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Aiming to Prepare Deaf Children for the World

The Father Andeweg Institute for the Deaf, or FAID, is one of the few schools in Lebanon that provide an education to hearing-impaired children. A long-time Children Incorporated affiliated project, FAID supports about 100 students every day, many of them refugee children from neighboring countries – primarily Syria.

FAID’s mission:

 To act as a caring institute for the deaf and hard of hearing, which reflects a healthy balance of academic goals and building self-esteem, self-awareness, and life skills.

During a trip to Beirut, Lebanon, our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, visited FAID and met with our Volunteer Coordinator Ms. Shawish. She explained to Luis that the most challenging aspect of her job is that the school receives less and less support from the Lebanese government each year. Yet every year, the need to help more and more children continues to increase. Currently, the school’s funding comes from various local and foreign partners, including Children Incorporated. Our sponsors help to support over sixty students at FAID alone.

A history of FAID 

FAID was founded in 1957 by Anglican clergyman Reverend Dr. Arie J. Andeweg. Reverend Dr. Andeweg, known as “the father of deaf people in Lebanon,” first started his work in 1956 by meeting with deaf adults at local coffee houses in Beirut. He was soon able to communicate with them and decided to establish a club for the deaf so that they could meet on a regular basis. In 1957, with younger deaf children in mind, he founded FAID. Today, FAID is one of the most prominent education centers for the deaf in the Middle East. 

 A leading comprehensive center

Sponsor a child in Lebanon to change their life for the better

Many deaf and hearing-impaired students at FAID could still use the help of a caring sponsor.

FAID provides an education to children from preschool to high school, ages three through eighteen. There, they learn to develop language to support memory and learning, achieve their academic and vocational potential, develop tools for safety and confidence in the modern world, create happy memories of their childhood and lasting friendships, and have a place to be healthy and resilient both physically and emotionally.

While in attendance at the school, students learn the Lebanese national curriculum and sign language. They are provided with much-needed audiology services, including supplies of hearing aids, hearing aid batteries, and ear molds; hearing tests; and hearing aid maintenance. The children also attend speech therapy sessions twice a week; auditory training with methodologies for listening and learning to hear; and they receive psychological and emotional support.

Enabling kids to reach their full potential

While they were meeting, Ms. Shawish explained to Luis that the aim of FAID is for every child and young person that attends to develop into the best possible version of themselves. She stated that the earlier hearing loss occurs in a child’s life, the more serious the effects can be on the child’s development. Similarly, the earlier a problem is identified and intervention begins, the less serious the ultimate impact is likely to be. 

While in attendance at the school, students learn the Lebanese national curriculum and sign language. They are provided with much-needed audiology services, including supplies of hearing aids, hearing aid batteries, and ear molds; hearing tests; and hearing aid maintenance.

As they toured the school and met with some of our sponsored children, Ms. Shawish told Luis that because of the special circumstances that the children are in – especially the older refugee children who attend the school – FAID has created group classes to meet the needs of the students who had never been to a specialized school.

The school also offers a theater class. Ms. Shawish feels that drama is an important tool for preparing students to live and work in a world that is increasingly team-oriented rather than hierarchical. Drama classes also help students develop tolerance and empathy.

Looking towards the future

Although having enough funding to provide for all the needs of the children is an issue, Ms. Shawish is confident that the school will continue to grow and add new programs. She talked with Luis about how FAID is piloting an outreach program among the Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon and the Lebanese community in order to raise awareness regarding deafness and the importance of education for those affected. Ms. Shawish is also hopeful that she will find a means to offer assistance to students who want to continue on to universities or technical schools once they graduate.

Before Luis left, Ms. Shawish assured him that without Children Incorporated’s support, the school, which is incredibly valuable to so many children, would not survive. She also mentioned that there are many deaf and hearing-impaired students at the school who could still use the help of a caring sponsor to ensure that they are equipped to fully participate in the world around them.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN LEBANON?

You can sponsor a child in Lebanon 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 sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Lebanon who is available for sponsorship.

Visiting Lebanon and South Korea

After many years of not being able to visit Lebanon and South Korea, where we support hundreds of children through our sponsorship program, our International Programs Director, Luis Bourdet, was finally able to visit both countries at the end of last year.

