I am taking over the writing of January's note from our President and Executive Gabriele Delmonaco to share an exciting announcement! I am thrilled to announce that Gabriele was named to the OZY Media 100. We're so proud of his achievement and grateful for the awareness this brings to the issues facing at-risk youth, especially in the midst of the pandemic. This is a testament to not only the hard work of A Chance In Life leadership, but the tireless efforts of our program partners around the world and the many generous donors who make our work possible.
Last week, The New York Times released their "pictures of the year" - the photographs and scenes they felt best encapsulated 2020. A Chance In Life is releasing a few of our own photos of the year today to showcase all that you, our incredible community of supporters, made possible for our young people during a time of uncertainty and hardship.
For November, Gabriele is handing over his monthly note to . . . our young people! They had a lot to say on the occasion of our 75th Anniversary Gala two weeks ago, and we wanted to let them share their stories with all of you.
"Ciao a tutti. My name is Michael, and I am from Rome. I have been here at La Repubblica dei Ragazzi for two years. I made some mistakes in my life and now, thanks be to God, I am doing well thanks to the opportunity you gave me."
You can always look at things in different ways ... just take what happened at one of our programs a month ago.
Our point of view:
Sister Omaira is the director of Hogar Santa Rosa de Lima, a home for 50 girls in Cúcuta, Colombia. She is never late and never misses an appointment. When she didn’t show up for our phone conference call last month, we were worried. When we tried to call her, all our attempts were systematically rejected. This was an important call to discuss next year’s support for her program, and we wondered if she was no longer interested in our partnership.
Sister Omaira’s point of view:
At Hogar Santa Rosa de Lima, there are only five old computers for 50 girls. Only three of them work well, and none of them has a camera. When the girls told Sister Omaira that they had a Zoom meeting with a teacher, she gave them the iPad she uses for international calls so they would not miss the class. She knew the meeting with A Chance In Life was important, and that lending the girls her iPad would mean missing the call … but life is made of priorities.
“Do you want the good news or the bad news first?”
A research study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin states that the answer depends on whether you are the giver or receiver of the bad news. If you are on the receiving end, experiments showed that an overwhelming majority – more than 75 percent – wanted the bad news first. So, I will start with the bad news.
Last November, I traveled to the state of Chihuahua in Mexico. Because of A Chance In Life's reputation as an advocate for vulnerable children, I had been invited by local organizations to explore possible partnerships in support of the child victims of ‘narco-trafficantes’.
The trip was emotionally intense as I visited juvenile prisons, rehabilitation centers for teenagers trying to recover from drug addictions, and homes for orphans who had lost their parents to the drug wars. One of the most poignant moments was meeting with the Tarahumara people (or Rarámuri, as they call themselves), a group of indigenous people living in the state of Chihuahua. They are renowned for their long-distance running ability, and have produced some of the best long-distance marathoners in the world. In fact, Rarámuri means "runners on foot" or "those who run fast" in their native language.
A Chance In Life, in collaboration with Equidad para la Infancia, launches new video series to tell the stories of marginalized families in Latin America.
Get excited, A Chance In Life Family! In collaboration with Equidad para la Infancia (Equity for Children), we are launching a powerful new video series, En Primera Persona (In First Person) to share the stories of marginalized families in Latin America during the pandemic. Enjoy the teaser trailer above, and visit our En Primera Persona page on Friday, June 26, for the premiere of the first En Primera Persona video!
The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it many questions that I needed to answer as a father of four children in New York City. How would my wife and I keep them safe? How would we keep their lives intact during lockdown? (The questions eventually shifted towards how I would keep my sanity intact amid the endless energy of my young children ... but that came later.)
I hope you have already seen the messages of gratitude that our youth from Latin America have been sending us. As cases have spiked in their countries, causing the World Health Organization to name Latin America the new epicenter of the pandemic, they have also sent us photos of how they and their families are trying to keep safe. Maintain social distance ... wear a face mask ... stay at home.
The families of our children overseas have been asking themselves the same questions I asked myself in New York. How do we keep our children safe and healthy? But in the impoverished communities we serve in Bolivia, Guatemala, Peru, Mexico and Colombia, they've had to grapple with even more difficult questions. How can I stay at home when we have no money - how will I feed my family? Do I continue working to put food on the table and risk getting my family sick, or do I watch our children go hungry? How can my child keep up with schoolwork when we don't have a computer or smart phone?
Luckily, we have the answers. Or rather, you do! A gift from you allows us to continue providing this life-saving aid to our youth, and begin working with our partners overseas to ensure no child loses access to an education in the coming year. To help with this endeavor, a partner foundation has offered to match any donation to our #MonthofMeals campaign given before June 30 - providing TWICE the amount of support and doubling your impact on the lives of children around the world! To say thank you and help you stay safe as well, we'll send an A Chance In Life face mask (photo below) to anyone who gives at the $100 level or above.
The families of our youth face increasingly difficult questions about their children's health and education. I hope you will join me today in providing them with resources they need to answer them. Thank you.