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…
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”.
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:
Tell your friends, coworkers, and family members about us.
Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter and learn more about what we’re doing around the world at www.extremeresponse.org/newsletter-signup.
Jenny Reitz-Compere is an ER staff member serving with House of Hope, a children’s home located in northern Haiti. House of Hope serves children who are abandoned, abused, neglected or orphaned. Many of the children suffer from severe illnesses. Here, Jenny shares her most recent report. Jenny hails from Canada and is supported through ER Canada.
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 and we spent as much time as possible together over the weeks I was there. Every time we had a chance to hug Nannie (on 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, and Lala (on left) is just a huge help 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, and 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…
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 conditions, 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.
We are already busy getting things together for the new school year. We have 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.
We appreciate you all and the various ways you help us bring hope to the children and youth of Haiti. Learn more about House of Hope here. Subscribe to Jenny’s blog here.
Alyssa Carrel recently returned from a brief stint as a volunteer with ER partner African Hope Trust. Here she details its work with vulnerable children and its plans to build a new safe house.
My time at African Hope Trust was brief, but oh how refreshing. I struggle to adequately describe what it felt like walking into the two African Hope Trust safe houses, but suffice to say, acceptance, love and peace were a big part of it. The women who run the homes aren’t devoid of struggle, but they all exude a sense of peace and quiet confidence.
Located in the South African township of Masiphumelele, just south of Cape Town, these homes are a safe haven for abandoned, orphaned and abused children. Each employs one to two trained house moms and provides a stable environment for five to seven kids.
Judging from a letter one of the children wrote for Mother’s Day, it’s evident that they know how much they are loved – even when discipline is involved. I couldn’t help laughing when I read, “Thank you for shouting at us in love so that we can understand that it is wrong.”
In addition to its work with kids, African Hope Trust cares for people in emergency circumstances. In the five years since it opened its doors, African Hope Trust has been able to address some 15 short-term emergency cases, such as relocating a child from an abusive uncle’s home. The Trust’s philosophy is while it cannot care for every child in need, it can love as many as possible.
Approximately 40,00 people reside in Masiphumelele, with 50% of them believed to be HIV positive. While anti-retroviral drugs are readily available and free of charge, many still live in fear of the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS, and therefore refuse to be tested or treated. Consequently, countless children are left to fend for themselves.
Before African Hope Trust began, only one orphanage existed in Masiphumelele, and it was created for older children. With African Hope Trust, a gap is being filled, at least in part, for younger children in need.
African Hope Trust now is seeking to build and open a third home in Masiphumelele, which would allow for the care of six more children. That would mean six fewer children living in extreme circumstances and wondering where their next meal will come from.
These children need someone to love them and African Hope Trust offers exactly that. The “mamas” care for the children as they do their own. In one of the children’s words, “They give me more love that I didn’t have before.” All these mamas want is a chance to love them – to show them a love that is greater than life. Listening to these kids, it’s evident they have succeeded.
Click here to learn more about African Trust and its plans for a new safe home.
ER’s Jenny Reitz Compere represents House of Hope in Haiti, a children’s home that cares for up to 80 kids who are orphaned, neglected or abandoned, many suffering from health issues. House of Hope is located in northern Haiti. In her most recent update, she shared this heart-warming cause for celebration.
“Greetings to all our friends and supporters. Thank you so much for the prayers for our students who were writing the exams. They all feel they did pretty well — time will tell — now they just have to wait to get the results back, which will likely take a month or two.
“A couple of months ago, two of our lovely little girls found a forever family here in Haiti. Our pediatrician here at the hospital had a sister who wanted to adopt some children. Unable to have their own children, she asked her sister to watch out for some little girls who needed a home. She found two of our little girls, Rose and Julienne, who do not have homes to return to.
“They came up from Port-au-Prince to meet the girls and it was love at first sight! Now, the girls have joined their family and are fitting right in. As you can see from the picture of Rose in their new home, they appear to be very happy.
“It doesn’t happen often (adoptions), but when it does we are thrilled to have our little ones find a family here in Haiti to adopt them. As you can imagine, it was an emotionally difficult day when they came to take the girls with them. Both girls have been with us since they were just a few months old. Yet we are thankful for more people in Haiti who are willing to love and care for these children and now we can receive others in their place. We look forward to filling their beds again!
