Category Archives: Education

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.

Helping School Kids Blossom In Ecuador

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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.

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.

Volunteers Pour Into Families, Build Classrooms For Kids

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By Paul Fernane

ER’s Paul Fernane directs short-term teams in the Americas, with a majority of those trips taking place in Ecuador where he is stationed. Below, Paul shares the recent impact created by a team from Washington state.

13432242_10209580415128723_2131413342038100721_nThe team from Kennewick Baptist Church did an awesome job of strengthening their relationship with our partner Buen Pastor, an organization that serves impoverished people in Pifo, Ecuador. The team worked alongside ER staff and spent some special moments with them throughout their stay. The staff opened their homes, shared meals, challenged the team and created memories.

IMG_20160624_155146603_HDR - CopyER’s Jose and Teresa Jimenez, who also pastor a church in nearby San Carlos, hosted the team at their home and enjoyed having the team help with their Community Kids Clubs.

The team spent time in three different communities and brought joy to the kids there. It is fun to see how spending time with kids and playing simple games like Duck, Duck, Goose, providing a craft and Beanie Baby can brighten up a kid’s face.

Kennewick 2016One of the most impactful time was when the team visited three families that earn their living recycling items from the Quito garbage. The first visit was hard. Margarita, the wife and mother of the first family, was physically and emotionally abused the night before we met. We had to meet her at the Quito Family Resource Center because she had to leave her home. The team had brought food, clothes, hygiene items and a soccer ball for her children.

IMG_20160629_092111909_HDR - CopyHowever,  the team demonstrated warmth to her that morning and that meant so much more than the gifts. The team visited two more families that day and delivered the items and demonstrated heartfelt love to them too.

The classroom construction took shape during 10 days. Pastor Ramiro said no group had tried to do three classrooms before and complimented the team for giving such great effort. The classrooms will be a huge blessing 13502008_10209580404768464_8992857601217032962_nto the high school when classes resume after the summer break.

The team is already brainstorming about what to do in 2017.

Want to bring a team of volunteers and impact the lives of at-risk families in one of the 10 countries where ER serves? Our short-term teams typically spend 7-10 days doing educational support, sports camps, home/school construction, light maintenance and health screenings. Click here to learn more.

Fast Track: Sebastian Learns To Read

Erica Recalde helps Sebastion learn to read
Erica Recalde helps Sebastian learn to read.

ER’s Robbie Murdock shares this story about how one boy’s life will be changed forever because of the work that takes in the After-School Program at the Quito Family Resource Center.

DSC_0779Sebastian has been part of our after school program since September of 2014 when he started first grade. This year we started to notice that he was behind. While the other kids in his grade were reading and writing by themselves, Sebastian couldn’t recognize even the letters that made up the words he was trying to read. Writing was not even an option. The result of being behind meant he was constantly frustrated during homework time. He was regularly acting out and causing problems. It was also nearly impossible for him to do his homework without one of our teachers sitting down next to him and writing out his answers for him to copy.
When we got his grades from school we realized that the problem was worse than we thought. His teacher was ignoring how behind he was and giving him passing grades in every course. For Sebastian to finish this year and go on to the third grade without the ability to read and write would spell disaster, so we decided to take action.
We began a lesson plan to work on his letter recognition and his reading skills immediately. Our teacher Erika would spend about a half hour before our program working hard with Sebastian, and it was amazing how quickly the results came. Within a month of working with him one-on-one, Sebastian was able to write words that we said to him.
He still has a long way to go. He struggles with reading comprehension and still needs to work at spelling independently, but we are confident that he is going to move on to the third grade and succeed.
Click here to learn more about the kids of Dump families, and how we are providing them with help and hope.

The Comeback Kid

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.

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Jason, middle, with his mother and brother.

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.

Joy in the Moment, and in Dreams for Tomorrow

By Alyssa Carrel
ER Volunteer to South Africa

KayleenCollageChildren are known for their wild imaginations, the stories they create, the way they dream. But for a child growing up in poverty, dreams are a luxury they typically can’t afford.

That’s why the South Africa Dream Centre is so important to children like Kayleen.

This adorable little spitfire from Zimbabwe is a joy to be around. Consider this recent snippet of conversation:

Me: “Do you like school?”

Kayleen: “Nope.”

Me: “Why not?”

Kayleen: “It’s a lot of work.”

I think we can all relate. Her honest answers mirror that of the typical 6-year-old, but don’t be fooled: This girl knows how to work.

I have been privileged to watch Kayleen in action, and let me tell you, when she puts her mind to something, she gets it done. For example, one day I watched her, surrounded by the sort of distractions that come with the territory in an after-school children’s program, set laser-like focus on a story she was reading about go-karts; she didn’t look up until she read the final word.

12990937_10153313540136920_5514965140625868706_nI was impressed. If she can maintain that kind of focus, she’ll go far – despite odds that are stacked against her. Living in South Africa, Kayleen is part of a system that puts the expense of education in the hands of the parents. And many of those hands are occupied with finding work to keep food on the table and a roof over their families’ heads. Education is viewed as a luxury, not a necessity.

South Africa has 11 official languages, but most teaching is done in English. For Kayleen and many other children, English is a second, third or even fourth language, which makes homework a struggle. If the parents haven’t learned English, it can be downright impossible.

TownsendsThat’s where the Dream Centre seeks to fill in the gaps. Run by ER staffers Ron and Amy Townsend (pictured here with their children), the Dream Centre is a safe place for Cape Town-area kids to receive food, love, tutoring and the chance to dream of a future free of poverty.

The Townsends are fully invested in this venture. They desire to live life alongside these kids – to see them through graduation and on to college. Their hope is that by working with and loving on the children, their families also will be positively impacted.

While much of this is a vision toward the future, I have already experienced the impact they’re having on families today. I have seen parents pour out their hearts with gratitude to the Townsends for all they do for their children. Love is a powerful communicator. It needs no translation.

The Townsends – and the rest of the Dream Centre team – want these kids to know, above all else, that they are loved. They’re teaching families that there’s more to life than just survival – that poverty can be overcome and dreams can be realized.

Click here to read more about the Townsends and the Dream Centre.

13123282_10206286116772765_8630721288641540759_oAlyssa Carrel is native to Michigan. She’s passionate about the written word, children, South Africa and the melodies. Alyssa is native to Michigan. Alyssa visited Extreme Response Africa and spent time working at the Dream Centre, where she worked with at-risk kids in the after-school program.

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.