A Day in the Life- Child Case Advocate
We thought it would be interesting to share a little bit of the behind the scenes work that goes on day to day with DR Missions. One of the roles at the Bread of Life is that of a Child Case Advocate. Child Case Advocates work directly with the children and their families to promote Christian values, safety, health, and education within the family unit. Here is a recent day with one of our Child Case Advocates:
10AM- Head to Bread of Life. The children are playing sports outdoors today and there are 45 children in attendance. I am working on their yearly profile updates. This is an extensive process that involves indivdually interviewing each child, taking their picture, and typing up their update. Today, I got through 8 children's profiles!
11:30- Some of the children have moved indoors and I'm monitoring them from the office as I work on profiles since the other leaders are getting invested in a spirited baseball game. A few children are having trouble sharing the pop-up tunnel and fort. Upon hearing the shouts, I go talk to them and attempt to settle them down. One child is angry; the other crying. I spend some time consoling and gently teaching.
11:45- Katty, the assistant director of BOL, and I sit down for a few seconds to try to plan next week's back to school extravaganza. We still can't pick a name for the event. It's too bad that "extravaganza" doesn't translate well.
12- Time for lunch! It takes a bit to get the children inside and seated. Katty picks a few children to lead prayer and everyone else helps hand out plates of food. We have some announcements about upcoming events after lunch and a bit of a mad rush for juice.
1pm- After lunch, we head down to Playa Linda, a street right next to the river where many of the children in the program live. It's time to do house visits. We spend about an hour down there, but see many people and check in on many families.
- First stop is J's family. This family has six children and the oldest five attend BOL regularly. We tell their mother about the meeting next week for parents of the youth group. Their youngest baby is only 8 months old and he's a cutie. I hold him for a while as we chat and he cuddles on my shoulder. I think we'll be seeing him at BOL before long. I also ask about J's enrollment in school. His education has been on-and-off for years and I am advocating for him to be back in school this year.
- Second stop is Y's house. She grew up in the program and recently had her first baby, a beautiful little girl. Her little sister told us last week that we just had to come visit and meet her, and I couldn't wait! Baby and mama are doing well, although she thinks baby has her days and nights switched still. Her younger siblings are in youth group, so we talk to their mom about the upcoming meeting as well.
- Next we head up to S's house. He grew up in the program and is still involved through youth group and camping ministry. My husband, Tyler, who heads up the youth group, talks to him about an upcoming backpacking trip. S has a job now and needs to know the official dates so he can work it into his work schedule. They laugh about who is going to struggle the most on the hike and considering working out beforehand. Meanwhile, I sit inside the house with S's mom, cousin, and twin baby nephews. The babies (both boys) are crawling naked all over the house. It's their first birthday this month. I ask their cousin, M, who is in BOL, how they tell them apart when they're both naked like this. She answers honestly "I can't." Luckily, grandma jumps in to point out how one is just slightly taller.
-After this, we continue our walk down the street to E's house. She and her siblings moved back to Barrio Nuevo this year after living in San Rafael, a smaller countryside community, for three years. They have adjusted well to the move and back into Bread of Life. However, they haven't attended BOL in two weeks. When children suddenly stop attending, I always make a point to visit and check in on them. E and her siblings are doing well. Their mom opened a little shop outside her house selling chips, candies, and popsicles. The older children hav been helping in the shop and have been unable to walk the younger ones to program each day. We come up with a plan to get the three youngest to BOL each day. I also check in on a niece of theirs (a child of a former BOL graduate). She has had a bad cough for a few days. Once we handle "business," we spend some time just hanging out with the families who live around here. Pulling up old pictures of the children growing up at BOL is always a hit. The street is filled with giggles as the kids see baby pictures of themselves on my phone. The moms, of course, are asking for me to send them every picture I can find of their kids.
- Last stop is at W's house. He also has missed quite a few days at BOL recently, and they recently moved to a different house on the same street. He shows me where they live now and I ask where he's been lately. He's only 7, but he's gotten a part time job. He rides around on a horse and cart picking up trash. I encourage him to take a lunch break and come to BOL for food each day that he is working. His parents aren't home, so I add them to my list to visit next time. I want to discuss him getting enrolled in school so we don't have to worry about the dangers of working on a cart at such a young age.
2:15: It is finally time for my lunch break. We head home and I eat lunch and lay my own baby down for a nap. I have 45 minutes until the babysitter leaves and I know I have a lot to get done!
2:30- It's time to do back to school shopping for the kids. Shopping for 70 is no easy task. Thankfully, we flexed on plans and our babysitter comes with me to help while Tyler stays with the kids. The store in the market is hot and crowded. Also, the workers don't appreciate you clearing the shelves off so I had to ask them to go grab everything from the back store room. 350 pencils, 210 notebooks, 140 pencil sharpeners and erasers, and 40 packs of crayons later, I think we're ready. By this point, Tyler shows up with the kids. We're well past our timeline. It takes almost 25 minutes just to check out! We load our kids into the car and then run back and forth with arms full of school supplies, a line of cars and motorcycles honking at us.
4:30pm- We're home and done for the day. We have family time and dinner together. Once the kids are in bed, I'll finish typing up those profiles I started this morning.
Every day is a little bit different in the life of a child case advocate. Sometimes it's slower, sometimes it's very busy (like today!). What I love about my work is that I get to form long-lasting relationships in the community. Walking down the street of Playa Linda today, there were more people who knew me than those who didn't. As I greeted parents, I was reminded of what an honor it is to be trusted with their children for a few hours a day and I am so grateful to be a part of their family's journey.