“Thanks for your support that helps us bring hope in so many different ways to the children and youth who come through our doors.”
Read more about House of Hope here, sign up for their blog here and make donations here.
Jason left home at a young age, deciding that Manila street life was preferable to living with an abusive and negligent father.
He scavenged garbage for recyclers and sold illegally acquired tickets to sporting events and concerts. He had not been to school since he was in fifth grade, but deep down, he had a dream to finish his studies.
Three years ago, Jason began a remarkable comeback story when he learned about Support A Child Community Learning Center, a new ER partner in Quezon City, a Manila suburb.
Along with other street children and out-of-school youth, Jason enrolled in Alternative Learning System (ALS), a non-formal education plan operated by Support a Child and other organizations for the local Department of Education.
Jason failed his first ALS exam. But he didn’t learn to survive on the street without a streak of tenacity, and he put that to use in his new studies. He continued his education and ultimately passed the entrance exam for Working Hands, a vocational skills program in which he took up computer literacy training.
Today Jason, 18, is one of SCSF’s junior staff members for serving street children, and is active in the organization’s youth discipleship program. In March he graduated from Working Hands with certification in computer technology. There to witness his accomplishment were his older brother and his mother, Lyn, whom he not seen in some 15 years. She made a 36-hour trip by boat to be with her son for the occasion.
Jason now is embarking on an on-the-job training initiative that will enhance his computer skills and prepare him for a career in computers.
Meanwhile he’ll continue to serve street children, and he has expressed interest in becoming a pastor
Considering the determination he’s exhibited in his young life so far, he’ll achieve that goal too. And he’ll surely be an inspiration to many.
Canadian Aimee Hurtubise is helping to change lives through Ignite South Africa. Extreme Response Canada is pleased to be the sending organization for Aimee.
The first time I drove into Qwa Qwa, South Africa, I knew I was home. I still feel that way 10 years later. Although I have spent half of the last decade living in Canada, the moment I moved back to Qwa Qwa last year I knew I had returned to a place that will always be my home away from home.
Qwa Qwa is a place filled with challenges, endless potential, cold winters and the warmest people. It is where I get to make a difference in the lives of orphaned and at-risk youth while being surrounded by my African family, and I can’t imagine doing life any other way.
I am able to do this work through Ignite South Africa. This organization is dedicated to developing leaders of all ages and empowering them to impact their schools, communities, country and homes.
Many young women in Qwa Qwa struggle with unplanned pregnancies. The girls typically range in age from 13-18, although I’ve seen them as young as 12. Most will keep their babies because adoption is seen in a very negative light in our community, although we will walk with the girls through either parenting or adoption.
Statistically, 25% will be HIV positive and suffer from hunger and poor nutrition. Those who will be staying with us have no where else to live. They are afraid, alone and overwhelmed. If they are orphaned or have been kicked out of their home for being pregnant, they also may be dealing with abandonment issues.
While there are no accurate statistics on teenage pregnancies in our area, we believe they are on the rise. There are flyers advertising “safe” illegal abortions on every pole, board or free space in our community. So many girls choose abortion because there is no support for them should they decide to become a parent or gift their child through adoption. We want to provide an alternative and make parenting a viable option for these girls.
House of Refuge
The Ntlo ya Setshabelo (House of Refuge) is a maternity home for orphaned or at-risk pregnant teens that we are in the process of developing. Our vision is to offer a place of safety, mentoring and encouragement to provide a solid foundation.
The girls who enter our program will be in intermediate or high school, have limited or no support from their families and must agree to fully participate in the home’s practices. This means they want to learn how to be a good mom and are willing to put in the effort.
The girls will be expected to continue their education and attend classes designed to help their development, including budgeting and life/parenting/small business skills needed to help support their families. We try to offer everything they will need to parent on their own. Our goal is to see them graduate as capable and confident mothers who will positively impact their children and their communities.
Our mentoring program will connect each girl with an older female from the community who can guide and support them. Each girl will begin this relationship while living in the home with the hope it will continue throughout her lifetime.
Ignites’ Executive Director June Blanshan shares this background on why we are introducing the the home.
“We decided to move forward with the home when we discovered that the girls were experiencing abuse and manipulation by providing sex in exchange for food, toiletries and other items. Their situations already appeared hopeless, but adding pregnancy into the mix made these girls feel trapped. Often they choose ‘safe, pain-free abortions’, which translates into illegal abortions. We believe the death rate, sterility and other complications from these unregulated clinics to be astronomically high.”
