Tag Archives: On the Road

Crucial Support for Families in the Philippines

As we have seen, the COVID-19 outbreak hit most countries in the world, and our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, has been working to offer support to families in their time of need.

We hear from Luis today about the help we are providing to our affiliated projects in the Philippines, thanks to donations from our sponsors and donors:

We hear from Luis today about the help we are providing to our affiliated projects in the Philippines, thanks to donations from our sponsors and donors.

“I was informed by one of our programs in the Philippines that the families we support are mostly day workers, so most of them have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 restrictions. In response, they are providing food bags to families in addition to items purchased with sponsorship funds,” said Luis.

“The government of the Philippines has authorized one-time cash support to certain families under certain criteria. The government will give cash assistance to low-income families, solo parents, pregnant or lactating mothers, senior citizens, and some taxi drivers.”

“Not all Filipinos will receive cash assistance. The families of the children in our sponsorship program are qualified to receive the cash assistance from the government – roughly $98,” explained Luis.

“Of course, this one-time support does not cover the cost of living expenses for a month, as you can imagine. With the funds we have provided, our coordinators purchased rice, produce, bread and canned goods, as well as other fresh food items.”

A mother of one of our sponsored children receiving food at her home. Our volunteer coordinators are making home deliveries of essential items during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The provision of the aid has been complicated for our coordinators to distribute as a result of the mandatory quarantine. Children and parents have to come to the center wearing a mask and following strict distancing rules. Other items are dropped off at the homes of our sponsored children by our coordinators.”

A message from our volunteer coordinator at Fortune’s Children at Parang

“Greetings!

The beginning of the year was a busy one for the students. For the month of January, they were able to complete four lessons, which culminated in a unit test. The lessons continued well into the month of February. The last class was held on March 10, and then class was suspended.

March was the beginning of the COVID-19 spread in our country. On the evening of March 9th, President Duterte formally declared a state of public health emergency in the Philippines. [He suspended] all classes in public and private schools, in all levels, in Metro Manila from March 10-14 as a precaution.

As the cases continued to increase, [on March 12th], the president announced a partial lockdown on Metro Manila beginning on midnight of March 15th. This meant that most of our children’s parents had to stop working. Others who are included in essential services were allowed to either [work] from their homes or go to work on a non-daily basis.

The families of Children Incorporated sponsored kids were all greatly affected by this health emergency, and Damayan at Tiyaga Foundation responded by distributing food packs to them as well as [to] our less fortunate brethren in nearby communities.

Our coordinators worked in three groups and bought the necessary items for the kids: hygiene kits, canned goods and noodles, snacks, bread, milk, oatmeal, and other food items that the kids requested.

It was a challenging task, as there were limits to how much of some particular items (like milk, noodles, canned goods) we could buy in the groceries. Only one person per household was allowed to go out for grocery runs, hence, buying all the food pack items took from two to four days at most. We were able to distribute food packs in three waves to the less fortunate, including [to] the families of our [Children Incorporated] kids. We included rice, canned goods, noodles, biscuits, coffee, sugar, bread, some vegetables, and milk in our food packs. We also received a lot of requests for milk, as there are really a lot of families with small kids in the communities where the [Children Incorporated] kids live. These food packs cost about P300 or $6 each. About 50 families in the neighboring communities were given these food packs in different batches.

During the [second] week of April, we received the sponsorship funds, and [the] last week of April [we received funds from the] Hope in Action Fund for the children. Our coordinators worked in three groups and bought the necessary items for the kids: hygiene kits, canned goods and noodles, snacks, bread, milk, oatmeal, and other food items that the kids requested. We were able to finish our distribution by May 3rd, a Sunday.

Our volunteer coordinators are working hard to get supplies to children and families during school closures.

Presently, we are still under enhanced community quarantine tentatively until May 15th. Life as we know it has changed a lot. The children are yet unsure of whether they will be allowed to physically return to school for the coming school year, but the Education Department has already announced that classes will resume in August, albeit through a modified delivery. Unless a vaccine for the virus is released, our kids are confined to their homes and not allowed to go out for any reason. This is for their own safety.

