Tag Archives: guatemala

Saying Thanks to Sponsors

Located just southeast of Mexico, Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America. Its spectacular mountains boast a wealth of natural resources and stunning biodiversity. For centuries, this land served as the core territory of the renowned Mayan civilization. Following two centuries of Spanish colonization, Guatemala gained its independence in the early nineteenth century, only to endure another 150 years of political instability and civil unrest. Additionally, this area is prone to devastating natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and hurricanes, which cause mudslides and flooding. Despite recent economic growth and successful democratic elections, Guatemala still struggles with widespread poverty, illiteracy, crime, and high rates of unemployment and underemployment.

Though a seemingly small gesture, for these children and their parents, creating something handmade as a way of saying thank you to sponsors shows just how important our sponsorship program is to them, as well as to the school and community.

These maladies are perhaps even more pronounced in the city of Tecpan, located some sixty miles west of Guatemala City. The overwhelming majority of Tecpan’s 50,000 inhabitants claim direct descent from the Maya. However, despite their rich cultural heritage, indigenous people often find themselves marginalized, left to endure the brunt of poverty and its associated effects. For this reason, the Tecpan School, one of our affiliated projects in Guatemala, is incredibly important to these families. Run by nuns of the Hijas de la Caridad (Daughters of Charity) Order, the school strives to aid the impoverished children of this region; and thanks to the help of their sponsors, children and their families are receiving basic needs, which helps them to break the cycle of poverty.

Showing appreciation

Recently, we received pictures from our volunteer coordinator at the Tecpan School of children and their mothers making small gifts of handmade bracelets and bookmarks for the kids’ sponsors as a way to show their gratitude for all that our sponsors do to help these families. Though a seemingly small gesture, for these children and their parents, creating something handmade as a way of saying thank you to sponsors shows just how important our sponsorship program is to them, as well as to the school and community.

***

HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN GUATEMALA?

You can sponsor a child in Guatemala in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in Guatemala that is available for sponsorship.

A Thousand Shoes for a Thousand Kids

As the end of the year approaches, I can say that the Children Incorporated staff as a whole is amazed by what we have accomplished thus far in 2017, thanks to our incredible sponsors and donors. When our President and CEO, Ron Carter, sent out a letter in December of 2016 asking our supporters to help us reach our goal of providing 1,000 pairs of new shoes to sponsored and unsponsored children at our projects in the coming year, we never dreamed the response would be so tremendous.

Just three months after launching our Shoe Fund campaign, our supporters had already donated more than $30,000 to ensure that children in our program in Latin America, Africa, and Asia would receive new shoes. We can’t thank you enough for what you have done for these special young girls and boys.

The importance of shoes

There are a lot of basic needs that children go without on a daily basis – something we understand all too well. Providing basic necessities, like clothing, food, hygiene items, and educational support, to kids is the foundation of our sponsorship program, and we believe that each and every one of these aspects is incredibly important in helping children have a greater chance to succeed in life. So why did Mr. Carter want to focus in particular on getting shoes to kids in need?

“Over the years, we have heard many heartbreaking stories about children who are unable to attend school because they don’t have wearable shoes.”

“Over the years, we have heard many heartbreaking stories about children who are unable to attend school because they don’t have wearable shoes,” says Mr. Carter. “In some cases, children attend school only every other day because they have to share a single pair of shoes with a sibling. We have always made a point of providing good, solid shoes to these children, knowing that shoes can be very expensive. As such, the Children Incorporated Shoe Fund campaign has been one of our most meaningful endeavors.”

1,235 pairs and counting

We are very grateful that our donors understand that items that can sometimes appear small and insignificant can really improve the lives of children. Shoes may not seem like a big deal, but as Mr. Carter stated, it’s sometimes the difference between a child going to school or not.

Because of you, we have provided children at our affiliated projects the Pedro Poveda School, Guarderia El Angel, the Lourdes School, the Santa Clotilde Orphanage, Villa Emilia, the Montero Home, and the Cristo Rey Mission in Bolivia with shoes this year. Thanks to you, children at Hogar Santa Julia and Hogar Santa Maria in Mexico have brand new shoes to wear to school. If it weren’t for you, children at the Dandora Community Center in Kenya, the Rainbow ‘Erdata’ Center in Ethiopia, Chrishanti Lama Sevana in Sri Lanka, La Milagrosa in Costa Rica, and Santa Isabel Ana Seton in Guatemala wouldn’t have received new footwear, either.

