• Thursday 31st December 2020


    Radio Christmas is now over and the exhaustion that we have all felt is greatly reduced, meaning that I now sleep for more than 5 hours a night!  I am thankful to all those who helped make the project such a great success, despite the unexpected national lockdown in the UK that meant Oli and the team had to close and pack up the Amersham studio just over a week before Christmas.

    Alex Denton and I have been mainly cooking massive Christmas roast lunches everyday over the last week and inviting the families of the boys I mentor to come and experience a British Christmas and say goodbye to Alex, who leaves us now for the UK.  His year with us during 2020 has been incredible and I will miss him being just up the corridor and available to help 24/7.  We wish him well as he returns to work with EDF in January.

    One of the things I am doing this week is caring for Carlos.  Carlos completed his time in the children´s home and is now 18.  I wasn´t that keen on him coming to stay between Christmas and New Year as I knew it would be my only break this year.  However, it has been a tremendous blessing having him, praying with him every morning and seeing the massive change in heart and attitude as he will soon move on to become a volunteer worker with the Mano de Dios project near Antigua, an hour away from the city.  

    Carlos will be working with a small rural community and helping children with their homework and running afternoon clubs for them.  I am very proud of his decision to join Sergio, another boy who we rescued from the streets many years ago, and work in this poor community.

    For those who have not yet chance to watch all the videos we produced for Radio Christmas, may I encourage you to check them out on our YouTube channel, especially the video where a little girl gets to see properly for the first time. It is very emotional and does demonstrate well the impact that a donation can make in the life of an at-risk child.  

    HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone and THANK YOU for your support during 2020.


     
    Janie Awesome

    Duncan Dyason is the founder and Director of Street Kids Direct.  He first started working with street children in 1992 when he moved to Guatemala City and founded The Toybox Charity.  His work has been honoured by Her Majesty the Queen and he was awarded an MBE the year he celebrated working over 25 years to reduce the large population of children on the streets from 5,000 to zero.  Duncan continues to live and work in Guatemala City.

     
  • Friday 15th January 2021


    The New Year has kicked off with renewed activity in the new mentoring centre in Guatemala City, where I am soon live.  Thanks to the generous support from Darold and Pam Opp we have been able to move forwards the fitting out of the kitchen and coffee shop and order the appliances and various fittings.  This will be an exciting project and will offer a great training facility to the young people, as well as cater for many of families we support in times of disaster or great need.

    My work over the past week and the next few weeks has been mainly practical, something I enjoy immensely.  One day the doorbell rang and when I went to see who was there, I found Fredy at the door.  Fredy is now 19 and is still in the mentoring programme with me.

    15.1.21.3He looked sheepish and so I invited him in to discover why he was visiting.  Eventually after a cup of tea and some encouragement he explained that he had seen how hard I was working in the new mentoring centre and wanted to come and offer his help.  It was a very kind offer and I knew he meant it.  I have had offers from other boys, but I could tell they enjoyed the idea of being in the centre with all the new technology more than helping, and so very little is achieved.  Fredy, however, was on another level and is a hard worker and very responsible.  So, we set to work and have managed to get a good deal done with one week of work.

    On the Saturday I took the “aventureros” boys I mentor with me to visit the Go Guatemala project.  Based in one of the most notorious zones of Guatemala City, the Go Guatemala project reaches high-risk children in the most violent areas and offers them a day of fun activities, games, teaching, homework support and two great meals – breakfast and lunch.

    I hadn´t been to see the project since last year and when I did it was closed due to Covid and so now this was so encouraging seeing the place full of children enjoying themselves and being free to play again.  The boys helped me serve breakfast and welcome the children.  It turned out that an expected donation of chicken had not materialised and so the team were trying to figure out what to feed the children for lunch.  Feeding 120 kids plus volunteers is not an easy task.

    As time passed it was clear they were going to struggle and so I took the decision to take two of the boys with me and head to the supermarket and buy the chicken they needed. We return to Go Guatemala with three large bags of chicken, enough to feed all the children and hopefully the volunteers also, and all for under £20!  I am always amazed at what little you need to make a difference.

    The project has great plans for this year and we have made a commitment to help support by paying the rent on the building for the year, paying for the internet connection for the year, so the children can access homework and download what they need for their studies.  We are also going to help raise funds for various physical needs, like the building of two more toilets for the children.  Your support really does impact lives and we are making sure it reaches those most in need.  THANK YOU.


     
    Janie Awesome

    Duncan Dyason is the founder and Director of Street Kids Direct.  He first started working with street children in 1992 when he moved to Guatemala City and founded The Toybox Charity.  His work has been honoured by Her Majesty the Queen and he was awarded an MBE the year he celebrated working over 25 years to reduce the large population of children on the streets from 5,000 to zero.  Duncan continues to live and work in Guatemala City.

     
  • Saturday 6th February 2021


    It will soon be a year since we started lockdown and 11 months on, we are now able to make some travel plans and so I took the decision to fly down to Honduras to see Steve and Lindsey and the Proyecto Alas ministry there.  I had wanted to drive down, a much cheaper albeit more hazardous option, but the borders were temporarily closed when thousands of Hondurans sought to march through to the US border.  Their arrival was met with force this time and so I thought it best to avoid that conflict and fly.

