Tag Archives: opportunity

As he continues his visits to our affiliated sites in India, Luis Bourdet visits the Grace Aaron Child Care Center, where students are very happy to be in attendance.

“The town of Burgampahad, in the southeastern Indian state of Telangana, is where the Grace Aaron Child Care Center is located,” explained Luis Bourdet.

“Within this rice-producing region, which is susceptible to crop-destroying flooding and droughts, thousands of field laborers earn very low wages. Due to the resulting widespread poverty, few parents are able to send their children to school. For this reason, the Grace Aaron Childcare Center serves as a beacon of hope. Founded by the Church of South India, this boarding home provides shelter, nutrition and educational support for girls from the region’s poorest families. In this way the Grace Aaron Childcare Center offers these deserving young women from impoverished households the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty in which they live.”

Luis meets with our coordinator

“Next I visited Grace Aaron, which was a hostel in the past, and children used to live here as they were supported by our sponsorship program. Flooding from the nearby Godavari river has affected the facilities a few times, and a new disposition of the local government, where children could not stay at private hostels, unless a school is present within the compound, has turned this facility to a child care center,” said Luis.

“The children love to be here, and they welcomed me with some interesting local dances, and a display of henna markings in their hands that were very impressive.”

“Mrs. J. Jesantha, which was a coordinator of the Dornakal Girls Hostel before, is now the person in charge of this center. The building where the dorms were is now utilized as classrooms and dining hall, with a new area/building being the main area for classroom work, meetings and for homework.”

“The pandemic had something to do with the transformation of this facility as well, as parents migrated to the town but had no way to support their children and send them to school. The schedule here is busy as usual and the children arrive at the center every day very early in the morning, and are given breakfast and sent to school,” said Luis.

“In the afternoon, after returning from school, they are given lunch and dinner, provided with homework help, provided with some recreational activities, and sent home after 7 p.m. The children love to be here, and they welcomed me with some interesting local dances, and a display of henna markings in their hands that were very impressive.”

“After meeting the coordinator about the Children Incorporated sponsorship program, I then had a delicious meal, with plenty of dhal that is a favorite food of mine,” said Luis.

***

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 go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

written by Shelley Callahan

Shelley is the Director of Development for Children Incorporated. She is also the lead social correspondent, regularly contributing insights through the Stories of Hope blog series. Sign up for Stories of Hope to receive weekly email updates about how your donations are changing the lives of children in need.

» more of Shelley's stories

As our Director of International Programs Luis Bourdet continues his travels in India visiting our affiliated sites in the country, he tells us about the Lou Ann Long Girls’ Hostel, in which children in our program are in need of beds and linens for a comfortable night’s rest.

“Thankfully, the Lou Ann Long Girls’ Hostel is able to provide boarding, nutrition, and a quality education for area girls who come from families living in poverty.”

About the Lou Ann Long GIRLS’ HOSTEL

“The small town of Yadgiri, where the Lou Ann Long Girls’ Hostel is located, is in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. Drought is a constant threat in this agricultural community, and employment opportunities are severely limited. Field laborers earn an average of only forty cents a day and struggle to provide even the most basic necessities for their children,” said Luis.

“Moreover, with shorter life expectancies, much lower literacy rates, and a markedly inferior social and economic status than males, young women in India begin life at a disadvantage. Thankfully, the Lou Ann Long Girls’ Hostel is able to provide boarding, nutrition, and a quality education for area girls who come from families living in poverty. At the home, deserving young women receive the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and rise above the difficult socioeconomic circumstances they face.”

“The home is administered by the Methodist Church of India, and like the Chandrakal Boarding Home, it receives our support through the main office of the Methodist Church, as well as from Children Incorporated,” said Luis.

“Children at this home stay here during the educational year, and some stay during school breaks as well. Most of the children will be going home during school breaks (India follows a similar school year to the U.S.). Children Incorporated support is utilized to cover the cost of staying in the home, including the provision of food, educational supplies, clothing and shoes, as well as food support for the families when large additional gifts are sent closer to their breaks.”

Seeing the home for himself

“Currently, the girls at Lou Ann Long are staying at a dorm built with the support of Children Incorporated. However, the administrators are using the former dorm for the girls for playing and other recreational activities. The children attend a local school, located not far from this facility, also run by the Methodist Church. They are all enrolled in that school, with the exception of a couple of girls that are attending university thanks to sponsorship support through our Higher Education Fund,” said Luis.

