While we work to meet the immediate needs of children living on or near the streets, Kaya serves as a part of a larger effort working towards a future where no child calls the streets home. There are organizations, both in La Paz and other major cities worldwide, that exist as a part of this effort. However, in La Paz and elsewhere, one population of children continues to be vastly underserved: girls.
Kaya's focus has always been on serving the children with the greatest needs, children whose needs are not being met by other programs or whose needs are especially challenging to address. Over the past 5 years, we've served many young girls through our programs at the Kaya Center and we are grateful for that. However, we keep encountering the same problem: we cannot help some girls. It's not because we don't have the skills or desire, it's because we don't have the resources. Just like boys, there are girls in our program living in unstable or abusive homes or simply not in a home at all. There are also many girls who are HIV positive; even the very few programs available for girls in the city will not allow these children in their facilities, and are simply not trained or equipped to handle their special needs. Kaya has the experience, partnerships, and desire necessary to serve these children, but we need the facilities to do so.
It costs Kaya approximately $420,000 per year to run all of our programs. In addition to this amount, Kaya is seeking partners for a combined grant total of $330,000 over the next 5 years to construct at least one home for girls and begin providing residential care to this unreached population, with a projected launch date of 2015. While many in the non-profit world are moving away from residential homes-- they are expensive and complicated programs to run-- we know that our residential homes are a key component in responding to the needs of the children we serve. It's an investment we are willing to make, no matter how hard it is. We've learned a lot about healing families, family reunification, and even adoption over the years. We've also learned that for some real, sustainable transformation requires a great investment that comes with an awesome reward: lives transformed and childhood restored.