For the month of March and April, exciting new changes took place at Vida 180. On the 16th of March, our supporters and team members attended the inauguration of our new building. After the children performed for their audience the songs they had been practicing, everyone gathered outside to eat a meal and walk through the new dormitories and classrooms. It was a day that gave us hope for the hundreds of children we are now able to reach.
Before that day, we had 56 beds, but when the new building was opened, we had 110 beds to fill. At one time, there was a maximum of 93 kids living at Vida 180, but we didn’t have the space to care for all of them; those who had relatives willing to give them a home were released, and we were enabled to properly care for the 80 children remaining. After the new building was opened, we saw how excited the kids were to occupy all the open space in their new classrooms, and they noticed how excited we were to fill the space with newcomers. The teenage girls were given the upstairs floor of the original building as their own quieter, more peaceful dormitory, and the boys were moved into the new building. Providing these individual groups with a more comfortable atmosphere has made a huge difference in allowing us to raise leaders and train the children.
Because of all the new space and empty beds, we turned our focus to actively seeking children who truly had no family left to take care of them, and we worked to make them a part of our family. For two years, we were occupied with caring for the overfull family we already had, and we took only the cases that were most urgent. Now we are able to step out and investigate the stories of children who have been needing a home. We now have an average of two or three new children per week.
Ariana has been a teacher at Vida 180 for three years now, but recently she and her husband Samuel took on the role of parents to the children, which freed Vida 180’s main caretakers, Raul and Lorena, to leave the property and discover children in need of a place to stay. Our music program has also grown substantially with our new practice room; eleven of our children and youth are engaged in learning a musical instrument, and also in our Careers Program, which allows them to step outside of Vida 180 to work at nearby restaurants and hotels. Microtel, Pizzeria La Sierra, and Cafe K&M are a few places that are a part of this program. They also clean the houses of neighbors.
The worship group Extreme Kids came to Cuauhtemoc for a live performance, and followed up by visiting Vida 180 and teaching the kids to sing and dance as they played their music. It was an incredibly fun day for the children of Vida 180, and we’re hoping to host Extreme Kids many more times in the future.