ER Has Moved Out of the Dump; We Need Your Help!

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By Jerry Carnill, ER President and CEO

IMG_0699Today I am sharing an urgent message. ER is facing one of our biggest challenges ever. It’s always been a bit turbulent serving families who glean their living picking through trash at the Quito Dump, but the agencies that oversee children’s services and health clinics recently told us we needed to leave Dump. They feel it is not a suitable location for childcare. After serving here for 19 years, we initially were surprised, but ultimately embraced the request.

JostinSo we’ve relocated the Child Development Center to a temporary space for the next six months. I am so proud of our ER team, which dropped everything to renovate the new space quickly and move the CDC. Our medical and dental clinics are closed for now.

And there’s more. The government announced the dump would close at the end of the year, leaving 250+ families without a means of support. As you can imagine the families are scared, confused and wondering what to do. They not only face losing their livelihood, community and identity, but their relationship with ER. For years, we’ve cared for them when no one else did. In the face of theses challenges our commitment to help these families has not wavered.

IMG_3301As we’ve seen before, these crises are opportunities to increase our impact and help the families break out of poverty. For example, when the dump bulldozed the homes of those living there, ER and volunteers opened the CDC and started building simple block homes (13 so far) for families.

  • *The new CDC is problematic for many recyclers because it is several miles from the dump.
  • IMAG1512*We’re spending unplanned funds on renovations, utilities and rent (the dump was rent-free).
  • *We’re facing logistical issues with meals, equipment and Ecuadorian staff.
  • *We’re urgently planning how to provide services to help families become self-sustainable.

 

IMAG1526Please join us as we navigate through this disruption and prepare for the future.

We covet your support. We need short-term teams, volunteers, interns and career staff who are interested in pouring into the dump community.

Would you also give to help us cover the extra costs of the new facility and possibly a permanent new location? We need at least $37,000 to meet immediate and future needs. You can also donate online here.

Later this year we will hold the 20th Christmas celebration at the Quito Dump. We would love to have you join us. Please help us as we respond to changing needs. IMG_6835 (2)Thank you for your encouragement!

Jerry Carnill, President and CEO

P.S. – Take a look at this short video of our transition to the CDC!

Jerry Carnill, Extreme ResponseIf you would like to speak with me about this personally, call 404-713-5168 or email me at jcarnill@extremeresponse.org.

ER Intern Captured by the Land and People of Her Heritage

By Allen Allnoch, ER Staff Writer

Tonya stands with members of IBIKE's 3 Wheel Ministry.
Tonya stands with members of IBIKE Ministries in Metro Manila.

Tonya Williams’ father always hoped that his children would one day visit the Philippines. His own father was from Turburan in the Cebu province, and he wanted Tonya to experience “The Land of our People,” as he called it.

Santos Talaugon passed away in 2001, but his daughter has fulfilled his wish twice over, including a two-week ER internship in February. And she hopes to again make the long trip from her home in Santa Maria, California.

“My father was very proud of his heritage,” Tonya recalls. “As I grew up, I remember all the stories he would tell about how his dad grew up in the beautiful land of Cebu. There was never any talk of hardship, poverty or anything negative about his homeland.”

Two of Tonya’s friends, Terri Ramos and Ruth Arteaga, introduced her to ER. After hearing ER Asia’s Joshua Benavidez speak during a visit to California in 2014, she joined the Manila Christmas Team, with whom she helped host six Christmas celebrations and serve more than 800 people.

“One of the bonuses is that I went on my first ER trip with my best friend [Ramos], to a place that would capture my heart,” she says.

Tonya is flanked by Lerma and Mackie Custodio of Youth Mobilization.
Tonya is flanked by Lerma and Mackie Custodio of Youth Mobilization.

The trip impacted her so much, she knew she had to spend more time in the Philippines. Her recent visit was based around Makati, one of 16 cities that make up Metro Manila. There she served with a handful of ER programs, partners and friends, including the Manila Children’s Home, the Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program, Youth Mobilization, IBIKE Ministries and There Is Hope.

Tonya’s work ranged from assisting with various children’s programs to teaching ladies at Golden Hands how to sew aprons.

