Fr. Peter’s Story 

It was August 1982. A young student called Peter Walters was in a bind. His vacation in Cartagena, Colombia, had turned out to be more expensive than he had expected, and his money was running low. But when he tried to book his flight home to Britain, he was told that no seats would be available for another two weeks. He was stranded, and if he was to keep a roof over his head he would only be able to eat once every two days. While wandering around in the street one day, he ran into a group of children who were begging from the tourists. They came up to him expectantly, believing that all foreigners were rich. But they were surprised and amused when they realised that Peter was even hungrier than they were. The children befriended Peter, and even shared their food with him. As he got to know them, he was shocked to hear what life on the streets was like for them. He became so concerned that he went to se the local Catholic Archbishop to ask for help for his new friends. Monseñor Rubén Isaza, the Archbishop, received him very kindly, but suggested that perhaps God was telling him that he ought to do something himself. When Peter eventually returned home, he could never forget the children’s kindness or the words of the Archbishop. He was haunted by what he had seen, and what the boys had told him about life on the streets. He returned to Colombia many times to spend his vacations in the city of Medellín, working as a volunteer at Ciudad Don Bosco, a Catholic center for street-children. In 1988 Peter was ordained to the Anglican priesthood, and three years later he was appointed to the staff of the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady in Walsingham, England. Whilst he was there he founded the charity Let The Children Live! to support work for needy children in Colombia. Tragically, many children known to Fr. Peter fell victim to the drug-related violence that was making Medellín the murder capital of the western hemisphere, and he found it increasingly difficult to return to the safety of Britain. He also felt called to convert to Catholicism; so in 1994 he went to live in Medellín, became a Catholic, and was ordained as a Catholic priest the following year. Fr. Peter believed that his mission was to develop an apostolate to some of the city’s most needy and vulnerable children. To this end, he founded a Colombian charity called Fundación ¡Vivan Los Niños! (Funvini).

Fr. Peter believed that his mission was to develop an apostolate to some of the city’s most needy and vulnerable children. To this end, he founded a Colombian charity called Fundación ¡Vivan Los Niños! (Funvini). Today Funvini serves around 320 vulnerable children and youth at Casa Walsingham, its center in Medellín. Many of these children are living and working on the streets. Some have special educational needs. Others are teenage - or pre-teenage - mothers and their babies. And yet others are some of the 60,000 refugees who have fled to Medellín from the chaos in Venezuela.

With funds raised by Let The Children Live! in the UK and the US, Funvini is able to offer these children food, basic medical care, recreation, education and Christian formation. Above all, the children are made to feel loved and wanted; and they are given hope for the future. Some of these boys and girls have gone on to college, and are now working as nurses, psychologists, educators, and engineers: one boy has even become a doctor. Thanks to our generous supporters, these children are being given the chance to live and to have life abundantly. And it all started with the kindness that they themselves showed a poor stranger who was visiting their land.