Tag Archives: poverty

A Small School with a Family Atmosphere

Jones Fork Elementary School — which began as a one-room schoolhouse and was expanded in 1964 to accommodate more children — is located in Knott County, Kentucky in the small community of Mousie.

Deb mentioned to Renée how proud she is of her students doing well in school despite their impoverished backgrounds and how willing they are to help fellow students as though they were all one big family.

The smallest school in the county, Jones Fork educates just 165 children in grades kindergarten through eight. According to our volunteer coordinator at the school, Deb, children at the small school have above average test scores. Deb attributes this to what she calls a “family atmosphere” at the school. Teachers encourage children’s academic growth, and students even help each other out when they can — especially when times are tough.

Rising test scores and self-esteem

On a recent trip to Knott County, our Director of U.S. Programs Renée Kube met with Deb at the Jones Fork Elementary School’s Family Resource Center. Deb said she feels that support from our sponsors plays a big role in children getting the attention they need and making them feel like equals with their peers. She says it helps with their self-esteem and makes them want to work harder in class. In fact, test scores at the school have risen for the past few years in a row, showing the students progress.

Students at Jones Fork Elementary School support one another in a family-like manner.

As they continued to talk, Deb explained to Renée that the community around Jones Fork Elementary used to be bustling with mining jobs, but is now hurting. The population is in decline, and many families feel hopeless about the future. The poverty is harsh. The closing of the last local mine shut down about ten years ago had a ripple effect — soon afterward both the local gas station and grocery store were forced to close. Last year students set up and ran a food pantry to help their classmates. Deb mentioned to Renée how proud she is of her students doing well in school despite their impoverished backgrounds and how willing they are to help fellow students as though they were all one big family.

Meeting Laura

Test scores at the school have risen for the past few years in a row, showing the students progress.

During her visit, Renée had the chance to meet Laura*, a young student enrolled in our program.

When she and Renée met, Laura was holding a greeting card she had just received from her sponsor. According to Deb, Laura loves being on our program. She loves her school supplies and nice clothes. She told Renée that having a sponsor is “the best!”

Before she left, Deb told Renée that Laura is one of two girls in her family. Both parents work part-time as school bus drivers, and their wages are low. Without a sponsor, Laura would go without a lot of things she needs to keep her comfortable and doing her best in school.

*Name changed to protect the child.

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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.

Wishing for Work

Knott County Central High School is located in the small town of Hindman, Kentucky and is the only high school in all of Knott County. Built in 1974, the high school has been well maintained over the years, serving 622 students in grades nine through twelve.

Administrators and teachers at Knott County Central High work had to help encourage students to pursue higher education.

While students’ scores are above state standardized test averages, there is still concern among administrators when it comes to college and career readiness. Overall, the school is below the state average in some key measures such as access to advanced classes or availability of help to prepare students for college entrance tests.

Kids in need

On a visit to Knott County Central High School, Children Incorporated Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, met with our volunteer coordinator, Karen, to talk about the many issues that students at the school face — especially those living in poverty.

“Karen said her students have many needs. It is challenging enough to transition through puberty and adolescence to young adulthood, and the added burden of coming from impoverished households makes their situations even more difficult,” said Renée.

“Many of the teens would love after-school jobs to help their families, but there are few opportunities. There are more jobs in the city of Hazard, but it’s a half hour away, and most of these teens don’t have cars of their own.”

“Many of the teens would love after-school jobs to help their families, but there are few opportunities. There are more jobs in the city of Hazard, but it’s a half hour away, and most of these teens don’t have cars of their own.”

 

– Renée Kube

Finding creative ways to shop

As they continued their conversation, Karen told Renée about how she manages the Children Incorporated program to ensure that sponsor funds are providing students with exactly what they need throughout the school year.

“A few years ago, Karen used to have the sponsored students and their families go to a few stores in Hazard that would allow them to shop and then hold the clothes for Karen to pick up later,” Renée explained.