To date, we have provided 1,235 pairs of shoes to kids in need, and we will continue distributing shoes in the upcoming months.

Thank you for all that you do to help children – we couldn’t do it without you.

***

The Power of One: A Legacy in Action

It’s not everyday that a small nonprofit—even one that’s been around as long as Children Incorporated—finds out that they’re receiving a donation of $1.75 million.

7-emmelena-ky-070915I suppose that’s why I remember the day so well. We had been saddened in 2015 to hear of the death of Mr. Glenn Foy, an engineering innovator and adventurous spirit who had passed away at such a young age- just  59 years old-  in a private plane accident. I had spoken to him only once, a few months before his death, and remembered him as a kind soul, committed to what we do, and a regular sponsor over the last decade. It wasn’t unusual for Children Incorporated to receive a bequest, although most tend to come from sponsors who have a much longer history with our organization.

Mr. Foy’s law firm informed us that we’d be receiving 28 percent of his estate to help children however we saw fit, which certainly made my eyes widen. It seemed like a large percentage for such a relatively recent donor.

The magnitude of Mr. Foy’s generosity has allowed us to go to new places, accomplish much, and impact the lives of not just children in need, but their families, their communities, and in some cases, generations to come.

But on the day we learned how that 28 percent translated into real dollars—1.75 million of them to be exact—I was struck truly speechless.

Glenn Foy was an adventure-seeker, a cycling enthusiast, an aviator, a lover of life. His annual contributions impacted the lives of eight children over several years, but he was quietly generous, preferring not to receive attention for his philanthropy. His supportive family, I hope, will indulge me the attention I want to give to him now.

The magnitude of Mr. Foy’s generosity has allowed us to go to new places, accomplish much, and impact the lives of not just children in need, but also their families, their communities, and in some cases, generations to come.

Our Hope in Action Fund is, essentially, money set aside to use in tackling an ever-growing list of programs to support, centers to build or improve, and projects to get off the ground. We chip away at it, sometimes even making great strides; but this year, we turned so much of that hope into impactful, measurable action.

Glenn Foy’s Legacy in Action

Pinagpala Center, Philippines

Because of Mr. Foy’s gift, we were able to construct a two-classroom daycare center in Tagaytay City, Philippines. Mothers in this struggling area now have a safe place to leave their children as they seek employment or go to work. Every day, you can find children learning and playing at Pinagpala Center, which also provides a nourishing feeding program to improve the health of each child.

Marching Band and Classrooms at Juan Apostol, Guatemala

img_0249School and community leaders in Guatemala City have come up with a unique way to encourage student participation in school—the Juan Apostol Marching Band. This band’s talents have become known throughout the country, and playing in the band has become the goal for so many students, which, in turn, encourages students to apply themselves academically (you have to show an “A” grade average before you are eligible to participate; Mr. Foy’s gift allowed us to purchase instruments for the band). At the same school, we also built two new classrooms.

Fruit and Vegetable Garden Program, Ethiopia

Multiple generations will benefit from the produce-bearing garden at Kids Hope–Ethiopia. The community surrounding the center is desperate for agricultural knowledge and supplies. Not only will this garden provide food for the children who attend Kids Hope, but it will also serve as a learning experience for the community.

Biofuel Plant, Kenya

This year, we were able to build a biofuel plant at Maria Immaculata school in Nairobi. Biofuel means energy taken from burning the gases emitted from organic matter – in this case, cow manure. It sounds unpalatable, but these enterprising Sisters figured out a way to keep their costs lowered and introduce more sustainable solutions. And we were there to help.

Dandora Medical Clinic, Kenya

The Dandora Community Center holds a special place in our hearts, and renovating their medical clinic helped the center make huge gains in Nairobi. Attendance is booming, which means healthier children and healthier families. Healthy kids spend more time in school, which leads to better-educated generations, which leads to a brighter future for the whole community.

Water Purification Plant, Kenya

At St. Nicholas School in Msamaria, Mr. Foy’s gift allowed us to move forward with plans to repair a water purification plant. The school’s commitment to self-sustainability keeps costs low while teaching children valuable life skills.

Student Attendance Program, Kentucky

DSCF7254At Martha Jane Potter Elementary School, one volunteer coordinator hit upon an idea for a motivational program that would help encourage attendance. Until that point, attendance had been sporadic at best, particularly during standardized testing. We funded the program, the experiment worked, and we expect the school to try it again next year.

