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The Forty Hours Devotion

27th August, 2016                                                                                      

Between Friday August 26th and Sunday 28th the children and staff of Funvini are celebrating the Forty Hours Devotion in the chapel at Casa Walsingham. The Intention is to ask for God’s blessing on our School Project and all our children will have the opportunity to spend some time in the chapel. A group of 50 girls are having a ‘sleepover’ at Casa Walsingham on the Friday night—-a great favourite with them!  In small groups they will spend two 15 minute periods keeping watch before the Blessed Sacrament, accompanied by one of our staff. On Saturday night, 50 boys will be doing the same thing. Throughout Saturday children will come to Casa Walsingham to take part in the devotion and to enjoy the activities that will be provided for them.The devotion will end with Mass at 8am on Sunday morning followed by a Procession through the streets, during which the canopy over the Blessed Sacrament will be carried by four of our boys from the street.

The Forty Hours Devotion at Casa Walsingham

The Forty Hours Devotion at Casa Walsingham

Update 15th July 2016

Funvini ( the charity’s name in Colombia ) is currently helping about 550 children through its various programmes. This population includes children who live in the street; children who do various kinds of work – begging, selling sweets, cleaning car windscreens, juggling, prostitution, etc. – in the street; children who are at social risk of abuse or of becoming street-children; children with learning and/or behaviour problems; adolescent mothers and their babies; and the children of Cor Videns, Funvini’s choir.
However, the situation in Medellín is changing, and Funvini must adapt to meet the changing needs of its children. Although the murder rate in the city has dropped dramatically, the crime rate has not: it is simply that the main gangs have established an uneasy truce, and instead of causing mayhem with their fights for territory, they are now devoting their energies to more lucrative activities, such as extortion, prostitution and drugs. Many fewer children are now to be found sleeping on the pavement in the city-centre, because those whom the authorities find there are whisked away to a protective custody in special secure unit in the city’s mental hospital. But the social pressures of poverty and family violence which have, in the past, forced children onto the streets, remain unrelieved. But now, instead of taking to the streets in the city centre, the children who are subjected to these pressures are more likely to turn to the gangs as a substitute family. Other girls and boys resort to prostitution. A Channel Four News report on Medellín in 2014 called the city “the world’s biggest brothel”; and the increase in tourism has been accompanied by an increase in sex-tourism and child-prostitution. To combat this, Funvini’s financial and social-work support for its children’s families make it possible for most of them to stay at home; and its psychological and educational support helps to keep them in school. The charity is therefore playing a vital role in keeping these children safe and happy, and in helping them to build a decent future for themselves.
Funvini’s work is highly regarded by other organisations in Medellín, and for some time the city’s educational authorities have been putting great pressure on us to open our own school. They know that we consider Funvini to be an organisation of last resort, and that we will work with youngsters with whom the ordinary schools cannot cope, or who would not be able to cope with the ordinary schools without the extra support they receive from Funvini. For example, when the Head Teacher of one local school visited us the other month she was surprised – and grateful – to find no fewer than 11 of her most difficult pupils busy doing their homework at Casa Walsingham with the help of our teachers and the benefit of our computers. The authorities therefore want Funvini to use all the experience it has gained over the last 21 years of caring for such children to open a small school for them at Casa Walsingham, with specialist teachers, very small classes, flexible hours, and innovative and highly-personalised teaching methods. The idea would be to build on what Funvini is already doing, and to use its existing staff, but to keep the children at Casa Walsingham for most of the day instead of sending them off to separate schools in other parts of the city. Funvini would use all of its other cultural and recreational activities, and its social-work, psychological, catechetical, health and nutritional support to encourage the children to keep attending the school. And at the end of the year, it would be able to award them with grade certificates in its own name.

The classes would be provided for a total of up to 50 children in the course of the day in a couple of the class-rooms at Casa Walsingham; and in the meanwhile all of Funvini’s other activities with street-children, working children and adolescent mothers would carry on around them. So the school would only be an extension, intensification and formalisation of the charity’s existing educational work, but not a replacement for its other activities. Inevitably, the project will require some additional staff, and generate some extra costs. Unfortunately, the city authorities are not offering Funvini any help with these, so the extra burden will fall on Let The Children Live!, provided that its supporters in Britain are able and willing to meet this challenge.

As has already been mentioned, the resources of Let The Children Live! are already over-stretched, so additional funds will have to be raised by means of a special appeal in the charity’s newsletter, Vivant! Very few of the charity’s supporters have given it their e-mail addresses, so the only way to communicate with most of them is by sending them a printed copy of Vivant through the post. The cost of postage has increased so much that the charity can only make such an investment periodically. The last one was published in 2012, and whereas some charities have been criticised for constantly badgering their donors for more money, the supporters of Let The Children Live! are more likely to complain that they don’t hear from the charity often enough. All being well, a new issue will be sent out some time in 2016. This will be used as the vehicle for the special appeal, and it will also serve as means of seeking sponsorship for the projected concert-tour by Cor Videns, Funvini’s choir, and to publicise their new CD which was released last Christmas.

