The year 2005, in terms of the number of extremely poor, abandoned or abused children we helped, and the quality of the help we provided them: was by far our best year yet. We opened thirteen new children's centres - four had to be combined into two - so our net gain is eleven, and they are thriving.

In the five years this particular project has been developing we have learned a great deal, much of it through trial and error. We have learned, for instance, if we are prepared to go to where the children live - rather than bussing them into the safe city centres - we can reach many more, and more innocent children: those living in a state of semi abandonment in the poorest barrios.
Theirs are the most dangerous communities of all, but we have learned that if our volunteers and staff go early in the mornings; teach and work with the children, then hurry back to the safety of the city centre before the villains wake up and start their day's terror: it is secure for our volunteers and staff (also, the communities we are helping tend to look after us).
We have also learned that if we work with our poor and abandoned children inside existing school buildings; there is less resistance from parents, it is safer for us and we get much less bother from politicized groups or officials looking for money. Also, we can, with the school's cooperation, transfer our children into their regular classes at any time during the school year: not having to wait until the next annual intake.

Through operating our mission and projects as we are now, the results we are achieving far exceed what we ever expected to be able to accomplish. For students who missed their chance to go to school when they were the age to enter first grade (and we take in children in this category from 8 to 18 years of age); after preparing them for one year we have a 60% success rate of getting them into regular school at or near the grade appropriate to their age. [Of the 27 children in our pilot project whom we placed into state school classes appropriate to their ages: when the school year ended all but two advanced to the next grade along with their classmates - all of whom, unlike our children, had been attending school all these years.
The children we work with who are young enough to get into the first or second grade, we have a 100% success rate of getting them into school; and 93% of them will complete their first year.

One strong reason for this success is the dynamic working relationship which develops between our international volunteers, who offer the children unqualified love and encouragement, and our national teachers and professionals who channel the children's' response into educational progress. It is not unusual for our classes of first graders to be among the best in their respective schools, even though they come from the most deprived backgrounds.

I started this work, but better hands than mine are carrying it forward to levels of achievement beyond my lights. I sometimes feel like a passenger on a bus that is going to a new and better place: and I am grateful to be invited along for the ride.

Bruce Thornton (& Ana Teresa Rosell)