30 Dec SOW Year in Review
SOW Year in Review 2022
We have always believed that our place in the ever-evolving landscape of orphan care is to support children’s homes, because they are often the last line of defense for orphaned children around the world. If anything, 2022 reminded us that the landscape of orphan care is in fact, ever evolving. This year’s global events forced us to adapt, reshuffle, rearrange and reshape our work to fulfill our mission in ways we could never have imagined. From the unanticipated Russian invasion in Ukraine to the escalation of militia violence in DR Congo, we relied heavily on our partners in the field to lead us and guide our global response. Here are some highlights of our global impact in 2022.
War in Ukraine
On February 24th, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, a sovereign nation once connected to Russia by the Soviet Union. We immediately became concerned about the safety of the staff, volunteers and children living at the five partner homes we have been supporting in the regions directly impacted by the shelling. Together, these homes care for over 310 orphaned and vulnerable children.
A week into the invasion, it became evident that banking and access to other basic commodities would become more difficult. In an effort to be proactive, our executive leadership made the decision to send our field coordinator to Poland and Ukraine to assess needs, and ensure every dollar donated would be immediately mobilized to get the children to a safe location. SOW was able to not only evacuate the children, but also partner with a coalition of churches in Germany, Poland, and Romania, as well as connect with the European Theological Seminary. Through these partnerships, we were able to facilitate the rescue of hundreds of Ukrainian civilians and mobilize over 20 tons of food and supplies to those who need it most.
Due to issues with banking systems in Ukraine, we facilitated physical cash drop-offs and made use of every resource at our disposal to move money and supplies to our partners. SOW successfully mobilized this support through our Ukrainian Crisis Fund to meet the needs of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters.
SOW was directly involved in the coordination and payment of a convoy of vehicles to evacuate our children’s homes. Through this effort, we successfully evacuated 310 children across the border to safety. Today, we are continuing to support the work of our partner homes as they resettle in different parts of Europe.
Along the way, we were presented with opportunities to support humanitarian efforts, boost staff morale and even assist with resettling the wives and children of our orphanage directors to the United States. Although these opportunities took us outside of our typical scope of work, saying ‘yes’ to these opportunities took us right back to our mission- to support the work of our children’s homes within their cultural context.
Rise in Violence as Civil War Escalates in DR. Congo
Since the start of the year, the war in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has significantly escalated. In 2022 alone, over 40,000 people have fled into Goma from surrounding areas because of the increase in violence. In early November, rebels took over a strategic transit hub, which Goma relied heavily on to get supplies from Uganda. DRC and Rwanda have been threatening war, and Rwanda has largely closed the border into Goma. The situation in DRC became the most critical it has been since the UN’s military got involved years ago.
This presented two large challenges for our partner homes in the region. Prices on everyday goods have doubled and in some cases, tripled. Since the rebels took over that strategic point, the inflated costs of these goods have become scarce and too expensive for most residents to acquire. On top of the supply and pricing issues, banks shut down, leaving everyday residents in a bind. For our partner homes who are caring for up to 100 children, these challenges have become even more overwhelming.
All of our partner homes are facing serious financial and supply issues as well as security and safety threats. They are also trying to meet a much larger humanitarian need, while also trying to grapple with a tighter budget due to inflated goods. Our staff at SOW is working hard to assess the needs and provide some immediate relief. This year, we sent additional funds to account for inflation. Open Spring Children’s Home launched its brand new baby wing which now has the capacity to take in up to 10 infants. Between all of our children’s homes in DRC, 230 children are safe and have a place to call ‘home’.
Harris Memorial Scholarship Fund
This year, we provided scholarships for 32 young people, who all came into their respective children’s homes at a young age in such desperate situations. Through the Harris Memorial Scholarship Fund, they now have the opportunity to pursue their dreams through college-level studies. Some are studying nursing, while others are studying law and accounting.
We were able to provide ongoing operational support to 11 children’s homes in Latin America. In Mexico and Central America, most projects raise additional support by hosting church missions teams during summer months. Since Covid, many of those team visits have slowed down and so has the support. In additional to the operational support we send each month, we were able to meet a variety of special needs and increase support to many of our partner homes in this region who took a hit both from covid and inflation. We purchased a new appliances and household items which also helped with the overall efficiency of their day to day operations.
South Central Asia
In 2022, the most critical home in this region was in Sri Lanka. After recovering from a long civil war, the country appeared to be stabilizing and growing in recent years. However, after an unexpected and sudden economic collapse in 2022, the country plunged into a state of chaos. Protesters occupied the government facilities and Presidential palace, while the entire nation ran out of gasoline and basic necessities for an extended period of time. Thankfully, your support provided an incredible life-line to our partners in Sri Lanka and they had a large dry food storage along with fresh fruit trees and protein on campus. Security became a major concern, but the home reports all are well and healthy. The country is now in a more stable situation.
In India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, SOW has recently voted to expand and partner with more projects including the building and launch of two new partner homes in the regions. Our field coordinator and photographer Pramod Anderson reported earlier this year that a child suffered a severe medical emergency and was not given much hope to survive. SOW donors and leadership came together to spare no expense and cover the situation in prayer. We are grateful to report that the boy continues to make a full recovery to the surprise of his medical team, and we are praying for continued miracles in his life.
Southeast Asia and East Asia
We continued serving hundreds of children in Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, and Mongolia. Two areas of greatest concern/need were in Myanmar this past year. The children at our partner home had to shelter in place multiple times and go without internet or outside news during political unrest and military activity in the capital. While the region has enjoyed a lot of growth and economic advancement over the past decade, there are still some very unstable pockets. Persecution was reported by many in the region due to their Christian faith. One of our partner homes in Northeast China continues to be difficult for outside visitors to conduct site visits since the 2020 Covid outbreak. They continue to serve a special needs population at the home which is located in an area that has nearly 400,000 undocumented North Korean refugees. There are many street children and sad stories of abandonment from this little known and rarely visited corner of China.
Big Bold Plans for 2023
At our December board meeting, SOW leadership voted to take on 19 additional projects in 2023 which will represent the largest increased financial commitment in the organization’s history. We are stepping out in faith to impact as many lives as we can this coming year. Just as it was at the beginning of our work, 100% of everything you give goes directly to the field. We run a very lean operation, and a group of special supporters cover all the SOW administrative costs. With your help, we can rescue more children who have been abandoned or orphaned this coming year. Thank you and God bless you.