“During my visit, I noticed that the Lou Ann Long Girls’ Hostel does not have beds for the children, as it is customary for them to sleep on small mats on the floor. I have mentioned that we could provide beds, so we are working on this support. Lou Ann Long also needs some improvements to the facilities. They mentioned that the building would be better with a touch of paint and perhaps sealing the roofs to avoid leaking. Because of the lack of funding, prevention is not the primary focus for these centers, as they live month-to-month. I will follow up to see what Children Incorporated could do to support these needs as well.”

***

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 go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

Today we hear from our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, about her trip to New Mexico last fall, where she and our Assistant Director of U.S. Programs, Kristen Walthall, visited eight affiliated sites.

Understanding the Navajo Nation

“The Navajo are the largest Native American tribe in the United States. The Navajo Nation also has the largest land mass of any tribe. The nation is located in the greater ‘Four Corners’ region of the United States, where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah meet in a quadripoint, the only place in the U.S. where this occurs,” said Renée.

“The entire school has worked hard to showcase to the community the advantages of a smaller school where the children get more personal attention.”

Children Incorporated’s affiliations within the Navajo Nation are located in Arizona and New Mexico. The lands within the northeastern part of Arizona area belong wholly to the Navajo Nation, with the exception of a part carved out for the Hopi Nation. However, the lands within northwestern New Mexico belong to a variety of jurisdictions: federal, state, tribal, private, and allotment. This is why the Navajo region in New Mexico is popularly called ‘The Checkerboard.’ As Kris and I were driving in this part of New Mexico, we were going in and out of various parts of the checkerboard.”

“In recent years, the Navajo Nation has been working hard to (among other things) formally enroll its residents as Navajo citizens. There are requirements to formal enrollment in a tribe, with the intention of preserving the unique character and traditions of each tribe. The tribes establish their own membership criteria based on shared customs, language, traditions, and tribal blood. These criteria for membership are set forth in the tribes’ constitutions, articles of incorporation, and/or ordinances. Uniform membership requirements do not exist; it varies from tribe to tribe,” explained Renée.

Veronica and Jeanette are pictured with some of our sponsored children at Lake Valley.

“The enrollment numbers matter, not only for emotional reasons such as tribal identity and history, but for practical reasons as well— tribes are often allocated money based on their number of enrolled citizens. Before the pandemic, the Navajo enrollment was around 306,000 people. During the pandemic membership drive, the Navajo Nation was able to have many residents formally establish their eligibility and then enroll. By 2021, the Navajo’s tribal rolls had grown to almost 400,000 people. With this achievement, the Navajo Nation surpassed the Cherokee Nation (whose enrollment is 392,000 people). A recent example of the importance of enrollment numbers is the money awarded to tribes, based on their enrollment numbers, from the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act and the American Rescue Plan Act.”

“Every amount of assistance helps, because according to a special article in 2019 by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, the state had the third-highest rate of child poverty in the U.S. (24.9%). This means nearly one in four New Mexico children lived in poverty in 2019. Only Mississippi and Louisiana were higher. When analyzing the data by ethnicity, the rate for Native Americans was higher than for all other groups. During the pandemic, things actually got a bit better for families, due to federal relief payments. Now that the pandemic relief has ended, the situation is worsening again. The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2023 Kids Count databook shows that New Mexico’s children rank last in the nation for well-being. The poverty rate is high, and New Mexico also ranked last in education and 45th in health,” said Renée.

About Lake Valley Boarding School

“The remote town of Crownpoint is located in northwestern New Mexico, near the Arizona border and the vast Navajo Indian Reservation. Despite the wealth of natural beauty in this area, the Navajo Indians who live in this region are desperately poor. There is virtually no employment. Broken homes, alcoholism, and inadequate food are constant manifestations of poverty.”

“Both expressed their deep appreciation for the Hope In Action grants that Lake Valley Boarding School received during the height of the pandemic.”

“Though one of the smaller schools in the Bureau of Indian Affairs system, the Lake Valley Boarding School provides a safe haven where Navajo students, whose homes are far away, are able to live and learn in a healthy, supportive environment. Most parents struggle to afford clothing, school supplies, and basic necessities for their children. Were it not for the Lake Valley Boarding School, so many children would have little opportunity to dream or to rise above the difficult socioeconomic circumstances from which they come,” explained Renée.

