Operation Restoration began in 1990 when Roger Hulford and his family arrived in Santa Cruz with a calling to start a work with the city's street kids. Seeing that there was some provision of homes and rehab centers both for younger children and for adults, but nothing for teenagers, Roger felt God pressing upon his heart to direct the focus of the work towards those teenagers. And so, Operation Restoration aims to work mainly with kids in the 12-18 age bracket living on the streets of Santa Cruz. However, by the time that the girls within that bracket reach the age of 14 or 15 they very often have children of their own, and so the ministry also aims to care for the very young children who make up the growing number of 2nd generation street kids in Santa Cruz. The Operation Restoration team has about 18 workers at the time of writing.
The vision of Operation Restoration's work is:
"Having our fixed on Jesus, and on his compassion and mercy, we want to see the kids who live in the streets restored in relation to God, to themselves and to society:"
in relation to God - because all are by nature sinners and "objects of wrath", but God sent Jesus to reconcile them to himself so that they might realise the destiny that God has for them, and walk according to God's purpose for their lives.
in relation to themselves - to help them to discover more and more the value and the identity that they have in God through raising their self-esteem, affirming, loving and training them.
in relation to society - by helping and encouraging them to be a positive members of society through forming part of the local church and looking for work so that they will be salt and light in that society.
Who are the street kids?
A number of different categories of street kids in Santa Cruz have been identified. Younger children and toddlers who spend long hours on the streets simply because that is where their parents work. (For example, preschool children who hang around their mother's stall at the market all day.)
The second group is children who work on the streets but go back to the family home in the evenings. (For example, kids who shine shoes, sell sweets and cigarettes, or wash windscreens at traffic lights.) This group tends to be a little bit older, perhaps 6 years old and above.
The third group is made up of those kids who live full-time on the streets, no longer going home, except perhaps for a rare visit. Most of these kids would live mainly by stealing and would be involved in drugs. This is the group that Operation Restoration aims to help get off the streets and find a new life of hope in Christ.
Areas of work
Members of the Operation Restoration team go out onto the streets regularly to visit the street kids: sometimes to organise a game of football, sometimes to offer a cup of coffee, sometimes just to chat. The main aim is to befriend the kids, earn their trust, get to know their stories and see how they can be helped to get off the streets. For some there may still be the possibility of going home, for others a rehab. centre is the best way forwards. Still others may just need help in finding work and accommodation. Now and again some of the kids manage to get enough money together to pay for a 1 or 2 months rent, so visits also include seeing them in their rooms, visiting them in prison if they have been arrested, or in hospital for those whose needs can't be met in the medical post.
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El Toborochi (Reception home)
"Toborochi" is a tree native to Santa Cruz and was chosen as the name for this home that functions as and when there is a need. The idea is that boys and girls coming off the streets will spend a few days here of orientation and preparation for their step into our restoration homes. This is to give them time to adapt to life off the streets and where they can receive medical attention and visits from our social worker and psychologist, as well as make initial contact with their family where possible.
El Camino (Boys' home)
"El Camino" means "The Way". Opened in March 2002 Operation Restoration's rehab. home for boys provides a place to live, work and study for teenagers coming off the streets. There are currently about 25 boys in the home. ...more
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El Alfarero (Girls' home)
El Alfarero means The Potter and was opened in December 2003 to replace Casa Alfa as our girlsī home. The home has a capacity for up to around 12 girls and their children (depending on how many children they have) at the moment there are 10 girls and 2 children ...more
This is a home for those teenagers who have finished high school and are returning to the city for further education and training. At this stage there is more of a focus on personal responsibility and they have a much greater degree of independence. There are currently 4 boys in the home, with 2 more due to arrive in the new year.