Tag Archives: hope

Combating Feelings of Desperation

Menifee County High School is located in rural Menifee County, in the Eastern Kentucky Coalfield. With the continuing decline of the coal mining industry in recent years, and due to a lack of other industries in the area, Menifee County residents struggle in the wake of diminishing job opportunities. The problems that affect many areas of the Appalachian region of the United States, including unemployment, poverty, alcoholism, and drug abuse, have begun to take their toll on Menifee County as well. As a result, not only do parents living in poverty feel depressed and hopeless, but sometimes their children do, too.

Homework plays a key role in education

Our Volunteer Coordinator, Melanie, with a few students who are wearing their school color proudly

Many Menifee County High School parents didn’t finish high school themselves, and their lack of education keeps them from obtaining any of the few well-paying jobs that do exist in the area – which causes them to feel more desperate. Oftentimes, they can’t even begin to imagine a way out of their situation. It’s not surprising, because many of them are uneducated, undereducated, or are battling depression or substance abuse; in these instances, they are usually either absent from their children’s lives, or they’re unable to help them with their homework.

Thankfully, however, Menifee County High School provides a well-rounded education for students, including those who come from impoverished families in which education and literacy are not always top priorities.

Menifee Matters

Menifee County High School serves grades nine through twelve. The high school has an old section that is slightly run-down, but it is attached to a large, new, modern addition. Our volunteer coordinator at the school is Melanie, and she is very attuned to both our sponsored and unsponsored kids’ personal issues. She knows the students well, and is familiar with their home lives, as she makes frequent home visits to check on families that she feels might need additional emotional or psychological support.

This may not seem like much, but just as our sponsorship program does, showing kids that they matter enriches their lives profoundly.

Melanie is aware that, because of difficult home lives in which kids are forced to deal with drug- or alcohol-addicted parents, many of the children in her care feel isolated and hopeless as they struggle with traumatic circumstances daily. To combat feelings of desperation, Melanie, along with other school administrators, started an initiative called Menifee Matters, so that students feel seen, noticed, and cared for. It started simply by providing students with magnetized name labels with which they could decorate their lockers. Then, each student received a Menifee Matters T-shirt. At the beginning of the school year, teachers wrote notes to their students to welcome each one back to school personally. They are small gestures, but Melanie says they make a difference for the kids.

This may not seem like much, but just as our sponsorship program does, showing kids that they matter enriches their lives profoundly. When a child knows that someone cares about them – when they might not always think that about people at home – they may be less likely to feel so alone or desperate. Encouraging children to feel good about themselves goes a very long way in helping them with their self-esteem, and it makes them feel like they are important, which can give them the confidence they need to succeed in school.

***

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.

A Big School Making a Big Impact

Located in the town of Owingsville in Kentucky’s Bath County, Crossroads Elementary School is a consolidation of two of Children Incorporated’s former affiliated schools – Bethel and Salt Lick Elementary Schools. When the two older schools were shut down, one new school was built to replace them; and according to our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, who recently visited Bath County, the school is huge.

Serving 496 children in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, a large percentage of students there is living in poverty. 75 percent of the kids qualify for free meals. Many parents and guardians are small farmers, laborers, and service workers – they hold low-income jobs with little security. Many children are being raised by their grandparents, which is hard on their caretakers, especially the ones who have lived in poverty their whole lives.

Renée, Gloria, and a few of our sponsored kids at Crossroads Elementary School pose for a photo.

 

Upon arriving at Crossroads Elementary School, Renée was greeted by our Volunteer Coordinator, Gloria, whose plan was to have Renée visit the Resource Center, and then meet some of our sponsored kids before taking a tour of the school. Built just eight years ago, the school has a modern feel that was apparent from the second Renée stepped through its front doors.

Renée could see large classrooms on either side of the hallways as she and Gloria made their way to the Resource Center, the corridors bright and sparkling, as though they had just been cleaned. Even before seeing it in its entirety, Renée thought it was a beautiful school, and it made her happy to imagine how hundreds of children in attendance had a large, safe, clean environment in which to learn and grow. Over the years, Renée has visited many of our sponsored children’s homes, which are typically old, small, rundown, and unkempt – a reflection of the extreme poverty in which these families live.