Renee’s Visit

“With a name like ‘Lake Valley,’ one would expect water and green grass, but that is not the case. The lake dried up years ago and is largely a sand trap now. The elders remember when the lake was full, there were farm fields, and two active trading posts. In the olden days, Lake Valley was a stagecoach stop between Crownpoint and Farmington, and the lake and a spring offered cool water to travelers and their horses.”

“The community is only seven miles from the famous Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Residents dream of drawing in tourists with an RV park and a little restaurant. But for now, improvements are still only a dream. In reality, due to budget cuts, services to this area are very limited. Community health representatives have had to reduce their visits to homebound elders. Young families had been leaving, and it got worse during the pandemic,” said Renée.

Lake Valley Boarding School is located in a remote area of New Mexico with few options for shopping.

“After going down a dirt and gravel driveway, I reached a small cluster of buildings with pretty trees planted to provide some shade for everyone. I walked to the main entrance at Lake Valley Boarding School — Home of the Mighty Lakers. I was warmly greeted by our two co-coordinators, Jeanette and Veronica, and taken to the library for a meeting. They explained to me that they drive almost 60 miles north to shop in Farmington. They like to go either to Walmart or to JCPenney, which has really good sales. They meet the parents there, and pay for the items after the parents and children have made their selections. Sometimes they drive about 35 miles south to Crownpoint, which has a Bashas’ grocery store where they will occasionally purchase food for families in need. Both Jeanette and Veronica are very conscientious about getting the best value for every donor dollar.” 

Adjusting since the pandemic

“Both Veronica and Jeanette shared that during the pandemic, they lost even more of their students. In some cases, families moved from the area. But in other cases, the parents felt their children would have more services at the bigger schools in Farmington. The Farmington Municipal Schools buses will actually drive halfway to Lake Valley to pick up and drop off the children,” said Renée.

“The entire school has worked hard to showcase to the community the advantages of a smaller school where the children get more personal attention. In fact, Jeanette and Veronica shared that one of the students had withdrawn at the end of last school year. The girl started the new school year in August at Farmington, but she was not happy, and so her parents re-enrolled her this week at Lake Valley. Her classmates had missed her, and they were thrilled to welcome her back.”

“Both Jeanette and Veronica were initially hired to work in the dorm. However, during the pandemic the dorm was shut down when the school moved to fully remote instruction. Because some staff left during the pandemic, this created openings so that Jeanette and Veronica didn’t lose their jobs. They were instead transferred to other duties. This year the dorm has reopened, but there are only five children living there during the school week. Jeanette and Veronica take turns staying there overnight, but they do other things for the school to keep up their full-time hours. Both are hoping more children will be enrolled in the dorm over time, as things continue a slow return to normal there,” explained Renée.

“As the dorm starts to add more residential students, Jeanette and Veronica said they will be applying for Hope In Action funding for new bedding sets as well as hygiene items and supplies.”

“When the pandemic started and the dorm shut down, Jeanette and Veronica gave away much of the bedding to the children as they were checked out. They realized that, due to policies on infection, the bedding could not be reused. As the dorm starts to add more residential students, Jeanette and Veronica said they will be applying for Hope In Action funding for new bedding sets as well as hygiene items and supplies. Both expressed their deep appreciation for the Hope In Action Fund grants that Lake Valley Boarding School received during the height of the pandemic. While the school and dorm were closed and the children were doing remote learning in their homes, our organization helped with cellular service and hotspot boxes,” said Renée.

“This is the second school year that school is supposedly back to normal with fully in-person instruction. But many of the families have not returned. There are only 22 students enrolled at Lake Valley Boarding School – and everyone is enrolled in our program and is sponsored. Jeanette and Veronica are doing a beautiful job. They are eager to enroll more children, as more families move to the community.”

***

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 go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

written by Children Incorporated

We provide children living in poverty with education, hope and opportunity so they have the chance for a brighter future. Thanks to past and current supporters around the globe, we work with 225 affiliated sites in 20 countries to offer basic needs, emergency relief, and community support to thousands of children and their families each year.

» more of Children's stories

As our Director of International Programs Luis Bourdet continues his visits to our affiliated India, we hear about his visit to the English Medium Hostel, where the english language is a focus in learning.