College/Career Awareness Program, Kentucky

Rural Kentucky has a tough time in their struggle with poverty, and we find a lot of the same problems in our country’s rural poor areas as we do abroad. Children without resources, struggling their best to survive, when just orienting them towards other futures often makes a lasting impact. We helped a coordinator at Carr Creek Elementary School establish a program that exposes children to various careers, takes them on tours of community colleges, and even helps their parents with career readiness.

After-School Program, New Orleans

The Encore Academy wanted a way to increase its students’ academic success and social and emotional well-being, and they found it through homework assistance and enrichment activities including computer coding and expressive writing. We proudly funded this program, which also includes gifts of clothing-and now thirty participants are benefiting from it. Gifts of books for the school library extend the program’s impact to the entire student body.

Disaster Relief, Baton Rouge

We’d planned to work on a project at Friendship Capitol Academy, but when the floods struck this summer, we shifted our focus to disaster relief. Approximately forty children in grades nine through twelve received practical assistance (clothing, food, cleaning supplies, and hygiene items), as well as support, comfort, and motivation to attend school, despite the upheaval of the world that surrounds them.

Kindergarten “Boys Club,” Washington, D.C.

At Lucy Ellen Moten School, a coordinator noticed that kindergarten-aged boys were having trouble adjusting to the routine and the structure of a school day. What’s more, they tended to take their overwhelming feelings out by pushing, hitting, or biting. Early intervention was identified as the key to helping these boys express themselves more healthily.

Making your Own Legacy

Glenn Foy had never seen our Hope In Action list, yet he chose to leave such a substantial amount to an organization he believed in. Why? How could he have known what an impact his gift would make?

We may never know the answer, but I’d guess that it’s because Mr. Foy witnessed the power of much smaller sums. And I’d guess this because I hear it from our sponsors all the time. They love how connected they feel with their sponsored children, and they know they can trust us to address specific and individualized needs for each and every child. It’s that relationship that keeps our donors engaged for lifetimes (there really is a rather extraordinary number of sponsors who have been with us since Children Incorporated began in 1964!).

They love how connected they feel with a child, and they know they can trust us to address specific and individualized needs for that child.

This year, we’ve launched On the Road series to show the impact of your contributions to the lives of the children we serve around the world. The dispatches are often inspiring; other times, they convey the honest exhaustion and discouragement that come from the burden of poverty. But time and time again, they always find hope.

In this season of gratitude, we urge you to take a few minutes to think about your legacy. Do you have a plan to make what you’ve earned throughout your life count long after you’re gone?

Whether you make arrangements to have the children you sponsor supported until adulthood or whether you’re more interested in donating a lump sum to support our chosen programs the way Glenn Foy did—no gesture goes unnoticed and no effort goes unused.

We approach each new year with hope. In 2016, we were able to turn an unprecedented amount of hope into action. One man’s decision made that possible for children in so many countries around the world. At every level, we’re counting on the continuing generosity of all of our sponsors and donors to keep that momentum going in the years ahead.

***

HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD THROUGH CHILDREN INCORPORATED?

You can sponsor a child with Children Incorporated in one of three ways – call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org, or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

Music to a Child’s Ears

In 1964, Jeanne Clarke Wood traveled to Guatemala and met 95 impoverished children, all struggling bravely through the harshest of circumstances. She founded Children Incorporated so that she could make an impact on those who needed the most help—poor, often abandoned or orphaned children in countries without government services to provide even basic necessities of life.

The organization now supports eight separate programs in Guatemala, which Children Incorporated’s Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, visits often. The rampant poverty in his native country is difficult to witness. While Guatemala attempts to clean up a wildly corrupt government, many organizations and services have to go without funding, which means the citizens have to go without whatever those organizations and services provide.

img_0261This year, a massive drought will deprive 1.5 million of basic staples, further slowing the government’s efforts to turn their economy around.

Songs in the key of hope

Luis finds his hope in the schools and programs he visits, where volunteers and donations from global organizations like Children Incorporated have, over the years, transformed the lives of hundreds of children. One school in particular, Juan Apostol School in Guatemala City, brings hope, strength, and inspiration to children in a very specific way. Though its students come from the heart of the Guatemala City slums, they make up one of the country’s best and brightest school bands.

Coordinator Tita de Morales had to convince Luis that supporting the band aspect of their program was in line with Children Incorporated’s mission. As she spoke, it became clearer to him that the band was a unique academic motivator for Juan Apostol’s children. In order to participate in the band, you have to be an A student. And this isn’t some side project—the 85-student band and its two smaller bands of 45 and 30 are the school’s pride and joy. It’s by design: the coordinators understood that the band had to be something truly special in order to get these kids’ attention.

