Nepal Relief Update: Metal Sheets Help 49 Families

Gorkha Relief 2 July 23July 23, 2015 update:

ER Friends Karak and Premi Tamang sent this update for their most recent relief distribution to those struggling with the impact of the Nepal earthquakes.

Gorkha Relief July 23Relief to Gorkha 3 July 23On July 23 we went to Gorkha district Gaikhur village and distributed 49 bundle of  zink sheets for (42 families and 1 church ) earthquake victim families. We gave each family one bundle of zink sheets and the church seven bundles. Thank you for your support and partnership for this relief work!

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July 13, 2015 update:

ER partners and friends continue to reach out to the people of Nepal who were left homeless and without resources following the two major earthquakes earlier this year. Karak and Premi Tamang sent a report and photos from their visits to the villages of Dhading and Nuwakot from their base in Pokhara.

On July 1 we went to Dhading and were able to help the village by providing 50 gas stoves and cylinder sets, 50 cookers, and two solar lights and chargers.

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Despite daily hardship in Nepal, kids still find ways to play in the dirt.
Despite daily hardship in Nepal, kids still find ways to play in the dirt.

On July 3 we went to Nuwakot and distributed 77 bundles of metal sheets and held a feast for the victims.

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Homeless families now have metal structures and tarps in which to sleep.
Homeless families now have metal structures and tarps in which to sleep.

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June 18, 2015 update

We received this encouraging earthquake relief update from ER friend Paulus Panday. ER partners are continuing to meet needs in the villages severely impacted by the two major earthquakes.

Hello from Pokhara,

We had a great time in Fulkharka VDC in Dhading. We were able to touch lives and bring hope to people from three different villages: Dhadkharka, Paiyukharka and Majuwa (Wards #4, #3, #9).  We were able to build classrooms for a school, and homes for widows and elderly couples, with our Portable Shelter Homes.  We helped people build the shelters for living, for their livestock and for storing food. We also were able to bring solar lights for 300 families.

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Please remember people who have lost everything.  All they had was destroyed. Their needs seem like the ocean and our efforts feel like a drop, but we are committed to be faithful and helpful to those who are in desperate situations.

More solar lights are requested from neighboring villages. More shelters are requested from villagers and by schools and churches. Water filters are another need. School children don’t have much left – no school bags and other items. So we are helping these villages to recover to a normal life.

Thank you for standing with us.

Paulas Panday, Pokhara, Nepal

ER is sending funds to help our partners purchase emergency supplies, including tents, blankets, water filters and food. $75 provides these items for a family. If you can make any size donation, please designate your gift as “Nepal Relief” and visit: http://www.extremeresponse.org/take-action/make-a-donation.

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June 5, 2015 update: ER Partners Karak and Premi Tamang of Pokhara Child Center in Nepal have assembled teams to visit remote villages to help earthquake victims. While they’ve made multiple trips to provide supplies and encouragement to more than 1,400 families, they have received requests for more help.

These photos help illustrate the difficulty of getting food to villagers and then having the villagers carry the provisions on their backs to get them home.

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Here is a quick summary of what the team has accomplished:

We reached 150 families in Ward #4.  Each family received: rice 10kg, lintel 1 kg, salt 1 kg, oil 1 liter, spices 1 pack, soap 1, plus 35 blankets, 18 tarps, 20 mats, 72 piece of cloth, 12 set of tools and 2 set of solar light and battery charger.

In Wards #1, #2 and #3, we distributed we gave 30 kg rice, 1kg salt and one-half liter oil to 375 families.

In Ward #6, we delivered the same kind of relief to 137 families.

In Ward #5, we delivered the same kind of relief to 205 families.

In Wards #7, #8 and #9, we distributed the same kind of relief to 450 families.

We also distributed 102 piece of tin for seven very poor widows and orphaned children. Because monsoon season is coming very soon, they need shelter. And we distributed 164 kg rice seed to 82 families (2 kg per family) because they rice before the monsoons. Otherwise, next year famine will come and there will be a food problem.

Karak & Premi shared these current needs:

           1. More tin need to make shelters because monsoon is coming very soon.

           2. They need seed to plant, their seed was destroyed.

           3. They need tools to make shelters.

           4. They need fertilizer for corn and rice field.

           5. They need children’s school supplies – uniforms, bags, books, pens, and notebooks.

Thank you once again for your partnership.