Tonya celebrated her birthday with members of the Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program.
Tonya celebrated her birthday with members of the Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program.

“This trip was different than the Christmas parties,” she notes. “I was directly involved with the day-to-day operations of each partner, and was able to connect with the team members on a personal level. It was truly a blessing to see each leader’s passion and heart for their communities, and to show love to all they come in contact with.”

She also attended ER Asia staff meetings and came away more impressed than ever with Joshua Benavidez and his wife, Ann. “They are strong leaders with a passion to raise up strong team members,” she says. “The respect from their team members is impressive. All of the staff at Asia ER is excellent at what they do. They strive to be better and have a passion to [impact] as many people as they can.”

Tonya came home filled with fond memories, such as the last day of her stay, when she finished out her assignment with IBIKE Ministries.

Tonya’s last day in Makati was capped by a memorable time with IBIKE Ministries.

“We were walking back to the office, blasting music and laughing and goofing off right in the middle of the day,” she says. “Then we finished the day with a home-cooked meal and all ate with our fingers. We had a great time, and although most of them did not understand a word I was saying, they all were so loving and welcoming to me, I felt like I was part of the family.”

Such memories and hospitality already have Tonya yearning for a return to “The Land of Our People.”

“I fell in love with the people, the land and the work,” she says. “Each time I go, I leave a little bit of my heart there. I have gained many friends and now have a connection that will last a lifetime. My father would be pleased.”

Does Tonya’s trip spark an interest in ER internships? If so, click here to learn how you can go and help make an impact in extreme circumstances.

Sowing Hope While Sewing Clothes

Emily Abajar
Golden Hands has helped Emily Abajar learn not only about sewing, but to have hope in her life.

By Pen Pen Bullo, Extreme Response Asia Staff

In today’s short-cut society, there are “life hacks” that teach us quick and easy ways to fix things. But when it comes to lives broken by poverty, abuse, abandonment, oppression, human trafficking and neglect, there are no short cuts, no simple hacks to make things better.

IMG_6837Faced with huge challenges regarding the plight of women struggling with poverty and lack of hope in the Philippines, the ER Asia staff knew it had to use long-term, sustainable tools to help women and children, who often are marginalized in Filipino society.

About four years ago, a group of mothers and women from a small community of poor informal settlements in Makati City decided to meet on a regular basis. Their purpose is to spend productive time learning more skills rather than hanging out with neighbors playing cards and chatting.

IMG_5668Extreme Response Asia’s Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program took the initiative to train, educate and organize the women, most of whom come from the informal settlements. The aim of the program is to empower and change the lives of women living in extreme and often life-threatening situations.

Last year, program director Anne Benavidez developed a community-based curriculum for the group. They meet once a week for values formation and skills enhancement. They were taught how to do basic sewing and pattern making for skirts, swing bags, double-sided aprons and a whole lot more. During the training, the women developed not only their skills, but also self-confidence and trusted relationships.

Edwina Cautivo
Edwina Cautivo

Edwina Cautivo is one of the members of the group and a single mother of a deaf and mute child. They used to live in a small house with no proper electricity or water supply. During the meetings she was encouraged by the group to find a proper place for her children, a safer home in which to live. With courage and faith, she made the decision to rent an apartment for her family, which we celebrated. She is now an empowered woman with a changed life.

As a group of bonded women, we rejoice when we see that lives are being changed. Lorna Serano (lower right) and Emily Abajar (top of page) are examples of changed lives. Each has experienced abundant blessings and are enjoying the hope of freedom from poverty. Little by little, they are acquiring the skills and talents through the livelihood sewing program which they will use to meet their financial needs.

Lorna Serrano
Lorna Serrano displays one of the bags made by the group.

Emily Abajar is now in the process of launching her own home-based alteration shop She said the skills training received through Golden Hands have given her the opportunity, confidence and knowledge on basic sewing and pattern making. She is excited and looking forward to the culminating ceremony on the April 1. She will be among the first women to graduate from the program.

We at Extreme Response Asia are truly encouraged to see changed lives and empowered women in the community, thriving to overcome poverty, oppression and injustice in the society. Indeed every single day is a blessing, a spark of hope and an avenue for change.