    Being with Steve and new girlfriend (soon to be fiancé) was very special as it gave us chance to talk through what had happened over the past year and how Steve had coped with lockdown.  Honduras had implemented strict lockdown procedures that impacted the lives of all those living there to a great degree.

    The Proyecto Alas programme is like an Oasis in the desert, a refuge and safe and fun place for at-risk children and young people in the town of Talanga, about an hour away from the capital.  Steve was instrumental with Lorena in setting up the project and so speaks very fondly of the work and goes on to explain the struggles the team have had in trying to help the children.  Up until recently no child under the age of 14 was allowed to leave their home, and in a country like Honduras this can be disastrous for many children and can greatly exacerbate their struggle to survive.

    Now, however, the project was open and was offering the educational framework and support the children need.  The kids were excited to be able to leave their homes, play once again in the park opposite the project and be with people who they know care for them and want the best for them.  Kids always do best when they know they are loved and Alas certainly does this very well.

    I spent time with the kids and then with the team to listen to their views on the crisis and what could be done this year to help the children.  Street Kids Direct are keen to continue our support of this project as they work hard with a small team of dedicated volunteers to keep these kids off the streets.

    6.2.21.3Arriving back home in Guatemala was exciting as all the children we mentor in the SKDGuatemala project were now back in school – our school!  We took the decision after hearing that the Guatemalan school system would be closed again this year, but children could access education online.  Most of the children we work with can´t do online as access to the internet requires a smart phone or computer.  We didn´t want any of them to miss out on a year of education as so many were heading that way last year.  Thanks to the very hard work from Paula and her team we managed to get a 97% success rate in the children gaining their school year last year.

    This year we will be homeschooling 45 children in the SKDGuatemala project, another 100 in the Door of Hope project and helping the 120 children at the Go Guatemala project.  The 45 children that I work most closely with are being educated in both the mentoring centre and the protection home.  The boys are brought to the home each weekday in small groups and the girls are invited to study at the existing mentoring centre.  Hearing children in the home after nearly a year is a very pleasant sound and thanks to Global Care and Rotary USA this homeschool project is possible throughout 2021.  So many lives are going to be impacted this year and we are greatly encouraged.


     
    Janie Awesome

    Duncan Dyason is the founder and Director of Street Kids Direct.  He first started working with street children in 1992 when he moved to Guatemala City and founded The Toybox Charity.  His work has been honoured by Her Majesty the Queen and he was awarded an MBE the year he celebrated working over 25 years to reduce the large population of children on the streets from 5,000 to zero.  Duncan continues to live and work in Guatemala City.

     
  • Friday 26th February 2021


    Fridays are busy days and when Moses finishes school in the protection home at 12:30pm he starts his mentoring session with me.  Every week is different and sometimes we stay in the home and sometimes we go out to various places.  My plans for today were changed the instant Moses walks in and tells me he is traumatised.  I could see by his demeanor and the way he said the phrase that something serious had happened.

    I invite him to walk with me to the local park and allow him time to tell me what had happened. After 28 years of working with children like Moses I have heard everything a person can hear and seen some of the most horrendous things that can happen to children.  Already I could feel my chest tightening and my mind preparing itself for yet another challenging story.  Walking is good for Moses as he always opens up more when walking or sitting in the front seat of the car while we drive along.

    Yesterday, Moses was doing his part-time job of unloading melons from a lorry.  The young guy he works with is very friendly and Moses tells me that he is always giving Moses small amounts of money to buy soft drinks for the workers.  Moses had walked across the road to get a few cans of coke and as he was walking back a man walked up to his friend and shot him in the head four times.

    Moses went into great detail what he saw and how his friend fell to the ground but continued to breath heavily for a while before he died in the street.  I had to hear the same story about 8 times and each time a different aspect of the same story emerged and each time Moses felt it was easier to talk about what had happened.  The death of his friend at the hands of one of the contract killers (the angels) in La Terminal left him with many questions as well as what would happen to his friend´s girlfriend and two children.  He was only 23 and Moses suspects he was killed for stealing in La Terminal or doing something that the angels, and those who fund them, would not approve of.

    We take a slow walk back and Moses sits on the sofa and falls quickly into a deep sleep on the sofa and so I sit with him in case he wakes up and needs someone nearby.  He twitched now and again and when he woke up he wanted to be taken home so he could sleep in his bed.  Life, once again, had hit him hard and I wonder how this will affect him in the coming days and weeks.

    26.2.21.3Sometimes events like these put you on hold and you forget that all around you others are also working hard to help kids and so I remind myself that I do need to be available for them also.  One of the SKDGuatemala team is Amersham volunteer Benjamin Soden.  Benjamin is now working full-time in Guatemala as a volunteer street worker and passionately reaches out every day on the streets to those young adults still on the streets and to children and young people at risk of taking that step to street life.