Karak & Premi Tamang

ER is sending funds to help our partners purchase emergency supplies, including tents, blankets, water filters and food. $75 provides these items for a family. If you can make any size donation, please designate your gift as “Nepal Relief” and visit: http://www.extremeresponse.org/take-action/make-a-donation.

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May 26, 2015 update: Yesterday we received more photos and a video from Paulas Pandy, an ER associate working in the Pokhara area of Nepal. The relief team has been successful in helping earthquake victims in remote villages install metal structures that offer more safety until they can rebuild their homes.

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May 21, 2015 update: We received this update from Paulas Panday, a friend of ER who is working in the Pokhara area of Nepal. The relief team is now delivering metal structures so that people in remote villages can move from tents to more secure dwellings.

We have  two trips to scheduled for the villages. First, we are going to go to Lamjung in Rainastaar, Dhamilikuwa, to deliver portable shelter sets for 60 households. We will gather materials and teach local people how to install them so the 60 families can transition from tarps to a better shelters.

Next, we will go to Dhading, in Dhadkharka at Fulkharka VDC and where we will mobilize people to build shelters. We will camp there for 10 days and build as many shelters as we can using their own materials, and if necessary,  provide the tin roof.  We will work with children, women and elderly people to help them recover to normal life.  We will seek opportunities to help villagers feel brave, hopeful and passionate about building their own homes.

The pictures (below) are from our recent village work where we  gave 15 shelters to families and one shelter for display in the SAHODAR community hospital in Lamjung. After we built the shelter, people  started moving from their tarps to metal shelters to make them their homes until they are able to rebuild their real homes. Portable shelter technology is based on a zero waste concept, which means everything that is used to make the shelter will be fully reusable for building their house in the future.

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May 18, 2015, update: We received this update from Surakshya Baral, who oversees communications for our partner KI Nepal: 

Earthquake Relief Supplied by KIN

Twenty days have passed since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal. Last week, the second earthquake measuring 7.3 magnitudes struck causing further damage and panic within an already devastated country. Now 5.5 Richter scale with its epicenter in Dhading shook the country at 7:27 a.m. Friday morning. In response to these earthquakes, our KI Nepal (KIN) team is distributing some relief materials in various districts. KIN has distributed relief materials which are non-food items at more affected areas i.e. Sindhupalchock, Gorkha, Nuwakot and Dolakha. We successfully distributed 8,000 tents and 4,000 blankets.

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National Director Mr. Ramesh Sapkota took the leadership of the relief distribution program. Mr. Sapkota stressed the need to conduct psycho-social counseling to the people affected by quake, so we can see happiness on the faces of psychologically or physically affected people It is the ultimate goal of KIN. Furthermore, outreach of relief materials creates awareness which will be helpful for the reconstruction in the affected areas.

The program director of KI Nepal Ram Hari Adhikari, who was involved in the relief in Gorkha and Nuwakot directly, elaborates the reason of support:

‘’ The disaster has affected the women, adolescent girls and children in a high magnitude. At first, it is the responsibility of all organizations in Nepal to support the victims of the mega disaster. Moreover, as an organization working against girls trafficking and trying to protect them, we took it as our responsibility to provide relief as much as possible. Furthermore, the most affected districts by the earthquake are Gorkha, Sindhupalcho, Dolakha, Nuwakot and others and they are vulnerable for trafficking as well. So we have focused there.’’

KIN works in human trafficking sector but this devastating earthquake destroyed lives of people’s lives, home, family, and the source of living. These are people already living in great poverty. It’s everyone’s responsibility to help rebuild our country and assist quake-effected victims. So, KI Nepal is providing relief support in different districts which are mostly affected.

ER is sending funds to help our partners purchase emergency supplies, including tents, blankets, water filters and food. $75 provides these items for a family. If you can make any size donation, please designate your gift as “Nepal Relief” and visit: http://www.extremeresponse.org/take-action/make-a-donation.

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May 14, 2015, update: The death toll from the second Nepal quake has risen to nearly 100 and is hampering relief efforts according to The Wall Street Journal. ER’s partner in Pokhara sent some additional photos of their visits to the villages of Deurali and Bhalje, below, showing both the devastation and their relief efforts.

