Children are children, no matter what the country or cultural context. They find a way to play. Even in desperate circumstances where young lives have seen way more trouble than the average adult, they do all they can to regain or hold onto childhoods; childhoods that were often ripped away from them through sin or tragedy.

As we entered the rear courtyard of one of the Casa Abanza homes in Caracas, a kite came crashing down from the heavens. The culprit, Juan, was perched on the iron-barred sill of a second story window. He would tug quickly on the string to catch the wind to send his homemade creation airborne.

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Poverty breeds ingenuity. Used tires and rims become imaginary lunar vehicles. Rusty buckets turn into a percussion set on the stage of a grand stadium. And plastic bags and twigs are transformed into supersonic jets soaring into the stratosphere.

Juan and his sister, Barbara, were abused and abandoned by their mother. They have experienced one of the greatest hurts a child could ever face – battered and rejected by the one who birthed and nursed them. The future questions and sense of loss are unimaginable. The self-imposed guilt is sure to come.

But on this day, Barbara is acting like the star in front of the paparazzi as she continually asks for me to take another photo. Meanwhile, Juan is an astronaut that floats in space and sees a beautiful orb of blue and green…not the streets of pain and suffering he departed from.

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(Image: Paul with Barbara and Juan at Casa Abanza)