Welcome to Dornakal

“Within the Dornakal Diocese, Children Incorporated provides support to six programs. One is a childcare center and five are homes or hostels, including the English Medium Hostel. All our affiliated sites are administered by the Church of South India (or CSI), through the bishop in charge, and from its offices in Dornakal. This Diocese is in charge of over 1500 small and big churches and compounds (including schools and hostels) around the Diocese territory. The Bishop of the Diocese, Rev. Dr. K. Padma Rao, who was appointed almost two years ago, is responsible for the upkeep of all churches and facilities within the Diocese. Children Incorporated support allows the children to stay at each center or hostel, and they are provided with food, clothing, boarding, and educational support,” explained Luis.

“Children Incorporated support allows the children to stay at each center or hostel, and they are provided with food, clothing, boarding, and educational support,” explained Luis.

“English Medium Hostel is a small facility that accommodates about 30-35 children who are selected to attend English Medium School. All are boys  who come from remote areas but are taking the initiative to learn English, as the new government mandates, and attend this school to get more adept with the language from an early age. The hostel occupies a small area with two main buildings — one is a small two story dorm, and the other is a kitchen and dining hall, with an adjacent set of toilets. The children have a busy schedule here, as they start their day early at around 5 to 6 a.m., eat, attend school, and come back to the home for a brief rest. Then they do school follow up, some cultural recreational activities, and are off to bed for the next day.”

Visiting English Medium

“The new coordinator, Ms. Aruna Devi, is the superintendent and is in charge of the home. During our visit, she had the opportunity to learn more about our sponsorship program requirements, but she already knew about all the updating and reporting requirements. After a short presentation from the children and a meeting to discuss the importance of writing letters, providing reports, and making sure the funds are properly distributed to the children, we discussed many areas of our support. Ms. Devi shared with us in detail about how she distributes the funds and what they cover. After meeting with the children and touring the facility, we ended our visit,” said Luis.

***

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 go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

written by Children Incorporated

We provide children living in poverty with education, hope and opportunity so they have the chance for a brighter future. Thanks to past and current supporters around the globe, we work with 225 affiliated sites in 20 countries to offer basic needs, emergency relief, and community support to thousands of children and their families each year.

» more of Children's stories

Ensuring children are able to stay in our sponsorship program from their earliest days in school until graduation is something that our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, works hard to do. With the public school system in the United States often times having three different schools — elementary, middle and high school — for children to attend, it’s crucial that we partner with each school to ensure sponsorship support is not interrupted — especially for children who need it the most.

Today we hear from a former sponsored child, Susan*, who grew up in our sponsorship program and attended Menifee High School in Kentucky, and writes to us to describe how her experience having a sponsor was formative to helping her become the adult she is today.

SUSAN’S STORY

Dear Children Incorporated,

Students hold many memories from their school days, and one memory that I hold dear is having the privilege of being a Children Incorporated student starting during some of my most formative years. 

 Like many children in Menifee, my family was not privileged. My family owned a small farm, and both my parents worked; however, having three growing children, money was always tight for our family. Shortly after I started the 6th grade, my school’s Resource Center Coordinator sent home paperwork to my parents asking permission to allow me to participate in the Children Incorporated program.

“I can truly say that being a Children Incorporated participant helped shape the person I am today.”

I was unaware of what all the Children Incorporated program entailed in the beginning, but was very thankful for the opportunity that was given to me. Like many within my county, I grew up wearing hand-me-downs that were far from perfect, but I knew my parents were doing their best to keep us kids clothed and fed. Middle school years are hard years for any student, but it was tougher for the children that came from poor families. Often, I was made fun of because my clothes were not like others; they may have had stains, or may have even been a little bit too big, but that’s all I had. Because of the comments I received, my self-confidence slowly began to dwindle. I was too proud of my parents to ever let them know what other kids were saying about me, and I knew that my parents loved me and were trying their very best to provide us with what we needed. 

A BLESSING TO HAVE

 As I began my journey as a Children Incorporated student, I was given a sponsor that was truly an angel in disguise for me. I will forever remember my first gift from my sponsor; she gifted me several outfits that were really trending at the time. I was in complete shock when I received the gift. She also sent a letter telling me all about herself and what she enjoyed doing during her free time. This letter was the first of many conversations that took place between the two of us over several years. I was so excited to send my sponsor a letter back telling her how thankful I was for the gifts she had sent. Through each letter we shared our life experiences with each other, and even though I never met this person face to face, it seemed as if we had known each other our whole lives. As I continued through school, I had a total of three different sponsors. Each of my sponsors and I shared many experiences together even though we may have been hundreds of miles apart. 

