Tag Archives: At-Risk Kids

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.

Fanning the Flame

By Dawn Carnill
 
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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.

African Hope Trust Fulfills Cape Town Kids’ Need for Love

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.

African Hope SafehouseMy 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. 

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.

Safe “Nightlife” Trumps Risky Street Life for Filipino Boy

By John Coffey
IT Tender Director

Karin Jose (left) and Jam Coffey (right) have aided William’s transformation from “caterpillar to beautiful butterfly."
Karin Jose (left) and Jam Coffey (right) have played key roles in William’s transformation from “a caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly.”

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.

William has become a model student in the IT Tender Nightlife program.

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.

Unfinished Business: South Africa Visit Inspires Hoppen to Return for Internship

Olivia-1Olivia 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.

Olivia-3I 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.

Olivia-2Even 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!

Learn more about Extreme Response internships.

Dunamis Helps Teen Mother Take Steps Toward Healing

Dunamis-2In Quito, Ecuador, ER partner Dunamis seeks to restore the rights of young women and adolescents victimized by human trafficking. Here volunteer Rebekah Byrnes shares the story of how Dunamis touched the life of one of those young ladies – and how her own life was touched as well.

The first day is always a little awkward. You don’t know quite what to say, or what to do. And the girls aren’t sure about you yet – not sure if you speak Spanish, not sure if they can trust you. So you just watch.

But Paola made my first day at Dunamis just a bit more comfortable. During a jewelry workshop, she invited me to sit and work with her. Right from the start, knowing Paola has been a blessing to me.

Paola, 15 at the time, had dark, shoulder-length hair and a thick accent common to Ecuador’s coastal region. She had a baby, Naty, who was not quite a year old. I noticed she spent a lot of time in the baby room with Naty. She clearly loved her child, but it was also evident that often she would wake the baby up simply because she didn’t want to be a part of an activity the rest of the girls were doing.

Dunamis-3As I observed these frequent “escapes,” I learned more of Paola’s story from the staff members, and her behavior began to make sense. When she was young, her mother had sold her to an old man who lived nearby, and he abused her sexually. Later, she sold Paola to some of the man’s friends as well, and then to a brothel, where the police eventually rescued her.

Paola’s baby was a result of the abuse she suffered. Another consequence was that she became schizophrenic, a disorder characterized by an inability to recognize what is real, reduced social engagement and emotional expression, and auditory hallucinations.

We also discovered another reason she didn’t want to participate in group activities: She didn’t know how to read. She would always disappear during book club times. Our book club teacher, Lena Dietz, bought some children’s books for her one day. When it was suggested that Paola and I read together in private, she jumped up enthusiastically, giggling and happy. She was really excited to have me read to her.

Dunamis-1The first few weeks, I read aloud to her. Then I started working with her on the alphabet. We went through the alphabet and talked about what sounds each letter made, then wrote down some words and how to spell them. She was good at spelling her name, so she would proudly write that in every session. We played some literacy games; between games, I would read to her, making her sound out a few words on each page. By the end of our time together, she had read an entire page of that children’s book on her own.

Unfortunately, due to the way the shelter system in Ecuador works, Dunamis is not always able to keep the girls for extended periods, and the time came for Paola to move on. It was decided that she would go back to live with her mother again, this time under the watchful eye of her aunt.

When the day came for her to leave, I told Paola that God is always with her and she began to cry. I had never seen her cry until then; in fact, showing any sort of emotion was rare, though she smiled or laughed often enough. She shed only a few tears, but I could see real emotion and I believe that she loved Dunamis more than she could express.

Sexual abuse dehumanizes a woman and destroys her sense of worth. In Paola’s case, it even destroyed her sense of reality. But we know that broken people can be healed and made new. I believe Dunamis was exactly where Paola needed to be during that time in her life, and that she was able to see that she truly is loved. We made a difference for her, and she made a difference in my life, too.

Learn more about how Dunamis here, and go to extremeresponse.org/take-action/extreme-women for information on how you can help protect at-risk girls and women like Paola.

