[This story first appeared in the Spring 2018 Diocesan Messenger.]
I had the remarkable opportunity to visit Vida Joven in Tijuana last fall. Vida Joven literally means ‘young life’ and serves children who have been abandoned or have no family able to care for them. When we visited, there were nearly 30 children, many under age 10, as well as a handful of young teenaged girls.
This ministry was begun by California Episcopalians many years ago, to care for the children whose incarcerated parents often took them along when they went into prison. Today Mexican laws have changed, and children are no longer permitted in jail. Their need for care is no less urgent, and the ministry has expanded to serve a variety of children and adolescent girls. Vida Joven is supported by the work of two boards—one in the US, which does much of the fundraising, and one in Mexico, which oversees the day-to-day life of the children.
During our visit, we saw happy children, delighted to have friends visit to read, play games, celebrate birthdays, and teach new skills. The women who care for these children day and night, year after year, are akin to foster mothers, offering love and reassurance to children who have seen far too much violence and neglect in their short lives. Since the ministry began, several children have now graduated from high school or college and are finding fulfilling work and lives as adults. Many more could be served, were the funds available.
Caring for abandoned or discarded children is the kind of neighbor-love that Jesus called ‘caring for the least of these.’
For more information, to visit, or to contribute funds or leadership: VidaJovenDeMexico.org.
Enjoy the whole Spring Messenger (PDF)
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