The follow photos are from the village of Deurali:

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Deurali Village Relief

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The following photos are from the village of Bhalje:

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May 13, 2015, update: The second earthquake to hit Nepal has caused the deaths of more than 80 people and 2,000+ injuries in Nepal and India according to BBC News. ER Partners have reported in safe from this 7.3-magnitude quake.

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May 12, 2015, update: A second earthquake has struck in Nepal near Katmandu/Mount Everest. As of this morning, BBC is reporting 50+ deaths and 1,000+ injuries, impacting both Nepal and India.

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May 11, 2015, update: With the death toll now topping 8,000, 17,000+ injuries and 300+ people still missing, ER partner Pokhara Child Care Center (PCCC) has mobilized crews to bring relief to some of the hardest hit and most decimated villages in Nepal. Following is their report from the village of Thanapani.

“Thank you for your co-operation with us. I am sending photos and relief update from our relief work at Nuwakot Thanapani. We found 200 families among all the rock and mud. The houses were was totally damaged. Not even not one one home was left inhabitable.  All the people are living in tents.

“On May 4, we went to this Thanapani village and distributed relief items for 105 families. We gave each family 10 kg of rice,  1 kg of lintel , 1 kg of salt, 1 liter of oil, 1 pack of spices, 1 unit of soap, 6 candles, 6 matches. We also provided 15 tents. Thank you once again for your partnership.”

The photos below show relief efforts. (Photos and update supplied by Karak Tamang of PCCC.)

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 ER is sending funds to help our partners purchase emergency supplies, including tents, blankets, water filters and food. $75 provides these items for a family. If you can make any size donation, please designate your gift as “Nepal Relief” and visit: http://www.extremeresponse.org/take-action/make-a-donation.

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Unloading Emergency supplies

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ER is sending funds to help our partners purchase emergency supplies, including tents, blankets, water filters and food. $75 provides these items for a family. If you can make any size donation, please designate your gift as “Nepal Relief” and visit: http://www.extremeresponse.org/take-action/make-a-donation.

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May 3, 2015 update.  As of today, the death toll from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake has exceeded 7,000. You can find an update here. Following is an update we received on April 30, 2015, from our partner in Pokhara, Nepal.

“Today we loaded the truck and sent it to the remote village of Dhading with team members who are passionate to bring relief. They are striving to get to unreached villages. I met Caleb, who was in the village when the Earthquake happened. He helped villagers bury the dead and walked an entire day to get to a town. This is only the beginning. Please stay with us and help us finish well what we have started.”

Our partners sent these new photos showing how the Earthquake has decimated many remote areas of Nepal.

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The good news is our partners are delivering supplies – food, water, tarps, ropes and blankets – to some of the most desperate survivors.

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Despite massive relief efforts, Nepal remains in chaos following an earthquake registering 7.8 magnitude that hit the country last week. The death toll surpassed 7,000 and tens of thousands more are injured or displaced. Many people are homeless and exposed to the elements.  This drone video offers a bird’s eye view.

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While much of the news reports center on the capital of Katmandu, the epicenter for the quake was near our partner in Pokhara. You can access a PDF of the map below here.

United Nations impact map show earthquake epicenter near Pokhara.
United Nations impact map show earthquake epicenter near Pokhara.

Extreme Response partners – Pokhara Child Care Center (Pokhara) and KI Nepal (Jawalakhel, Lalitpur) are safe. However, we did learn  that the earthquake caused wall to collapse on one of the KI Nepal safe homes, and the homes of four of their staff have been destroyed.

Our partners are surrounded by devastation. They are are reaching out to the people in their communities and nearby villages, thousands whom are living under plastic sheets.

April 28, 2015 Update: Our partner in Pokhara sent these photos:

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ER is sending funds to help our partners purchase emergency supplies, including tents, blankets, water filters and food. $75 provides these items for a family. If you can make any size donation, please designate your gift as “Nepal Relief” and visit: http://www.extremeresponse.org/take-action/make-a-donation .

Extreme Response is closely monitoring the events in Nepal and will continue posting updates in the days ahead. Watch this blog and the ER Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/ExtremeResponse.

