Team Omaha: Building Homes, Changing The Lives Of Dump Families

2016 Robles Guachi

 By John Toney, Team Omaha

Arriving late in Quito, Ecuador on July the 19, 2016, a team from Omaha, NE of 23 people arose early the next morning to join the ER team, Ricardo Vaca Maila and Luis Anibal Maila Vaca. Our purpose was to contruct a new house for Pedro and Martha Robles Guachi, and their three children, Mario, Estefanía and Stalin.

It was a great experience to undertake this project that had been planned for nearly a year for the family that had never owned their own home. We could see and sense their excitement knowing that in just a few days they would have a new place to live.

The work of constructing external and internal walls, tiling and setting the windows and door began in earnest. Great progress was made the first couple of days with the family working right alongside the team. To complete the project, an additional 500 concrete blocks were off-loaded by the family and team members.

Team Omaha 2016Seeing that the house was well ahead of schedule it was decided to begin building an addition for Pedro and Martha’s daughter, son-in-law and baby girl. This required an additional 1,000 concrete blocks. While the addition was not completed by the time our team departed, the family, working with Ricardo and Luis, were able to finish it one week later.

House and Addition

Then came move-in day. The family was sent away while everything was readied for the homecoming celebration. Furniture purchased for the project was put in place, beds were made, curtains were hung and the kitchen stocked with food and water. Clothing for each family member also was placed in the chest-of-drawers in each room.

Team OmahaEven though the family worked alongside the team in construction, they were completely surprised to see all the other things that were in their new house. For a family with so little who work in the Zambiza dump to eke out a meager living, their new home was like a gift from heaven. Their gratitude, expressed in spoken word, many tears of joy and praise could not be contained. The lives of the Robles Guachi family have been forever changed, as well as many others who witnessed the building project.

For Team Omaha, it was also a life-changing event as we were able to tangibly give to a family something so basic as a place to live and to call their own. We, too, shed many tears of joy as we celebrated with them.

DSC05026For some of the team members, it was the first experience in building a house and providing for people in desperate need, while for other ‘veterans’ it was a labor of love that began some nine years ago when Team Omaha built its first house.

For everyone it was richly fulfilling to work until we ached and then to see this wonderful family’s gratitude and joy of for their new home. Team Omaha is forever grateful for the opportunity to be associated with Extreme Response and Paul and Susan Fernane serving needy families in Quito, Ecuador.

Extreme Response has built 14 homes (view video here) for families in the Quito Dump Community. Interested in sending a volunteer team to build, repair, instruct, provide healthcare, sports camps, etc.? Click here to learn more.

House of Hope Haiti: Joy Blooms Despite Challenges

tati Jen & her girls (Medium)
ER’s Jenny Reitz Compere serves on behalf of House of Hope, a Children’s Home in Northern Haiti that cares for up to 80 kids, many of whom are experiencing severe illness, emotional distress, abuse, neglect or abandonment upon their arrival. She shared these updates in recent blogs.
I am back from my trip to Haiti.  It was a wonderful time for all of us and as always ended too soon! I have many stories to share and hope to do that in bits and pieces over the next few weeks.
Of course, seeing my two girls just made my trip. We spent as much time as possible together over the weeks I was there. Every time we had a chance to hug Nannie (on the right) would tell me, “I’m not done with you yet” and the hug would go on for a while longer.
They are both doing really well though. Lala (on the left) is just a huge help to Linda with all of the younger kids. I’m so proud of both of them. Lala brings a seriousness of someone who knows the importance of bringing order out of chaos. Nannie comes along behind and brings an insatiable joy to every aspect of life.

Another highlight for me was finally getting to hold little Lyse.  What a precious little girl.  I was surprised to see how alert she was; she is a fighter and is just fighting for her life with all her might.  Here we are…

tati jen & lyse (Medium)Every day is touch-and-go for little Lyse as she can hardly go a week without needing a blood transfusion.  This makes each day stressful for her mom and dad as blood is not always easy to find.  They asked me to pass along their thank you to you all for keeping them in your prayers.

On my way into Haiti, I received a phone call from a friend in Miami who has a doctor friend who wants to see if he can help us help Lyse.  While we do not know if anything really can be done to help her complicated condition(s), we are so thrilled to have that possibility arise.  I was able to get all the information we needed to write a complete medical history for her.  We have sent it to the doctor and are just waiting for him to get back to us with his thoughts.  Please continue to remember this family.

Linda is busy in getting things together for the new school year. She has many uniforms to get made as well as decisions as to who should study in which school. One of our biggest needs as the start of the school year looms before us is the finances to pay the tuition, books and uniforms for the year. There are 50 students and the cost is $300/year to send them to school.

In addition, the hospital next door is asking us to pay off some of our debt. We have come to a place where we are really in need of your help at this moment. We have mentioned the financial struggle we have had off and on for the past couple of year.  We are so grateful for everyone one of you who has been a part of the House of Hope family over the years; whether it is through giving of your time or resources or your encouragement and prayers.

The past couple of weeks have been tough as we are receiving more and more pressure to pay off the debt to the hospital. It has been around for a long time and no matter how hard we have worked to reduce it, more expenses continue to be added to it.  The pressure to pay it has become more intense.
We realize not everyone is able to help us in a financial way. But if you are, would you please consider helping.

We appreciate you all and the various ways you help us bring hope to the children and youth of Haiti.  

Sign up for Jenny’s blog here. To donate, click here and designate your gift “House Of Hope Haiti”.