On behalf of the [Children Incorporated] kids, we are very grateful to the sponsors who have continued helping them by sending their monthly subsidies and gifts. We pray for all of you at Children Incorporated, as well as our sponsors, that you may remain in good health until this pandemic has passed.

God bless us all,

Joy”

About the Philippines

The Philippines comprise a vast island nation in Southeast Asia. This archipelago of more than 7,000 islands boasts sandy beaches, towering mountains and volcanoes, tropical rainforests, and an incredible wealth of natural resources and biodiversity. Humans have called these islands home for thousands of years, predating historical records. Today, the Philippines incorporate a staggering number of languages, ethnic groups, religions, and cultures. Despite its status as an emerging market, however, nearly half of all Filipinos still earn less than $2 a day. Adequate sanitation, access to healthcare, and access to potable water are still daily challenges in this widely underdeveloped country, which is also prone to typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic activity.

About our affiliated projects in the Philippines

Pinagpala Children’s Center
Tagaytay City, Philippines

Located in the city of Tagaytay, the Pinagpala Children’s Center was established by members of a local church in 2000 to provide educational assistance to local needy children and their families. The name Pinagpala means “blessed.”

The Pinagpala Children’s Center recognizes that providing for the educational needs of impoverished children is an essential step in giving these deserving young minds the tools necessary to break the cycle of poverty and rise above the problematic socioeconomic circumstances that they face. The center receives its funding from individual contributions and organizations like Children Incorporated. They envision many goals for future growth, including building a multipurpose community center with a media center or library. This will facilitate training programs, afterschool care, and recreational activities for children and their families, expanding their educational assistance programs to improve the children’s lives further and providing safe transportation to and from school each day.

Fortune’s Children at Parang
Parang, Marikina, Philippines

In Marikina’s Fortune neighborhood, most residents rent modest homes — typically little more than shacks constructed from scrap wood and corrugated metal sheets, with no running water, indoor plumbing, or even beds. Eight to twelve family members often share these dwellings.

Tragically, hunger, malnutrition, health issues, and lack of sufficient clothing often cause children to miss school or drop out altogether. Established by the Damayan at Tiago Foundation, the Fortune’s Children at Parang functions as both a school and daycare center, which also offers community-building programs to assist teenagers and adults facing poverty-induced issues. In this way, children and their families may rise above the difficult socio-economic circumstances from which they come.

Visayans Community Center at Bliss
Sagkahan, Tacloban City, Philippines

The  Bliss Housing Project in Sagkahan, where the Visayans Community Center at Bliss is located, is a community established by the Filipino government for Tacloban’s poor. Only fifteen percent of residents own the land on which they live. Most locals inhabit concrete dwellings, but many others live in shacks fashioned from nipa palm shingles, bamboo, and castoff boards.

Amid this devastating poverty and its socioeconomic effects, the Visayans Community Center at Bliss serves as a beacon of hope. Founded by the local group, Volunteer for the Visayans, the center is dedicated to facilitating community development, providing healthcare, and promoting education.

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How do I sponsor a child in the Philippines?

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

SPONSOR A CHILD

High Rents in Jackson City

Jackson City is located in rural and mountainous Breathitt County, Kentucky. Until the 1990s, coal was the foundation of the county’s economy, but the steady decline of the coal mining industry has begun to wreak havoc upon the local economy.

Many families, who once depended upon the mines for income, now depend upon part-time employment at minimum wages, welfare, and food stamps. Poverty and unemployment have become intrinsic parts of daily life in Jackson City — which is exacerbated by the high cost of rent.

The school on the hill

Our affiliated project, Jackson City School, is nicknamed by residents “the school on the hill.” It is indeed perched atop a very tall hill behind the county courthouse. From the school grounds, there is a view over the rooftops of the little city below, as well as the rolling hills and mountains over the horizon.

Our volunteer coordinator, Dixie, has a lot of experience working with children in need.

While visiting Jackson City School, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, met with our volunteer coordinator, Dixie.

“Dixie a is a real winner of a coordinator — the students at Jackson City School are lucky to have her. She came to Jackson City Schools after working at the former Sebastian Middle School in Breathitt County, so she arrived at the Family Resource Youth Services Center fully understanding our sponsorship program,” explained Renée.

