By Dawn Carnill 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.
Kindle (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.
This 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.
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.
Children 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?”
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.
I 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.
That’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.
Alyssa 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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
Starting today, you’ll see lots of news stories touting gender equality and equal rights for women in recognition of International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8. This is a worthy cause and deserving of our attention, consideration and support.
But Extreme Response (ER) won’t be holding any special celebrations to mark the occasion. You see, our mission – every day – is to come alongside and help women and children who are struggling with extreme conditions like poverty, abandonment, hunger, lack of education and human trafficking. The women ER and our partners serve are mostly in developing countries like Ecuador, South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, the Philippines, Nepal and Haiti.
Two years ago, we took an extra step to assure that we were focusing on the needs of women by forming the Women’s Advocacy team within ER. These “Extreme Women” are committed to traveling to places of the world where women are forgotten, rejected and have no societal safety net to help them.
“Throughout the world women and children live in substandard conditions in comparison to their male counterparts. We have the ability to make a difference and we have a responsibility to reach out and help these women and children with education, hygiene, counseling care and shelter,” said Kelly McClelland, ER’s Women’s Advocate Director.
It is no small task to help women struggling in these situations. Many have been deeply hurt and often abused. So we start by building trust, acknowledging their self-worth and showing them how much we love and value them. From there we provide encouragement, counseling, skill-building, nutrition and more. It’s a long but worthy road. Helping women looks different in each place we operate so we rely tremendously on our regional staff and partners.
So what does it look look like to actually go and help women in crisis?
Roxanne Wilson is one of our Women’s Advocacy team members from Michigan. She jumped at the chance to visit Ecuador in order to pour into women in crisis. Here is her first-hand account of visiting ER partner Dunamis, a Quito-based organization that helps restore girls from the abuses of human trafficking.
“When I walked into Dunamis, the girls were all seated around a table listening to one of their teachers speaking words of love and encouragement to them,” Roxanne said. “They greeted us with “Holas!” and welcomed us into their safe place with hugs.
“At that moment I was so humbled that these young girls were so willing to spend the day with six U.S. strangers. Our team had planned on doing a manicure for each of the girls while we there. Little did we know that the girls wanted to do them on us! It was such a special time to give and get in return.
“We were able to communicate to the girls through interpreters. As I listened to them speak, I realized how young they were. Some were just 12 years old. I listened to them talk about hair, make-up, clothes and Taylor Swift. These were all typical “tween” and teenage topics, yet some of these girls already had babies. All of them had been involved in human trafficking.
“Their families had hurt most of them, yet they still had love and concern for their abusers. ‘How could that be?’, I thought. I cannot fathom the horrors their little eyes have seen. Although I spent only a day with them, their faces and hurts are burned into my memory. The work Dunamis is doing in Quito is so inspiring,” she added.
ER remains committed to helping victims like the girls at Dunamis. Our Extreme Women host volunteer teams, do projects and raise funds for women who have no where else to turn. We would love to have you join us.
Extreme Women is an advocacy program created by women to help women in need. Extreme Women aims to: restore women from human trafficking, counsel the abused and abandoned, provide job training and life skills, develop leaders, and break the cycle of poverty. For additional information on Extreme Women and how you can get involved, please contact Kelly McClelland at a email@example.com or click here to learn more.
Dunamis is an ER partner located in Quito, Ecuador, that seeks to restore the rights of young women and adolescents victimized by human trafficking. Its work includes teaching workshops to help young women reintegrate socially and successfully enter the workplace. Many of the girls have children, so Dunamis also has created a childcare program that takes place during workshop hours. The organization is currently seeking to purchase land in order to provide a safe home and training center. Learn more.
William, an 11-year old boy living in a squatter community in the Manila suburb of Putatan, initially came to IT Tender through a nutrition program called Food For Life.
One day, William stopped attending Food For Life and instead began spending time with a gang of older youth. Karin Jose, the nutrition program’s coordinator, repeatedly visited and followed up with William, doing her best to encourage him to return to the program, but he seemed more interested in hanging out in the streets.
The nutrition program ended after a year, but IT Tender staff wanted to maintain the relationships with children who had been a part of it. They decided to establish an evening drop-in program called Nightlife in which kids could continue enjoying healthy meals and also be tutored in their studies.
Jam Coffey, who began at IT Tender as a volunteer teacher in Food For Life, become the head teacher of Nightlife in the Putatan and Alabang communities. Jam attended an extensive training course at the Institute for Foundational Learning to help develop her teaching skills. Incorporating what she learned at the Institute, she introduced a curriculum at Nightlife called SSRW (Sing, Spell, Read and Write), and she also began sharing stories with moral lessons.