The Story of Mpho
Blanshan also shares this story about a girl who Ignite helped.
Mpho (named changed to protect her privacy) was planning to end her pregnancy as she was already was struggling to support her three-year-old child. It was difficult for her to even to put food on their table and most days they did not have electricity. She was HIV positive and the father refused to be involved. She was alone and scared.
“One of our Ignite leaders knew her and shared about adoption. I was called in to talk with Mpho because I had gifted a child for adoption. Mpho was excited about this opportunity and decided adoption would be a good choice for her. We promised to walk alongside her and help her connect with services in the community.
“Unfortunately, Mpho’s delivered her baby the next week, prior to contacting social workers. She informed the nurses and a hospital social worker of her intent to place her child for adoption and therefore she did not want to see the baby. The response was…I’m sure you can guess.
“Mpho was basically ignored, or when spoken to, demeaned. The social worker and nurses were downright cruel. Finally, the social worker informed Mpho she would be in the hospital for six months if she wanted to adopt her baby because that was how long court time would take. Mpho already had a child at home who needed to be cared for, so this was not an option. The social worker sat down with us and shared a ‘secret’. If Mpho said she would keep her baby, they would discharge her. What she did with the child after that was completely up to her.
“Mpho chose that option and we cared for her baby as she thought through what she wanted to do. After a week she decided to keep and raise her baby. We remain involved with the family and help as we can. All three are doing well.”
Based on this experience, we decided to provide the support systems and identify other community support for the young mothers. Currently, my efforts are focused on building a solid foundation for the home. This includes applying for grants and fundraising to allow us to purchase and furnish the actual dwelling. Our goal is to open our doors to our first pregnant teens by the end of 2016.
Interested in helping Aimee? Contact her via email, follow her on Facebook or click here to partner with Ignite South Africa.
“Every human should be able to sleep on a mattress.” – Travis Clark
Would you travel 9,500 miles – each way – at your own expense – to have your heart wrecked by some orphans? That’s what happened to eight volunteers from Canvas, a San Francisco-area church, when a team led by lead pastor Travis Clark and his wife Jena visited Belwop Rescue Centre.
And get this…they want to go back.
When the Canvas team traveled to Nyeri, Kenya, to visit the kids a Belwop, they intended to do some projects and spend time with the kids. But they got way more than they bargained for.
“We definitely saw the lives of our team changed,” Travis said. “Their lives were impacted in a way that only hands-on missions can do. When you get a hug from one of these kids, it’s not just a ding; it wrecks your heart.
“The trip really filled our tanks with compassion and generosity. It helped us meet physical needs and love our neighbors in another country. It allowed us to connect personally to Belwop and its mission of rescuing kids.”
The Clarks first encountered Belwop while Travis was serving as a young adults pastor in Arizona. He joined a team that traveled to visit Belwop in 2012. During that first visit, Travis learned that building relationships could be more powerful than meeting physical needs.
“I was personally impacted by a little boy named Peter. I met him the first time I was at Belwop when he was in second grade. He’s now in sixth grade and we picked up where we left off. He’s my guy there.
“We had so many good moments. I asked Peter if he could go anywhere in the world, where would he choose to go. He said he wanted to visit me in my home.
“Saying goodbye was another special moment. Peter tried to act tough. He stared at the ground. But then I bear-hugged him and the floodgates opened. We experienced a deep love for each other. It was the second time I said goodbye to Peter and it was definitely harder because our relationship was deeper.”
Travis also shared a special relationship between a Canvas team member, Angelique, and a Belwop girl named Judy.
“Angelique really connected with Judy because they shared some of the same things. Judy was struggling with loneliness and isolation and Angelique was able to identify with that and speak into her life. Judy was very quiet when we first arrived, but not when we left.
“Kids like Peter and Judy break your heart in a good way.”
The January 2016 Canvas trip to Belwop was the fulfillment of a passion the Clarks have carried since their first trip where they met Veronica Mumbi, who oversees the children’s home. Travis started sharing Belwop’s story soon after joining Canvas in 2013.
Travis said the team had goals that went beyond doing good works.
“First, we wanted to accomplish the practical by meeting tangible needs, those we knew about and those we didn’t. We wanted to leave Belwop better than we found it.
