I want to tell you a story about Daniel, a five-year-old boy from Paraguay whose family has been transformed by support from their local church and our partner network, Red Viva Paraguay.
Daniel lives with his mother and father. Although his father is not a Christian, his mother and grandmother used to take him and his siblings (aged 7 and 9) to church every week. Daniel’s father was addicted to drugs and known for his violence.
As he grew more aggressive and dependent on drugs, he became a ‘wanted’ man and went into hiding.
Daniel’s mother struggled to support the family and care for the children. She often left her children in the house for hours without food whilst she went to work and stopped taking him to church.
Economic hardship, the drug and anger issues of her husband and the challenge of caring for her children without support led Daniel’s mother to become distressed and depressed. All this took its toll on Daniel who became increasingly introverted and shy.
Thankfully for Daniel and his family, they had caring neighbours and access to a support network that is putting children at the centre of its work.
After being alerted to the situation by Daniel’s neighbours and members of his grandmother’s church, a team from Red Viva Paraguay offered support to the family. It was vital to focus on caring for the welfare of his mother and grandmother.
The team offered legal, spiritual and psychological support to help his mother regain control of her situation and know that she is capable and valued. She was then able to generate a space of security and care for Daniel and his siblings.
The team also wanted to rebuild the confidence of the children. Red Viva Paraguay supported the local church to strengthen their child and teen engagement programmes by providing resources including teaching materials for the Sunday school.
The children also attended the church’s summer camp enabling them to re-connect with their community and enjoy educational and fun activities, including performances by artistic groups and lots of games.
By reconnecting with the supportive network in their community, Daniel’s family life has been transformed. The psychological care and practical provisions eased his mother’s stress and helped reduce her depression.
The family were uplifted by the confidence that they had found in the love and support that they have for each other, and that others have for them.
The children are now accompanied at home by either their mother, uncle or grandmother, who help with getting ready for school, homework and other activities. Weekdays consist of playing, homework and some TV!
And on weekends, they go to church where they play, paint and enjoy time with their friends without fear of returning home to a violent and hostile environment.
The most notable transformation has been in Daniel himself. He has slowly opened up to his peers. They no longer see fear in his eyes. This change is reflected in members of his wider family who bore the burden of the situation. Daniel’s father has benefitted from the positive changes and his violence and drug addiction are far more controlled.
By putting children at the centre, Red Viva Paraguay has been able to provide care for Daniel and his whole family.
Children watch and model what they see. They are at a point in their lives when they are powerfully influenced by their environment and must be nurtured, valued and respected. In a supportive environment, these children will thrive.
Viva and our partner networks are encouraging children and their families to flourish and contribute to society by putting children at the centre of our work.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
We want to see people all over the world pledging to focus on children.You could show your support by posting a photo of yourself on social media with the hashtag #ChildrenInTheCentre and pledging to do one small action to help keep children central in your life.
Here are some suggested pledges that you could make, but feel free to think of your own!
• I pledge to tell my child I love them every day.
• I pledge to listen and spend time with the child I care for.
• I pledge to value my child and recognise their individual qualities.
• I pledge to encourage learning and model the values I want my child to develop.
• I pledge to teach children responsibility and help them to resolve conflict.
You can find out the inspiration behind these pledges by reading this blog.