Because Cor Videns is a children’s choir, its membership is constantly changing as the choristers grow up. This means that new recruits have to start their training every year, and in order for the choir as a whole to continue to develop and attain higher standards, more time for more training will be required. In order to gain more experience – and to earn more funds for Funvini – the choir also needs extra time to put on more concerts. By the time the children come to sing at Casa Bannatyne on week days, they are already fairly tired after spending the first part of the day at school, and they still have homework to do. Without the risk of overloading them, there is therefore no extra time for them to have extra musical classes on these days. On Saturday morning Funvini provides football classes for the choristers who want them, and other recreational activities for the rest. And Saturday afternoons are already taken up with choir practice. The children – and their voices and teachers – need a break on one day a week, so the choir has Sunday off. So where is the time for the extra classes to come from?
The answer would be to include the choir as a separate section within Funvini’s new school project. Despite their higher academic and musical ability, many of the children in the choir present the same behavioural problems, and suffer from the same situations of  family break-down, and face the same social dangers, as the children at Casa Walsingham. They also would benefit from being able to attend a school of their own, with flexible hours, small classes, specialist teachers, and tailor-made curriculum, in which their musical training would count towards their progression through Colombia’s grade system.
This is our plan for the future and to put it into practice in its entirety it is going to mean either buying a piece of land and building from scratch, or finding the right new building and buying and adapting it. At present we have some of the money that we will need, but we will need to raise much more and so we are launching “The School Project” in order to raise the necessary funds. However, because the needs of the children are great we have decided to start up our school in a small way this month-July 2016. We will use 2 classrooms in Casa Walsingham and our first pupils will be some of the most vulnerable and damaged children in Medellín. We have taken on a new teacher who is specially trained and gifted in teaching these children and she has already begun preliminary work with some of them. Other members of our staff will also be involved and we have been assigned one of the state schools as an ‘umbrella’ school that will validate the children’s work so that they will receive the state credits that will count towards their grades.

The hope for the not-too-distant future is that we will be able to raise enough money to create a whole new complex containing a school and living accommodation. In the school will be a chapel with a shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. We will encourage people to come on pilgrimage and donate to support our work and we will have a gift-shop and cafe where we can both raise money to maintain our work and provide work for our older children. This is the vision towards which we are working, beginning in a small way with the opening of our school this month.


So, this is where we are at the moment and what we plan for the future. Many of our former children are now professionals. One is a doctor who is now training to be a Renal Consultant and another has just completed the first year of a 5-year university course to become a Musical Director. He spent 6 months in the UK last year as a guest of the choir of Worcester Cathedral. We hope he will be able to come on a visit next year, and when funds permit, we hope to bring the choir over on a Concert Tour.


Some of the first pupils

Some of the children who will be the school’s                     first pupils.


Let The Children Live! PO Box 11, Walsingham, Norfolk. NR22 6EH. Tel: 01302 858369

May 2016 at Casa Walsingham

Last month the children and staff at Casa Walsingham celebrated two Marian Festivals: the May Devotion and the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. You can see some photos of the celebrations below.

May Devotion

 May Devotion

Our Lady of Fatima

                                           Our Lady of Fatima


Our Children's Pictures

  Our Children’s Pictures





Mary’s Musical Extravaganza!

Last Saturday evening (May 14th) Mary Pursglove’s ‘Musical Extravaganza’ took place at Holy Family Church in Gaywood, King’s Lynn. It was just amazing! The quality of the performances was so high and the attendance so good that it was a wonderful occasion which has raised the magnificent sum of £1,580!!! It is all the more amazing since Mary does not enjoy good health, yet she has worked for months with her team of helpers to bring this about, always cheerful, positive and smiling! It shows just what commitment and determination can achieve. We offer our warmest thanks to her; to all the performers, and to all who helped in any way, including Canon Peter and Father Henry the comperes, who played Ant and Dec!

The Ukulele Band

The Ukulele Band

The Rock Choir

The Rock Choir




School Band

The Cakes!

The Cakes!


The comperes!

The comperes!

St Stephen’s, Dalmuir

The parish of St Stephen’s, Dalmuir, and in particular its young people, have been responsible for raising a wonderful amount of money for Let The Children Live! in the last 12 years and their latest achievement of £1,020, was raised on Easter Sunday when they organised their annual Easter Egg Hunt.

