To give you an idea, below is a list of some of our short term needs:

  • 2 new lap tops for university students
  • 2 industrial sized blenders for the kitchen
  • permanent picnic tables for around the property
  • permanent benches for around the property
  • craft and teaching supplies
  • camera for the staff

Long term needs:

  • Scholarship fund for students
  • Scholarship fund for staff (we offer continued education for all our staff)
  • Children Programs and Feild trips
  • Parent programs
  • Playground (build and maintenance)
  • Respite opportunities for staff

We are grateful that we do not do this work alone. We acknowledge our Creator and The Divine Love that guides us through all the sorrow and joy that this work brings. We are humbled by our amazing staff in Colombia and grateful to be brothers and sisters on this path of healing for those less fortunate in a ghetto on the other side of the world...one that when you are there may as well be on another planet. But by working together with Love as our guide we are Divinely joined as One. and in this place of Divinity we see that we are all healing, together...that those children help us, even more than we do them.

 

 

 

University Graduation Update

Cats Corner: (click on image below for more images)

This year three of our remarkable young women graduated from their university programs. It was an honor to see and celebrate with them as they achieved such a huge step in their lives and move towards their future goals and dreams.

Mariana finished her program to become a pharmaceutical assistant. Yesica and Mary Luz both studied to become occupational medical assistants. 

After their graduation ceremonies we took them and their families out for lunch to celebrate the accomplishment. We are all so proud of them and wish them to best of luck with all their future endeavors.

These young women are why we are doing the work that we are doing in Medellin. With out the center and the financial assistance we bring to the center, these young women would not have had the opportunity to accomplish what they have! This is a huge step up...many steps up. They have worked very hard no only on their studies but also volunteering their time at the center and setting an example for the younger ones. Letting the youth of the community know that dreams are possible, that they, indeed, have the power to change their stories of poverty.

Even going to school has been a challenge for our kids, as they face discrimination from the other students when they figure out where they are from. It is only the upper class who go to university and it is clear that our kids don't quite "fit in". Our staff encourages and supports them fully, but it is not easy to be so excluded and held apart. What has happened, interestingly enough, is that our kids tend to excel and once their class mates figure that out, by second term they are approaching them to do work projects with, as opposed to the first term when no one would have anything to do with them.

Please hold our kids in your thoughts and prayers as they continue to walk through this adversity. Hold our staff as well so they can stay grounded and full as they pour out to our kids and support them through all that they face...in the outside world and their homes.

These young women graduating is a HUGE celebration for all those involved in this project! 

Summer Time Update...things have been busy!

Cat's/Candace's Corner:

In June and July the children in Colombia had several weeks off of school. We thought it was a great idea to put our classes on break too and spend the time playing games, enjoying the swimming pool, and hold a day-camp style week of challenges, teamwork, and even prizes at the end. A lot of preparation time went into the week leading up to the event. Our university students worked hard to create games, puzzles, and other activities. Each day started with worship time, followed by splitting into teams for the activities, then we came together for a message from the pastor, and lastly came lunch. We chose fun fast food style lunches to serve this week as a treat. Instead of the usual soup and rice they got hot dogs, hamburgers, fried chicken and french fries!

The teams were split up and assigned a young adult as the leader. The teams combined different ages and friend groups. It was great to have all the students of the Center interacting and working together.

The pool was officially set up for the season! These kids go wild in the water! They all have so much fun making whirl pools, splashing, throwing each other around, and just having a great time. 

We took the time to celebrate the birthdays from the last few months. This is a celebration for the whole community, not only our sponsor children. The mothers and also the children who come on Saturdays are able to participate. We sang happy birthday (Cumpleanos Feliz!) and everyone received ice cream, cake, and a sandwich to take home. It is so great to make the children feel special and have a party, something they aren't able to have in their homes.

We had an amazing visit from Free Kicks Society of Canada who spent a week with us coaching and training our children. The first few days were spent doing drills and building up new soccer skills. It all paid off at a fun tournament the last day which took place at an off location pitch. The younger children at an indoor leisure center and the older at a turf field a short bus trip away. For many of them it was their first time playing on turf as oppose to concrete. Adam and Darren from England and Northern Ireland respectively have a heart to both train and mentor children. At our Friday youth group meeting they spoke and shared their testimonies.Throughout the week they constantly spoke a message of hard work, encouragement, teamwork, and persistence. It was an important lesson for our ultra competitive kids to hear that cheering on your friends and having a great time is much more important then winning the games. 

Thanks to many donations from soccer clubs and others through Free Kicks every session ended with jersey's awarded to those who stood out for trying hard, helping a friend, having a good attitude, and much more. At the end of the week the teams were given full kits to play in the tournament and afterwards they were all surprised to learn they got to keep them!