    This week Benjamin travelled with Juan Carlos (JC) to the north-west of Guatemala, near to the boarder with Mexico.  Here we were able to place two young children who were rescued from the streets a few years ago and who are now enjoying living with their grandmother and her family in the countryside.  They are safe and well and will be studying at school in some form later this month.  Benjamin and JC were able to buy them the basic things they needed for studying and donate some food supplies.  Given that they will have to go to the school once a month to get copies of their work and then hand-in homework, new school shoes were also needed.  Another great job done by the street team and more kids kept safe thanks to your support.


     
    Janie Awesome

    Duncan Dyason is the founder and Director of Street Kids Direct.  He first started working with street children in 1992 when he moved to Guatemala City and founded The Toybox Charity.  His work has been honoured by Her Majesty the Queen and he was awarded an MBE the year he celebrated working over 25 years to reduce the large population of children on the streets from 5,000 to zero.  Duncan continues to live and work in Guatemala City.

     
  • Sunday 7th March 2021


    I am looking forward to mentoring today as I have a great session planned for the three boys from Santa Faz about resilience.  I will have to pass on the bad news that I have made a decision to head back to the UK this coming week to get my Covid vaccination, something I had thought would happen the other side of Easter.

    Driving through the narrow streets that take me to the football field in Santa Faz, the meeting place for when I take the boys away for mentoring, makes me aware of the recent killings there.  I want to take the boys away to a great place for a few hours and park by the football field and stand by my car and wait for them to arrive.

    It´s not long before the three boys arrive and immediately, I can sense that not all is well.  Little Jonathan climbs into the back after being sprayed and given hand gel, while the other Jonathan and Yoni say very little and climb into the front seat.  The atmosphere is not great and so I try my best at encouraging some discussion and put on some music, neither of which helps.  We drive in almost deadly silence to the place I have planned for today´s mentoring.

    On arrival in the parking bay of the shopping centre Yoni informs me he forgot his mask.  With all that I was thinking about I hadn´t noticed he was without a mask.  Most kids in Santa Faz now don´t wear masks or when they do, they wear them under their chin, despite the legal requirement to do so.  I am annoyed with Yoni and tell him he will have to wait in the locked car while I take the other two boys to the nearby park.  Both boys now say they want to stay in the car with Yoni.  It is turning out to be a great day!

    Eventually I coax the two Jonathan´s out of the car and we lock it and leave Yoni there under the watchful eye of the shopping centre security and to teach him a lesson.  I am not happy.

    We walk just one minute to the park and both boys ask why we are here.  I explain that the huge mound in the middle is great to roll down and the trees there are just right for climbing.  Both ask why they would do that and both are still annoyed, so I almost force them to climb with me to the top where I start the talk I had prepared on resilience that leads into talking about how God prepares great things for us each day.  Absolutely no interest or feedback and I wonder if anything I have said has gone in at all.  Feeling a bit low and still not happy with the three boys I suggest we go and buy some food to take and eat with Yoni.  They shrug their shoulders and walk back with me.

    7.3.20.3As we enter the food court area, I begin to look around to see what I can buy them for lunch for around £5.  The options are few but as we walk past the pizza stall the lady there beckons me over and overs me a box of free pizza.  “Really?”, I ask in absolute astonishment as this does not ever happen in Guatemala.  We take the box and walk past the ice cream stall where both boys now start to talk and tell me they would like an ice cream.  The last thing I am doing is buying two stroppy boys ice cream!  As we walk past the lady on the stall looks at us and gives the boys an ice cream each.

    I am not happy, but I say to the boys: “you see, God does want to give us good things everyday”, while inside saying “really God!”.  I wanted them to learn one lesson but it seems God has other plans today.

    We return to the car and Yoni gets out and tells us he has found a mask and had the best sleep ever.  The two boys with me are excited to share the food with Yoni who asks them what they did.  Both become very animated as they talk about going to the park and how great the park is to climb trees and roll down the bank of a large mound in the middle.  This does not help how I feeling as I could see at the time they were trying their hardest not to enjoy themselves.

    Now Yoni has a mask the boys ask if they can go back to the park and take Yoni and so we head back so they can roll down the mound and climb trees.  When Yoni asks then what I had talked about both Jonathans explain in great detail the talk I had given and assumed they were not listening to.  I submit to God and his plans as mine are not in His league at all.  To make me feel even worse when they get in the car for the journey back to their little shacks they ask if they can borrow my phone to put on a “pista”, a backing track for them to rap and begin to rap away and leave me both emotional and speechless as they sing something along the lines of what a great mentor I am.

    The day is rescued and all return home happy and full of life while I return home a lot humbler than I was at the beginning of the day.


     
    Janie Awesome

    Duncan Dyason is the founder and Director of Street Kids Direct.  He first started working with street children in 1992 when he moved to Guatemala City and founded The Toybox Charity.  His work has been honoured by Her Majesty the Queen and he was awarded an MBE the year he celebrated working over 25 years to reduce the large population of children on the streets from 5,000 to zero.  Duncan continues to live and work in Guatemala City.

     
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