DSCF9163 DSCF9161 DSCF9167 DSCF9165

George McAleenan, the charity’s Voluntary Worker in Scotland  says this about St Stephen’s:

“I think we can say that about £27000.00 has been raised by various groups within the parish.  It commenced with me giving a talk to the young adult group in 2004, and since then the young adult group and the Sunday young children’s group have become very involved. Fr Peter has also made two weekend appeals. In addition, the parish has a women’s embroidery group and they have become involved in raising funds and have joined up with the young people to organise Christmas Fayres.The young people of the parish have raised much of the money by means of Easter Egg Hunts, Sponsored Walks and many other activities. St Stephens primary school has also been very much involved in the fundraising.”

George has visited the parish several times, giving talks to the young people and the embroidery group. He will be returning to the school later this year to up-date the pupils on the work of the charity. Martin Aelred, a contemporary Tenor singer, has performed one of his concerts for the parishioners.The parish prayer group supports the charity with their prayers and fundraising.The entire parish community is very much involved in the work of supporting the work of Fr Peter amongst the children of the streets and families in the shanty towns.

Again, George says:

“One of the driving forces in all of this is Brendan Ashton who works with and encourages the children in everything they do to help the charity. Helen Beechey has also been very much involved with the fund-raising and she has worked with Brendan, along with the young people and the prayer group.

We are truly grateful for all the support of this parish, especially everything which the young people have done over the past ten years and more, and for the great support given by the Parish Priest, Fr Aidan Martin.”

What a wonderful parish; we thank God for them and pray that many others will follow their excellent example.

A big Thank You! to everyone.







Fr Peter2


RC Parishes where Fr Peter can make Appeals in 2017, and Parishes and schools where he can make Presentations during the week. Dates available soon.

Ring 01302 858369 if you are interested.

Pancake Race at Casa Bannatyne!

Having heard all about the British custom of holding pancake races on Shrove Tuesday (the day before the start of Lent) from Fr Peter, our staff at Casa Bannatyne decided to hold their own races and what fun they had! Together with some of our children, they ran and tossed their pancakes with great hilarity, as witnessed by the photos below. Talk about wishing you were there! And the pancakes didn’t go to waste because afterwards, our children ate them as a pre-Lenten treat! Now I really do wish I was there!























































Choir News


Training Session for Cor Videns


PASABOCAS–latest CD from COR VIDENS. Now available at £8.00, plus P&P £2.00 for UK customers. Please ring for price of postage for more than 1 copy or for outside UK. Click on the link to hear an extract. Ring 01302 858369 to order a copy.

Pasabocas - Cover

Funvini’s choir, Cor Videns, recently underwent a week’s intensive training on a course run by Mr Adrian Lucas, who flew over to Medellín in order to run the course for them. In the photo above  you can see them in one of their training sessions and below is a photo of the whole group, together with (left to right) Adrian Lucas, Emerson Osorio (Choirmaster), Fr Peter, and Sebastián Palacio. At the end of the week’s course they put on a short concert .


Hear seven of the older boys — the Cambiata Group — sing Barbershop: My Evaline– one of the songs they performed in the concert. Just click on the link below.

The CV Cambiata Group

The Cambiata Group

AND, hear the choir sing on their latest CD, Pasabocas, which is now available at a cost of £8.00 plus P&P £2.00 in UK. Ring 01302 858369 to order a copy & for more information. Click on the link below to hear another short extract.

A Thousand Thanks

“In Gratitude to Funvini……..for taking and welcoming me, a street child, and beginning the process of sowing values, responsibility and many other good qualities in me to prepare me for life. For the marvellous work of the Educators who made me a citizen and a Bachiller, and gave me the hope of a professional career. I want to record a thousand thanks.”

Those words were written by a teenager from the streets of Medellín. They were inscribed on a little plaque that he gave to Funvini on the occasion of his receiving his Bachillerato; his High School Certificate. He was one of 8 young people who graduated as Bachillers at a special ceremony on Saturday, December 19th 2015 and at which I was privileged to be present. These 8 teenagers all came from the streets of the city and had been enabled to study and gain their qualifications due to the support  of Funvini which had paid for their education and supplied much encouragement, and all the additional back-up needed at Casa Walsingham. Some of them had slept in the street at night, then gone to Casa Walsingham in the morning for breakfast, a shower, a change of clothes, homework and lunch, after which they had gone to school.  Eight might not seem a lot, and indeed Funvini has 500 more children who go to school, but many of them come from the shanty-towns. These 8 came from the street and were once considered to be ‘rubbish’; absolute no-hopers whom everyone else had given up as a bad job.  They were found by the charity’s Street Educators and, since  Funvini is  a charity of Last Resort, given a chance. Now they have the opportunity of a future , with the hope of a career and a family. In their name I say ‘Thank You’ to all you who make our work possible.

Children’s Day at Casa Walsingham

On October 31st Funvini’s children celebrated Children’s Day at Casa Walsingham, rather than Halloween, and they had great fun as you can see from these photos.


Hansel and Gretel