Let’s Celebrate! 20 Ways To Engage With ER This Year

ER Save the Date 20 Year Postcard

Having grown up in Ecuador and experiencing ER’s outreach to the poorest of the poor first-hand, Rheanna Cline created the following list to encourage everyone to celebrate 20 years of ER Christmas parties in the Quito Dump.

By Rheanna Lea Cline

Through the work of Extreme Response, thousands of people living in extreme situations are experiencing significant life change. With programs and partners in nine countries, ER provides many opportunities to get involved in our life-changing work with at-risk people. Here are a few of those opportunities:

  1. Tell your friends, coworkers, and family members about us.
  2. Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter and learn more about what we’re doing around the world at www.extremeresponse.org/newsletter-signup.
  3. Like us on Facebook.
  4. Join one of our Christmas Outreach Teams to bring hope to the hopeless during the holidays.
  5. Bring a few of your friends together to donate $100/month to Safe180 and help a girl rescued from human trafficking stay in a safe home.
  6. Check out our Changing Lives Blog to read more about the people impacted by our work.
  7. Become a coach in our Leadership Community to help encourage and inspire developing leaders.
  8. Donate to our Extreme Women initiative to help us provide education, counseling, intervention, nourishment, medical support, and job training for at-risk women.
  9. Gather a few friends from your church, school, or business to go on an Extreme Team volunteer trip.
  10. Consider joining our team as a Career Worker to use your skills and talents for one year or more to help the poor and vulnerable of the world.
  11. Give $20/month to provide for all of one boy’s needs for a year in our Manila Children’s Home.
  12. Host your own fundraising event, such as a car wash or bake sale, and send the funds through ER to ensure that those most in need benefit from your efforts.
  13. Follow us on Instagram.
  14. Host an informational event at your home with one of our leaders there to speak to your group.
  15. Shop through AmazonSmile and select ER as your designated charity to have 0.5% of all purchases automatically donated to us.
  16. Donate a few dollars a month to the Extreme Kids Scholarship Fund to cover the costs for a South African kid to attend and stay in school.
  17. Send your disaster relief donations to ER and directly impact people affected by the disaster.
  18. Donate $20/month to provide a Quito Dump Kid with lunch for a full month.
  19. Collect hygiene items and toys for our Christmas Parties around the world.
  20. Intern with us for a summer at one of our locations in South America, Africa or Asia.

For more information on any of these opportunities, please visit our website at www.extremeresponse.org or contact us by email at info@extremeresponse.org.

Caro’s Story: Growing Up in the Dump Community

caro.12.2014

Written By Dawn Carnill

Caro.11.2006Caro was born just days after our daycare center opened in the Quito garbage dump. Her mother had been working there since she was a child herself– gleaning things she could use and mining for recyclables to sell. Caro’s two older sisters spent their toddler and preschool years with their mother in the trash.

Less than a year before Caro’s birth, the Ecuadorian government restructured the dump, assigning an environmental foundation to oversee the workers, and to prohibit any children from being on the site with their parents. It was a good regulation. It was a much-needed regulation. But it was a very difficult one for these families. They were earning only dollars a day. How could they pay someone to watch their children?

Caro.12.2006Extreme Response had been hoping to start a daycare center for the dump community for quite awhile. When we approached those that were in charge of the facility, we were told it wasn’t necessary.

But then, just like that, it was.

The new foundation came to us, at the request of their workers, to ask if we would open a daycare center for their children. That center (now known as the Quito Child Development Center or CDC) DSC_0051.JPGofficially started on April 17, 2006. That very first day, only one mom was brave enough to leave her child with us. Her name was Veronica and she was about 18 months old. Just a month or so later, baby Caro and her two older sisters (ages 4 & 3) started coming after their mother realized how this new daycare could benefit her kids.

Caro and all 5 of her sisters attended our daycare center and preschool until they aged out. They also attended the annual Christmas party in the dump. Although the girls aren’t yet enrolled in 18.jpgour after school program at the Quito Family Resource Center, the younger ones are on a waiting list to attend. Teresa Jimenez, co-director of the QFRC has built a relationship with their mother over the years.

As with so many other children whose parents work recycling the trash there in Quito, Caro and her sisters have grown up in our Quito Dump Program. We’ve watched them grow from infants to school aged children – some are even in high school now. We are thankful for those of you that have given to make Caro’s life, and so many others, a better one.

See how the Quito CDC looks today here. Learn more about our Quito Kids Program here.

Calling All ER Friends and ‘Alumni’   

ER Save the Date 20 Year Postcard

ER is celebrating 20 years of Christmas parties by gathering in 11 locations in the U.S. and Canada this fall. If you’ve volunteered or supported ER’s work any any time during the last 20 years, we invite you to attend one of these gatherings:

  • Atlanta/Lawrenceville, GA (Sept. 22)
  • Simcoe, Canada (Oct. 1)
  • Detroit/Lake Angeles/Rochester Hills, MI (Oct. 8 and 9)
  • Rensselear, IN (Oct. 11)
  • Indianapolis/Fishers, IN (Oct. 13)
  • Dallas, TX (Oct. 20)
  • Santa Maria, CA (Nov. 5)
  • Lancaster, CA (Nov. 6)
  • Glendora, CA (Nov. 10)
  • Orange County, CA (Nov. 12)

Come hear some incredible highlights, heartwarming stories and new opportunities. For more information, please email Rheanna Lea Cline at rlcline@extremeresponse.org.