Charity welcomes 'disposable' street children in Colombia

Three Boys at Casa Walsingham

Three Boys at Casa Walsingham

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.

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