Youth Mobilization Reaches Out to Families with Love

Mackie Custodio is the Team Leader for Youth Mobilization, one of ER’s partners in the Philippines. Here he shares how his organization was able to respond to a catastrophe in a way that is impacting lives for the long term.

Living conditions are difficult in the community Youth Mobilization serves in Wawa, Taguig, Philippines.
Living conditions are difficult in the community Youth Mobilization serves in Wawa, Taguig, Philippines.

Our organization is based in a poor community in Wawa, Taguig, about an hour away from Manila. Two years ago, families in this community were victims of a fire that left their homes in ashes, a tragedy that still echoes today.

Ninety percent of the families in the community earn below 50 percent of the minimum wage. Most of them are contract construction workers, domestic workers, pedicab drivers, laundry helpers and dump scavengers. Their top – and only – priority in spending is food for their families. They know that housing and education are important as well, but they simply don’t have the funds to spend on these things.

In response to these extreme circumstances, in 2014 we launched a program called Abot Pag-ibig (Reaching Out With Love). This program aims to produce hope-filled children by teaching them strong values, for we know that by forming their values, we can form their future.

Children and adults alike are finding hope through Youth Mobilization’s values formation program.
Children and adults alike are finding hope through Youth Mobilization’s values formation program.

Each week, more than 50 children gather to hear stories and lessons that they can apply in their daily lives – things like how special each of them is, and how they should treat themselves, their families and friends. The program also includes a meal and time for crafts and activities that let the children express themselves.

Thanks to the relationships we have established with these children, we have been able to build good relationships with their families as well. We now facilitate a home group that gives parents the opportunity to hear these same messages of hope, and to share their thoughts on how we can serve the children and the community even more effectively.

Belen Cabacas and her son Paulo
Belen Cabacas and her son Paulo

One such family is Belen Cabacas and her sons, Paulo and JP. The boys not only attend the values formation program every Saturday, they are helpful in setting up the venue and calling the students to come together at the beginning of the class. Meanwhile, Belen has been regularly attending the home group and eagerly receiving the lessons she learns there.

As we look ahead to 2016, our dreams include an educational center and program called Bulilit Life Ministy (Lives of Little Ones Ministry), which will provide basic education to children ages 5-6. We also hope to help students who have been forced by poverty to drop out of school. This program will be called Gabay-Aral (Guide in Their Learning) and will encourage students to continue their studies by sponsoring their material needs, such as backpacks and uniforms.

The YM home group helps build relationships with parents in the community.
The YM home group helps build relationships with parents in the community.

We are thankful for the opportunity to serve this community and build strong relationships with the children and their families. We are confident that, little by little, day by day, we can help bring change among these extreme circumstances.

To learn more about Youth Mobilization, click here and visit their blog at philippinesyouthmobilization.blogspot.com.

Hope Breeds Hope…

NAPACOR VillageA Personal Note From Jerry Carnill, ER President & CEO

Dear Friends,

Have you ever been in a situation that appeared hopeless?

At ER, we intentionally interject ourselves into the lives of people who believe there is no hope for their future. For years, we have been privileged to bring help for today and hope for a better future to kids, moms and dads who couldn’t see any way out of their situations.

IMG_3301When we first stepped into the Quito Dump 18 years ago, we encountered hundreds of people living in the trash. Most were working very hard to provide for their families. But they longed for their children to have a better future.

For many of these parents, this dream has come true. The younger children who have attended our preschool are well prepared for primary school.

Hope breeds hope.

Michelle-1The older children who attend our after-school tutoring program are on their way to finishing high school. Moms are now attending a club designed to help them grow personally and as a parent.

Fathers are stepping up to care for their families with the encouragement of the ER staff. Parents have taken advantage of the opportunities provided by ER and their kids are thriving.

Hope breed hope.

IMG_20150729_134613534This new hope has helped 13 families scrimp and save enough money to buy small plots of land. Then, together with ER volunteers and staff, they built block homes with cement floors and roofs that don’t leak.

The world is full of hurting people who have no hope for their future. We have expanded our impact by placing staff members and outreach programs in Asia and Africa to allow us to bring them the same hope that Ecuadorians now enjoy.

Carnills with Masi kidsMany of you receiving this letter have volunteered with us. You may know Dawn and me or other ER staff members. You may even know some of the children we are reaching.

I’m writing to ask for your help. Many kids in our programs are more highly educated than their parents, but are stuck in poverty.

Imagine a child from the Dump community as an expert welder, working in an office or graduating from college. This is not hopeless fantasy. It is an attainable dream! It’s attainable because, with your help, ER can introduce these kids to opportunities that will fuel their hope and open the world to them.

Hope breeds hope.

8591d4e7-e7b5-4ac5-b029-b802c884b3bbWe need you to help the ER kids around the world break out of their extreme poverty. Would you please consider giving a financial gift before the end of this year as part of our matching funds campaign?

You will be helping us begin 2016 knowing we can bring hope for a better future to the dump families in Quito, the boys in our Children’s Home in Manila the kids in our after-school program in Cape Town, and ER partners working in 10 countries.

