Tag Archives: opportunity

Returning to Guatemala

Guatemala is a country that is known for its beautiful lakes, volcanoes, Mayan ruins, and brightly-painted buses; unfortunately, however, its residents struggle with widespread poverty, illiteracy, crime, and high rates of unemployment and underemployment. Even though the country boasts the largest economy in Central America, Guatemala faces many social problems, and it is one of the poorest countries in Latin America.

The income distribution is highly unequal, with more than half of its population living below the national poverty line. Guatemala City, the nation’s capital and home of our affiliated project the Juan Apostol School, is no exception to these conditions.

An incredibly proud moment

When our President and Chief Executive Officer, Ron Carter, first visited the Juan Apostol School in 2014, he didn’t know what to expect; he knew little more than what he had been told about the project from our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet. Founded in 1964, the Juan Apostol School serves children living in the surrounding impoverished area, ensuring that they receive a well-rounded education. The school also offers skills training courses so that students may have increased employment opportunities after graduation.

Mr. Carter and Tita with students at the Juan Apostol School in 2014

Luis had explained to Mr. Carter that the school serves elementary to high school-aged children in two different buildings. There, they receive instruction in core academic subjects, including English. Additional courses in drama, arts, and music are offered, too. Luis also explained to Mr. Carter that many of the children in our program there come from single-parent homes, and that many suffer from neglect and malnutrition – and some, even abuse.

When Mr. Carter arrived at the project, he was greeted by our Volunteer Coordinator Tita, who gave him a tour of the school. She further explained that the Juan Apostol School and the Children Incorporated program are enriching the lives of more than 500 children. Mr. Carter wrote this about his first visit:

“I had an absolutely wonderful visit to the Juan Apostol School; I honestly cannot say enough about Tita and the incredible warmth and hospitality I was offered. It was much more than I had expected. When I arrived at the school, a group of the kids had cooked for me, and they were so proud to show off their cooking skills. It was a real spread, too – salad, spiced shrimp, steak with a spicy chili pepper sauce, and cheesecake. I tried all of the food, then took a nice tour of the school – only to be told that another group of students had prepared more food! This time it was a chicken dish in delicious mole sauce, traditional rice, and tamales!

“I also had the opportunity to meet some of the young people in our program. One young man, Hugo*, is a senior this year. He has been in the Children Incorporated program since he was very young, and he has really excelled academically. He is the band director for the school, and they have won many trophies as a result of his skills. Furthermore, this same young man had a serious dental problem a while back; his front teeth had been badly damaged, and he was ashamed to look at people face-to-face and to smile. Children Incorporated paid to have his teeth fixed, and now he has a wonderful smile. Seeing this made me so incredibly proud of the work we do!”

We have also provided funding for all of the school’s skills training programs, including computer repair and graphic design courses. Additionally, we were able to fund the construction of new classrooms at the Juan Apostol School, in order to house an increased number of students.

More impressed than ever

Upon Mr. Carter’s return to Guatemala with me and Luis this past June, Tita and the school director, Mr. Morales, greeted us warmly at the school entrance. As we toured the school, Tita explained that in the last four years, the school has grown exponentially. Now, more than 1,300 children are in attendance between the two campuses, and the Juan Apostol School ranks top in the area.

Tita and Mr. Morales feel that the school is successful as a result of high parent – as well as student – participation. Not only do parents attend regular meetings at the school, but they also help with fundraising; and some even take skills training courses like cooking, sewing, and cosmetology alongside students, so that they may have an upper hand in the job market, and thereby better support their families.

As we visited with Children Incorporated kids in their classrooms, Tita expressed to Mr. Carter her gratitude not only for our sponsorship program, but also for the additional support that we provide to all the students. Thanks to our Hope In Action Fund, Children Incorporated has been able to purchase instruments for the school’s award-winning band, so that students who otherwise couldn’t afford to do so could participate.

We have also provided funding for all of the school’s skills training programs, including computer repair and graphic design courses. Additionally, we were able to fund the construction of new classrooms at the Juan Apostol School, in order to house an increased number of students.

As we continued our walk between beautiful open-air school buildings and playgrounds, I could tell that Mr. Carter was more impressed than ever with the Juan Apostol School and everything it is doing to help children in need. While discussing with Tita how happy he was to see the school expanding their programs each year, Mr. Carter also spoke of his desire to find more sponsors for the unsponsored children on our waiting list, so that even more kids could benefit from the amazing efforts of this impressive school that continues to have a huge impact on the community year after year.

*Name changed for child’s protection.

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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 sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Guatemala that is available for sponsorship.