“Dixie is energetic and warm. She has developed close relationships with her students and families.” 

Rent overburdened in America

During their meeting, Dixie told Renée that the Family Resource Center’s greatest needs are support for the Backpack Weekend Feeding Program and her Parent Program. The Parent Program offers parents help with issues like child development and abuse prevention strategies, such as working on methods to calm down, patience, and time outs.

“Dixie explained that, since Jackson is the county seat, its middle class and professional families tend to live here and to enroll their children in the city school system rather than in the county school system,” said Renée.

“We are so grateful for our sponsors, and Dixie, who fills a big gap for parents. Dixie works hard to find great discounts so she can maximize the items she can provide for children throughout the year.”

“At the same time, there are six low-income housing apartment communities in Jackson that offer a total of 134 affordable apartments. One hundred two of these do not provide direct rent assistance but remain affordable. Thirty-two are formal, income-based apartments. The need outpaces the demand. If a family moves to another county, then that apartment is quickly rented to a new family.”

In the United States, households who pay more than thirty percent of their gross income are considered to be “rent overburdened.” In Jackson, a household making less than $1,357 a month would be regarded as overburdened when renting an apartment at or above the median rent. Nearly thirty-seven percent of households who rent are overburdened in Jackson.

Dixie and our sponsors to the rescue

“For families of children in our sponsorship program, this means a disproportionate amount of their low income is required to pay for rent, leaving only a small percentage available for utilities, food, gas, auto maintenance, and repairs — as well as their growing children’s needs for new shoes, school supplies, and other needs,” said Renée.

“We are so grateful for our sponsors, and Dixie, who fills a big gap for parents. Dixie works hard to find great discounts so she can maximize the items she can provide for children throughout the year.”

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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.

Fighting Against Hunger During COVID-19

 Amidst school closures across the U.S. this past spring, our concern turned to how to best help children who are already living in vulnerable situations. 

Our volunteer coordinators are making sure children continue to receive food during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Many children in our program rely on school lunches and on our Backpack Feeding Program to ensure they are receiving adequate meals throughout the day and on the weekends. Without the support they receive at school, they risk facing hunger at home. Thankfully, because of our donors and sponsors, just like you, and the hard work of our volunteer coordinators in the U.S., students continued to receive food even though school was out. Thank you for all that you do to help children in need! 

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What is our COVID-19 Response Fund?

Since many children  — both in the United States and abroad — rely upon free or reduced-price school meals during the week, one of the greatest challenges they face during these school closures is access to adequate food.

Also, many of the children in our program live in group homes and have nowhere to go during this time of crisis. In these cases, in addition to food, cleaning supplies and other hygiene-related items are in demand to help keep children healthy and safe.

Donations to our COVID-19 Response Fund will be used to provide food and emergency supplies to the children in our program who are in immediate need.

READ MORE ABOUT OUR RESPONSE to COVID-19

Responding to COVID-19 in the United States

Our International Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

Emerging on the Other Side

 

Emerging on the Other Side

We recently heard from our affiliated project, the Parikrma Home, in India, wanting to let us know how grateful they are for the support from our sponsors and donors. Recently sent funds to the project are being used to purchase food for children and families in need who otherwise would go hungry during this challenging time. The Parikrma Home is also providing school assignments for children to do at home so they can keep up with their studies during school closures.

Today we hear from Anuradha Roy Chowdhury, Head of Operations of the Parikrma Home, about their work in India during the COVID-19 crisis.

Hope for the future in India

Today we hear from Anuradha Roy Chowdhury, Head of Operations of the Parikrma Home, about their work in India during the COVID-19 crisis:

“In the middle of this bizarre COVID pandemic, I have found much to be thankful for. Over the last three weeks, our donors have overwhelmed us – not just with the generosity of their contributions, but also with the faith that they have reposed in us. It is this faith and trust that keeps us going in our objective of ensuring that our badly hit communities are somehow able to survive this time and emerge on the other side, to take up their lives as best as possible. Beyond the financial support, many of our donors have even reached out to us with their time – offering to help us with the actual distribution of the dry rations in the schools, despite knowing the real possibility of being infected. We are very grateful.