Together, we can bring life changing hope!

Jason-6P.S. Please click here to support our year-end matching fund drive.  All gifts received by Dec. 30, 2015,  are being matched dollar-for-dollar up to $145,000 by generous donors* A gift of any size will help! Watch this short video to learn more.

*Please note: Designated donations are applied toward those designated needs. Matching funds are applied to ER’s general fund in order to help meet needs around the world.


Jerry Carnill, Extreme Response

Jerry Carnill is President and CEO of Extreme Response International. He co-founded Extreme Response in 1997 following a visit to the Zambiza Dump in Quito, Ecuador. Today, ER operates humanitarian outreach programs in Quito, Manila and Cape Town, as well as formal relationships with 30 humanitarian partners serving the poor in Africa, Asia and the Americas. Contact Jerry at jcarnill@extremeresponse.org.

South Africa Dream Centre Is No Longer a Dream

DSC_0478By Amy Townsend, ER South Africa

When you visit a squatter settlement in South Africa, you immediately realize how devastatingly unfair the world can be, especially for kids. These communities can stretch on for miles and contain thousands of children — all of them at risk for HIV/AIDS, TB, abuse, malnutrition, poverty and hopelessness.

GLL BoyIt would be easy for ER’s South Africa staff, volunteers and partners to be overwhelmed by the scale of the need. Yet the size of the challenge has instead driven our team to think more creatively and strategically.

Could we give these kids a real chance to break out of the vicious cycle in which they tumble? Could we provide enough nutrition, security and structured early- and after-school learning opportunities to allow them to prosper? Do we dare dream that their lives will be filled with hope and tangible opportunities for a better life?

Yes, Yes, and Yes!

Townsend girls and GLL kidsWe are pleased to announced that our dreams are turning into reality with the launch of the ER South Africa Dream Centre near Cape Town. The Dream Centre will serve alongside God’s Little Lighthouse (GLL), with support from ER partner ATAIM, to provide a safe early and primary learning environment for children at risk for falling behind academically. We want to help children learn to dream big dreams and reach their potential.

“The Dream Centre is a dream come true for ER as well, as for the parents and kids we serve,” said ER President and CEO Jerry Carnill. Although the need is great,  we have the right staff in place and a strong legacy to follow. This will be life changing for everyone involved.”

Currently, kids fall behind as they leave GLL to attend a local public school. Now the Dream Centre will provide a safe after-school tutoring and homework help program to enable these kids to succeed academically. The Dream Centre also will partner with schools and parents to ensure the children remain on course with his or her academic studies and provide opportunities for them to develop their talents.

The Little Things Matter

DSC_0408Take the example of Mbali* a very quiet and shy little girl. The youngest of four children, her parents have struggled recently with the loss of a job and had to move into Masiphumelele. At the beginning of the school year, it was obvious that Mbali needed glasses. During story time, she would squint and eventually lose interest in the story. She could not color in the lines or print her name. Teachers sent several notes home, but there just wasn’t money to have her eyes checked.

That’s when ATAIM, GLLH teachers and ER worked together to get her an eye exam. Now Mbali has some wonderful glasses that help her see things more clearly. Her school work improved immediately and she no longer struggles to see. Caring teamwork gave Mabil a chance for a better future.

To get started, the Dream Center will focus on meeting the needs of 15 children from the nearby settlement of Masiphumelele. The kids are mostly older children who attended God’s Little Lighthouse, so they are familiar with ER staff and volunteers. They are primed and ready to learn.

Funding the Dream Centre After-School Program
DSC_0743A new report from researchers at the University of San Francisco reveals that sponsored children are more likely to graduate both secondary school and college, have salaried employment and be leaders in their communities. Sponsorship makes children 27%-40% more likely to complete secondary school and 50%-80% more likely to complete a university education.

This is why The Dream Centre name is so appropriate. You see, poverty causes children to have low self-esteem and aspirations. But a scholarship helps expand children’s views about their own possibilities. With education, we help each child realize he or she is a special gift that can benefit their community, and we encourage them to develop aspirations for their future.

Child sponsorship appears to be the great equalizer in education. In areas where outcomes are worse, such as sub-Saharan Africa, impacts are greater. So we’re pleased to announce the introduction of the Extreme Kids South Africa Scholarship Fund. The fund allows donors to personally impact the future of an at-risk child by providing a scholarship by requiring only small monthly donations.

DSC_1316For just $20 per month, you can provide a scholarship for the children at The Dream Centre or God’s Little Lighthouse. These funds primarily provide school supplies, a safe after-school environment and nutritious snacks. You’ll find complete details on the Scholarship program here, including a helpful FAQ.

Would you consider funding a scholarship for one of these children? Your gift will impact a child for a lifetime, and possibly generations beyond. Click here to donate to the Extreme Kids South Africa Scholarship Fund.

Click here to see a short video of the Dream Centre’s foundation being poured in February 2016.

*Mbali’s name was changed in this article as a matter of privacy.

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.