“Second, we wanted to build relationships. Our approach is to support a few key relationships but with deeper impact. So we brought Veronica to Canvas for some pre-trip meetings to build rapport.
“Our team now has faces to associate with names. We can tell stories about the kids by name. Most of our team had never traveled outside the U.S., except maybe to Mexico for vacation. It created a bit of shock when they saw how the kids at Belwop live. It brought about the realities.
“The kids a Belwop don’t have much, but their joy is rich,” Travis added. “It was convicting to the team and caused us to re-evaluate our priorities.”
One particular situation created a wonderful opportunity for the Canvas team to be generous.
“We did not know about the need for beds before getting to Belwop. While we were there Nick Carnill (ER Africa Team Leader) asked Veronica to name a big need at Belwop. She mentioned the kids’ mattresses. The kids were sleeping on one-inch-thick foam and cardboard. Once we saw that, we knew we wanted to supply not just the mattresses, but new sheets, blankets and bedframes too.”
The sight of new beds and bedding sent the kids into a frenzy of joy.
Last week the Canvas family came together and provided new beds, mattresses, sheets, blankets and pillows for over 30 kids at the Belwop Children's Home in Kenya. For those of you who were a part of making this happen, here's a quick peek at the their reactions! Thanks for leading the way in generosity Canvas!
“It was a huge win for the kids,” Travis said.
“They share everything, but their beds are special, something they can call their own and be proud of. Every human should be able to sleep on a mattress.”
The Clarks and the Canvas community hope to return to Belwop, perhaps as early as this summer.
“People definitely came back from the trip on fire. We pitched a second trip for August and more than 20 people said they want to go.
“We’d love to do two trips a year, one that is more relationship-focused and another that is more work-focused like a building project. We’d like to find a way to get both men and women engaged.”
My name is Toto. I am 12 years old Grade 2 student. Today I live at the Manila Children’s Home and my life has changed a lot.
I was a failure in my education. I failed three times during my childhood years; once in Kindergarden and twice in Grade 1. I failed in school because I spent more time focused on my peers rather than myself and my studies. I also struggled because my parents failed to guide and support me. I did not have any school allowances. Before going to school, I ate as much food as I could so I would not get hungry until classes ended. I didn’t even have a decent school uniform. During that time, I was sad.
When I was brought to Extreme Response’s Manila Children’s Home, there was a time that I attempted to run away. “I don’t want to be here” I said to myself. Then the staff talked to me. They made me realize what life awaits me if ER was allowed to help me. My decision was right.
First, I enrolled as Grade 2 student, knowing that I finished my Grade 1. During validation, my social worker discovered that I din’t have any existing school records. The school decided to transfer me back to Grade 1. I was disappointed and became lazy, but during those times the staff supported me and did not forsake me.
Now I am in Grade 2. I also took the acceleration test, the Philippine Educational Placement (PEP) Test. I am one of the students who was given an opportunity to accelerate to higher grade and I feel glad about it. Though I was nervous that time, I know, the staff and my fellow children were supporting me.
My family is my inspiration. I want to help them and to make it happen, I need to continue and finish my education. My dream is to be a sea captain someday. Why sea captain? It’s because it pays a lot and more than enough to help my family. This time is the best time of my life and my dream would be possible through education.
Kids who come from broken families, like Toto, often wind up as street kids. Their futures are pretty bleak. That’s why ER launched the Manila Children’s Home. Our ER Asia staff care for these kids in every way – nutrition, healthcare, education/tutoring and a loving family environment.
In order to meet the needs of all the kids in the MCH, we launched Edukids20. Edukids20 allows sponsors to come alongside these kids to provide for their schooling, supplies, lunch and tutoring. We’re in need of sponsors at just $20 per month. Would you be willing to sponsor a kid like Toto?
“Education can help you to read better, speak better and gain valuable skills needed to find a good job. Education can provide you with information necessary for being a good citizen in a globalized world by giving you a better understanding of the beliefs and customs of other cultures. Thanks to education, you will be less likely to believe myths and superstitions and more likely to make intelligent decisions.” – Donna Halper
Editor’s note: Toto’s name has been changed in order to safeguard his identity.
A Personal Note From Jerry Carnill, ER President & CEO
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.
When 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.
The 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.
This 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.
Many 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.
We 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!
P.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 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 email@example.com.