Kiya Survivors is a British-Peruvian charity operating educational facilities for children with special needs and those who have suffered abuse and abandonment. The Rainbow Centre was the first facility opened by Kiya, in 2002, and is the only school dedicated to special needs in this area of Peru. Survivors supports 140 children and their families from villages as far away as 50 kilometers. The centre has three classrooms delivering a specialized curriculum for nursery and primary age children, as well as a life skills program for young adults. They provide basic nutrition, therapy (physiotherapy, speech therapy, psychotherapy), and support services, including social work and medical care. In addition, they offer training for local, mainstream schools and outreach support for families living in remote locations. Once a month they run a parent workshop, giving advice and support to parents. The need for such a facility is acute because children who suffer from autism, Down Syndrome, and cerebral palsy are often neglected in Peru. It can be a challenge to convince parents that their children deserve a quality education. Kiya does an incredible job! We have volunteered at the Rainbow Centre and participated in their many activities. At this point we are supporting the life skills program. There are currently 11 students in the program. The goals of this program are:
- An increase in financial and practical well-being (caring for themselves and gaining employment);
- An improvement in family well-being;
- A decrease in the rates of abuse within the home environment;
- Development of support networks;
- A reduction in discrimination.
- We are interested in expanding our support to further develop the outreach and training functions of the centre.
Fernando is the son of Simeona Chavez and Juan Lagos. Fernando and his five siblings have lived a life of abuse and neglect. Two of his siblings have special needs. Their parents left them alone a lot, without proper food and without any stimulation, love, or affection. They used to share one tiny room, where there were three beds for the family; the children often slept on the dirt floor. When Kiya Survivors found Fernando, he was tied up under a bed, covered with rat bites. In February 2007, Fernando’s mother, Simeona, died after a long history of psychiatric problems, alcohol abuse, and, towards the end of her life, physical problems that doctors were unable to diagnose. His father is an alcoholic and unable to look after and provide for his children. Since March 2007, the children have been living at Rainbow House, where they are cared for by Kiya’s two substitute mums and have all their basic needs met. Fernando now lives at the Rainbow Center in his very own room that was built for him in March 2010. Fernando is great at organizing, tidying, helping others, and working in the garden. He needs a clear routine and to know exactly what is expected of him. He needs instructions explained clearly, and he needs to have access to his communication sheet at all times. Fernando loves bathing, but if the shower isn’t working, or if there is no water, he tends to get upset. He loves puzzles, massages, music, bubbles, clean clothes, cutting paper, drumming, and eating. He also really likes going to the market with his father, Juan. Fernando doesn’t like being bothered once his routine is set. Interference or being taken away from a task once he has started will generally upset him. He doesn’t like much physical contact or invasion of his personal space, although he does like “high fives” and praise for doing things well. Fernando needs to be encouraged to be as independent as possible, both in the way he is treated and in the activities he engages in. He is extremely happy at the Rainbow Centre and has found a routine that suits him.