Little Eduardo is 8 years old. Tiny, quiet, and so stinkin’ adorable. Society says he’s at a “perfectly acceptable” age to be sent to the street by himself to beg during the day while Mom waits for him in the room that they rent. He has a face that can convince people to give him money. Hell, I’ve even been tempted to secretly stash some money in his pocket.
He can almost always be found at a popular intersection that’s filled with kids and teenagers. Eduardo is by no means the littlest of the bunch and yet, Momma is always. with. him. I’ve never seen him without her. At 3:00 PM, he alternates between sitting on the curb and walking from car to car with his mom as she asks for money or food. At 9:00 PM, he’s usually found being carried around on her 5-foot frame. Momma, not weighing more than 110 pounds, continues to beg as her son falls asleep in her arms.
It’s pretty clear that the deck is stacked against her and Eduardo. But given their circumstances, Momma is putting forth a real effort to care for Eduardo. Momma, unlike other parents who simply send their kids to the street in the morning, is with. her. child. It’s not ideal, but it’s not as bad as it could be. Over the past three years, I’ve watched Eduardo grow to a size where he practically overpowers Momma as she carries him up and down the street.
What is the solution? What is the best way to help little Eduardo? This is what I know:
- He should not be begging on the street.
- His meals should not consist of a half-eaten piece of chicken handed through a car window by a stranger at a stoplight.
- He should not be separated from Momma.
- His education should be year-round, not just when there’s enough money for him to go.
I’ve thought about the possibility of Eduardo living in a children’s home like Pronino, and what it would mean for him and Momma. While children’s homes are designed for and successful at supporting youth with drug addictions or no known family, Eduardo, and many other children in similar situations, don’t fit into those categories.
Which is why, after lots and lots of planning, tons of lineless journal pages, innumerable cups of coffee, and meetings with experts, TCHP has a BIG announcement to make:
WE’RE OPENING OUR VERY OWN DAY CENTER!!
Proyecto CRECER (Growth Project) will be a place where boys and girls from the street will go during the day to cook and share a meal, receive tutoring to catch up in school, have access to counseling, and experience a family atmosphere. More than anything, it will be a safe place where kids like little Eduardo can go for a few hours a day in hopes of preventing a transformation from part-time to full-time street kid.
Through more than two years of street outreach, I’ve met and grown to love many kids who live with their families in extreme poverty- kids similar to Eduardo. These are the kids we want to reach- the kids who feel like they don’t have any options. Our goal is to make sure these kids don’t fall through society’s cracks. We want them to feel welcomed, loved, safe, and valued. We aim to empower them to embrace new opportunities to break out of the cycle of poverty in which they’ve grown up.
But we’re going to need YOUR help! (Yes, you!) To keep CRECER up and running, we’ll need to buy food to feed the kids, have a plethora of school and art supplies, pay rent, etc. On the top of our needs list are:
- $250/month for rent. Got four friends? If the five of you give $50/month, our rent would be COVERED! And I’d sleep so much easier at night!
- $240/month for food. You and three friends could be our food sponsors for just $60/month, and I promise to send you pictures of little Chanita with spaghetti sauce all over her face!
- $30/month for school and art supplies. A big part of CRECER is tutoring the kids in order to enroll them in school next school year, and we’ll need a steady supply of notebooks, pencils, and glue to do that!
- $50/month for special outings. After a week of cooking, cleaning, and homeworking, we want to congratulate the kids on their hard work with a trip to the children’s museum, a movie day, or by renting an indoor soccer field for an hour. Your $50/month will allow us to do this!
Click here to sign up today! Make sure you click the Proyecto CRECER box!
*Got questions or comments about Proyecto CRECER? Email me at email@example.com; I’d LOVE to chat with you!