Sunflower SunPower Kids
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Why are we called Sunflower SunPower Kids?

The first seeds of this foundation were planted in the spring of 1989, in front of the Managua Cathedral in a war-torn Nicaragua. There, 19 year-old Sheva Carr, a North American aid worker, met Jorge Silva, a 12 year-old orphan abandoned in the street. At the time, Jorge was selling peanuts to put himself through school so that he could realize his dream to become a doctor. Taken by his sincerity, ingenuity, and initiative, Sheva made it her goal to see that Jorge would have all that he needed to actualize his dream. Forced to return to North America shortly after their meeting because of heightened political tensions, she sent Jorge (against the advice of experts) $60 per month to cover the cost of his food, clothing, and schooling. With each money order, she sent a card of encouragement, assuming that she could never know for sure the outcome of her actions of unconditional love. With one of those cards, she sent Jorge a packet of unmarked seeds. ”Plant these seeds in soil where there is plenty of sunlight. Then water and love them every day. When you see them blossom into flowers, you will know that my love is with you every day helping you to grow and blossom too! You’ll also get to see the surprise of what they grow into!” To Jorge’s delight, the seeds became giant orange sunflowers like the color of Sheva’s hair. After six years of monthly money orders and loving cards, Jorge and Sheva lost touch.

Sheva had planted a great seed with these care packages, never expecting to see what the flower in the form of Jorge would one day become. But she too was to receive a delightful surprise. 12 years to the day after she and Jorge had met in front of the Managua Cathedral, he sought her out to tell her of the impact her love and care had on his life. He had blossomed into a psychologist, and was now the head of an orphanage responsible for the care of 30 children!!! Just as one sunflower seed turns into a flower that has hundreds of seeds in store, Sheva’s small act of service had blossomed in Jorge to reach many more! Mutually inspired to help others experience their powerful exchange and growth, they founded Sunflower SunPower Kids. Each classroom, family, or individual who decides to take an active role in being a foster friend to a child in a developing country, receives two packets of sunflower seeds when they sign up. One packet is to tend themselves, and the other acts as a bridge for the first communication with their foster child. Tending the sunflowers offers children in the U.S. and abroad an experience of giving and receiving care, illuminating love’s powerful potential blossoming for the entire human family.

At Sunflower SunPower Kids, our vision is not just to rescue children from their impoverished lives on the streets, but to end the cycles of poverty and the social conditions that put them there in the first place.

We have a threefold strategy to accomplish this aim:

1) We don't just support individual children to rise above the conditions they are born into- we work to change those conditions for the entire community.

A percentage of all donations, and all sponsorship monies for individual children, go to better the communities where the children live:

· building outhouses and giving access to clean water

· repairing roofs

· adult literacy and sustainable vocations programs (such as knitting, tailoring, and computer science)

· community wide education and health care

· stress and anger management seminars based on the HeartMath system of stress management

· soup kitchens

· parenting classes and special programs for pregnant teens

· community clubs and psychological counseling as an alternative to self medicating with drugs, glue and alcohol

· HIV awareness and prevention

We have found that sponsor children benefit more when their whole community is uplifted. This provides an adult population made up of better examples for the children, and hope for a new future. It also prevents sponsored children from being alienated by those who envy their sponsorship. It reduces child abuse, crime, illness due to lack of hygiene, and other social symptoms of a depressed economy and poor overall living conditions. All while benefiting many more people in the process. Imagine trying to cultivate one seed out of hundreds in toxic soil. It is much more effective to improve the soil as a whole so that all the seeds can thrive.

2) We have a zero tolerance policy for child and teen prostitution, and aggressively work to eradicate this industry in our communities as a primary cause of child homelessness.

Street children do not just appear out of nowhere. Many are conceived in the teen sex trade, only to then become sex workers themselves. When a nation’s economy is decimated by things like natural disaster and war (such as Nicaragua in the latter part of the 20th century), many young women have nowhere to turn for their survival and are forced into selling their bodies to meet their most basic of needs. Lacking reproductive education or any means of contraception, these young women become pregnant through their line of work. Barely able to sustain themselves on their meager wages, they end up leaving their children on the streets to fend for themselves, not because they want to, but because they have nowhere for them to live and no means to care for them. These children then follow in their mother’s footsteps, prostituting themselves to survive, and the cycles of shame, abandonment, poverty and despair repeat themselves. At Sunflower SunPower Kids we take a stand that this generation can be the last to see this devastating cycle take place: the buck can stop here. Working with 80 pregnant teens each year through our alliance hospital, we rehabilitate teen prostitutes and help them to both keep their children and create futures independent of the sex trade through:

· Psychological counseling

· HIV and STD testing and treatment

· Drug rehab

· Parenting Classes

· Giving out baby starter baskets (with diapers, bottles, blankets, baby clothes)

· Sustainable vocations programs in knitting and computer science to give them an alternative source of income to the sex trade

Weeds are best pulled out at the root. Much of child homelessness and child labor in Nicaragua has its roots in the teen sex trade, and we work diligently in our communities to create new lifestyle maps leading to futures free of prostitution for those teens.

3) We work to educate fortunate children and families in all nations, giving them avenues of appreciation for what they have, and empowering them to make a difference for those less fortunate than they are.

Gratitude is a foundation for positive transformation. Service is a gateway to experiencing true power. When we extend ourselves to someone in need, we suddenly discover what we have to be grateful for, and find a power within to make a true difference. Like homeless children, homelessness and poverty are not born out of a vacuum. They are the result of collective ignorance, collective greed, collective imbalance, collective resignation and feeling powerlessness to make a difference. At Sunflower SunPower Kids we offer people in Nicaraguan communities as well as in North America practical avenues of caring, sharing, and empowerment to make the world a better place. In the process of changing the world for the better, you get to discover that the world, as it is, offers up a lot to be thankful for.

Imagine the empowerment for homeless children in a dangerous ghetto in Nicaragua when we help them create a car wash so that they, who have so little, can experience the joy of raising money for women with cancer in a rural Nicaraguan Hospital who have even less than they do! And then imagine gathering recyclables with a group of youngsters in posh Beverley Hills, for whom school is a burden and going to the doctor is something that they take for granted; when they see that a few bags of plastic bottles can save a child’s life with parasite medication, or change the outcome of a teen’s future by sending them to vocational school that gets them off the streets of Nicaragua- their attitude towards their own lives, what they have, and what they will do with it in the future, changes dramatically. The real benefit of Sunflower SunPower Kids is children’s empowerment, self esteem, and heart based living. You can have all the material wealth in the world, and be bankrupt in the heart. Our goal is not just to feed hungry bellies but to satisfy for people of all socio-economic backgrounds their longing for the power to make a difference, live with a sense of purpose, love their lives, and live from the heart.

We offer individuals, families and classrooms the opportunity to be the light of love that developing children may grow from and aspire towards. Empowering children to empower each other, we offer tools and resources for children and families at home and abroad, wealthy and impoverished, to become an answer and to make a difference in their own lives and in the world. Through heart intelligence and power, we are contributing to the emergence of a world culture based on cooperative creativity and care, rather than defense and recovery. We foresee that this will yield a future for the entire global family of peaceful cohabitation, innovation, and new discovery.

 

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