A Complex Land Made Simple Through Compassion

IMG_6086ER Director of Women’s Advocacy Kelly McClelland just returned from a trip to the Philippines to visit our ER Asia staff, including Regional Director Joshua Benevidez and his wife Anne. Kelly shares some of the impact she experienced.

By Kelly McClelland

Last week, I spent a day with several women living in deep poverty. For these gals, every day is a struggle to obtain food, decent shelter and necessities that we take for granted. I would feel hopeless if I was in their situation, but these women were full of joy.

IMG_6078Let me explain a little about Golden Hands Sewing. This group is the result of the vision, compassion and hard work of our ER Asia staff. Golden Hands was created in order to help women escape abject poverty.

I spent 13 hours with the women, providing teaching, encouragement and a listening ear. We invited them to a luncheon at a local mall and it was evident many had not been to a mall or IMG_6057a restaurant. Looking at the menus generated both confusion and shyness. All the ladies ate half their meals and saved the other half to take home. It was humbling to see them react in such a gracious manner.

Throughout the day, the women worked on making skirts. They were like busy bees, cutting patterns, sewing and humming songs that lifted my heart. Even though they have nothing, they have IMG_6005everything. I was undone by their joyful spirits.

The previous night, I had dinner with Joshua and Anne. We experienced a beautiful sunset against the ocean. As dinner progressed, Joshua and Anne shared their love story of pain, sacrifice and rejection as they entered into full-time service to the poor.

IMG_5974As I reflected on their journey, my mind revisited scenes from earlier in the day. Anne and I had passed a man washing his clothes in a little plastic bowl. It appeared he was living next to a parked new car. The contrast was stark.

I also noticed a teenager sleeping on the sidewalk in broad daylight. It’s very possible he has been living on the sidewalk since he was a little boy. My heart sank as I thought about his life. IMG_5975In the Philippines, street children are rampant because of extreme poverty.

But my spirit was quickly buoyed with gratitude for Joshua and Anne because of their tender hearts for people living in desperate conditions. Like the rest of the ER Asia staff and our partners, they are committed to helping rescue street kids and adults, as well as people living in squatter communities.

FullSizeRenderTo those of you who have supported the work of ER’s Extreme Women, thank you so much for your investment into the lives of people who need our compassion and help. Golden Hands is one example of how we are changing lives by working together. We have many other initiatives, partners and short-term team opportunities taking place around the world. We’d love to have you join us.


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

Abandoned 18 Years Ago, How Is Alex Doing Today?

Alex and his Dad Any Brooke.

House of Hope Director of Development and ER staff member Jenny Reitz Compère, shared this story in her July newsletter. It tells the journey of Alex, a young boy who came to House of Hope under dire circumstances. Located in the town of LaPointe on Haiti’s north coast, House of Hope serves children who are orphaned, abandoned, abused or neglected. 

By Jenny Reitz Compère

Last month, ER partner House of Hope (HOH) was pleased to have our friends from the Hands of Hope organization in the United Kingdom (UK) visit. They have supported the HOH in many ways over the years, but the link we have with them that means the most to both of us is a young man — their son Alex.

kevAlex was an extremely sick nine-month-old boy, who had recently lost his mom and been abandoned by his dad, when he made his appearance at the HOH. Our friends from England, Andy and Carol Brooke, were visiting when Alex first came on the scene. God spoke to their hearts about this precious life, and soon they were knee deep in adoption plans and regulations. It was a terribly long and exhausting six-year process as they waded through all the legal work to make Alex (or Kev — for those of you who remember him from the late 1990s) a part of their family.

Alex has grown into an incredible young man. He finished his schooling in the United Kingdom and will be starting a three-year degree in Product Design at Swansea University in the fall. Alex’s mom and dad (Andy and Carol) reflected on Alex’s journey to adulthood:

“Alex arrived in the UK two weeks before his fifth birthday, in August 2001. We were the first British couple to adopt from Haiti, which is why it took almost four years to complete the process. Alex is 18 now and waiting for his examination results in preparation for university. He’ll be 19 on September 8.

“He has developed into a fine young man and we are really very proud of him, but we will never forget that he had a great start with you (Jenny) and Linda (Felix, HOH Administrator). It was the best start he could have wished for, we reckon, despite his family circumstances. We believe you should be every bit as proud of him as we are. He is really looking forward to our trip to Haiti.”

Their visit was a great time of catching up and relationship building between Alex and the current kids at HOH.  He made an effort to relearn some of his Creole, and in exchange, he taught our HOH boys to play rugby!

While this story is unique because we don’t often do adoptions out of the HOH, we are thankful it was an option for the Brooke family.  We are sharing it to encourage you and your partnership with us in this special work we do of caring for kids who have no other options. HOH has been changing lives just like Alex’s since 1956 and we couldn’t do it if it wasn’t for the support that you give us in so many ways.  Thank you for your help!

Read more about House of Hope here. Subscribe to Jenny’s blog: http://houseofhopehaiti.blogspot.com/.