Staying Safe on the Field

Many poor families living in the city of Lages in south Brazil have migrated there from the countryside in search of employment to better their lives. Due to limited job opportunities among the ever-growing population there, however, families instead find themselves continuing to live in poverty, and having to move into impoverished urban developments such as Novo Milênio, which lacks electricity, drinking water, and even sewage service. Within this slum community, public schools are ill-equipped to provide a quality education to an increasing number of students.

Along with the soccer program, a volunteer psychologist at the center has been helping the community for several years now. He provides individual and group therapy, which are essential to recovery for children and families after experiencing violence and abuse.

Children roam the streets – sad, neglected, and vulnerable to the threats of crime. Thankfully, the CARITAS-Novo Milênio Center, a nonprofit organization run by the Catholic Church of Brazil, was established to help support these children and their families so that they may break the cycle of poverty in which they live. Formed in Germany in 1897, CARITAS works around the world to help alleviate the suffering of the poor, while also giving them the tools they need to transform their own lives.

Sports helping kids

While visiting our affiliated projects in Brazil, our International Projects Specialist, Andreia Beraldo, arrived at CARITAS-Novo Milênio during their annual Pinhao Festival, which is a national celebration. During these festivities, the center sells wines and foods made of pinhao, a pine nut harvested in the southern region of the country. The center holds the largest festival of this type in the country, and has gained national attention as a result, bringing in famous artists and visitors from all over the country every year. The administrators there prepare for the festival all year long. It lasts ten days total, is the main source of funding for the center, and it provides salaries for the staff.

After attending the festival, Andreia met with our new Volunteer Coordinator, Yara, to discuss the programs that the center offers to the children and their parents. The center supports about fifty children on a regular basis, many of whom are sponsored through our program. In addition to receiving clothes, food, school supplies, and hygiene items, thanks to sponsors and donors, the kids are also kept safe at the center. One of the ways in which it does this is through a soccer club. The club not only ensures that children get the exercise they need to stay healthy, but it also keeps them busy after school, so that they do not become involved with drugs or violence, which are prevalent in the impoverished community in which they live.

Yara told Andreia that she wished there were more support for the soccer club; she would love for the children to have new uniforms and soccer cleats – and the field is in need of renovation. Yara mentioned that with a new soccer field, the center could rent it for use by other teams, and generate even more income – which would be a big help in supporting even more children in the future.

A variety of other programs

Along with the soccer program, a volunteer psychologist at the center has been helping the community for several years now. He provides individual and group therapy, which are essential to recovery for children and families after experiencing violence and abuse. The center also provides support to pregnant women and newborns in the community. The administration regularly provides classes on abuse prevention and being a good citizen. The center also has a program called “Mesa Brasil,” in which groceries and fresh produce are distributed to families two to three times a week.

Before her visit ended, Andreia was also able to see a community bakery that is run by CARITAS. The bakery was started about six years ago with the help of donated funds from Children Incorporated, and it allows mothers of our sponsored and unsponsored kids to generate extra income. The mothers often get together when they are not baking to share ideas and recipes, and to discuss how they can work together to increase their incomes through baking – thereby supporting their families so that they may have the opportunity to escape poverty.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN BRAZIL?

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

Supporting Children in Brazil Who Face Trauma

Brazil is the fifth-largest country in the world – both geographically and in terms of population. It is truly massive, sharing borders with every other country in South America except for Ecuador and Chile. The Amazon rainforest, recognized for having the greatest biological diversity on the planet, sprawls over the country’s northern half, with rugged mountains to the south.

Despite its wealth of natural resources and beauty, however, Brazil suffers from staggering poverty, rising inflation, unemployment, and a lack of social development. More recently, due to a conflict between the truckers’ union and the government over high gas prices, a truckers’ strike has created transportation issues throughout the country, which has caused school closures. During these trying circumstances, Children Incorporated continues to help support children living in poverty in Brazil so that they may have better opportunities in life – all thanks to our sponsors and donors.

The center comprises homes where children reside with foster parents who support them in overcoming the adversity they faced in abusive households, so that they may have a safe and healthy childhood.

Fostering kids in need

Children Incorporated is affiliated with five projects in Brazil. Casas Lares – ACRIDAS, the CADI center, and the Recanto Esperanza Center are all located in the capital city of Curitiba in Parana; and projects Irmandade Nossa Senhora Das Gracas and the CARITAS – Novo Milenio Center are about seven hours south of there, in the city of Lages. On a recent trip to Brazil, our International Projects Specialist, Andreia Beraldo, traveled to Curitiba, a sprawling city just south of Sao Paulo, where she visited our affiliated project Casas Lares – ACRIDAS. While there, she met not only with our volunteer coordinators at the project, but also with our sponsored children and the foster parents who care for them.

