On June 18th in the small mountain community of San Marcos, Nicaragua, Los Quinchos held its 26th Anniversary celebration. It started at 9AM with visitors arriving to La Finca (The Farm), which was the very first Quinchos home. La Finca is always a lively place with classes in woodworking, hammock making and repair, where children up to the age of 13 live and care for livestock and chickens. Today had a different feel though. Brightly colored streamers lined the long dirt driveway. Children came pouring out to meet the guests and provide personal tours. The atmosphere was like Christmas morning.
Children proudly showed what they had done to bring the celebration together, from hanging streamers, blowing up balloons, to helping clean and organize various areas. If a guest looked unattended to, it didn’t take long for a Quincho to run up, grab their hand, and show off what they had done to help in the preparation for the festivities. The delight that the children took in their work preparing for the day was evident and touching.
The celebration was held for Los Quinchos, the organization, but the day was really for the children. It was packed with sports, games, and a pool party. Seeing children acting like kids and knowing that this program has given them their basic childhood rights was heartwarming. The second part of the day was just as festive with clowns, artistic and cultural performances, and closing with a dance party and live music. As impressive and beloved as the Los Quinchos program is, it was seeing the children that made the day special. Children deserve a home, food, education, and affection from caring adults who want to see them thrive. The children of Los Quinchos have managed to survive poverty, violence, and abuse. This unique program understands and respects that children who are living on the streets are still children, but they have faced decisions and choices that many adults rarely imagine.
Los Quinchos offers children a chance to leave the streets, but rather than forcing them, the staff recognizes that the success of the program relies on the children entering willingly. The children must make the decision to leave the streets and join the program, and this choice empowers them. It gives them a chance to make a decision for their own lives, something that they may have never done. Moving their lives in a positive direction is in their own hands, and owning that decision leads to long-term success.
No longer living on the streets, where many were forced to beg, steal, and were exposed to violence, they are now enrolled in public schools, receiving daily meals, and have a loving and supporting community that understands their unique needs and stands behind them to claim their rights to live peaceful lives free from violence.
The celebration was about each one of them—and their recovery and growth. Los Quinchos’ twenty-six years of working with children and empowering them to move forward in their lives is a beautiful reason to celebrate. Happy 26th anniversary, Los Quinchos!