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Poverty Alleviation Projects

September 8, 2009

Dear Friends:

Welcome to your August 2009 report for The $10 Club.

A five year old boy and his one year old sister reside at Pedacito de Cielo (PDC), an orphanage and daycare center in Bolivia. They formerly lived on the streets, but were relinquished to PDC by their parents who are both HIV positive and were fighting – dangerously – with each other on a daily basis.

Another boy, Guillermo, arrived thin, pallid, and fighting off an infection in his lungs. After 2 weeks in the hospital, he returned to Pedacito de Cielo to begin preparing for major heart surgery. Guillermo had Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), a genetic heart defect that greatly decreases a child’s quality of life – and places him at high risk of opportunistic infections. Approximately 40% of untreated patients with TOF die within the first 4 years of life, 70% by 10 years, and 95% by 40 years. This little boy, abandoned by his mother and grandparents as a baby, having spent most of his first year in a hospital bed, now has a bright future ahead of him.

Were it not for Pedacito de Cielo, these and many other children would be doomed. PDC is run by Ninos Con Valor, an organization that was founded in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2005 to bring hope, healing and affection to children in need. They operate a loving, stable home for 21 girls who have been abused, neglected, orphaned or abandoned; maintain a program to offer guidance, medical assistance and resources to children living on the streets of Cochabamba; and started Pedacito de Cielo in 2007 as Bolivia’s only daycare and orphanage designed to provide safe, secure residential care and daycare for children with HIV/AIDS and other immunodeficiency disorders.

PDC grew out of the need for proper care for children affected by HIV/AIDS. In Bolivia, HIV/AIDS is a growing epidemic that is currently receiving very little attention. Not only is there little understanding or education surrounding how to care for a child who is HIV positive, there is also a great amount of discrimination and prejudice against people who are infected with HIV/AIDS. If a school or daycare knows the positive status of a child, it is common for that child to be refused admittance. PDC is now serving 8 children in full time residential care and 5 children in their daycare.

However, they have had to turn away children in need several times because they lacked the proper equipment to serve them.

This month, 341 of us joined together to donate $3,410 to Ninos Con Valor to provide for the children at Pedacito de Cielo. Our funds will enable them to buy a number of much-need medical instruments including an otoscope and ophthalmoscope for basic exams and dealing with frequent ear infections. Considering the prevalence of pneumonia there as well as a few of the kids specifically having cardio-respiratory issues, a stethoscope and oxygen saturation monitor will also be acquired. Finally, they will buy a nebulizer to treat respiratory issues in children of an age where an inhaler is very difficult to use. We will also supply a year’s worth of diapers, educational materials, and clothing. Any remaining funds will be used for the formula used to nourish the youngest PDC residents. Thank you.

Bolivia is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. As such, children living with HIV/AIDS and other diseases that compromise the efficacy of their immune system are at increased risk of complications and death. According to the group Defender of the People for Bolivia, people living with HIV and AIDS are the most discriminated against population in Bolivia. Women are especially hard hit and face additional difficulties locating services for themselves and their children. Most of these women come from low income situations, which further limits the options available to them.

Kids are often forced to accompany their mothers to their jobs. Mothers who work as vendors at marketplaces such as La Cancha keep their children with them throughout the day. Conditions there are often dirty, not heated or ventilated and leave children exposed to the weather and in close proximity to other ill people. When their children are frequently ill, mothers are unable to work during their child’s illness and therefore cannot earn income. If the mother is ill herself, affording childcare that might be available is impossible.

Little kids, many under the age of five, suffer in poverty in Bolivia – their parents have HIV / AIDS or they themselves have inherited the disease. They are poor and hopeless. But thanks to Pedacito de Cielo they have a chance. They have access to baby formula and diapers and medicines and toys and educational supplies and clothing. They have caregivers and teachers and cooks and nurses to look out for them. They have hope.

No one – especially a child – should be forced to live on the streets in poverty, sick, hungry, uneducated. They all need a place of care. A reason to smile. Someone who cares.

This month, we do our small part to nourish and heal vulnerable children in Bolivia.

Saving the world, ten dollars at a time,

The $10 Club is a nonprofit corporation registered in the District of Columbia.
Contributions are exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The $10 Club 2040 Tunlaw Rd., NW Washington, DC 20007 (202) 337-3123 adam@thetendollarclub.org