Fr Peter Walters is an inspirational priest who founded two charities to help the street children of Medellin, in Columbia: Let the Children Live, founded in 1992, the UK based fund raising charity for Fundacion Vivan Los Ninos! in Columbia project, known as Funvini which works with 600 'disposable ones'.
The centre aims to safeguard them from poverty and violence on the streets, giving them love, education and a future.
A former Assistant Anglican administrator at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, Fr Peter was inspired not only to help but become a Catholic when he got stranded in Columbia in 1982 and some street children helped him become streetwise, sharing what little food they had.
Fr Walters said: “the phenomenon of the street children is the product of complex social problems. ..there are no easy answers.” He is the only British priest inculdated in the Archdiocese of Medellin. He aims to support the Colombian people to take the initiative in caring for the children,often involved in drugs, prostitution and crime.
“They are making the most of their limited resources, but they need support from abroad for this work to continue and grow. ...the children have no-one.... . Unless we help them, these children will remain ‘disposable ones’: throwaway kids with no future at all.”It is crucial,he says to develop their talents so that they are not reliant on those who abuse them. Some of the children are training in business studies,two have become nurses and one is about to become a doctor. Others, like Jhon Alexander, who had written to Fr Peter saying how Casa Walsingham was turning his life around., are sadly murdered - shot in the street.
Many of the children with whom Funvini works come to Casa Walsingham each day and receive a nourishing lunch plus morning and afternoon snacks. Those at school get help with homework, and various craft and leisure activities are available. They receive vaccinations, regular medical and dental check-ups and treatment as necessary. Facilities include showers,a medical room to treat minor ailments and a chapel.
One initiative that is particularly successful is the choir which has won prizes and just made a CD. Fr Walters dreams of bringing them on a UK tour. Duncan Bannatyne, of Dragon's Den fame, provided a residential home for nine boys, Casa Bannatyne. It is hoped to raise money for a similar home for girls.
Currently there is £15,000 shortfall per month in funds raised in this country to support the children, due to the pound devaluing and Fr Walters fears having to reduce projects and helping less children. He is finishing a fund raising UK awareness tour speaking at schools in parishes and school across the country and will be at Our Lady of Hal, Camden Town on 2-3 April and at St Osmund's in Barnes 9-10 April. He will be back for a month mid June and is available for bookings Contact the office on (+44 ) 01302 858369 or email visit the website to see ways you can help.
For more information see: www.letthechildrenlive.org.