Resources for everyone

When they arrived at the Resource Center, Gloria showed Renée some cabinets and plastic storage bins that were stuffed with food and gently-used clothes. She explained that any child or family can come chose what they need; and for some children, she sends food home with them on the weekends if she’s worried they won’t have anything to eat otherwise.

Shortly after Gloria finished showing Renée her supplies, Natalie*, one of our sponsored children, arrived at the Resource Center. Natalie is a sweet and shy second-grader who loves to read. She and her brother are being raised by their disabled grandparents in a small, old mobile home. Natalie benefits greatly from the support of her sponsor, who ensures through her contributions that she gets appropriately-sized clothes and shoes, and school supplies and hygiene items all year long, as she needs them.

Next, Renée met Kevin*, another sponsored child who Gloria knew really needed the additional help that sponsorship provides. Gloria enrolled Kevin in our sponsorship program last December, but sometimes it takes a while to find sponsors for kids; by spring of the following year, Kevin was still waiting to be sponsored. During that time, he went to school in shoes that were completely split open and covered in duct tape. When Gloria brought him to the Resource Center to ask him about the shoes, Kevin said, “My shoes broke and Mama fixed them because I can’t have new ones.”

Many children are being raised by their grandparents, which is hard on their caretakers, especially the ones who have lived in poverty their whole lives.

Gloria knows Kevin’s mother struggles intensely – she is raising three kids in a small mobile home, and her sole income comes from work at a fast food restaurant where she makes minimum wage. Gloria was able to go to her cabinet and find Kevin a pair of gently-used shoes that, although not brand new, were at least not held together with tape. Thankfully, Kevin got a sponsor shortly after the incident, and now he receives new shoes and clothes that fit him perfectly.

A beautiful school

After visiting with Natalie and Kevin, Gloria took Renée on a tour of the school, which is colorful and full of natural light all throughout it. The computer lab has the latest technology, and the library is full of thousands of books, with brightly painted murals on the walls, and fun carpets laid across the floors. Renée loved seeing all the different rooms in the school – she felt as though it offers a wonderfully warm atmosphere for learning, and that it really does serve as an oasis for our sponsored kids, who come from broken homes and instability.

Once they arrived at the gymnasium, Renée found a big group of kids watching performers do exercise routines for the children to learn and then copy. Something special set up by the principal to reward the students for good attendance, they snapped, stomped, shook, and jumped in place on the floor of the big gym, with its shiny floors and new mats and bleachers. Renée could tell the children were having a fabulous time, and she once again found herself feeling thankful that these children, who had enough to worry about at home, living in poverty, have a lovely school to enjoy.

*Names changed for children’s protection.

***

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.

Leaving India and Sri Lanka

After spending two weeks visiting eleven of our affiliated projects in India and Sri Lanka, knowing that the St. Mary’s Girls’ Hostel in Khammam was the last home I would be seeing on my trip left me with a bittersweet feeling. India and Sri Lanka are both full of beauty, diverse cultures, and wonderful people who face extreme hardship every day. Sri Lanka has suffered greatly from natural disasters and decades of civil war; India suffers from overpopulation and dire poverty caused by gender inequality and disparities in income.

Despite how difficult it was to see so many people living in desperate conditions there, I had grown fond of both countries. I learned so much about what our amazing volunteer coordinators are doing to educate our sponsored children, and to give them a better chance at living successful lives.

A home for the disabled

The St. Mary’s Girls’ Hostel is located in South India in the rice-producing state of Telangana. The Church of South India opened the hostel in the small city of Khammam in 1980 to address the poverty that working-class families in the community faced. The thousands of field workers who plant and harvest rice are paid so little that they live in a state of continuous economic struggle. When the rice crops fail, as they often do during and after periods of drought or flooding, the situation for workers and their families becomes even more desperate. Even in the best of times, the rice workers are often unable to afford to send their children to school.

