“What is Vida Joven?” by Hannah Wilder, board member

Taking time to ponder

We had a board meeting recently that caused me to ponder these questions: “What is Vida Joven, and why are we involved?” Tragedy, abuse, and brokenness live side by side with love, joy, and healing in a small home in Tijuana, just fifteen minutes away from my front door.

It’s a good day…

When a new child comes to Vida Joven, it’s a good day because it represents safety and security.  Coming to Vida Joven represents an opportunity for that child to receive the love and care she wasn’t receiving from her biological family.

…and it’s a bad day.

But it’s also a bad day.  Why?  Because deep hurt and brokenness have wrought this situation.   A child comes to Vida Joven because something is wrong.  Generational cycles of abuse within families perpetuate themselves until a child finds himself or herself on our door. He didn’t ask for this. She didn’t wake up and want to be taken away from everything and everyone she knew. This painful experience was unjustly handed to the children by parents or other adult family members whose job it was to protect the kids.  The children end up wrestling with the very things they were supposed to be protected from.

Our role as supporters of Vida Joven is to care for these children as we would our own.  At Vida Joven, we value the four elements of environments in which children thrive: 1) physical and emotional safety, 2) consistency, 3) clear expectations, and 4) opportunities to matter.  We believe every child has inherent value and an unconditional right to feel safe, protected and nurtured by those in care-taking positions.  When you become part of the Vida Joven family, you’re saying that you’ll do everything in your power to give these children the safe, loving home they deserve.

We are driven by the heartache we feel over the personal tragedies of these children.  We are driven by the desire to see good outcomes arise out of bad. We celebrate the opportunity to provide a loving home to the children, even as we lament the tragic reality that Vida Joven has to exist in the first place.

And in moments when it all seems so overwhelming, I personally lean into the person and example of Jesus. I believe that his life was a message to us about the kind of healing and love God can bring out of death and decrepitude. While we live in this world, we experience both the pain and tragedy of human frailty, and we work together to love, nurture and heal one another through places like Vida Joven.  Thank you for being a part of this beautiful and tragic journey.