Healing A Mother’s Heartache

Jody Wachler

By Kelly McClelland, ER Director of Women’s Advocacy

“Extreme Response stands for me in places I am not able to go, providing the resources to my fellow moms that enable them to protect and nurture their children.” – Jody Wachler

Imagine this…

A family is living in poverty, fumbling for scraps, not really making it. The parents are looking for a way out, any way out, searching for hope. Hoping to make it through the day. Hoping to find the resources to pay their debts. Hoping for a better life.

Many people live in desperate conditions around the world.
Many people live in desperate conditions around the world.

Unfortunately, unfulfilled hope is a reality for many of the people we work with around the globe. Sometimes, desperate parents even resort to selling their daughter to traffickers.

At Extreme Response, we realize that trafficking is not a simple issue. We’ve seen first-hand what trafficking does, not only to the girls who are sold, but also to the mothers who have sold their daughters.

Mothers who are backed into a corner of shame do desperate things that hurt their children. We must come alongside not only the girls, but also the mothers, to offer hope, healing and a new beginning. That is why when girls are rescued, we need to work with our partners to provide life skills and training for the girls and their mothers. When they have a skill – a way to provide – they no longer have the need to sell their children.

In order to raise awareness of the plight of women worldwide, ER’s Extreme Women held a brunch in Troy, Michigan, that more than 230 women attended. Women from all walks of life, including mothers, joined together in order to be change-makers.

One of Extreme Women team members, Jody Wachler, summed up what many of the brunch attendees were feeling.

jody 2“Being a mother awakens a keen sense of protection for your child that spills over to all children, no matter where they live. The more deplorable their conditions, the more you want to care for them,” Wachler said.

“Extreme Response stands for me in places I am not able to go, providing the resources to my fellow moms that enable them to protect and nurture their children.”

Would you join us in advocating for not just the girls, but also moms around the world?

Extreme Response International recognizes that women disproportionately bear the burden of poverty throughout the world. Women living in extreme situations are in desperate need of advocates who will share their stories with leaders and influencers. That is why we’ve established ER’s Extreme Women, an advocacy program created by women to help women in need. 

KellyFor more info on Extreme Women and how you can get involved, visit http://www.extremeresponse.org/our-programs/womens-advocacy or contact Kelly McClelland at kmcclelland@extremeresponse.org.

Family Overcomes Hardships, Helps Quito Dump Kids

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By Tim Fausch, ER Communications Director

At one point, Carrie and Josh Bower dreamed about moving to a foreign country and working to change the lives of people living in extreme conditions. The future seemed wide open for the couple, who reside in northwest Indiana.

Their first daughter, Maddie, was born in 2005. But their dream took an unexpected turn with the birth of their second daughter, Lila Grace, in 2007. Unfortunately, Lila Grace died the following year from severe health problems. Then their son, Jude, was born in 2009 with stomach issues. The bills for hospitals, doctors and medicine piled up.

In addition to the emotional stress, the Bowers faced a mountain of debt. The opportunity for them to serve people in a developing country appeared bleak. Doors appeared to slam shut. Better to simply let their dream go, right?

The Bowers chose not to give up.

Bower animals“We began looking for a way to raise money despite being in our financial situation,” said Carrie. “We started down a new path. We got a bunch of chickens in order to sell eggs and use the money to do good works. At one point we had 70 chickens.

“Then we got into goats, starting with two females. Both goats gave birth to triplets and, before we knew it, we had eight goats.”

World changers

While the Bowers paid down their health expenses, they used the extra money from the farm animals to donate to organizations caring for at-risk people, including Extreme Response. But they wanted to do more.

“I was looking for a way to help connect the kids in our church to the needs around the world. I had the idea to connect our kids with the kids of the workers in the Quito Dump,” Carrie said.

“We wanted to teach the kids personal responsibility. We wanted to teach these young people to be world changers.

“I shared the Extreme Response YouTube videos showing what life was like in the Dump. I asked the kids to imagine living like this. I said, ‘Let’s try to change the Dump kids’ situations.’ There was an immediate connection among our kids.”

The children in their church now receive regular updates and donate money that goes toward helping feed and care for the kids whose parents work in the Quito Dump. Even more importantly, they are learning to be world changers by responding to the needs of people living in deep poverty.

“I can do more than this”

Although they were raising awareness and funds through the kids and farm sales, Carrie felt challenged to go even further.