It was great to see Mr. Rao take so much initiative to provide skill training for the girls so that they will have better employment opportunities later in life.

When we arrived at the home, we were greeted by our Volunteer Coordinator, Mr. Rao, who explained to us that St. Mary’s was once a home for the physically disabled, including blind and deaf students. Unlike so much of India and the developing world, the home was built to accommodate people in wheelchairs. The matron of St. Mary’s, who is wheelchair-bound herself, has no difficulty navigating the walkways between the girls’ dorms, the kitchen, and the recreation rooms, thanks to the original design of the home.

As he showed us around the buildings, Mr. Rao told us that not only do the girls go to school every day, but they also are learning to make bracelets, books, and brooms – all of which are sold to the community to generate additional income to support the home and the girls. Additionally, the home offers computer and clothes-making classes and training for older girls and women who do not live there. In total, there are 27 staff members who teach all of the courses offered, which I thought was quite impressive. It was great to see Mr. Rao take so much initiative to provide skill training for the girls so that they will have better employment opportunities later in life.

Always in need of more funds

The home itself is a lovely facility – the grounds are full of lush, green tropical plants, and there is plenty of room for the girls to play. The hallways are covered with large, colorful pictures and posters of the special people, both Indians and foreigners alike, who have helped fund the work of the St. Mary’s Girls’ Hostel over the years – all of which contributed to the bright and festive atmosphere at the home.

Of the 47 girls between the ages of six and nineteen who are living in the home, forty of them are currently sponsored. Mr. Rao said that there is room for additional children, but they don’t currently have funding to enroll more young women. I realized then, one day before I was to return home, that I had heard this from each of our projects in Sri Lanka and India over the past couple of weeks – I was told by each and every one of them that they could reach even more kids with additional funding.

It was hard to hear that there are children missing out on going to school because of money – something we don’t worry about as much in the United States; but instead of focusing on the negative in my last few hours in this unique part of the world, I thought about how grateful I am for our sponsors, who send thousands of children around the globe to school every year, because they believe as much as we at Children Incorporated do that every child deserves an education.

***

HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN INDIA or SRI LANKA?

You can sponsor a child in India or Sri Lanka 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 India or Sri Lanka that is available for sponsorship.

A Promise for the New Year

I’ve never believed in New Year’s resolutions; far too often, those things that we set out to do at the start of January fade and vanish within a couple of weeks, if they even last that long. Instead of making unrealistic and often unsustainable goals for myself, I prefer to look at the facts: what I accomplished in the past year, what I may have missed along the way, and how I might do better in the days ahead.

The same is definitely true in regard to Children Incorporated. While I always dream big when it comes to our organization, I am also a realist. I know the solid and life-changing work that we have done, not just over the last year, but, in fact, over the last 53 years! I have seen first-hand the effects of our outreach to children and families all around the world. I absolutely believe in the value of our child sponsorship program, for I have talked to the children, heard them tell tales of how a kind and caring individual – a sponsor – has changed their lives. I have shared meals and dialogues with our wonderful volunteer coordinators – the incredible folks who are there in the field, doing the work, touching and enriching lives through their kindness and caring. I know that Children Incorporated is making a difference, and I celebrate that fact.

We can always do more

I have talked to the children, heard them tell tales of how a kind and caring individual – a sponsor – has changed their lives.

I am also aware that we can always do more, and we can always strive to be better. Our organization can never stop growing and changing, or finding new ways to meet the needs of children and families; and my vow to each of you, as this new year begins, is that we will do just that. We will continue to evaluate the success of our project sites; and just as we have done for all these years, we will work diligently to be good stewards of the funds entrusted to us. We value our reputation and the solid ratings we have received from Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, GuideStar, and The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance – and we will maintain the same high standards that have won us their praise.

Looking forward to the new year

Children Incorporated may be fairly small in comparison to some other child sponsorship and assistance organizations, but what we do is significant. Children Incorporated matters, because with the generous support of our loyal donors, we are changing the lives of young people and their families all around the world each and every day. Our resolve is to continue to do so, and to grow and learn, and adapt as new and diverse needs arise.

