Tag Archives: Changing Lives

Team Omaha: Building Homes, Changing The Lives Of Dump Families

2016 Robles Guachi

 By John Toney, Team Omaha

Arriving late in Quito, Ecuador on July the 19, 2016, a team from Omaha, NE of 23 people arose early the next morning to join the ER team, Ricardo Vaca Maila and Luis Anibal Maila Vaca. Our purpose was to contruct a new house for Pedro and Martha Robles Guachi, and their three children, Mario, Estefanía and Stalin.

It was a great experience to undertake this project that had been planned for nearly a year for the family that had never owned their own home. We could see and sense their excitement knowing that in just a few days they would have a new place to live.

The work of constructing external and internal walls, tiling and setting the windows and door began in earnest. Great progress was made the first couple of days with the family working right alongside the team. To complete the project, an additional 500 concrete blocks were off-loaded by the family and team members.

Team Omaha 2016Seeing that the house was well ahead of schedule it was decided to begin building an addition for Pedro and Martha’s daughter, son-in-law and baby girl. This required an additional 1,000 concrete blocks. While the addition was not completed by the time our team departed, the family, working with Ricardo and Luis, were able to finish it one week later.

House and Addition

Then came move-in day. The family was sent away while everything was readied for the homecoming celebration. Furniture purchased for the project was put in place, beds were made, curtains were hung and the kitchen stocked with food and water. Clothing for each family member also was placed in the chest-of-drawers in each room.

Team OmahaEven though the family worked alongside the team in construction, they were completely surprised to see all the other things that were in their new house. For a family with so little who work in the Zambiza dump to eke out a meager living, their new home was like a gift from heaven. Their gratitude, expressed in spoken word, many tears of joy and praise could not be contained. The lives of the Robles Guachi family have been forever changed, as well as many others who witnessed the building project.

For Team Omaha, it was also a life-changing event as we were able to tangibly give to a family something so basic as a place to live and to call their own. We, too, shed many tears of joy as we celebrated with them.

DSC05026For some of the team members, it was the first experience in building a house and providing for people in desperate need, while for other ‘veterans’ it was a labor of love that began some nine years ago when Team Omaha built its first house.

For everyone it was richly fulfilling to work until we ached and then to see this wonderful family’s gratitude and joy of for their new home. Team Omaha is forever grateful for the opportunity to be associated with Extreme Response and Paul and Susan Fernane serving needy families in Quito, Ecuador.

Extreme Response has built 14 homes (view video here) for families in the Quito Dump Community. Interested in sending a volunteer team to build, repair, instruct, provide healthcare, sports camps, etc.? Click here to learn more.

House of Hope Haiti: Joy Blooms Despite Challenges

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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.

Calling All ER Friends and ‘Alumni’   

ER Save the Date 20 Year Postcard

ER is celebrating 20 years of Christmas parties by gathering in 11 locations in the U.S. and Canada this fall. If you’ve volunteered or supported ER’s work any any time during the last 20 years, we invite you to attend one of these gatherings:

  • Atlanta/Lawrenceville, GA (Sept. 22)
  • Simcoe, Canada (Oct. 1)
  • Detroit/Lake Angeles/Rochester Hills, MI (Oct. 8 and 9)
  • Rensselear, IN (Oct. 11)
  • Indianapolis/Fishers, IN (Oct. 13)
  • Dallas, TX (Oct. 20)
  • Santa Maria, CA (Nov. 5)
  • Lancaster, CA (Nov. 6)
  • Glendora, CA (Nov. 10)
  • Orange County, CA (Nov. 12)

Come hear some incredible highlights, heartwarming stories and new opportunities. For more information, please email Rheanna Lea Cline at rlcline@extremeresponse.org.

Helping School Kids Blossom In Ecuador

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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.

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. 

Forever Family Found For Two House Of Hope Girls In Haiti

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By Jenny Reitz Compere

ER’s Jenny Reitz Compere represents House of Hope in Haiti, a children’s home that cares for up to 80 kids who are orphaned, neglected or abandoned, many suffering from health issues. House of Hope is located in northern Haiti. In her most recent update, she shared this heart-warming cause for celebration.

CAM00948 (Medium)“Greetings to all our friends and supporters. Thank you so much for the prayers for our students who were writing the exams. They all feel they did pretty well — time will tell — now they just have to wait to get the results back, which will likely take a month or two.

“A couple of months ago, two of our lovely little girls found a forever family here in Haiti. Our pediatrician here at the hospital had a sister who wanted to adopt some children. Unable to have their own children, she asked her sister to watch out for some little girls who needed a home. She found two of our little girls, Rose and Julienne, who do not have homes to return to.

“They came up from Port-au-Prince to meet the girls and it was love at first sight! Now, the girls have joined their family and are fitting right in.  As you can see from the picture of Rose in their new home, they appear to be very happy.

House of Hope 2016“It doesn’t happen often (adoptions), but when it does we are thrilled to have our little ones find a family here in Haiti to adopt them. As you can imagine, it was an emotionally difficult day when they came to take the girls with them. Both girls have been with us since they were just a few months old. Yet we are thankful for more people in Haiti who are willing to love and care for these children and now we can receive others in their place.  We look forward to filling their beds again!

“Thanks for your support that helps us bring hope in so many different ways to the children and youth who come through our doors.”

Read more about House of Hope here, sign up for their blog here and make donations here.

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.