Upon conducting an enrollment and diagnostic test for the Nightlife children, Jam was surprised to see William among the enrollees. In her conversations with him, she found him shy and clearly ashamed about his past behavior, but she welcomed him with open arms and quickly made him feel comfortable being part of IT Tender’s programs again.
Now William is one of the early birds at each Nightlife session, holds a perfect attendance record, is active in lessons and achieves high scores in the exams. Most importantly, he is proving to be a good listener, and is kind to others. The IT Tender staff also recently discovered he has a talent in singing and dancing; the excitement he brings from that is contagious to the other children.
It has been a joy to witness William’s new journey. In just a short time back at IT Tender, he is transforming from a caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly!
ER partner IT Tender seeks to empower children to become educated and responsible leaders in their community. Learn more here.
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.
Olivia Hoppen was part of a team from Muskegon, Michigan that served with ER South Africa in May 2015. Her experience was so profound, she plans to return for a month-long internship this spring. She shares her story here:
When people ask me about my time with Extreme Response in South Africa, I can’t help beaming with joy. From the moment I got an email out of the blue about joining the team, to the moment I got home, it was clear that I was meant to have this experience.
My team had the opportunity to work with several ER partners while we were there. We toured the Cape Town Aquarium with African Hope Trust, spent our mornings painting and playing with children at God’s Little Lighthouse, and in the afternoons helped run sports camps alongside ER staff and life skills educators from Living Hope.
I have countless stories from my time in South Africa, but one that sticks out the most comes from the sports camp in Masiphumelele Township. Because of my lack of soccer skills, I worked with the preschool group. The first day of camp we had about 25 kids; by the last day we had around 130 – talk about overwhelming!
Since these kids were too young for school, only a few of them understood English, but they were still excited about our time together. We sang simple songs, which they quickly learned. During this time, one little boy caught my eye. I reached out to make friends with him, but whenever I looked the other way, he would wander off by himself. I grew to love this little boy even though he was a bit of a troublemaker,
On the next-to-last day of camp, one of the ladies who works with these kids every day told me his primary caretaker at home is his 6-year-old sister (who also attended the camp). Though I was heartbroken to learn this, I had peace knowing that through Extreme Response and Living Hope he is being loved and has some of his basic needs met.
Even before I left South Africa, I knew my time there would not be enough. I had fallen in love with South Africa and knew I would leave part of my heart there. I immediately started talking to ER’s Lindsey Fisher about the possibility of returning, and eventually the opportunity arose to go back as an intern for the month of May. Primarily, I’ll be working with God’s Little Lighthouse and the ER South Africa Dream Centre.
I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity because it is something I feel very called to do. Because I’m majoring in social work and minoring in youth ministry, I also see this internship as an opportunity to further discern what my future entails. I am so grateful to Extreme Response for this opportunity to serve!
Mackie Custodio is the Team Leader for Youth Mobilization, one of ER’s partners in the Philippines. Here he shares how his organization was able to respond to a catastrophe in a way that is impacting lives for the long term.
Our organization is based in a poor community in Wawa, Taguig, about an hour away from Manila. Two years ago, families in this community were victims of a fire that left their homes in ashes, a tragedy that still echoes today.
Ninety percent of the families in the community earn below 50 percent of the minimum wage. Most of them are contract construction workers, domestic workers, pedicab drivers, laundry helpers and dump scavengers. Their top – and only – priority in spending is food for their families. They know that housing and education are important as well, but they simply don’t have the funds to spend on these things.
In response to these extreme circumstances, in 2014 we launched a program called Abot Pag-ibig (Reaching Out With Love). This program aims to produce hope-filled children by teaching them strong values, for we know that by forming their values, we can form their future.
Each week, more than 50 children gather to hear stories and lessons that they can apply in their daily lives – things like how special each of them is, and how they should treat themselves, their families and friends. The program also includes a meal and time for crafts and activities that let the children express themselves.
Thanks to the relationships we have established with these children, we have been able to build good relationships with their families as well. We now facilitate a home group that gives parents the opportunity to hear these same messages of hope, and to share their thoughts on how we can serve the children and the community even more effectively.
One such family is Belen Cabacas and her sons, Paulo and JP. The boys not only attend the values formation program every Saturday, they are helpful in setting up the venue and calling the students to come together at the beginning of the class. Meanwhile, Belen has been regularly attending the home group and eagerly receiving the lessons she learns there.
As we look ahead to 2016, our dreams include an educational center and program called Bulilit Life Ministy (Lives of Little Ones Ministry), which will provide basic education to children ages 5-6. We also hope to help students who have been forced by poverty to drop out of school. This program will be called Gabay-Aral (Guide in Their Learning) and will encourage students to continue their studies by sponsoring their material needs, such as backpacks and uniforms.
We are thankful for the opportunity to serve this community and build strong relationships with the children and their families. We are confident that, little by little, day by day, we can help bring change among these extreme circumstances.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.