As we move into 2018, and as always, we appreciate your trust in us, for you truly make our work possible.

From the heart,

Ronald H. Carter

President and Chief Executive Officer

***

How do I sponsor a child with children incorporated?

You can sponsor a child 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 visit our website at www.childrenincorporated.org and browse our sponsor portal.

Perspective

Read More
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

written by Ron Carter

Ron Carter is President and CEO of Children Incorporated. Ron is responsible for overseeing all operations of Children Incorporated, with a specific goal of honoring the original vision and mission of the organization as created by Jeanne Clarke Wood in 1964.

» more of Ron's stories

Educating a Nation

It is an unfortunate reality that even in modern times, girls have fewer opportunities than boys when it comes to receiving an education. Girls all over the world face discrimination within their cultures. They are typically seen as unequal to boys, and there is therefore an absence of emphasis on educating them. Barriers such as early marriage, low social status, chores and responsibilities, unsafe schools, and a lack of sanitation prevent young girls from learning, and from getting jobs that generate a steady income. Women without an education can’t educate their own children or other family members, either, which keeps entire families and countries living in a cycle of poverty.

“If we educate a boy, we educate one person. If we educate a girl, we educate a family – and a whole nation.”

– African proverb

Girls are the priority

 This is particularly true in India, where girls’ education isn’t seen as valuable in comparison to boys’, especially as young women age. Many girls start out attending primary school along with boys their ages, but they are expected to drop out to help their mothers care for younger siblings, or to get married and take care of their own families. This is not the case, however, at the St. Paul’s Home for Girls in Paloncha, India, where girls’ education is the priority.

The St. Paul’s Home for Girls is located in a small industrial town in the south Indian state of Telangana. Since the 1970s, Paloncha has seen a population explosion due to a rise in industry there, which includes the construction of a thermal power station. The town saw its population jump to over 200,000 people; and because of this rapid growth, many people from surrounding rural communities rushed into Paloncha in search of jobs that were never found. The result has been extreme overpopulation, and a serious lack of housing, sanitation, medical care, and schools.

Illnesses and poverty have caused many children to become malnourished and neglected. Knowing that girls tend to fare less well than boys when it comes to getting an education in India, the Church of South India established the St. Paul’s Home for Girls. Thanks to our contributors, 62 girls are currently enrolled in our program, and are receiving an education.

A happy home

Luis Bourdet, our Director of International Programs, and I arrived at the home to visit with the children in our program, as well as with our Volunteer Coordinator, Mrs. Samson, who greeted us warmly, along with her husband. Mrs. Samson is not only in charge of the Children Incorporated sponsorship program there, but she is also the matron of the home. She and her husband live in a small house on the property with their two children, and she explained to us that she loves spending a lot of time with girls after school and on the weekends to ensure they feel supported and cared for while living at the home.

As a result of her dedication to the girls, she feels that the girls are very happy in the home – and based on what I saw there, I agree. As we spoke, it was a lively scene behind us as the girls ran around the courtyard, laughing and playing; and it was apparent they were having a great time together.

As we toured the facility, I couldn’t help but notice that this was one of the nicest projects Luis and I had visited on this trip to India. The buildings are well-maintained and freshly painted. The bathrooms are brand new, with tile floors and wide sinks. The girls’ dorm, which was built with funds from Children Incorporated more than ten years ago, remains in great shape, without cracks in the walls or leaks in the roof.

Without support from their sponsors, many of the girls would never get an education in life.

Mrs. Samson tells us that the girls come from local families that are too poor to feed their children, or to send them to school. She continued, saying that at the home, the girls are provided with more than just food, shelter, and an education; they also receive guidance and care. Without support from their sponsors, many of the girls would never get an education in life.

A symbol of progress

After our tour, I spoke with the girls in the courtyard while Mrs. Samson helped Luis plant a symbolic fruit tree at the center of the grounds of the home, among other small plants and flowers, in remembrance of our visit, and as a way to say thanks for all that Children Incorporated does to help these girls get educated. It was a sweet gesture, and an appropriate one as well; just as the fruit tree will grow bigger and stronger over the years, these young women’s knowledge will flourish in the safety and security of the St. Paul’s Home for Girls. Thankfully, they have been given the important opportunity they deserve to be educated, which shows progress in closing the achievement gap between boys and girls in India.