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing stories about Luis’ visits to our projects in Lebanon and South Korea.

“In recent years, great turmoil and many political issues have created instability in countries neighboring Lebanon and South Korea. As a result, previous plans to visit the two countries have had to be postponed,” said Luis.

“Thankfully, last year it became safe enough for me to travel to both countries to see first-hand the positive effects that our sponsors are having on impoverished children.”

Our affiliated projects

sponsor a child in lebanon

In Lebanon, Children Incorporated is affiliated with three projects

In Lebanon, Children Incorporated is affiliated with three projects: The Armenian Evangelical Schools (AES) and the Father Andeweg Institute for the Deaf (FAID), both located in the country’s capital, Beirut; and the Armenian Evangelical Secondary School in the small city of Anjar.

We have a large number of projects in South Korea – seventeen in total, all of which are homes for orphaned children. Our affiliated sites are located all over South Korea, including in the cities of Seoul, Busan, Iksan, Daegu, and Gwangju. Thanks to the help of our Korean Volunteer Coordinator, Ms. Soung Ok Cho, who oversees all of our projects in the country, we are able to work with so many homes.

“Since most of the homes are located in cities with large populations of more than 1.6 million people, and they are far away from one another, it would be truly difficult to coordinate and visit sites on a regular basis without the help of Ms. Cho,” Luis stated.

A Brief history of Lebanon

Located in Western Asia, Lebanon borders with Syria to the north and east, and with Israel to the south. Cyprus is west of it, across the Mediterranean Sea. Due to the country’s location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland, Lebanon has a rich history and cultural identity evincing the influence of such illustrious civilizations as the Greek, Roman, Arab, Ottoman Turk, and French.

However, Lebanon’s wealth of diversity has also contributed to its turbulent history. Lebanon continues to suffer the repercussions of a history riddled with wars – both civil and international. Unemployment, underemployment, and the ever-present threat of war are tragic realities there. These are, perhaps, most pronounced in Beirut. Settled over 5,000 years ago, this historic city is Lebanon’s largest and primary seaport, but it is also afflicted with dire poverty and its subsequent socioeconomic effects.

About South Korea

Comprising the lower half of a mountainous peninsula in East Asia, this populous nation, with a population density ten times higher than the global average, is today renowned for its future-oriented advancements in technology.

Although it emerged as an autonomous country in the aftermath of World War II, more than half a century after the Korean Armistice Agreement, South Korea is still haunted by the ghosts of its turbulent past. The Korean War, from 1950 to 1953, devastated South Korea, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives – both military and civilian – and leaving thousands of children orphaned. As a result, a number of orphanages were constructed – orphanages that now house Children Incorporated enrolled children, ensuring that they have the resources they need to go to school.

More stories to come

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing stories about Luis’ visits to our projects in Lebanon and South Korea. Seeing these two diverse countries through his eyes, we hope you will catch a glimpse of how – thanks to our affiliated projects, volunteer coordinators, sponsors, and donors – we are able to make a huge a difference in the lives of children in need.

“Children Incorporated support is essential in these countries for the purchase of clothing, food, and shoes, so that children living in poverty can attend school,” said Luis.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN LEBANON OR SOUTH KOREA?

You can sponsor a child in Lebanon or South Korea 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.orgor go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in Lebanon or South Korea that is available for sponsorship.

A Father Bringing Up Kids on His Own

Roy G. Eversole Elementary School is located in Eastern Kentucky in the small city of Hazard. With a population of less than 5,000, Hazard is the county seat of Perry County. This region of Kentucky is known for its lumber and coal industries, which sustained the people of this beautiful part of Appalachia for generations.

Tammy knows that he is doing his absolute best as a father; but the family still requires additional assistance from a few caring sponsors.

Originally founded as a settlement in 1790, Hazard received its name in 1854 in honor of American naval hero Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Today, despite a progressive local government that has spurred economic growth, unemployment is high and wages are low in Perry County. The coal mining industry – once a main source of income for thousands of families in the area – is rapidly waning.

