Tag Archives: Caring for 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.

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.

Youth Mobilization Reaches Out to Families with Love

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.

Living conditions are difficult in the community Youth Mobilization serves in Wawa, Taguig, Philippines.
Living conditions are difficult in the community Youth Mobilization serves in Wawa, Taguig, Philippines.

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.

Children and adults alike are finding hope through Youth Mobilization’s values formation program.
Children and adults alike are finding hope through Youth Mobilization’s values formation program.

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.

Belen Cabacas and her son Paulo
Belen Cabacas and her son Paulo

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.

The YM home group helps build relationships with parents in the community.
The YM home group helps build relationships with parents in the community.

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.

To learn more about Youth Mobilization, click here and visit their blog at philippinesyouthmobilization.blogspot.com.

Det Det’s Journey: First Step, First Grade

Det Det-1
Det Det is flanked by his mother and Erwin, an elder from his church.

Illiteracy is a big problem in the Philippines, especially among the indigent people and those living in remote areas. John Coffey, director of ER partner IT Tender, shares the story of a teenage boy who is working hard to overcome that deficiency in his own life.

By John Coffee, Director, IT Tender

Like many teenage boys, Det Det has big hopes and dreams for his future. Perhaps it’s fitting that his unusual name evokes the word “determination,” for this shy 17-year-old is overcoming bigger challenges than most of us can imagine.

When our staff at IT Tender first met him, Det Det had not completed grade

1 and was unable to even write his own name. Instead of attending school, he spent his days searching through trash piles, looking for recyclable and sellable items, and putting the money he earned toward food for his large family.

Det Det has been part of IT Tender’s Night Life youth program since 2013. Night Life allows children living in local squatter communities to visit a drop-in center, bathe and enjoy a hot, healthy meal.

But we recognized that Det Det needed more help, so in August 2014 we helped him get into Honest Hands, a program run by our partners at Action International.

Every week Det Det travelled to a campus just outside Manila to attend studies and one-on-one tutorials, and be part of a family environment alongside seven other students. Each weekend, he would return to his home along the railway to maintain family relationships in his own home, and attend a local church with staff from IT Tender.

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Det Det proudly holds his certificates at the graduation ceremony for Honest Hands’ basic education program.

Despite many struggles, Det Det completed the course. He now knows the alphabet, is able to write, and has even shown an aptitude for memorizing Bible verses. At his graduation from Honest Hands, Det Det received two awards: One for his commitment in the tutorial sessions, and another for his hard work and commitment to helping others throughout the eight-month program – especially for completing his chores so faithfully and without complaining.

Our staff also recognized Det Det’s perseverance and commitment to learning: We recommended him to be part of IT Tender’s Sponsor-A-Child program. We are pleased to report that Det Det already has a sponsor and is enrolled in grade 1 at a local elementary school near his home. And while he is enrolled in grade 1, he will be sitting in a grade 4 class taught by an IT Tender volunteer, Ana, who has a passion for teaching youth who have previously dropped out of school.

IT Tender is immensely proud of this young man, and we know he will continue to press on with his learning, faith and commitment to living a transformed life.

John Coffey oversees IT Tender, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Manila-area families struggling with deep poverty.  Learn more about IT Tender. The organization focuses heavily on early education, with the goal of giving at-risk kids the opportunity to succeed early in their school years to encourage them to complete their educations.