How do the children come to "Mi Casa" ?
How is "Mi Casa" staffed?
Where the sourcing comes from?
What is the cost per child?
At what age the children leave "Mi Casa"?
How are the kids selected to go on the differents trips and excursions?
How do you celebrate birthdays?
How do the children come to “Mi Casa” ?
The children are referred to “Mi Casa” from an array of sources.Many come through the Juvenile Courts. Others come from Social Workers at hospitals. Many have been referred in the past by the police, the military or concerned citizens that find them in the streets. Some others have come on their own. Several years ago many of the cases referred to us involved orphans. Nowadays this has shifted to abandonment, abuse and dire economic need.
How is “Mi Casa” staffed ?
Since we run our own school at the boy's facility, teaching from kindergarten through the 9 th grade; most of the staff are teachers.
We have a cook at each facility and maintenance workers. The offices are run by two of our older boys and two secretaries. We also have a driver who runs errands for both the boys and girls homes.
A female director runs the girls home. These are full time employees.
There are also a number of part-time staff for music classes, karate, band, marimba, guidance counseling, etc.
We also have a good number of part-time volunteers that donate their time and expertise to teach our children and share with them.
Where the sourcing comes from ?
“Mi Casa” is a reality thanks to the help of so many friends that throughout the years have assisted us one way or another.
We are grateful that GOD has been looking out for our children.
Well over half of our help comes from Guatemalan friends and Guatemalan companies. Every single day someone comes to the front door of “Mi Casa” with a donation of fruits, vegetables, used shoes and clothing. With close to 400 boys and girls we find use for most everything.
Several Guatemalan companies have been assisting us for more than 20 years providing most of the food we consume.
We also get a good deal of services donated. All our dental and regular peadiatric care is free. Most of our legal services are also donated.
The local assistance consists mainly of gifts-in-kind.
Most of the monetary donations are sent by friends in the United States , many of whom have had decades of interest in our children and our home. We also have some friends in France that have helped us for most of our existence through Les Amis des Enfants du Monde, a relationship that was established back in the “ Vietnam days”. It is thorugh these monetary donations that we pay our bills.
The children themselves also run a miniature golf; play the “marimba” and once a year operate a thrift shop earning some cash for our homes. Over the years we also ran a printing shop and a paper distribution for Kimberly-Clark. Each of these activities to generate an income for our home.
Not all is study at “Mi Casa” our children like and enjoy sports. We have a soccer field at each facility, a pool in Zone 10 and a basketball field; even a baseball diamond adjacent to our home in Zone 2.
We have a project on the Pacific coast complete with pools, soccer and volleyball field, a Jacuzzi and small fishing boats and kayaks. A local friend donated a river front property that had been abandoned for over 38 years. As soon as we started working on the project, two friends in Texas offered to provide most of the funding.
We also have a farm in San Juan Sacatepéquez (45 minute drive from the city). At the farm we have two horses, a soccer field and a small “forest” where our scouts run wild.
Yes, soccer, soccer, soccer, soccer our boys AND our girls enjoy soccer. Most everywhere they go a ball has to come along. We have 26 in-house soccer teams.
During the year several excursions are also planned. Our children visit museums, water parks and the zoo.
What is the cost per child?
We are very fortunate for the help that we do get. Our cost per child on average is US$45.00 a month. That includes all: from food to clothing, to teacher salaries, to utilities and maintenance, and tuition. It also includes hospital and medical and dental costs.
Do keep in mind that a good portion of our food is donated and also most of the medical and dental services are also donated.
At what age the children leave Mi Casa?
Like in a regular family there is no particular age or grade level to leave Mi Casa. In some cases Mi Casa is a temporary, foster care, home. Whenever a child is able to be located back to a stable family environment; he or she is allowed to return home. This is relative, many cases that were referred as temporary end up living with us for 12, 13 or 15 years.
When the kids, or rather young adults, graduate from High School and start the University we continue to help support them as long as they are pursuing their education. The univeristiy level girls and boys are, however, encouraged to get part time work to assist with their expenses.
How are the kids selected to go on the different trips and excursions?
With over 400 boys and girls living with us 24/7 it is impossible and logistically a nightmare to plan activities or trips for all at the same time.
Each trip, excursion or activity is appropriate for certain age or grade level. With so many “field days” or “field trips” everyone gets to go somewhere, sometime.
Every Wednesday, for example, we get to take 25 children to the movies thanks to a Guatemalan friend that has made this arrangement. Who gets to go? It all depends on the movie. If the movie is a cartoon; then the littlest get to go. The older ones are chosen when it is something appropriate for their age. With 50 or so Wednesdays in a year; each child may get to go two or three times to the movies in the course of a year.
When going to the Zoo, a stones throw from Mi Casa, we can take between 100 to 200 children at the same time. If the little ones are going we take cars and form a small caravan. If the older ones are going then we walk. Again, it all depends on the activity.
How do you celebrate birthdays?
There is a birthday most every day at Mi Casa; often more than one. We post all the birthdays in a special board.
Once a month all the children, that have birthdays in that month, get to go out for pizza at a franchise own by a friend. She has helped us for over 25 years to celebrate each month. A blessing.
We also get cakes donated by a couple of bakeries in Guatemala City . When the cakes are not enough for everybody as dessert, we call the children that have birthdays in the vicinity and they get to call 5 to 7 friends to enjoy “their own cake”.
They boys also get 500 points on their birthday. The point is the “official currency” of Mi Casa. We have a small clothes store were the kids “buy” clothes with points. We have 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 bills. Whenever a child has done a special chore: like working in the printing shop, or the carpentry shop, or in bookbinding they get points. They also get them for participating with the marimba, or when celebrating their anniversary of coming to Mi Casa, or for being on the Honor Roll. Any little excuse to reward them. And, their birthday is another reason to recognize the children with points.