A very popular question about The House of Dreams is: How do the kids come to you?
We are a legal orphanage licensed by Bolivia. All the children living in the House of Dreams were brought to us by the Social Services of Cochabamba. Oftentimes this government office works closely with the Child Protective Services of the Police Department to remove children from harmful situations and place them in a safe home like ours.
Most of the Dreamers suffered some form of abuse or neglect which brought them to us. Speaking in very general terms I can tell you a few of the types of harmful environments from which our kids were removed.
abandoned in a public bathroom as an infant
severe physical abuse
an infant being sold at the border
homeless parents using drugs
abandoned in a market for a long period of time
left in the home alone as a toddler for a long period of time
evidence of starvation
If we are made aware of a situation in which it would be best for a child to be placed in an orphanage or foster home we must involve the correct governmental offices. For example, when a mother came to our door to give us the infant sibling of one of the children already in The House of Dreams we had to help her to work with social services to have the child placed in our home. In the end she didn’t want to speak to anyone in social services so she took the baby and left. We could not accept the baby without her involvement if she wanted to give up her child.
The families have the right and power to appeal to the courts to regain or attain custody. Some of the children who lived at the House of Dreams were finally reunited with their families after the relatives could improve the standards of care the child would receive in their homes.
In the cases where no blood relatives can be located, or the relatives have no desire to be involved in their lives, you might say that the children are true orphans. In only a handful of cases at the current time are there family members who are taking the necessary steps to attain or regain custody. The rest of the children are available to be placed in adoptive homes, or their paperwork is being processed to that end.
The Dreamers displayed their skills in English at school on Friday. Each class prepared posters, snacks, costumes, maps, and other interesting things about their English speaking city or country. It was fun to see them exploring the diversity of other cultures.
Benancio showing the British flag, Anne by the map of England, some of the classmates by their booth
(top) a friend with Emelin, (left) Jhamil with a friend, (right) a friend with Jose Luis
Estefani dressed as Mary Poppins by the model she made of the famed Hollywood sign
Shirley and Jose in very itchy, but very cute Tinkerbell and Peter Pan costumes
The kids work hard on their English with the help of many dedicated volunteers. We believe that dominating two languages will give them a competitive edge as they grow. We are blessed to be able to give them this advantage due to the generous donations of many individuals.
Thank you to all the volunteers, school staff, and donors who help give the children such a high quality education.
He stands on a bridge. In between thoughts stir in my mind. They are all school aged kids now. A few teeter on the cusp of adolescences. What will the coming years look like? What dreams do they dare allow the freedom to spin hope in their hearts? What hopes do I have for them?
At times doubt berates the corners of my mind. It taunts me saying that I have given up hope. That my faith is weak. It asks why I don’t do more. I have to push against those. I have to shut out the thoughts defining a distorted view of the truth.
Most of the kids with us now will be with us for the rest of their growing up years; and maybe even beyond for some. We call them Lifetime Dreamers. My imagination paints pictures of the coming years. Education. Birthdays. Milestones. Jobs. Skill training. Graduations. University. Weddings. Babies. Careers.
At one time my hopes told stories of high turn over and scrapbooks full of beautiful adoption stories. God redirected hope. The adoptions have been few and far between. The turn over nearly non-existent. And I am okay with that. The stories hope tells now whisper to the deep creation of a family. What lies ahead can carry no other name than that. We are creating a family.
I have not abandoned the idea of adoption for the kids. If it should take place we will accept it like an unexpected gift that arrives in the mail from a dear friend. All the while we will cinch up the ties that bind us. We will learn and grow together. We will love each other. We will be a family.
You are invited to be a part of the House of Dreams family. Come and visit. Help by giving monthly financial support. Pray for us. Keep in touch.
Thank you for helping make dreams come true.
- Tia Angie
P.S. in case you are reading this in an email or on a feed reader you might want to click through to see the updates in the visual appearance of the blog. If you have not yet seen our new group pictures now would be a great time to do so on the header and on the page called “Our Home“.
How quickly our Dreamers are growing! Yesterday, Anne celebrated her 10th Birthday! She is always looking out for her two younger brothers, and enjoys learning to cook while she helps out in the kitchen. Anne is growing to be a sweet, responsible and happy little lady.
Anne showing her teddy bear her brother, Jose gave her and the bunny from a volunteer.
One of the benefits that our Dreamers have is attending a Christian school that teaches English.
Estefani, our oldest Dreamer (10yrs. old) is on her way to becoming bilingual! Last year, I would talk to her in English but she would only respond in Spanish. This school year, she is now answering me in English and pretty much understands everything I’m saying. Her next step, to become brave enough to talk to our short-term volunteers in English.
At the close of last year we saw a way to meet a need at the House of Dreams. As a team we decided it was time to implement a mentoring program. I mentioned it here on the blog and on facebook and twitter, too. The feedback and suggestions came pouring in. It was great to look online at the strategies of fully developed programs. Imagine the thrill when I even found a full implementation document over 200 pages long all in Spanish.
We are now in the recruiting stage looking for suitable adults to be one-on-one mentors with the children. We have an extensive application that they will fill out. After their references have been checked we will be conducting interviews. After that the selected individuals will go through training with our team. Then they will be ready for their weekly visits with the kids to be a positive influence instilling strong morals and Christian values to help with life’s issues.
We decided to call it “Herman@s de Cariño”. If you’d like to we would appreciate prayer for good people to be involved, good preparation, and more than anything long-lasting, positive results in the lives of the Dreamers. Thanks!
Jhoselyn comes running up to me, “I made American breakfast sándwiches!” Without taking a breath to pause, she described each step in making them. Then went on to remind me how she had made American style pancakes the week before. Our recent group of volunteers has been giving cooking lessons to a few of the girls.
We have been giving more opportunities for our three oldest dreamers in learning to prepare dishes. Of the three girls Anne has become quite good at helping out in the kitchen, and jumps at any opportunity to learn how to cook. She can tell you every step in making chicken or vegetable soup, and can make delicious looking salads.
Someday, many years from now, Anne and Jhoselyn will be cooking their American breakfasts and other dishes they learned for their own children.
Last month marked five years since the inauguration of the House of Dreams Orphanage here in Cochabamba, Bolivia. For my 30th birthday in June of 2006 I hosted a banquet to raise funds for our newest project to give abandoned, orphaned and abused children a home filled with love. It was a race to see which would come first: the birth of the baby in my belly or the arrival of our first child to the House of Dreams. The orphans came first. Balanced around my bulge I remember taking into my arms those first few who found refuge under our roof and in our hearts.
While I am no longer pregnant there are still things crowding my life around which I manage to situate the kids who call this place home. Some of the children have been with us from the very beginning and can now say that they have spent half their lives or more as Dreamers. Some have come more recently and are still adjusting to a life lived with respect under the watchful eye of unconditional love. I can only say that it has been by the grace of God that we have done what we have.
Each great life that has been brought to us carries with it enormous stories, such unique individuality and immense promise for a bright future. What a privilege to be a part of breaking vicious life cycles and allowing these people to dream again. What an honor that we can come in the name of Our Father and wrap our arms around these precious children to say to them that they are worth it.
Thank you for helping us to give 53 children a new life. Thank you for believing that dreams can come true. By God’s grace let us continue on.