“I looked at what we were doing and I thought, ‘I can do more than this.’ I have a photography business and knew I could use it to promote ER and raise funds.

Carrie Bower Photo Shoots“So I posted on Facebook that I would do family photo shoots on a Saturday and all the money would go to ER. Three people immediately jumped on the opportunity.”

The reaction of Carrie’s Facebook community was powerful. “People were super excited. We raised $420 in one afternoon by shooting family portraits. And all these people now know about ER. Now we’re trying different locations, networking with other friends.”

Getting started

Becoming “doers” has not been a solo act. The Bowers drew strength, support and creative ideas from their friends.

“At first we spoke with our friends and brainstormed,” Carrie said. “We used a team approach to formulate and polish ideas. You need more than one person to come up with ideas that will work.

“We used a simple Facebook link to the ER Website to generate interest. It was that easy. The pictures did all the work. How can you not want to respond when you see all those faces?”

Carrie also created a contest to promote ER. Every person who “liked” the ER Facebook page, shared it with their friends and relayed that information back to Carrie was automatically entered into a drawing for a free family photo shoot.

“It worked really well. I had 20 people like the ER Facebook page within the first 24 hours.”

The Bowers have continued to experience challenges with the deaths of two others in their family circle, leading to more life decisions. And yet, they continue to help others in spite these obstacles.

“If we have been incredibly blessed despite our struggles, why not bless others as we have been blessed?” Carrie said. “It’s not about me. It’s about helping people, helping to change their lives.”

ER-logo-Mobilization-full-color-landscapeInspired by what the Bowers are doing to change lives? ER is mobilizing people through short-term teams, volunteering, internships, fundraising, leadership development and Christmas celebrations. Learn more: http://www.extremeresponse.org/take-action. Or, email Ruth Arteaga at rarteaga@extremeresponse.org.

Tim FauschTim Fausch is Communications Director for Extreme Response International, as well as a long-term volunteer. Do you have an idea for an ER-related story that we can use as a blog or social media post? Contact Tim at tfausch@extremeresponse.org.

Robinson’s Journey: From Robbery to Successful Student

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IMG_3110By Mark Ghesquiere, MD, CCFP,                                                                                                 Extreme Response Canada Board

 

Pacoche is a small village on the coast of Ecuador. You probably have never heard of it. Most Ecuadorians have not either. It’s the sort of town where the municipal water is turned on for one day every 15 days. Life is not easy in Pacoche.

But Pacoche is not forgotten.

Fabian and Graciella Buenaventura felt a calling to go to this small town to establish Casa de Dios and do the best they could to improve the future of this town. Their 11 years in Pacoche have not been easy, but they have seen many positive changes. Homes and cisterns have been built, children are being taught, and people are being loved and cared for.

But where I noticed the biggest change was in the youth. Let me tell you about just one of them. His name is Robinson. He is 16 years old and I share this story with his permission.

RobinsonRobinson has not had an easy life. According to Robinson, his father is abusive, drinks too much alcohol, and has had many relationship problems in his marriage. Not surprisingly, Robinson reacted to his difficult home situation by turning to his peers. This did not improve his situation. He, too, started to drink, got involved in robbery and was heading down a destructive path. His prospects were dim.

Thankfully, his grandmother attended Casa de Dios. From the time he was four years old, his grandmother would take him to Casa de Dios. Robinson enjoyed the social aspects of Casa de Dios, but that was it.

Robinson endured a particularly difficult time recently. His parents were separated and he was faced with having to drop out of San Lorenzo High School because his father would not pay for his schooling. One day Robinson was flipping through radio channels when he came upon a radio broadcast. Something happened inside him. He knew he needed to find the truth. He turned to Fabian and Graciella for answers.

Since that time Robinson has been spending a lot of time helping out at Casa de Dios, but more importantly, he is growing and learning.

He recently worked alongside an Extreme Response team from Canada. The team members were so impressed with him that they decided they would personally invest in this young mans life. I can tell you that he is in 2013-11-29 at 12-06-09school and doing well. He is still a hardworking young man and he is applying himself to his studies. Robinson’s life has changed. And there isn’t one participant in this story who can take all or even most of the credit. Robinson’s life has been changed because many people did what they felt called to do.

