Let the Children live
The story so far.
Some years ago Peter Walters, a young man training to be a Church of England Minister, took a holiday trip to
Columbia. Like many young travelers before him, he ran out of money some time before he had expected. So he went
to the airport to take a plane home but discovered that his flight wasn't alterable and so he had to face a couple of
moneyless weeks in a strange city. This meant sleeping rough and finding some means to get by.
Fortunately for him he was discovered and befriended by some street children whose entire lives were spent living and
sleeping on the streets. They helped him to survive until his plane home. This experience had a profound effect on his
future life which featured ordination as an Anglican priest, conversion to Catholicism and the Catholic priesthood and a
missionary journey back to the streets of Medelin in Columbia to address the plight of the street children there.
The children he helps have varied stories but a common theme: they need help.
Some are orphans. Drug barons drive farming families off their land - often by killing one or both parents. Gangs in the
shanty towns surrounding Medelin brutally carry on the 'orphaning' process. Poverty and ill health adds more orphans
to the group.
Some are effectively orphans. Driven away by parents who can't support them.
Some have families in the shanty towns and return to them at night but spend the day time foraging for food and
money on the streets of the big city.
The ways in which these young people get food or money just to survive are just as horrible as you can imagine. Even
simple events can involve deadly danger. Last year one of Fr. Peter's boys was promised payment to deliver a
package. The cost of the bullet which ended his life was less than the pittance he had been promised. Finding his
grave took some time and effort. No one will try to find his killer.
What the charity does.
Step one. Find the children on the streets and try to build up a relationship. Usually by feeding them.
Step two. Invite them to come to a place of shelter to have some time off the streets. Help them to make things which
can be sold.
Step three. Provide them with books etc. to allow them to attend school.
Step four. Try to help them to find a passage into adult life which does not involve gang membership.
(Medical help, including ante-natal care, is part of the package wherever possible)
The charity has opened two houses to aid the transition from the street to a more stable existence.
Last year was a landmark year when the first one of the children to make the journey to being a doctor graduated. A
few others have achieved positions which were beyond there wildest expectations ten years ago. Others have been
lost to the tsunami of violence which surrounds their daily life.
The work of this small charity goes on with the help of people in Britain. Through spreading the message and soliciting
fund raising ventures the Catholic Men's Society has raised almost £1.5 million for this charity in the last decade. The
work is difficult. Progress is erratic. (When the £ loses value the available money drops. 100 to 200 fewer children get
If anyone wishes to get involved in the work of this society please contact us. We are keen to build links between
parishes, schools and lay groups and LTCL.
See the link on our links page.