The purpose of Living Stones is to provide the poorest children with a safe place to keep them off the streets. Some of the activities they aspire to offer are tutoring, specialized classes (cooking, music, etc.), a Bible study, fun games, and a hot meal. It is the goal of the ministry for every church to have a successful Living Stones program and for the new church plants to incorporate the program as a main part of their outreaches. This, unfortunately, is rarely the case. Few churches have the resources or manpower to maintain the programs. The programs start well, but the funds run dry. Many times they are even unable to scrap together enough money for food for the children. Church volunteers help greatly, but most communities need an all day program - requiring a fulltime staff.
Despite these obstacles, the Community Church of Pauldalho has been able to keep its doors open to children. In Pauldalho, the project receives government aid and there are some workers who are paid by the government as well. It’s so exciting that the government is actually paying the church to reach out to children, but it’s not perfect. The government here doesn’t always pay the bill. There are many times that the government money won’t come and suddenly there is no money for food. The government doesn’t pay for any books, games, classes, or any other activities. If there is any need other than food the staff pays for it out of their own pockets.
The three women who run the project (and are sometimes paid by the government to do so) are members of the Community Church of Pauldalho - Cacau, Mamau, and Patricia. They act as social workers for the children under their care as well. They do house visitation and if a child is being abused or neglected it is their job to be an advocate on the child’s behalf. That is all that is done by the government. If it wasn’t for their visiting the parents (or grandparents) and asking for the abuse to stop nothing would be done. Children here are not protected from abusive parents.
Rachel Winzler has been helping out at the Pauldalho Living Stones project on Thursday afternoons for the past 3 months. She invited Emily Taylor and me along a couple of times to help teach some basic English words to the kids. This last Thursday we went to visit some of the homes with Patricia and Cacau. They were all tiny, home to very large families, and very dirty. The last one was the most difficult. It was home to a family of 12 - a small two room house that had no electricity, no plumbing, and no running water. The walls were splotchy brown from years of human touch and dirt. Filthy mattresses, piles of grimy clothes, and an old van seat served as the furniture. When we arrived the whole place was filled with smoke from someone cooking in the back. The shy children sat watching us as the 60-year-old lady of the house talked about her troubles through her blackened teeth. She told us how her grown children and grandchildren depend upon her begging for their daily bread. They often had to forgo purchases of “luxury items” like soap, conditioner, or shampoo in favor of rice. The adult children could help, could get menial jobs, but don’t.
There are currently 60 children being served at the Living Stones of Pauldalho, but the need is so much greater in that community alone. The Living Stones program is an ever-changing organism, as soon as the ministry attempts to define the project there is some variation, but as long as there are children with needs, the churches will be looking for ways to help them.
Visit: http://www.xanga.com/rwinzeler for Rachel’s take on our visit and for more pictures click on either picture here