Category Archives: Changing Lives

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.

Helping School Kids Blossom In Ecuador

IMG_0753

By Tim Fausch, ER Communications

IMG_0750Filled with joy, the young boy ran out of the classroom, down the stairs and found his father in the school courtyard. He held the bag up high like a boy showing off a trophy or a new video game. During the next hour, he clutched the bag tightly as though it contained treasure.

What was in that bag? Gold? Money? Candy? No just basic school supplies. Pencils, erasers, paper, markers, etc.

IMG_0737For many kids, these supplies would be met with modest appreciation. But here at the Buen Pastor Inglesia Elementary School outside of Quito, Ecuador, they represent valuable gifts that kids will use for school, homework and creative fun. Many of the families simply cannot afford school supplies.

In late August, ER staff had the opportunity to visit the school, which was ramping up for the 2016-17 year. 50 kids showed up to register for classes and each received a bag of IMG_0738school supplies. There were smiles all the way around, from the kids to the teachers to the administrators. The supplies will allow these kids to start the school year on track. Keeping the kids and their families motivated and confident can make the difference between staying in school and prospering, or dropping out and getting stuck in a cycle of poverty.

The school has grown quickly in recent years, thanks partially to classrooms built by short-term ER volunteer construction teams. IMG_0744ER’s Paul and Susan Fernane have shepherded several teams of hardy volunteers who enthusiastically laid block, poured concrete and built walls and roofs, all while loving on the kids and families. 390 kids now attend the Kindergarten through Grade 5 school.

Buen Pastor’s Ramiro Baez took the opportunity to fire up the kids and challenged them to be ready to start classes. He then shared his passionate vision for the school and the community with ER staff. He desperately wants to see this generation of IMG_0751kids flourish.

Despite the recent attendance growth of the school, the added classrooms and higher quality of education, needs remain. The school is  short about 50 desks as they begin the year, each costing about $50 to build.

Interested in supplying a desk or two for these kids?  Click here and designate your gift “Buen Pastor Desks”.

Many thanks to ER supporters and volunteers who have generously poured into kids in places like Ecuador. Learn more about Buen Pastor here.

Xulon Project Responds To Extreme Needs in Nepal

Xulon ProjectXulon Project 2015-16 Partner UpdatePokhara, Nepal – Xulon Project equips individuals and groups to show love to their community and see lives transformed with purpose and hope for the future. This includes hosting youth camps and providing relief for earthquake victims.

Impact Snapshot: “After the 2015 earthquake, we were able to mobilize volunteers and help people in practical ways. This has helped us learn to work on a bigger scale with a larger network of people to address people’s needs.” – Paulas Panday

2015 Highlights

  • Served 85 children through after-school programs and weekly kids clubs.
  • Provided 355 solar-powered lamps for families who lost homes in the earthquake.
  • Provided emergency shelter and materials for 195 families.
  • Provided school backpacks and supplies for 354 children in 6 villages.
  • Provided jackets, shawls, hats and blankets for 1,668 people in five villages.

IMG_12322016 Top Goal

Xulon Project hosted a Leader Mundial leadership training program for young leaders who want to impact their generation with hope and healing.

Changed Life Story

Last year in August we held a staff meeting in our office to determine what else we should do in the winter for those who were impacted by the earthquake. Because we had met and served hundreds of families through Hope Camp, we wanted to prepare people for the harsh winter approaching them.

women receives blankets for her familySo we contacted the local coordinator who is our volunteer leader to organize relief work in the village. We collected data and raised funds by October. And by November, we were in village with two truckloads of items to give to villagers who had lost their homes in high mountain area.

When the mainstream media reported that the high hill and mountain people in Nepal were in desperate conditions, we had already given winterization materials (shawls, jackets, hats, blankets, etc.) to 381 families in five villages.

We were so pleased to help these villages. Xulon Project was able to bring life and hope to these communities.

Learn more: www.cyfm-nepal.org.

Summer Fun Wraps Up; School Prep Begins For Recycling Kids

QFRC Afterschool Program - VBS

DSC_0228 By Robyn Wallace

Summer for the impoverished children of Quito, Ecuador often signifies empty homes, endless hours unsupervised, or scavenging for money in the streets through recycling, begging, and selling.

Not for the children who attend Extreme Response’s after-school program this summer! Robbie Murdoch, our program coordinator, and his team created a safe, fun, and educational program as a refuge for the children of recyclDSC_0201ing families, including many parents who work in the Quito Dump.

Games, stories, passage memory, crafts and a hot, nutritious meal greeted 25 children for five solid weeks. What a joy to watch children enjoy the freedom to be young, romping around and filling the Family Resource Center with laughter!

As summer wraps up, anxious families try to figure out how to send their children back to school with the required supplies and uniforms. Imagine earning $0.50-$1.00/hour and finding an extra $150 for each child to attend school by September.

Frankly, it is a daunting prospect and is why Extreme Response is committed to assisting our after-school families with their goal of creating a new future for their children through education. This is a goal we fight for every day when home DSC_0335finances scream a different message; a message lobbying that it is better to send kids to the streets to help support their families than to send them to school.

Let’s make our message loud and clear. School is where change sprouts and blooms. Join us and help send children to school! $1,600 will help cover the costs of dozens of families that cannot afford to buy the pencils, paper and uniforms required to attend free public school. Can you help meet this need? $25 would be big; $100 would be huge.

If you would like to donate to the school supply/uniform drive, click here. Please designate your gift: “Quito School Supplies”.

Robyn WIMG_5534allace has been serving in Quito, Ecuador, since 2014. Robyn oversees Children’s Programming for ER’s Quito Dump Program. She has been instrumental in identifying curriculum and testing so the kids in the Dump Child Development Center (Dump Daycare) can enter preschool and kindergarten at levels on par with other kids. She recently added middle and high school kids to her responsibilities.

Lala and Nannie Thriving In House Of Hope Haiti

tati Jen & her girls (Medium)

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.

tati jen & lyse (Medium)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.

Fanning the Flame

By Dawn Carnill
 
kindle3
Mrs. Zione Maloni is a widowed mother of eight from a small village in Malawi. She’s also a beneficiary of the Kindle Orphan Outreach Kolezani program.

Kolezani means “kindle a fire” and comes from the idea of fanning a small spark into a brightly burning fire. Kindle wants to do just that – help families use the knowledge and resources they have, add to them, and show them how they can become self sufficient and even thrive.

kindle1Kindle (Kids in Need Deserve Love and Encouragement) is a long-time Extreme Response partner. They exist to address the physical, mental, social and spiritual needs of orphans, vulnerable children and their guardians within their own communities through education, healthcare and community development.

The Kolezani project is party of their community development program. They have developed a five-year program for Mrs. Maloni and her children, helped them with training, fertilizer, seeds and livestock at various times in the five years, with a gradual weaning from Kindle support as they save money to purchase items for themselves.

kindle2This year the the family is expected to harvest 30 50-kilogram bags of maize, which is expected to provide them with food for the entire year. They also will have a good harvest of peanuts and “cow” nuts. With the sale of their goats and extra harvest, Mrs. Maloni has been able to pay for schooling for two of her four high school-aged children. The other two are supported through Kindle’s school sponsorship program. She also is nurturing 572 trees.

Kindle is helping fan the flame for Mrs. Maloni and her eight children. She’s a great example of how Kindle is making an impact on the local communities it serve s, one family at a time.

Learn more about Kindle Orphan Outreach at www.kindlemw.org.