One school in particular, Juan Apostol School in Guatemala City, brings hope, strength, and inspiration to children in a very specific way.

Not only do the band members learn creative expression through music, but they also learn how to function as part of a very close-knit team, both musically and practically. The students along with their parents have to raise funds for every trumpet, every drum, and every trip they take. The result is a group of families that are truly invested. “Every student wants to be in the band,” says Luis. “It’s just incredible.”

“They’re taught responsibility, coordination, administration, and they have to be good academically,” he continues. “So I thought we needed to support that.”

Children Incorporated this year delivered enough brand-new instruments to replace a large percentage of Juan Apostol’s. Luis was able to attend a performance by the students as they blew their new trumpets and beat their new drums. He remembers feeling the children’s excitement as it grew and grew. “This is not a school that has a lot of money, and seeing those 85 kids playing felt like 20,000, all so proud of what they’re doing and showing that.”

Hands-on training now for a better tomorrow

img_0229Along with helping with the school’s band, who travels all over the region, Children Incorporated assisted in implementing a skilled training program at Juan Apostol. Participating children train for more than a year in computers, graphic design, or even to be a cosmetician, and when they’re finished, they receive a certificate from the government. So not only are Juan Apostol graduates earning a step up because of academic training, but they’re also going out into the world with skills they can use to do real work. The program’s effectiveness has grown with its popularity, and now almost every child gets to participate.

It’s innovative programs like these that give children a reason to distance themselves from the challenges they face at home. Guatemalan kids are often pressed into the drug trade or have to find legitimate work to help their family. Making sure that both student and parent understand the value of learning the skills taught in band or the skills training program, and keeping the process engaging for all shows these children, and their families alongside them, a glimpse of a better life.

***

HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN GUATEMALA?

You can sponsor a child in Guatemala in one of three ways – call our office and speak with one of our sponsorship specialists at 1-800-538-5381, email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org, or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in Guatemala that is available for sponsorship.

Professions with a Future

Children Incorporated’s Director of International Programs Luis Bourdet recently received a report from our affiliate Colegio Vida (Life School) at the Juan Apostol School in Villa Nueva, just outside of Guatemala City; with the help of contributions from our sponsors and donors, 103 high school graduates of the Juan Apostol School graduated in 2015 with Colegio Vida certifications that will help put them on the path to professions with a future.

Cross-culturally, one of the greatest challenges to graduates is the practical application of academic knowledge. With its motto being “An Institution Created to Make a Difference,” Colegio Vida offers skill-training programs in four areas of study: Computer Repair and Maintenance, Graphic Design, Culinary Arts, and Cosmetology.

From the elementary school to high school levels, students who were interested in Computer Equipment Repair and Maintenance learned a variety of skills in workshops, from learning to identify parts of a computer to how to clean and maintain them.

Each of these vocational training courses emphasizes personal and academic formation for individual achievement. This training is a requirement for certain types of high school diplomas in the Juan Apostol School. Last year, 50 Computer Science students graduated with Computer Repair and Maintenance certification; 25 Arts and Science students with Graphic Design certification; 13 Tourism graduates with certification in Culinary Arts; and 15 Bilingual Secretary and Administrative students with certification in Cosmetology.

From the elementary school to high school levels, students who were interested in Computer Equipment Repair and Maintenance learned a variety of skills in workshops, from learning to identify parts of a computer to how to clean and maintain them.

Cooking classes were administered by school staff, which presented a way for personnel to spend time with students in a capacity outside of scholarly learning, in a practical training environment. One of these students’ assignments was to prepare the food for the quinceañera (a fifteen-year-old birthday celebration for girls that is considered to be a rite of passage from childhood to womanhood in Latin America) for the female students who were turning fifteen years of age in the year 2015.

Already certified Cosmetology students participated as instructors to these high school students with this particular area of interest, and the relationship between the two groups proved to be a mutually-beneficial one. The current students received skill training from the graduates, and the graduates were able to practice their trade on the students upon carrying out the instruction.

In addition to these programs, Colegio Vida offers a variety of summer courses for children, from cooking lessons to cleaning techniques. All classes focus on following instructions and helping out at home so that these children may take full advantage of their school break.

***

HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN GUATEMALA?

You can sponsor a child in Guatemala in one of three ways – call our office and speak with one of our sponsorship specialists at 1-800-538-5381, email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org, or go online to our donation portal, create and account, and search for a child in India that is available for sponsorship.