Our alumni have been a revelation in the enthusiasm of their response to our call for help. They have reached out to us, some through financial donations and some through their unstinting work in the schools during the weekly distribution of the rations. Our alumni validate all our efforts over the years and make it all worthwhile.

Bags of food that have been packed for distribution.

As of April 20, 2020, we have distributed food rations and basic sanitation to over 1,802 children from 1,050 families and will be reaching out to our families residing in over 70 slums in Bengaluru. We have now started giving out lesson plans, worksheets, and storybooks to our children every time we do distribution of rations to the families. Our teachers have gone virtual too – working out strategies and means to reach out to our children in the slums.

Our donors and our alumni are our proverbial silver lining. The biggest THANK YOU is insufficient, but we would like to say it anyway.”

A note from the Founder

Shukla Bose, Founder of the Parikrma Home, shares her observations during this crisis.

“In spite of all our personal introspection, mindfulness, and self-awareness practices, it’s during moments of deep crisis that self-realization takes on a different dimension.”

READ THE FULL NEWSLETTER

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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.

The Heart of Small Community

Located in rural and mountainous eastern Kentucky, Letcher County is best known for its natural beauty, as evidenced by small but growing efforts to promote the county as a tourist destination in recent years. One especially breathtaking site is the Bad Branch Falls State Nature Preserve in the town of Eolia. The park comprises over 2,600 acres of trails, waterfalls, and mountain vistas, boasting one of the highest concentrations of rare or endangered species in Kentucky.

“The school’s caring and dedicated staff are thrilled to partner with Children Incorporated sponsors to better equip students with the basic essentials and well-rounded education they need and deserve,” explained our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube.

The breathtaking beauty of this land, however, belies the hardships that its residents face each day.  As with many towns in the area, the community of Eolia traces its roots back to the coalmining industry, which sustained this once-thriving region for generations. With the decline of the mining industry, however, employment opportunities here have plummeted, and poverty rates have soared.

Many families have moved away in search of job opportunities, but a resilient few have stayed, working hard to revitalize their community despite hardship. Daily survival here is a struggle, and children feel it perhaps most keenly. In fact, the childhood poverty rate here currently hovers at a staggering 32%.

For these reasons, our affiliated project, Arlie Boggs Elementary/Middle School, not only offers hope and a sense of security to children and families in need, but in so many ways is the heart of this small, close-knit community.

Meeting Sandy

The Family Resource Center is able to offer so much support for families in need in Letcher County. 

“The school’s caring and dedicated staff are thrilled to partner with Children Incorporated sponsors to better equip students with the basic essentials and well-rounded education they need and deserve,” explained our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube.

“The coordinator, Sandy, is a dynamo of energy and enthusiasm. She is so proud of the kids. Sandy shared her two favorite school academic initiatives are essentially band and business. All students are required to learn a musical instrument starting in fifth grade. From sixth through eighth grade, the students may participate in band.”

Learning about Small Business

Another initiative that the school has implemented is the EntreEd Program. According to their website, “[a]s the future of work continues to evolve, EntreEd instills entrepreneurial mindsets in every student, every year to forge a more entrepreneurial America.”

Arlie Boggs has partnered with EntreEd thanks to an entrepreneurship grant. Business concepts are taught to children at every grade level in the school. The older students learn to develop business plans and launch their small businesses — and keep their profits. The program runs from August through October, culminating in a school fair to which their families are invited. Sandy says that examples of small businesses that students have launched included creating temporary tattoos, making cotton candy, designing custom tee shirts,  making wreaths and jewelry, and dress design.

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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.

The Great Risk to the Navajo Nation

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham raised concerns in the past weeks about the “incredible spikes” in coronavirus cases in the Navajo Nation, which she feels could be detrimental to some tribal nations that are already living in vulnerable situations. According to NPR, after New York and New Jersey, the Navajo Nation has the highest coronavirus infection rate in the U.S. 

Today, we want to shed some light on the harsh realities that families living in the Navajo Nation experience — and how our sponsorship program, volunteer coordinators, and special COVID-19 Fund are helping children and families in need in these unprecedented times.

Today, we want to shed some light on the harsh realities that families living in the Navajo Nation experience.