The future of Pacoche — and Robinson — is looking bright.

I’m honored to have met you Robinson, best wishes, and remember that many people are cheering you on.

Mark Ghesquiere, MD, CCFP, is a physician in Ontario, Canada, chairman of the board for Extreme Response Canada, and a frequent traveler to high-poverty areas in order to provide support. Learn more about ER Canada and about Casa de Dios.

Lighthouse Shines Joy into the Lives of South Africa Families

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970299_614864335190262_1175523254_nBy Amy Townsend, ER Staff,                                                                                                                      Cape Town, South Africa

GLL kidFor a glimpse at the impact of God’s Little Lighthouse (GLL), just consider Gabriel and her four siblings. This daycare and school for young children in Fish Hoek, South Africa, has cared for each of these underprivileged youngsters since they were pre-school age. The oldest now attends university and two more are thriving at local schools in grades 6 and 11. Gabriel, the youngest, is similarly enjoying educational opportunities she wouldn’t have otherwise.

Thanks to the love and commitment of “Aunty Pam” and her late husband, Rob, GLL has engendered countless stories of youngsters rescued from poverty – native South Africans as well Zimbabwean, Congolese and Malawian immigrants.

The organization is one of more than a dozen overseen by ER partner ATAIM. It was launched some 26 years ago, when Rob and Aunty Pam took notice of the poverty and despair local children were suffering.

The couple desired to bring hope to these children. But never did they imagine the stories that would be told in their community about GLL – stories of hope where there was hopelessness, friendship where there was loneliness, and happiness where there was despair. Each story told not just of children who were blessed to have a spot in the preschool program, but of their families and communities as well.

Auntie PamWhen there is not enough food to feed the children at home or a family struggle to pay tuition, Aunty Pam finds a way to provide. When difficult circumstances abound in a child’s home life, she and her staff provide hugs. It is not unusual to be playing outside with the children and see a young gentleman or lady come looking for Aunty Pam. Many times they just want to spend some time in the place that provided food, safety and love during their early years. They never walk through the gate without a huge smile on their face, and they never leave without a hug.

One pair of local parents dropped their first child off at GLL 15 years ago. During the course of those years and a litany of life changes, GLL and Aunty Pam were the constant in their lives. When the couple became foster parents, they naturally turned to GLL for help.

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Today the mother says, “Besides my two biological sons and my nephew, Aunty Pam and her wonderful staff have helped us raise four other children. Now I have enrolled three more foster children in GLL. I look forward to another five years of happiness and support that we get from everyone at the school.”

It is no wonder GLL has a waiting list for the next school year. Love and compassion, the kind provided by Aunty Pam and her staff, are in high demand

Click here to learn more about GLL and ATAIM. 

970299_614864335190262_1175523254_nAmy and Ron Townsend work at God’s Little Lighthouse on loan from Extreme Response. The Townsends and their three daughters, Emily, Hannah and Sarah, recently moved to South Africa to help Extreme Response establish a regional presence. Click here to learn more about Extreme Response’s vision helping people in Africa.  Click here to learn more about our partners in South Africa, Kenya, and Malawi.

Donated iPads Open Up New Worlds for Kids with Disabilities

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Cyndi Maloy“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t being said”.                              ~Author Unknown

By Cyndi Maloy, ER Latin America Writer

Most of us never think about what a gift it is to be able to communicate using our words. That’s not possible for some of the children with disabilities at For His Children (FHC), an ER partner working with at-risk and abandoned children in Ecuador. These sweet kiddos are trapped inside their bodies, knowing what they want to say, but not being able to do so.

IMAG0154Recently, a group of 17 university students from Northeastern University in Boston came to volunteer with FHC and brought with them iPads designed to open up the world of communication for these precious children. Each iPad is loaded with programs specifically tailored to that child’s abilities. Within an hour of receiving the iPads, these special kids were using their devices to communicate for the very first time.

In addition to teaching the children how to use the iPads, the students taught the caregivers to use them, allowing them to communicate directly with the children using something besides “yes” and “no” questions.

As the photos with this story demonstrate, technology plus caring hearts can open worlds that were once closed. Kudus to FHC and Northeastern University, and thanks for letting ER be a small part of making life better for these special children.