Pen “Pen Pen” Bullo serves at-risk communities in and around Manila as part of her duties with Extreme Response Asia. She also travels to remote villages to help teach disaster preparedness and response.

Learn more about the Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program and our work and partners in Asia .

Every Day Should Be International Women’s Day

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ER volunteer Roxanne Wilson shares a hug with a woman in Quito, Ecuador.

by Kelly McClelland, ER Women’s Advocacy Director

Starting today, you’ll see lots of news stories touting gender equality and equal rights for women in recognition of International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8. This is a worthy cause and deserving of our attention, consideration and support.

But Extreme Response (ER) won’t be holding any special celebrations to mark the occasion. You see, our mission – every day – is to come alongside and help women and children who are struggling with extreme conditions like poverty, abandonment, hunger, lack of education and human trafficking. The women ER and our partners serve are mostly in developing countries like Ecuador, South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, the Philippines, Nepal and Haiti.

Two years ago, we took an extra step to assure that we were focusing on the needs of women by forming the Women’s Advocacy team within ER. These “Extreme Women” are committed to traveling to places of the world where women are forgotten, rejected and have no societal safety net to help them.

“Throughout the world women and children live in substandard conditions in comparison to their male counterparts. We have the ability to make a difference and we have a responsibility to reach out and help these women and children with education, hygiene, counseling care and shelter,” said Kelly McClelland, ER’s Women’s Advocate Director.

It is no small task to help women struggling in these situations. Many have been deeply hurt and often abused. So we start by building trust, acknowledging their self-worth and showing them how much we love and value them. From there we provide encouragement, counseling, skill-building, nutrition and more. It’s a long but worthy road. Helping women looks different in each place we operate so we rely tremendously on our regional staff and partners.

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ER’s Women’s Advocacy team reaches out to women with encouragement, life skills, crafts and helping meet physical needs.

So what does it look look like to actually go and help women in crisis?

Roxanne Wilson is one of our Women’s Advocacy team members from Michigan. She jumped at the chance to visit Ecuador in order to pour into women in crisis. Here is her first-hand account of visiting ER partner Dunamis, a Quito-based organization that helps restore girls from the abuses of human trafficking.

“When I walked into Dunamis, the girls were all seated around a table listening to one of their teachers speaking words of love and encouragement to them,” Roxanne said. “They greeted us with “Holas!” and welcomed us into their safe place with hugs.

“At that moment I was so humbled that these young girls were so willing to spend the day with six U.S. strangers. Our team had planned on doing a manicure for each of the girls while we there. Little did we know that the girls wanted to do them on us! It was such a special time to give and get in return.

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Painting nails is one way the volunteers show honor and build the self-image of at-risk women.

“We were able to communicate to the girls through interpreters. As I listened to them speak, I realized how young they were. Some were just 12 years old. I listened to them talk about hair, make-up, clothes and Taylor Swift. These were all typical “tween” and teenage topics, yet some of these girls already had babies.  All of them had been involved in human trafficking.

“Their families had hurt most of them, yet they still had love and concern for their abusers. ‘How could that be?’, I thought. I cannot fathom the horrors their little eyes have seen. Although I spent only a day with them, their faces and hurts are burned into my memory. The work Dunamis is doing in Quito is so inspiring,” she added.

ER remains committed to helping victims like the girls at Dunamis. Our Extreme Women host volunteer teams, do projects and raise funds for women who have no where else to turn. We would love to have you join us.

KellyExtreme Women is an advocacy program created by women to help women in need. Extreme Women aims to: restore women from human trafficking, counsel the abused and abandoned, provide job training and life skills, develop leaders, and break the cycle of poverty. For additional information on Extreme Women and how you can get involved, please contact Kelly McClelland at a kmcclelland@extremeresponse.org or click here to learn more.  

Dunamis is an ER partner located in Quito, Ecuador, that seeks to restore the rights of young women and adolescents victimized by human trafficking. Its work includes teaching workshops to help young women reintegrate socially and successfully enter the workplace. Many of the girls have children, so Dunamis also has created a childcare program that takes place during workshop hours. The organization is currently seeking to purchase land in order to provide a safe home and training center. Learn more.