In addition, a variety of social maladies such as drug abuse and alcoholism plague the families of this small community. Amidst the poverty-related stress, our affiliated project Roy G. Eversole Elementary School supports children so that they may receive an education, while our sponsorship program provides kids with basic needs, so that students and families have the opportunity to overcome some of the barriers they face in life.

Eager to find sponsors

Sponsor a child changes lives.

Shelley pictured with Tammy, our Volunteer Coordinator at Roy G. Eversole Elementary School

On a trip to visit Roy G. Eversole Elementary School, our U.S. Projects Specialist, Shelley Oxenham, met with our Volunteer Coordinator Tammy at the school’s Family Resource and Youth Services Center (FRYSC). Tammy is a former school secretary at Hazard Middle School, and she currently oversees the Children Incorporated program at both Eversole Elementary School and Hazard Middle School. In total, approximately 750 students between pre-kindergarten and the eighth grade are in attendance at the two schools. While they were meeting, Tammy explained to Shelley that she is anxious to obtain sponsors for some of the children that she has identified as very needy as soon as possible.

Tammy told Shelley about one particular family in which a single father is raising four children all on his own. He works for the Housing Alliance, and was able to acquire an apartment through his employer; but it is still difficult for him to manage day-to-day responsibilities at home while also having to work – and his job doesn’t pay enough for him to ensure that his children are receiving everything they need, like new school outfits, school supplies, and hygiene items. Tammy knows that he is doing his absolute best as a father; but the family still requires additional assistance from a few caring sponsors who she knows could really change this father’s life and his children’s lives drastically through their monthly contributions.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN KENTUCKY?

You can sponsor a child in Kentucky in one of two ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, or email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org.

Focusing on Character Education

Although our affiliated project Dorton Elementary School in Pike County, Kentucky is an older school that has been around since 1929, the staff and administrators there have implemented progressive tactics to ensure that our sponsored and unsponsored children are receiving a well-rounded education that includes learning valuable ethical lessons. On a trip to Pike County to visit with our Volunteer Coordinator Alisa, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, was told about the school’s efforts to not only teach children academics, but to also incorporate character education.

“Students spend much of their young lives in classrooms. This time in school is an opportunity to explain and reinforce the core values upon which character is formed.”

What is character education?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Character education teaches the habits of thought and deed that help people live and work together as families, friends, neighbors, communities and nations.”

“Character education is a learning process that enables students and adults in a school community to understand, care about and act on core ethical values such as respect, justice, civic virtue and citizenship, and responsibility for self and others. Upon such core values, we form the attitudes and actions that are the hallmark of safe, healthy and informed communities that serve as the foundation of our society.

“Students spend much of their young lives in classrooms. This time in school is an opportunity to explain and reinforce the core values upon which character is formed.”

Thanks to Alisa and the Family Resource Center, Dorton Elementary School has made a commitment to implement character education while students are young, and oftentimes in need of guidance as they develop. For Alisa, who receives very little help to support children living in poverty outside of our sponsorship program, character education allows her to have an impact on students that will help them grow, because they might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about these important topics.   

Beyond academics

While they were meeting together, Alisa described to Renée exactly how she conducts her character education courses. She explained that many children at the school come from very poor homes. Their parents are often uneducated or absent from their children’s lives due to the rising drug problem in the area; so they aren’t around to teach them valuable ethical lessons.

In order to address these issues, Alisa runs small groups for her elementary students to discuss good manners, kindness, and proper study habits. For the older children in the upper grades, topics such as puberty and bullying are addressed. Alisa also works on drug awareness programs throughout the school year. She hosts a luau in the gym, with a DJ, food, the game cornhole, ping-pong, and other games so that children not only learn about good habits for everyday life, but they also have the chance to put good habits into practice in a fun and safe environment.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN KENTUCKY?

You can sponsor a child in Kentucky in one of two ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, or email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org.

Stepping Back in Time

I recently had the privilege of visiting several schools in West Virginia where Children Incorporated offers our child sponsorship program. It had been several years since my last visit to these schools; while I had clear memories from my previous trips, I wasn’t sure what I would find this go-around. Reflecting on the fact that everything in our world changes rapidly, I expected to find that these West Virginia schools were different from how they were when I last visited them. What I discovered, however, is that I was wrong to anticipate significant changes, for visiting these schools was, in many ways, like stepping back in time.