A Big Brother in Any Language

Jason-6By Allen Allnoch

Manila, Philippines is a long way from Fair Oaks, California, and the Tagalog language common to Manila is, well, quite foreign to an American like Jason Chappell.

Jason only recently arrived from Fair Oaks as a new staffer at ER’s Manila Children Home, but he’s already learned one important term.

“The main thing I am to these boys is kuya, which is a term here that means ‘older brother,’ says Jason. “This one thing has been the best thing I could ask for – I have ten younger brothers! As the baby of my family, I would have loved to have a younger brother, and now I have ten.”

Jason-7Jason’s move to Manila grew out of a series of short-term trips through ER. The first was in 2008, when he helped a team from his church, Sunrise Community, serve at ER’s Christmas Celebrations.

Right away he sensed a stirring to return, and he went back again in 2010 and 2012. After that third trip, he set his sights on serving long-term with ER and began raising support funds over the next 2-½ years.

Now he’s living in Manila, working part-time in the Extreme Response Asia Children’s Home and going to language school full-time, which ultimately will help him serve more effectively in the home.

“Without knowing the language, I have found it is almost impossible to tell the kids what they should be doing or not doing,” Jason says

Jason-3Still, some things transcend language. In his first three months, he says, he has served as “a nurse for scratches, a chair and jungle gym for the boys, a tutor in math and a teacher of chess.”

He’s also volunteering with a local ER partner that works with children in poor communities.

“Seeing the staff show love to these children, and being a part of it all, has been another highlight of my first three months here,” he says. “Each time I am able to go see the kids, I am able to speak more in their language, and it means so much to me and them to have that connection.”

Connection … relationship … personal touch … kuya. Those are the kind of things that help ER so effectively serve people in extreme circumstances. Even in a country that’s still largely unfamiliar to him, Jason Chappell is excelling at just that.

ER offers a number of ways to serve, both short-term and long-term, and from home or abroad. Visit extremeresponse.org/take-action/serve-with-us to learn more.

Setting Students on a Path to Success

Path Project 4Jim Hollandsworth is the founder and executive director of The Path Project, an ER partner based in suburban Atlanta that seeks to help at-risk children close the achievement gap, graduate from high school, become productive members of society and “find the right path for their lives” through academic, social and spiritual development. Here Jim shares some encouraging success stories from The Path Project’s work in Atlanta and beyond.

One of our main goals for students who are part of the Path Project is that they would graduate high school with a plan for their future. For six years we’ve been focused on this goal. We’ve seen many of our students improve their grades at school, but we’ve also continued to see students struggle in middle and high school.

Through conversations with local and state education leaders, and families in the communities we serve, we’ve realized that a student’s likelihood of graduating from high school depends on their ability to read in elementary school. In fact, students who are reading on or above grade level by 3rd grade are 400 percent more likely to graduate high school than students who are reading below grade level.

In Georgia, Latino students have a 57 percent graduation rate, the lowest of any demographic in the state. The Mexican students in the communities we serve have an even lower graduation rate because of factors including poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, and parents who didn’t complete high school.

Path Project 1In response to this research, we have partnered with an initiative by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal called “Get Georgia Reading,” the goal of which is to get low-income students in the state reading on or above grade level by 3rd grade. (Pictured at left are my wife, Melinda, Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal, state Board of Education representative Mike Royal and me at the statewide launch of this campaign.)

Last year we launched our own Literacy Program for K-2nd graders in the Gwinnett Estates mobile home park, aimed at increasing their exposure to reading and language every day after school. We began tracking the Kindergarteners who were part of that program last year and who were part of our preschool programs before that. By the end of last school year, 15 of 16 students were reading on or above grade level.

Path Project 2Knowing how important this is to long-term academic success, we are thrilled with these results! Our staff and volunteers have done an amazing job in leading this program at Gwinnett Estates, and now we’re expanding our model to other communities. One of the biggest challenges in Mexican immigrant communities is overcoming high dropout rates. Our goal is to change this trend, one community at a time, in Georgia and beyond.