Understanding the Navajo Nation

The Navajo Nation is an American Indian territory that covers a large amount of land — over 17 million acres — and encompasses portions of northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southeastern Utah.

It also holds the famous Four Corners Monument, where one can stand on a quadripoint and be in four U.S. states — Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado — at the same time. The adjacent Utah land is part of the Ute Mountain and Southern Ute Reservations.

The largest portion of the Navajo Nation lies within Arizona, where the Hopi Reservation is located and surrounded on all sides by the Navajo Reservation.

The Navajo Nation land in New Mexico is nicknamed the “Checkerboard” area because the federal government attempted to diversify Navajo lands with non-native lands. Thus, the Navajo lands in New Mexico are intermingled with fee lands, owned by both Navajo and non-Navajo, and federal and state areas under various jurisdictions. Additionally, there are three recognized groups of Navajos living in New Mexico outside of the regular reservation boundaries: the Ramah Navajo, the Alamo Navajo, and the Tohajiilee Navajo Reservations.

Abhorrent Poverty in the U.S.

The Navajo Nation is the largest American Indian tribe in the United States. While it makes up just 1.7% of the total U.S. population, it makes up 10.6% of the New Mexico population.

In New Mexico, 27% of Navajo households are headed by single mothers, and  8.4% of Navajo children are being raised by a grandparent. About 16% live in multi-generational households.

In January 2018, a reporter for the Navajo Times researched the well-being of women and children on the Navajo Nation and found that New Mexico children were at the top of the national list for poverty and food insecurity, and at the bottom for education and overall well-being. Per the report: “This financial insecurity within families leads to fewer opportunities for young people as well as a variety of health, cognitive, and emotional risk factors for children.”

We are grateful to be able to support children and their families during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The report also mentioned that “[c]hildren who grow up in poverty are also more likely to be food insecure, to suffer from adverse childhood experiences, like abuse and homelessness, and to live in poverty as adults.” It cited a National Institute of Justice study that found nearly half of Native American women reported domestic violence in the home. The research confirmed what many social scientists already knew — poverty, abuse, and insecurity drastically affect the well-being of children.

While infrastructure and utility services are improving slowly in the Navajo Nation, there is still a long way to go. Many roads are unpaved and are instead small dirt paths that contribute to isolation and lack of access to services. Access to the power grid is almost essential, yet there are still many families without it.

A May 2019 investigative report by NPR stated about 10% of Navajos on the reservation live without electricity, and almost 40% have to haul their water and use outhouses. More than a quarter of Navajos have experienced problems with electricity, the Internet, and the safety of their drinking water.

For many, finally getting access to the power grid can be life-changing. In the NPR report, families shared their gratefulness for being able to use nebulizers, and for their children having bright, clear lighting to study at night — as well as having the Internet. Families were also able to charge their phones and store food safely through refrigeration. One reporter shared seeing a group of teenagers in battered old cars in a hotel parking lot. They were clustered as close to the hotel as they could get so they could use the hotel’s Internet to complete some of their homework assignments.

While it is impossible to talk about the Navajo Nation without addressing poverty, it is important to stress there are many strengths of the native culture.

The strengths of children and their families

While it is impossible to talk about the Navajo Nation without addressing poverty, it is important to stress there are many strengths of the native culture. For example, many Navajo children can speak both their native language as well as English, and research shows that bi-lingual children can have better problem-solving skills than children who can speak just one language.

Another strength is their tie to their lands. While many other native peoples were moved from their ancestral lands, most of the Navajo people were able to maintain this vital connection.

Our Work to Help

We work with twelve affiliated projects in Arizona and nine in New Mexico to support children and their families in need. During the COVID-19 outbreak, we are providing support to our volunteer coordinators — thanks to donations from our sponsors and donors — who are providing meals to children who are out of school. Many of our coordinators are personally dropping off bags of food that include fruit, juice, sandwiches and other simple items that children eat for lunch and dinner.

We are incredibly grateful for these partnerships, and to our sponsors and donors who are providing crucial support at this time — and all year long.

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How can I donate to the COVID-19 Response Fund?

We have created a COVID-19 Response Fund so that we can support children in crisis in the upcoming months. Donations will be used to provide food and emergency supplies to the children in our program who are in immediate need.

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