“Last school year she tried that system twice, but it did not work well because a lot of parents don’t have transportation or the time to get to the store.”

“The following year, Karen was able to get the principal’s permission to take a school bus field trip to Walmart with students,” said Renée.

“The kids enjoyed it, and participation was very high. She now has gone back to meeting the parents and students at a local Walmart so the kids can continue to choose their clothes, shoes and school supplies that are just right for them.”

Getting to know Victoria

Renée with Victoria at Knott County High School

Renée also had a chance to meet with a special sponsored child at Knott County High during her visit. Victoria* has had the same sponsor since she was in the 5th grade. Her father is unemployed, and her mother is taking college classes in the hopes of improving their economic situation in the future.

Money for Victoria’s family has been — and still is — very tight. Karen shared with Renée that after Back-to-School time last year, the family experienced a fire and lost many items in their home. Thanks to her sponsor and additional donations from our Hope in Action Fund, Karen was able to make sure that Victoria had everything she needed to start the school year with everything she needed.

*Name changed to protect the child.

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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.

Surrounded By Beauty in the Land of the Morning Calm

For over 2000 years, Koreans have been shaping the world around them, creating beautiful landscapes through refined gardening.

While visiting our affiliated projects in South Korea, this was apparent to our International Director of Programs, Luis Bourdet. With each home he visited, Luis found that sponsored children in our program were growing up in environments surrounded by nature’s beauty. The homes also provided them with safe and comfortable places to play, exercise and develop into young adults.

Sun Duk Children’s Home

The Sun Duk Children’s Home is located in a hilly area about one hour away from Iksan in the North Jeolla Province of South Korea. According to Luis, the home has a stunning view of the local mountain range.

Children’s homes in South Korea typically have a lot of greenery which adds to the beauty of the grounds.

Luis noticed how picturesque the landscapes in and around the home were, and observed how the infrastructure of the home had been updated and modernized.

“Many upgrades have been made to the buildings, making them much nicer since my last visit. Each had solar water heaters and new protection systems like sprinklers, new windows and doors and heated floors. Overall, this is a wonderful place for children to grow up,” said Luis.

In total, 36 children live in the home and are well taken care of by 17 staff members. Children Incorporated sponsorship support provides for the children’s educational expenses not covered by the government.

“Additional gifts from sponsors are used to buy the children clothes and shoes, as well as anything special they may need to make their stay at the home more pleasurable,” said Luis.

Zion Children’s Home

The Zion Children’s Home is also located outside of Iksan surrounded by green, rolling hills like those of the Sun Duk Children’s Home.

“The Director of this home, Mrs. Ko, loves playing drums and is teaching the children to play, too. She is a true mother to them,” said Luis.

Luis noticed that in addition to its well-manicured gardens, the Zion Children’s Home had an impressive library, computer room, large auditorium and a swimming pool.

The home also provides dental treatment for children thanks to the support of a local retired dentist and his wife who have taken it upon themselves to remodel one section of a building into a small dental clinic.

With each home he visited, Luis found that sponsored children in our program were growing up in environments surrounded by nature’s beauty. The homes also provided them with safe and comfortable places to play, exercise and develop into young adults.

Iri Children’s Home

The Iri Children’s Home is located in the city of Iksan and is run by the Buddhist Association. The home has three large three-story buildings. In the center of the home is a large sandy play area surrounded by plants and flowers. There, the children can enjoy their free time and stay active when they are not in school.

Children Incorporated supports 27 children who live at the Iri Children’s Home. The local government provides funding for the children’s living expenses as well as for staff salaries. Sponsorship support is used to buy clothes and shoes for the children, as well to cover medical and educational expenses.

Through his visits to these homes, Luis felt confident that the children in our program were having their needs met. He was delighted to see that they were growing up surrounded by the natural beauty that their country has to offer.

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How do I sponsor a child in South Korea?

You can sponsor a child in South Korea in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in South Korea that is available for sponsorship.

No Distance Too Great

Children Incorporated has affiliated projects, sponsored children and sponsors from all over the world. Most of our sponsors don’t live in the same cities — or even the same states — as the children they support.