The week was full of great lessons and a lot of fun. Check out freekicks.org to find out more about the work they do in Canada and internationally using soccer as a tool to build up and inspire youth. Click on image below to see more of the fun!

Sleepover at the SOLAHIS Apartment with Candace

Cats Corner:

Right now we have one amazing Canadian on staff. Her name is Candace and she is a 24-year-old Early Child Development worker and is volunteering, teaching English to the children. She also helps where ever she is needed whether it be in the office or the kitchen. Recently she hosted a sleep over with 7 of our youth girls, which also entailed Candace making a traditional Colombian meal for these very hungry teenage girls. This was a real treat for the girls and rewarding for Candace.

Here are More Photos from the Sleepover

Missions Trip Update

Cats Corner: March Missions Trip

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This trip brought two families together and five newbies to the center down in Colombia. For one of the team members it was her fifth time down and with her, she brought her husband, youngest son and nephew all of which had not been before. Another couple joined them who had attended the annual fundraising banquet and sponsored a child in our program. They felt a call in their hearts to come and see what we were doing at the center with their own eyes, and they were not disappointed by this decision. Jorge, our president of SOLAHIS also joined the team as usual. A few things that were dome while there, by the team, was ahandrail was built down to where a garden a future playground will be. Parts of the property are somewhat steep, and safety for the children as well as usage of the land is important to us. Also, fruit trees and shrubs were purchased and planted for the beautification of the property and for the fruit the trees will bear. Time interacting with the children was the top priority, and gifts were put together and given out to each child...either by way of their sponsor or by way of items donated and brought down by the team. (click on image below to see more images)

 

For more details on this trip, you can go to this blog post from one of our team member... http://loveandlight-cat.blogspot.ca/2016/06/solahisan-unexpected-journey.html

July 2016

An Organization call Free Kicks (http://www.freekicks.org/ ) from Vancouver will be going to the center to hold soccer camps for the children. Canadians teaching Colombians how to play soccer...that should be interesting! Along with them, they will be bringing equipment and jerseys for the kids.

August 2016

A youth group make of 12 youth and five adults from Coquitlam Presbyterian Church will be going down to the center to put o Basket Ball camps for the kids. The Board of Directors will also be on this trip and meet with the board in Colombia discussing various topics of SOLAHIS. During this time the youth group will also be hosting the annual Quinceanera for the 15-year-old girls of the center, a tradition in the Colombia culture.

June Update: Swimming Pool Field Trip

Cats Corner:

After each semester all the children who were able to pass their classes are taken on a special field trip to celebrate. We have this reward system in place to encourage the children to work hard at their studies and utilize the tutoring that is available for them. For this particular field trip, they went to a swimming pool/water park. The weather was a little rainy and not exactly warm, but all the kids had a great time! They received lunch and some treats in the afternoon. These outings are always an adventure for these children who would normally never go to such places like a pool, amusement park, or the mall. Through these special events, they are learning more about the world they live in, and possibilities are opening up for them.

June Update: Classes with Liety our on Staff Teacher

Cats Corner:

Leity is one of our, full time, on staff teachers. She drives almost 2 hours from her home to come and work at the center, and she loves it. She is committed to our kids and is excited to be a part of rounding off their education by offering tutoring and help to those struggling in school. It is a requirement for those children in our program to attend school and to do their best. Due to the school system being very compromised we feel it imperative to offer these classes, so our kids have a greater chance of going to post-secondary education after completing high school. The kids in our program are required to show our staff their report cards, so they are away from where they are at academically. If a child is not passing, they are then required to attend tutoring as a mandatory activity, until their grades go up. Also in the parental classes held for the parents, we also encourage them to take an active role and interest in their child’s education. Leity also teaches English classes to those interested.

May 2016 Update

Cats Corner: Saturday Activities

On Saturday the center holds an open feed- a community feed in which all those from the local community are invited in to enjoy a free meal.

After these lunches, the staff often offers activities for those who would like to attend. We have informative parenting classes for the many single moms in our area. Teaching them child care, nutrition and giving them spiritual support as they face parenting, on their own, in the harsh climate that they are living in. We offer instruction and guidance for the teenagers and also learning activities for the children. These activities are free and anyone from the community can attend.

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Parent's Meeting

We also offer classes for the parents. Keeping them informed as to what we are offering their children and how their children are doing. During these classes the staff also takes the parents through different teachings to strengthen their own parenting abilities...offering a place to ask questions and receive healthy positive, Spirit lead guidance.

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Pastoral Classes

During the week classes are constantly being offered by our Pastoral staff offering the children spiritual guidance and council.