***

HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN INDIA?

You can sponsor a child in India 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 India that is available for sponsorship.

When the Small Things in Life Really Matter

Bath County Middle School is located at the end of Main Street in Owingsville, Kentucky, where residents have experienced economic decline, unemployment, and poverty in an otherwise picturesque region of the United States. On a recent trip to Owingsville, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, visited with our Volunteer Coordinator at the school, Kaye, to find out more about how Children Incorporated is helping kids enrolled in our program get what they need so that they don’t fall into a pattern that is all too common for students living in poverty:

“Our biggest problem is the students who drop out of school before graduation,” says Kaye. “Our goal at Bath County Middle School is to encourage students to graduate from high school and go on to some useful post-graduation training or higher education.”

Meet the Andrews

Bath County Middle School serves 471 children in grades six through eight. The Family Resource and Youth Services Center at the school provides the primary support for kids in need. While talking with Renée, Kaye said that she works hard to provide simple things to the children – usually items that we don’t think about going without, like toiletries, clothes, and shoes.

“Our goal at Bath County Middle School is to encourage students to graduate from high school and go on to some useful post-graduation training or higher education.”

Kaye mentioned the Andrew* family, who Renée had met the day before while visiting with our volunteer coordinator at Bath County High School. Kaye described the Andrews, a family of six with two children living at home, as one of the neediest families that she works with. Although the parents are incredibly loving, they have a hard time finding steady employment due to their lack of education and skills. The father picks up odd jobs, but is unemployed more often than not. The mother is disabled; she has some health conditions that affect her greatly, and she is plagued by cataracts and extremely poor vision.

Recently, when their landlord sold the small house they were renting, the Andrews became homeless. Thankfully, they were able to stay with another family temporarily; but the transition only caused this already impoverished family to struggle more than ever. Kaye was able to help them by providing them with soap and shampoo – things that the Andrews couldn’t afford – thanks, especially, to the Children Incorporated program. With two sponsored children enrolled in the program – a son at the high school and a daughter at the middle school – Kaye says it has been a blessing for the Andrews’ children to have sponsors to help them while their family tries hard to get back on their feet.

Kaye continued to praise our sponsors and what they do for the children at her school. She said it is an incredible feeling, at times when she is trying to figure out what to do to help a child who is really struggling, to receive an additional monetary gift for that child from a sponsor, or a package or caring letter or card from the sponsor. Kaye said that the sponsors’ interest in and devotion to these kids are transformational for them.

Overwhelmed by the need

When Kaye first started working at the resource center, then became our volunteer coordinator, she felt overwhelmed by how in need the students at Bath County Middle School are. Over time, she has established many methods and systems through which to care for them, one of which is stocking her supply closet full of the important small items that help kids out a lot. Donations of school supplies and food come from local churches and school staff members here and there, but Kaye relies mostly on the support of sponsors for purchasing clothes and shoes for kids.

Despite receiving help for the more than forty kids she now has enrolled in our program, Kaye says that her greatest need is more funding still for the purchase of hygiene items like sanitary napkins, deodorant, and laundry detergent. Kaye washes a lot of clothes for students in a washer at the resource center that was purchased years ago with Children Incorporated funds. The children bring their dirty clothes to her in the mornings, and she cleans them and returns them to their book bags before the school days are done, ensuring it is done discretely so as to not embarrass the kids she serves. The students also need more food to take home on the weekends, because oftentimes they don’t receive food outside of the free meals they receive at school.

It all adds up; these small things that don’t cost a lot really add up and become expensive when the need is so great. Renée told Kaye that she was impressed that she is able to accomplish so much for the children on the small budget she receives for the resource center. Kaye returned the compliment to Renée, telling her that without a doubt, Children Incorporated is her favorite program and her best resource to help kids get the little things they so desperately need.

*Name changed to protect the family.

***

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.