Kidsave gives orphans a vacation

July 3, 2009 7:43:30 PM PDT
More than 33 million children around the world are growing up without parents and an international group called Kidsave is trying to help. Every year they bring children from all over the globe to the United States for a vacation, a chance to be with caring adults, and maybe find a new family. Some kids from South America are in the Bay Area right now and ABC7 got a chance to meet them.

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A group of kids, originally from Columbia, are in San Jose getting ready for a Fourth of July road trip. This is the start of lots of summer events organized by families reaching out to children who have been orphaned or abandoned in other countries.

Susan Chavez remembers the first kids she hosted from Columbia a few years ago. The kids thought a shower was exciting.

"The little one who was nine at the time is screaming, 'que rico [so good]. This is hot water coming down.' and I'm thinking, 'Wow," said Susan Chavez.

The centerpiece of the program is called "Summer Miracles." Children stay with host families in cities around the United States for about five weeks.

"They serve as advocates, introducing the children to other families who attend Kidsave events, who may be interested adopting," says George Feldman, a Kidsave father.

Kidsave focuses on older children who often have a harder time finding homes. Feldman is an immigration lawyer. He started with Kidsave as a volunteer translator then three years ago, he and his wife adopted Gladys and Juan Carlos.

"The most gratifying experience in my life, bar none," says Feldman.

Feldman and other Kidsave families are now hosting a family of four from Bogata.

The four children have been in orphanages in Columbia for more than 10 years, but they don't want to be split up, so finding a home is challenging. The oldest girl is 17. She told ABC7 through a translator she hopes to go to college. Kidsave hosts say bringing this family to the United States, even for a short visit, is the realization of a dream.

"All of them are exceptionally affectionate and well behaved children," says George.

Chavez is one of the children's hosts. She already adopted a fourteen year old boy from Columbia. He just graduated from a youth program put on by the Army National Guard.

"I remember him saying he never had a mom and 'the other kids would make fun of me because I didn't have a mom.' And he says, 'so now I have a mom,'" says Chavez.

Kidsave will be having events all summer long. If you'd like to find out more click on the link below.

Link: Kidsave
Phone: Randi Thompson - 1 (888) Kid-Save or 1-888-543-7283

This story was written and produced by Jennifer Olney.

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