In fact, we’re even starting to export this model internationally. Working with Ron and Amy Townsend in the ER South Africa office, we’ve been able to share some of these ideas for an after-school literacy program they are launching in January. It’s encouraging to see multiple ER partners work together to help at-risk kids learn to read!

Path Project 3In addition to the Literacy Program’s success, we’re excited about several more initiatives, programs and success stories from our communities:

  • Middle/High Leadership Academy: We’ve launched a pilot program in our largest community for students in grades 6 through 12 to help with academics, career exposure, college awareness, driver’s licenses and other life skills. Thirty students are part of this program.
  • Soccer League: In partnership with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, we are helping kids get professional soccer instruction, and more importantly, character training and relationship building with a coach each week. We’re seeing boys respond to this who have never been part of our programs before!
  • Summer Camps: We helped more than 200 students attend camps this past summer, including FCA Soccer Camp (120 students) and our own Path Project Big Camp (140 students).
  • High School Graduates: This year we’ll see four of our students from the Gwinnett Estates community graduate from high school. This is significant because historically the dropout rate in these communities has been really low. In fact, over the past six years, we know of only four students total from Gwinnett Estates who have graduated high school. We’ve known each of these current seniors since they were in 6th grade, and it’s been a joy to walk with them as they purse this goal of graduation.

To learn more about The Path Project, visit www.path-project.org.

Lighthouse Shines Joy into the Lives of South Africa Families

Ron Townsend & GLL kids

 

970299_614864335190262_1175523254_nBy Amy Townsend, ER Staff,                                                                                                                      Cape Town, South Africa

GLL kidFor a glimpse at the impact of God’s Little Lighthouse (GLL), just consider Gabriel and her four siblings. This daycare and school for young children in Fish Hoek, South Africa, has cared for each of these underprivileged youngsters since they were pre-school age. The oldest now attends university and two more are thriving at local schools in grades 6 and 11. Gabriel, the youngest, is similarly enjoying educational opportunities she wouldn’t have otherwise.

Thanks to the love and commitment of “Aunty Pam” and her late husband, Rob, GLL has engendered countless stories of youngsters rescued from poverty – native South Africans as well Zimbabwean, Congolese and Malawian immigrants.

The organization is one of more than a dozen overseen by ER partner ATAIM. It was launched some 26 years ago, when Rob and Aunty Pam took notice of the poverty and despair local children were suffering.

The couple desired to bring hope to these children. But never did they imagine the stories that would be told in their community about GLL – stories of hope where there was hopelessness, friendship where there was loneliness, and happiness where there was despair. Each story told not just of children who were blessed to have a spot in the preschool program, but of their families and communities as well.

Auntie PamWhen there is not enough food to feed the children at home or a family struggle to pay tuition, Aunty Pam finds a way to provide. When difficult circumstances abound in a child’s home life, she and her staff provide hugs. It is not unusual to be playing outside with the children and see a young gentleman or lady come looking for Aunty Pam. Many times they just want to spend some time in the place that provided food, safety and love during their early years. They never walk through the gate without a huge smile on their face, and they never leave without a hug.

One pair of local parents dropped their first child off at GLL 15 years ago. During the course of those years and a litany of life changes, GLL and Aunty Pam were the constant in their lives. When the couple became foster parents, they naturally turned to GLL for help.

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Today the mother says, “Besides my two biological sons and my nephew, Aunty Pam and her wonderful staff have helped us raise four other children. Now I have enrolled three more foster children in GLL. I look forward to another five years of happiness and support that we get from everyone at the school.”

It is no wonder GLL has a waiting list for the next school year. Love and compassion, the kind provided by Aunty Pam and her staff, are in high demand

Click here to learn more about GLL and ATAIM. 

970299_614864335190262_1175523254_nAmy and Ron Townsend work at God’s Little Lighthouse on loan from Extreme Response. The Townsends and their three daughters, Emily, Hannah and Sarah, recently moved to South Africa to help Extreme Response establish a regional presence. Click here to learn more about Extreme Response’s vision helping people in Africa.  Click here to learn more about our partners in South Africa, Kenya, and Malawi.