Casas Lares – ACRIDAS was established after a non-profit organization of business and civic leaders, ACRIDAS (the Christian Association of Social Assistance), witnessed the plight of poor children living in the slum neighborhoods in Curitiba, and decided to take action. They established several orphanages to assist these deserving young people, including Casas Lares – ACRIDAS.

Many children who are placed at Casas Lares – ACRIDAS are there by court order, to protect them from the threats of abuse, drugs, violence, and malnutrition that they faced while living with their biological parents. The center comprises homes where children reside with foster parents who support them in overcoming the adversity they faced in abusive households, so that they may have a safe and healthy childhood; and all the while, the center provides the kids with additional support.

The foster homes at Casas Lares – ACRIDAS are clustered around the center, which has served between 48 and 62 children at a time, from birth to twelve years old. Casas Lares – ACRIDAS utilizes monthly sponsorship funds from Children Incorporated to purchase school supplies, clothes, shoes, food, and hygiene items for the children there. Thanks to their sponsors, these kids have the resources they need to attend school so that they can learn and become healthy adults.

The kids are able to run and play with each other at the home.

Our Volunteer Coordinators Rodinéia and Angela showed Andreia around the well-maintained two-story building, which was constructed a few years ago thanks to contributions from Children Incorporated donors. Casas Lares – ACRIDAS was originally intended to be a nursery for the younger infants; but as a result of changes to Brazilian law, the number of infants at the home has decreased, as they are now typically placed at individual foster homes not affiliated with this project. Today, a portion of the building is still being used as a nursery for the youngest children, while an industrial kitchen and several administrative offices occupy the rest.

Helping children cope

During her visit, Andreia was given the opportunity to have lunch with some of our sponsored and unsponsored children, and to meet their foster mothers. Rodinéia and Angela shared stories with her about the children, explaining the reasons for which they had been placed at Casas Lares – ACRIDAS. They talked about how all of the children had suffered extreme violence and trauma in their young lives; many of them have seen and experienced severe cruelty.

Thankfully, however, the kids are able to run and play with each other at the home, where they are given a chance to forget about the traumatizing events they have witnessed in their lives. Andreia noticed that some of the children were more reserved than others on the playground; but they all seemed to be enjoying themselves, thanks to the care they receive from our coordinators and their foster parents at Casas Lares – ACRIDAS.

Andreia learned from her visit that the current primary need of the children beyond the regular support they receive from sponsorship is psychological monitoring. Rodinéia shared that 100 percent of the children there need continuous psychological therapy to help them process the trauma they have lived through, and to support their healthy growth. The children receive free health care from the government, but there is always a long wait to be seen by a public psychologist.

A large number of the children are left without psychological monitoring, which is essential for children with such distressing backgrounds. With additional help, these children, who have already dealt with much hardship in their lives, will not only have the opportunity to grow up in a loving environment, but will also hopefully be able to overcome the adversity they have faced at such young ages.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN BRAZIL?

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

Growing Up with Children Incorporated

In the town of Fazenda Rio Grande on the outskirts of Curitiba in southern Brazil, our affiliated project Centro de Assistência e Desenvolvimento Integral (CADI) supports families who struggle to afford even the most basic of needs – and especially education-related expenses – for their children. What began in 1994 as a soccer school to motivate and assist children from low-income families has now become CADI  – a national nonprofit organization that provides assistance and developmental support to kids and families. The CADI center’s mission is to motivate and equip deserving children to rise above the difficulties they face, and to overcome poverty as adults.

The CADI center serves about 300 children on a regular basis, and it offers classes in robotics, arts and crafts, civics and ethics, martial arts, circus performance, and several other subjects that help children to develop the abilities and skills that are required to become successful adults. It also provides tutoring opportunities for kids, and houses sports teams that students may join.

The CADI center’s mission is to motivate and equip deserving children to rise above the difficulties they face, and to overcome poverty as adults.

Many of the children who go to the center after school live in nearby neighborhoods, and are abused and suffer severe violence in their own homes. Some of the kids in our sponsorship program are vulnerable to witnessing drug abuse at home or in the community, and some of them suffer from health problems. Most of the children come from broken homes where they live with just their mother, or with a stepparent or grandparent.

Believing in her own potential

On a recent trip to Brazil, our International Projects Specialist, Andreia Beraldo, visited the CADI center, which is located about forty minutes from downtown Curitiba. Visiting the center was very special for Andreia, because our Volunteer Coordinator there, Arianny, used to be a sponsored child at the project herself.

Arianny is a great example of how sponsorship assistance can make a big difference in a child’s life. She started attending the CADI center when she was only four years old, right around the time her parents divorced. While she was growing up, she received support from her sponsor and the center, and her parents attended counseling sessions at CADI. While meeting with one another, Arianny mentioned to Andreia that as a result of the counseling her parents received while she was growing up, they decided to re-marry, and their family is once again united.