For many of our sponsored kids, their sponsors live in entirely different countries.

“I feel that the children are receiving incredible support here thanks to the administration and our sponsors. Last year alone, seven of the eight high school graduates at the school went on to higher education!”

 

– Luis Bourdet

But sponsored kids in South Korea — especially those living at the Kwangju Ae Yuk and the Hyungje Children’s Homes — feel the same amount of comfort and love as if their sponsors were right by their sides.

Kwangju Ae Yuk Children’s Home

Located in the shadow of high-rise apartments in the city of Gwangju, South Korea, the Kwangju Ae Yuk Children’s Home provides children from impoverished backgrounds with a safe place to live, grow and receive a good education — all while instilling the core values of honesty, integrity and compassion for others.

Gwangju is the largest city in the southwestern part of South Korea, with a population of about 1.5 million people. It is the 6th largest city in the country.

The city itself is known for the students’ pro-democracy uprising that occurred in the early 1980s, which is credited for the country’s initial move from military rule to democratic governance, and its economic explosion and development.

Kwangju Ae Yuk Children’s Home is a well-known home for children from impoverished backgrounds due to its ability to care for a large number of orphanages and underprivileged youth. The home has over 50 children residing there currently. Children Incorporated sponsors support 30 of them.

Lots of help for the young

While visiting the home, our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, was pleasantly surprised to see a large staff at Kwangju.

The children at the Kwangju Ae Yuk and the Hyungje Children’s Homes know that their sponsors want the best for them.

“The home has an impressive number of personnel. About 30 people work full-time, most of whom are social workers providing consistent aid and guidance to the children,” said Luis.

During the day, the children attend local schools. In the afternoons, they receive music instructions and participate in art classes.

Support from the local government offers funds for basic needs such as housing costs and food. Sponsorship support provides for additional expenses like school supplies, but it also gives the children a great sense of emotional and psychological support.

“I feel that the children are receiving incredible support here thanks to the administration and our sponsors. Last year alone, seven of the eight high school graduates at the school went on to higher education!” exclaimed Luis.

Hyungje Children’s Home

Hyungje Children’s Home resides within the city limits of Gwangju. With 33 children at the home in our sponsorship program, Hyungje has the largest enrollment of any of our projects in South Korea.

The home consists of two large three-story buildings. With over 70 students in attendance — and more being added each year — the home is running out of usable living space for the kids.

Thankfully, when Luis visited the home, he witnessed new construction already underway so the children will have more room to spread out soon.

Sponsored kids in South Korea, especially those living at the Kwangju Ae Yuk and the Hyungje Children’s Homes, feel the same amount of comfort and love as if their sponsors were right by their sides.

Sponsors at the Hyungje Children’s Home provide almost all basic needs for the children outside of housing cost. Funds from sponsorship support buy the children schools supplies, clothes, shoes and food regularly.

The administration at the home also makes sure that the children understand what it means to have a sponsor beyond just the items they receive.

“The children know that their sponsors want the best for them, and in return, it is a special feeling for the children to know that someone from afar cares for their well-being,” said Luis.

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How do I sponsor a child in South Korea?

You can sponsor a child in South Korea in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in South Korea that is available for sponsorship.

The Value of Respect and Encouragement

There are many reasons that children—no matter their background—deserve respect and encouragement as they grow.

But when it comes to kids from impoverished households or children who are orphaned, it is especially important to show them respect and encouragement. For these children—like the ones who live at the So Jun Children’s Home in South Korea—having adults motivate them and treat them with dignity helps their self-esteem and provides them with the drive they need to achieve their goals.

Thanks to their Children Incorporated sponsors, children in our program receive basic needs throughout the year.

So Jun Children’s Home

Located in the South Korean province of Jeollanam, the So Jun Children’s Home cares for children from ages 5 to 19 years old. The facility itself is made up of a complex of brick buildings—35 classrooms in total—with a kitchen, dining room and auditorium. The grounds include a playground and a large garden.