Sponsoring a child changes their life.

Mr. Carter with our Volunteer Coordinator Lara at Genoa Elementary School

The first two schools I visited, Genoa Elementary School and Dunlow Elementary School, both in Wayne County, West Virginia, are very small institutions; one has a total enrollment of approximately 75 students, and the other, just around ninety. The school buildings are old and showing signs of wear after many years of use; and both sit in extremely rural areas, void of businesses and commerce.

As I drove to these schools from Huntington, West Virginia, a city of 50,000 people less than an hour away, I couldn’t help but feel a drastic shift from city to country – from have to have not. The roads began to curve; some became much narrower and less maintained. Businesses and houses became fewer and farther apart. Then, while seemingly in the middle of nowhere, I arrived at the first school I was scheduled to visit: Genoa Elementary School.

Hearing from our sponsored children

While the staff at the school was extremely welcoming to me – and they clearly take their responsibility of caring for students quite seriously – the heaviness of poverty just hung in the air. It was palpable; I could feel it. As I interacted with several students enrolled in the Children Incorporated sponsorship program, I was moved by their obvious need.

As I spoke with one little girl, she told me that her sponsor writes her letters and encourages her to study hard and always do her homework. She said that she always looks forward to the letters she receives from this woman, for they remind her that someone cares about her and wants her to succeed in life. A little boy at the same school showed me some of his artwork, and he told me that his sponsor sent money for the supplies he used to create his little masterpieces. He was very thankful for the gift.

For more than half a decade, we have been touching lives and offering hope and opportunity in areas where necessities are often in short supply. That, friends, is why our organization exists; and you, through your generous support of our work, make it all possible.

Our wonderful volunteer coordinator at the school shared that a number of children would go without shoes, warm clothing, and food if it weren’t for assistance provided by their sponsors through our organization. She voiced her appreciation, as did the school principal, for all the years that Children Incorporated has helped the poorest among their student body to fit in and experience a sense of normalcy while at school, by providing them with clothing similar to those worn by less financially-stressed youngsters. She talked of the significance of ensuring that these children, too, have pencils and paper, and adequate school supplies, as well as food on the weekends, when they do not receive the free hot meals provided on weekdays in the school cafeteria.

A sense of hope

At the second school I visited, Dunlow Elementary – even further away from a major city, and perhaps even more remote – I found a very similar situation: a small, dedicated, caring staff working very hard to ensure that the children they serve are being well-provided-for and are offered a safe place in which to learn and grow. Children who live in extreme poverty, as most of the youngsters enrolled in our programs do, look forward to attending school, because while there, they not only have access to heat, clean water, and nutritious food – things often missing in their home lives – but they also experience a sense of hope and possibility for their futures. They see beyond what is to what could be, and they dare to dream.

It saddens me that the assistance offered by Children Incorporated is still so vitally important in the lives of these youngsters; yet I am also grateful that we can be there to extend a helping hand and offer support that is truly life-changing. That is what Children Incorporated is about: improving the lives of children and their families as they face financial hardships and trials of all kinds. For more than half a decade, we have been touching lives and offering hope and opportunity in areas where necessities are often in short supply. That, friends, is why our organization exists; and you, through your generous support of our work, make it all possible.

Thank you very much!

From the heart,

Ronald H. Carter

President and Chief Executive Officer

About Wayne County, West Virginia

Wayne County is nestled amid the vast natural beauty of the Allegheny Mountains, which still conceal deposits of the coal that once made this a rich and populous area of the Mountaineer State. Automation of mines and the ecological stigmas attached to coal as a fuel source have seriously damaged Wayne County’s economy. With coal mining almost shut down, businesses that once depended upon mining and the buying power of miners have closed. Unemployment continues to rise, and industry development remains at a crawl.