As she became older, Arianny learned about ethics and arts and crafts, and she acquired a variety of skills at the CADI center. As a teenager, she became interested in social work, and decided to volunteer at the center to help other children who were growing up in impoverished families, like she did. When she graduated from high school, she started studying social work at a local university.

After graduating from college in 2015, Arianny became an intern at a local hospital. In 2016, the CADI center hired her as a social worker. As she told her story to Andreia, Arianny became emotional, because thanks to the CADI center and the support she received from Children Incorporated, she learned to believe in her own potential, and she grew up with hope for the future and a positive perspective in life.

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HOW Do I SPONSOR A CHILD IN BRAZIL?

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

Expanding Opportunities in the Philippines

The city of Tagaytay, where the Pinagpala Children’s Center is located, is on the island of Luzon, where many Filipino families suffer from extreme poverty. To help support the community, in 2000, members of a local church there established the Pinagpala – meaning “Blessed” – Children’s Center to provide educational assistance to local needy children and their families.

The Pinagpala Children’s Center recognizes that providing for the educational needs of impoverished children is an important step in giving them the tools they require to break the cycle of poverty.

The Pinagpala Children’s Center recognizes that providing for the educational needs of impoverished children is an important step in giving them the tools they require to break the cycle of poverty; and thanks to support from Children Incorporated, the center not only supports children with basic needs, but it also helps families through various skills training programs and educational activities.

Our Hope In Action Fund in action

Initially just a one-story structure, the Pinagpala Children’s Center received support from Children Incorporated’s Hope In Action Fund to construct a second story. As a result, the center’s programs were expanded to further support children, families, and the community beyond our sponsorship program. On a recent visit to the Philippines, our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, visited the center to see the completed second floor of the building. He also spoke with our volunteer coordinator there about how the new floor is being utilized.

Currently, the new addition is being used for feeding children in mornings and afternoons; for after-school tutoring in the evenings; and during the day, for hosting a small daycare center for parents who work during the day. The center’s partnership with Children Incorporated has been instrumental in not only educating our sponsored and unsponsored children, but also in helping to progress the overall development of the community in which they live as a whole.

One program teaches parents how to recycle old materials to make rags and garments to sell.

Plenty of achievements

What Luis found on his visit greatly exceeded his expectations. As he continued to talk with our volunteer coordinator, he was informed that the administrators at the Pinagpala Children’s Center have also started income-generating programs for the parents of children enrolled in our program. One such program teaches parents how to recycle old materials to make rags and garments to sell. There is also a small organic vegetable garden at the center where parents can learn gardening skills to grow produce to sell to other families in the community, as well as an income-generating project where pigs are raised for later sale.

The center also recognizes the need for supporting the locality with a community-based rehabilitation and drug addiction program to help young addicts break their drug habits. The local police chief there has even become involved with it, teaching workshops and hosting seminars to emphasize to the community the importance of not getting involved in drugs.

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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 sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

Books of Their Very Own

Mitchell County, nestled in the rugged western mountains of North Carolina, serves as a tourist destination for thousands who flock to the region each year to glimpse its spectacular vistas. The area’s breathtaking beauty and rich culture, however, belie a tragic truth: in this smallest and least populous county of all of North Carolina reside some of the nation’s poorest families.

We are incredibly proud that our sponsorship program not only provides weather-appropriate school clothing and supplies to kids on a regular basis, but it also promotes literacy and fosters a love of reading.

A community in need

Years ago, this region boasted a number of productive feldspar and mica mining operations. Today, those minerals no longer bring in the profits they once did; mines have closed, and many workers who earned their livelihood by mining are now jobless. With little in the county to attract industry – and inadequate highways to encourage development in the mountains – Mitchell County has few economic prospects.

Many families in this rural area live well below the federal poverty line, and the overwhelming poverty there has debilitating effects on the children of the region, negatively affecting their self-esteem, health, and overall well-being. For these reasons, Gouge Elementary School and its resource center, as well as our sponsorship program, are a great help to the surrounding community, providing students with a sound education, quality teachers, and the basic needs they would otherwise go without.

 Helping children to read

Recently, thanks to their sponsors, children enrolled in our program at Gouge Elementary School were able to participate in the Spring Book Fair, during which they chose books to take home and keep. One of our organization’s core values is education, and many of our kids had never had books of their own until they were matched with sponsors. We are incredibly proud that our sponsorship program not only provides weather-appropriate school clothing and supplies to kids on a regular basis, but it also promotes literacy and fosters a love of reading.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN NORTH CAROLINA?

You can sponsor a child in North Carolina 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.