During the school year, children attend local public schools. After school, they participate in a variety of daily, assigned chores. They help raise ducks, chickens, doves and geese on the property. For recreation, the children play popular sports such as volleyball, soccer and baseball.

At the So Jun Children’s Home students are motivated by adults to do well in school.

Thanks to their Children Incorporated sponsors, children in our program receive basic needs throughout the year. According to our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, sponsorship support also helps sponsored kids to feel respected and encouraged.

“When—thanks to their sponsors—they receive food, clothing and school supplies the children know that someone cares about them and they feel better about themselves,” said Luis.

“Along with the encouragement and respect the administrators show them while living at the home, the children at the So Jun Children’s Home are well taken care of.”

Helping kids develop

Why are respect and encouragement so crucial for children in need? Because respect helps build a feeling of trust, safety and well-being—feelings kids might not otherwise have in their home environment or have ever had in their lives.

When children are shown respect, they learn how to treat others with respect. Kids who are encouraged to be confident in their abilities will find that their efforts can result in achievement—and that is a valuable step in helping them break the cycle of poverty.

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How do I sponsor a child in South Korea?

You can sponsor a child in South Korea in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in South Korea that is available for sponsorship.

Two Coordinators, One Resource Center

Fairview Independent School comprises two campuses, Fairview Elementary and Fairview High Schools, located just a few blocks apart from each other in the small community of Westwood, Kentucky.

Like many communities in Eastern Kentucky, Westwood has suffered significantly from the decline of the coal and steel mining industries that used to dominate this area.

At one point, Armco Steel employed the majority of the Westwood workforce and made it a prosperous town. Today, only 1300 employees remain at Armco, and poverty, high dropout rates and unemployment are now serious problems.

A beacon of hope for kids

Fairview Elementary School

Fairview Independent School serves as a welcome escape from poverty for this rural community Many children from Westwood’s impoverished families look forward to school, where they receive a well-rounded education, two nutritious meals and the attention of a dedicated and caring staff including two coordinators from the school’s shared Family Resource Center.

Ashley and Katrina — who split their time between two offices at Fairview Independent Schools — equally share the responsibilities of making sure that sponsored and unsponsored kids in our program are receiving the support they need from their sponsors.

“Ashley and Katrina work at both schools to support a lot of children. With a total enrollment of almost 800 students, they have a large caseload and are great at handling their jobs,” stated Renée.

According to our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, who recently visited the schools, Ashley and Katrina are different in appearance and manner, but work exceptionally well together and have a mutually agreeable and cooperative relationship.

“Ashley and Katrina work at both schools to support a lot of children. With a total enrollment of almost 800 students, they have a large caseload and are great at handling their jobs,” stated Renée.

“They are constantly seeking resources to assist the children and their families, and both told me that Children Incorporated is vital in what they do.”

Finding resources in the community

During their meeting, Ashley explained to Renée about how she and Katrina operate a Weekend Snack Bag program during the school year and offer food boxes in June and July for families in need during summer break.

Thanks to donations to the Family Resource Center, Ashley and Katrina can provide clothes to children all year long.

They also receive assistance from two community churches and a local hospital.

Ashley and Katrina expressed that they usually do well with food provisions throughout the year thanks to help from the community, but if they run low, they won’t hesitate to reach out to Children Incorporated for emergency aid through our Hope in Action Program.

Meeting Cassandra

Renée had a chance to visit both the Fairview High and the Fairview Elementary Schools during her trip. It was apparent to her that that the children were greatly affected by Ashley and Katrina’s dedication to the them and and the support of our sponsors and donors.

Before leaving the elementary school, Ashley and Katrina introduced Renée to Cassandra*. Cassandra is one of three children in her family. Their single mother who works for low-wages at a restaurant is raising them. She often struggles to pay the bills. Ashley told Renée that Cassandra’s sponsor keeps clothes on her back and shoes on her feet.

*Name changed to protect the child.

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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.