Like many small towns in this rural part of West Virginia, Genoa is remote, located far from any sizeable town or city. A few strip mines still produce coal, and there are some sawmills that cut lumber. Overall, however, Genoa’s economy is struggling, with high unemployment and a lack of industry development. Many residents in this region live well below the poverty line.

For these reasons, Genoa Elementary School and Dunlow Elementary School serve as beacons of hope and safe havens, as they are among the few places where children from impoverished families can count on support, encouragement, and a warm nutritious meal each day. The caring teachers at these schools strive to improve each child’s self-esteem and well-being through a well-rounded education – the key to breaking the cycle of poverty.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN WEST VIRGINIA?

You can sponsor a child in West Virginia in one of two ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, or email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org.

Clothes for Clothes: “Fashion Focused. Cause Motivated.”

The past two fall seasons, Altar’d State’s Mission Monday program has upheld the clothier’s motto: “Fashion Focused. Cause Motivated.” – contributing more than $10,000 to our Warm Clothing Fund, and “standing out for good,” just as the company promises it does.

Every Monday, ten percent of each store’s net sales go to the nonprofit that it is promoting.

How the Mission Monday program works

Each Altar’d State location chooses a nonprofit local to it to be its beneficiary for several weeks to a couple of months, depending on the length of the brand’s current theme. Topics vary from self-esteem, to pets, to cancer awareness, to service men and women, to children, to hunger and homelessness. Every Monday, ten percent of each store’s net sales go to the nonprofit that it is promoting. Literature about the Mission Monday charity is posted at cash registers during its promotion, so Monday shoppers can learn even more about the new life their dollars will find beyond the shopping experience, as one-tenth of that money exchanging hands is going toward a philanthropic cause.

That should really make Altar’d State’s clients shine when they don their new bohemian flare!

Not only does the outfitter provide financial support to charities, but it also offers greatly-needed and too often overlooked manpower; its employees have contributed over 8,000 hours of their treasured time to carrying out community service tasks on a volunteer basis at the nonprofits they benefit.

“Giving back is more than just what we do… it’s who we are.”

And give Altar’d State does! In 2018 alone, the brand donated over $2.5 million to charitable causes through its “Give Back” brands, the sales of which have funded the construction of a number of high schools and community centers in Peru through a nonprofit organization called Coprodeli. The retailer also sponsors 200 children in high-risk areas of the country through the same charity, helping disadvantaged kids to receive nutritional, educational, and psychological support. Altar’d State employees may also choose to sponsor Coprodeli children individually, too.

While the business itself is fairly new – barely ten years old – it has done a whole lot of good in less than a decade.

Each and every day, one percent of Altar’d State’s total profits are directed toward Coprodeli causes. These contributions have also provided computers and books to students, as well as clothes, school supplies, and other necessities to sponsored kids. The “Give Back” incentive has supported relief efforts in times of disaster through the sale of globally-conscious T-shirts for causes, with proceeds being donated for the purchase of supplies in times of immediate need. In addition, members of the Altar’d State home office team have participated in a number of Habitat for Humanity construction projects.

From coffee to attire – but always giving back

While the business itself is fairly new – barely ten years old – it has done a whole lot of good in less than a decade. In November of 2009, the first Altar’d State, which was then both a retail store and coffee shop, opened in Knoxville, Tennessee. The original and lasting mission of its duo of founders, Aaron Walters and Brian Mason, is upheld to this very day: to utilize the retail industry to change the world for the better.

Little by little, the Altar’d State brand personality bloomed into the artful flower that is now poised in the garden of the fashion industry. Today, the company oversees more than 100 boutique stores in thirty U.S. states – each and every location contributing year-round to the efforts of local nonprofits.

Children Incorporated’s local store and great advocate for children is located at Short Pump Town Center in Glen Allen, Virginia. Many kids in Appalachia, our Inner City Division, our Native American Division, and in Altar’d State – Short Pump’s and our own backyard in Richmond, Virginia are staying warm and healthy this winter season because of Altar’d State’s Mission Monday program and the store’s chic, socially-conscious shoppers.

 

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HOW DO I DONATE TO THE WARM CLOTHING FUND?

You can donate to the Warm Clothing Fund 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 make a contribution to our Warm Clothing Fund.