IMAG0126For His Children works in Quito and Latacunga, Ecuador. The organization serves homeless children, providing care in a loving and supportive environment, striving to unite them with their biological or adoptive family, and advocating on their behalf to others. Learn more about the work of For His Children at: http://tinyurl.com/ooyqhhy.

Samuel’s Trees Bring Hope to “Big Devil” Community in Haiti

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By Krischelle Frost and Bonita Sparling, Lemuel Ministries

True transformational change often happens like a tree grows…slowly, imperceptibly.

1-GrannFor more than 60 years, Mérilia Dumesle (Grann) has lived on the Plateau. She has seen the years of plenty turn to years of want. Grann remembers the Plateau when trees covered the mountains and the rains still fell— before it became a barren desert, a place forsaken.

For Grann, hope returned when her grandson, Manis Dilus came back to the Plateau. He established Lemuel, a community development organization with a message that the people in this tiny little spot in Haiti’s infamous Northwest were not forgotten. From that day, things began to change.

Samuel’s Trees: How it all began

Seven years later, Manis met Samuel Schӓfer, who was in Haiti to do civil service work for the German government. Manis shared with Samuel his heart and vision for the community of Grand Diable (Big Devil), the name of the plateau where Lemuel is located. Part of this was a desire to see a land that had been laid to waste by years of deforestation filled with life again. Manis helped Samuel to understand that in order to survive years of hardship, the people cut down the trees to make charcoal, in turn exacerbating drought and erosion.

1-IMG_20150128_092941Manis explained that a different way had to be taught by visible example: “You must show people how to bring life back to the land by doing it yourself in front of their eyes.”

After arriving on the Plateau, Manis had been laboring to this end, having started on the Lemuel campus. But he had a bigger dream: to buy the vast acres of wasteland surrounding the community—land that had once been gardens, but that now was abandoned to erosion and cacti—and to reforest it into a usable resource.

12897_10152934799909425_7324039106761030895_nInspired by Manis’ vision and example, Samuel determined to do something. He returned to Haiti, purchased five acres of the wasteland, and hired three young men from the area to help him. It was a seemingly impossible task. The land was full of rocks, gullies, and nasty thorns, and it was open to the destructive habits of roaming livestock. There was no water there. As a skeptical community looked on, Samuel’s team took up their pick-axes and shovels under the brutal Haitian sun

10537366_10152934797404425_4728162443988720764_nand completely transformed a place of nothingness into a land full of hope and potential—in less than one year! Today, they have planted over 1,000 trees.

A place to return

Samuel was eager to show Grann what was happening on the land. Her health and legs are not what they used to be, but at Samuel’s invitation, she took up her walking stick and slowly made her way over the distance. As she entered the gate, a smile crossed her face. “Now,” she said to Samuel, “you will always have a place to return to.”

iGx61Sk3lFZew58crkOnZUvGpRhAwUA9zeB02CvCdu4“A place to return to”…that is part of the vision for Lemuel. Lemuel exists to invest in the growth and development of people, so that they may escape the vicious cycle of poverty, and carry the pattern of reaching out to others through future generations. As we do this, it is our desire for the next generation to see that they have a place to return to—a place where life, hope, and purpose have reappeared – and to break the pattern of exodus from Haiti’s countryside.

Reforestation is only a part of this, but it serves as a powerful visual to a deeper reality. True transformational change often happens like a tree grows…slowly, imperceptibly. Planting the tree is only the beginning; the fruit will be seen by the children to come. Yet, if no one prepares the ground, plants the seed or tends to the sapling over the long years, there will be no tree at all.

JvIHQjupvnUsbwMGM1aR-U8p4pOS4ohZEJxtKMpqcncHere on the Plateau, indifference and doubt in the community have begun to change into appreciation and inspiration. As the people learn to value what they are seeing, they will reproduce it in their own area of influence. Samuel’s Trees remind us there is hope for a better future for our children, but it must start with us.

The work at Samuel’s Trees is far from finished. They have plans to buy more land and to build a tree nursery. In order to continue moving forward, we need people willing to invest in hope for the future.

IMG_0113For more information about Samuel’s Trees, and to see how you can be involved, please visit www.samuelstrees.blogspot.com.

To learn more about Lemuel and the various ways it is investing in people, please visit the website at www.lemuelministries.org.