Being a Children Incorporated child was a blessing for me, not just for the gifts I received but the self-confidence and encouragement it gave me throughout my school years. I can truly say that being a Children Incorporated participant helped shape the person I am today. Many people may think of this program as a handout for poor families, but that is far from the truth. This program is much more than that; this is life changing for those that are eligible to be a part of such a wonderful program. I will forever be thankful for the wonderful memories that I hold from each of my sponsors, and there isn’t any way that would be enough to thank them for all that they have done for me over the years. The sponsors in the Children Incorporated program are truly a gift from God.

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES IN LIFE

Now as a soon to be 30-year-old, as of March 2024, I will finally be able to say that I am the first out of my immediate family to obtain a bachelor’s degree. I have made leaps and bounds since graduating from high school. I currently work within our local elementary school and have the pleasure of interacting and making an impact on the next generation of students.

Because of the Children Incorporated program, I strive daily to make a positive impact on each student I serve. I am living proof that underserved children can overcome any obstacle that is thrown their way with a little encouragement and love, even if it comes from a stranger that they have never met. I will forever be thankful for the Children Incorporated program.

*Name changed to protect the individual.

***

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 go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

As she continues her visit to our affiliated sites in New Mexico, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, visits the Mariano Lake Community School where she meets with Barbara, our volunteer coordinator.

VISITING MARIANO LAKE

“During my visit, Barbara had just received Hope In Action Program funding based on a request where she told me she could use things for the dorm, primarily books and arts and craft supplies.”

“Mariano Lake Community School is located about 60 miles south-southwest of Lake Valley. Whereas the Lake Valley area is rocky and has become more arid, the Mariano Lake area has sandy soil and more vegetation. There are several types of grasses, as well as shrubby plants and bushes.”

“The eponymous lake is across the road, but is down a hilly area and is not readily visible from the school. At one time, people came from all over the area to fish, but now the lake is actually more of a marsh and is no longer suitable for fishing,” said Renée.

Barbara is pictured with one of our sponsored children at Mariano Lake Community School.

“This area was originally settled by the Navajo because of the abundant vegetation and because it is an ideal area to raise sheep, which is still the case hundreds of years later. Prized for their adaptability to the land and for their overall health and hardiness, Navajo-Churro sheep have a long history with both Navajo and Hispanic families in the region. The sheeps’ ancestors were originally from Spain and were quickly acquired through trades and raids by the Navajo.”

“Today, they are important to the Navajo culture and economy. The meat sustains many families, and the wool is used for weaving. Mariano Lake is no exception; like other communities, many families keep at least a few sheep,” said Renée.

“Some families also came to the area years ago to work in the uranium mine, which, unfortunately, was closed in 1982 and is now a highly contaminated site full of hazardous waste. As a result of the mine’s closure, there are few job opportunities in the area. Most adults travel to work low wage jobs in nearby Gallup or Crownpoint.”

Meeting with Barbara

“When I arrived at Mariano Lake Community School I was met by our wonderful, long-term volunteer coordinator, Barbara. We strolled around the school so I could get reacquainted with it since my previous visit. Then we went into the teachers’ lounge for our meeting. Barbara said that, like so many other schools, the pandemic caused disruptions,” explained Renée.

“Barbara was so excited and grateful about the most recent donation and was happily making her spending plans.”

“When the lockdown began in March 2020, the dorm was shut down along with the school. Children struggled with remote learning at home and many families experienced severe illness and death, which was further trauma for the children. Eventually, the school reopened to hybrid instruction, and then during the 2022-2023 school year, the school went back to fully in-person instruction, and masks were required. Masking is optional this school year, but many are choosing to continue, especially households with elders or people with chronic health conditions. Barbara kept on her mask throughout my visit, and so I did too.”

“Our coordinator told me that all the children who are enrolled at Mariano Lake have parents and grandparents who can scarcely make ends meet, and our sponsors’ support is deeply appreciated. During my visit, Barbara had just received Hope In Action Program funding based on a request where she told me she could use things for the dorm, primarily books and arts and craft supplies. Barbara was so excited and grateful about the most recent donation and was happily making her spending plans,” said Renée.

***

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 go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD