Stories & UpdatesThankfulness Amidst Adversity: An Orphanage Director with a Story of his own.by Reece Anderson

Here in the United States, we all know what it means when the weather gets cooler, the trees turn orange and the smell of pumpkin spice fills the air. It’s the time where we intentionally stop and think about all the things we are thankful for- our homes, families, finances, good health, and our freedom.

We recently enjoyed a visit from Moses Phung, director of Center of Hope, one of our partner children’s homes in Vietnam. Over dinner, he talked about the home, the children and shared an incredible story of his own that left us all in tears and with a different perspective on gratitude.

 

On March 3rd, 1967, while Moses’ father went to fight alongside the US Marines on the front lines of the Vietnam War, the communists launched a major rocket attack on Da Nang. Moses, who was twelve at the time watched in horror before feeling a blast hit the roof above him. He woke to find his home burned beyond recognition.  His mother, grandparents, and siblings all perished that night, leaving Moses as the lone survivor.

 

Later, Moses and his father stayed at a camp with American GI’s and other local displaced families. One day out on the front lines, Moses’ father picked up a radio frequency from the Far East Broadcasting Company. It was an evangelistic program airing from the Philippines sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. They both decided that they would give their lives to Jesus, and believe there was eternal hope and a better way of life through Christ.

 

Amidst the growing death tolls, costs, and political pressure in the US, America withdrew. Moses’ father went out on one last mission and was never seen again. Moses was orphaned, and alone as he watched his country fall to communism. Overnight, the faith that had sustained him through these years was outlawed.

 

Meeting in secret, he and a few followers would pray, fast, worship, and minister to their neighbors whenever possible. One day in 1980, he unknowingly shared his faith with a police officer and was arrested and imprisoned. During his years in jail, he shared his heart with other prisoners and many accepted Christ.

 

Following his release from prison for the third time in 1993, Moses began Center of Hope when he found 26 orphaned children from the Hmong tribe, wondering in the jungle alone. Sadly, many of their parents had been trafficked, were missing or killed. Today, Center of Hope is home to over 107 children, who now have access to nutritious meals, warm clothes, shelter, healthcare and education. Moses also has a team of pastors who continue to share the good news, feed the poor and assist the disabled.

As Moses shared his story with us, we were not only moved by his experiences, and how he has turned the most undesirable circumstances into the most flourishing ministry. We were impressed by the humility and genuine gratitude he embodied- for life, for salvation, for our supporters and prayer warriors. It reminded us of another manwho had learned the meaning of true thanksgiving, even in the midst of great adversity and persecution. While the apostle Paul was in prison, he wrote “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20, NIV).

For Moses, thankfulness was a choice, and one that had to be made on a daily basis. He showed us that if we live in this attitude, we can truly have joy in every situation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Latest Updates from the Field

by susantanderson

Our partner homes operate within their unique culture, community, political systems and available resources. Although they are very different, they have this in common: they are taking care of the most vulnerable children across the globe, and helping them to see just how worthy and loved they really are.

We know that orphan care is not simple. Each story is complicated and the road to healing requires patience and prayers on part of both the worker and the child. Every day, our partner homes trust that the Lord will provide for the growing need. Our supporters and prayer warriors are the hands and feet of Jesus, and every dollar given and prayer lifted up has a direct, tangible impact on thousands of young lives around the world.

We hope you enjoy these latest updates from the field.

Agape Hope Care Center- Kenya

Casa Hogar Maria Atkinson- Mexico

Casa Shalom- Guatemala 

Compassion Orphanage- DR Congo

Destiny Village – India

El Shaddai Rescue Home- India

Grace Orphanage- Uganda

Hogar El Camino- Paraguay

Hope House- Honduras

New Life Children’s Home- Myanmar

Pearl Orphanage- Ukraine

Pilgrim Republic Children’s Safe house and Rehab Center- Ukraine

Sails of Hope- Ukraine

 

The Story of Boaz Chishiri: From Orphan to Elected Junior Mayor and Councilman

by susantanderson

Despite being Zimbabwe’s leading political, financial, and commercial center, the city of Harare is home to thousands of children orphaned by AIDS. This growing crisis has overwhelmed local communities and extended families across the city, resulting in orphanages exceeding capacity, an increase in children living on the streets and households headed by minors under 18.

Children orphaned by AIDS face a wide range of problems. Often, extended family members are not able or willing to take on the responsibility of caring for an orphaned child due to poverty and inability to provide the medical attention they need.  In addition, AIDS orphans are often stigmatized, and as a result, they are deprived of school tuition, food, clothing and sometimes shelter.

Boaz Chishiri, outgoing junior mayor of Ruwa, has a strong belief that the kinds of change that will improve conditions for orphaned children begins with community leaders with influence. Boaz believes that good community leaders have the power to change policies and the platform to challenge social stigmas that impact orphans, especially AIDS orphans. Ultimately, this is the reason why Boaz entered the competitive election process to become Junior Mayor of his community- to be the voice for orphaned and vulnerable children, and to advocate for their rights.

His confidence and leadership skills make it difficult to believe that he has had to overcome trauma and adverse childhood experiences himself. Boaz lost both of his parents at the age of 7. His mother died of cancer, and his father died from AIDS, leaving him alone to care for his sister. Unfortunately, two years after he lost his parents, his sister was bitten by a stray dog, and passed away from rabies. Born into a poor tribe, and with the stigma of being an AIDS orphan, Boaz had very little support and was unable to go to school. He felt hopeless, alone and with no purpose. Desperate, he began to herd cattle with his uncle for a place to sleep. Not long after, his uncle was no longer able to provide for him due to extreme poverty and he was taken to a local orphanage.

Boaz came to Rose of Sharon Children’s Home at 9 years old. Dr Fatima Maruta, Founder and Director of the home immediately noticed his heart for the younger children and his leadership qualities. He received nutritious meals, a warm bed to sleep and all that he needed to survive. She enrolled him in school, and teachers and students alike noticed his strong communication and computer skills. He began to thrive and see hope for his future.

Dr. Maruta gave him additional responsibilities around the home, taught him the power of servanthood and that he was not defined by his circumstances. These were the core values that became the driving force behind his desire to be the change in his local community, especially for orphaned and vulnerable children.

Boaz entered the election process for office by completing a series of interviews and a lengthy induction camp where he had to prove his leadership skills and deliver his speech. Boaz’s strong work ethic and his belief that he can rise above his circumstances saw him being inaugurated as 2015/2016 Junior Mayor of Ruwa Town Council, where he would serve a two-year term. During his years in office, he was able to educate his community about the issues that orphaned and vulnerable children face every day and launched projects that provided food and clothing to the needy.

Today, Boaz is pursuing his degree in IT. He is now back at Rose of Sharon Children’s Home as the direct assistant to Dr. Maruta. For Boaz, Rose of Sharon is where hope was restored, and where he was given the opportunities to exceed beyond what he thought he was capable of. For him, it is a privilege to come back, and to be part of improving quality of care for the children and investing in sustainable projects at the home.

Although adoption and developing strong and healthy communities are ideal solutions to the orphan crisis, we understand that it’s not an immediate option for most children globally. The truth is, equipping communities with resources, increasing access to care, lowering poverty and crime rates and changing cultural stigmas can take decades. Adoption can be a lengthy process, and some may never qualify to be adopted. We must begin the process of community development and promote adoption, however, we must also recognize the impact of children’s homes like Rose of Sharon.

Serving Orphans Worldwide is proud to support 52 homes like Rose of Sharon, who are providing orphaned and vulnerable children across the globe with basic needs such as healthcare, education, food, long term accommodation. Through our partner homes, we not only seek to improve basic needs, but also equip children with every opportunity to succeed in adulthood.

 

Story by: Susan Anderson

Jennifer and Gomathi: Overcoming Obstacles and Pursuing their Dreams of a Career in Nursing

by susantanderson

The caste system, gender biases, child marriage and poverty are just some of the factors that contribute to the deprivation of education among girls in India, especially for orphaned and abandoned girls. In fact, only 1 in 100 girls will complete the 12th grade.

Girls are at a higher risk for abandonment than boys in India, especially for families who are poor and marginalized. With limited systems of support for the elderly, many families see boys as superior as they provide the best protection against problems as they age, such as loss of mobility, poverty and lack of access to health care.

Boys can provide financial support and guarantee a future wife to bring into the family to help with domestic duties. Meanwhile, cultural norms require parents to save money for an expensive dowry and costly wedding for girls. In addition, as their daughters get married, they will leave, along with their labor to serve another family. In this male dominated society, a girl’s future is often spoken for.

The staff and children at Destiny Village Children’s Home know these realities too well. Located in Tirunelvelli, an ancient city in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, Destiny Village is an oasis in the dessert and home to 39 children who have been orphaned or abandoned. Of these children, many are young girls who would otherwise have to face significant disadvantages, especially when it comes to education. Regardless of gender, all children at Destiny Village are enrolled in public school until they complete the 12th grade and are provided with safe transportation to and from the campus.

Investing in better access to education for girls in India not only improves their lives, but their local community as well. Research shows that girls in developing countries who complete secondary school have much better outcomes. They are healthier, more independent and their children have an increased likelihood to succeed. Furthermore, they are likely to actively participate in the labor force and be empowered to be voices and decision makers in their families and communities.

Jennifer and Gomathi have already defied the odds by completing their high school education. Jennifer came to Destiny Village when she was 12. Her father died when she was young, and she became fully orphaned when her mother passed away from unforeseen illnesses. Gomathi also grew up at Destiny Village. When she was three, she lost her father from a car accident and her mother became sick shortly after. They both learned that despite their circumstances,  they have a God who is able to give them strength to overcome and pursue their dreams.

           

Both girls have a big dream to complete nursing school. They would like to pursue their degree via a three-year nursing course at the Salvation Army Catherine Booth Hospital and School, located in Nagercoil, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu India.

The total cost to cover tuition, accommodation, transportation, books, supplies, uniforms and bills for three years is $7,800 USD (or $1300 USD per year, per child). Jennifer and Gomathi believe that despite the message they have heard all their lives, girls do have the right to learn and the power to lead their families and communities.

If you are interested in sponsoring Jennifer and Gomathi through nursing school, please click here. You will receive updates on their progress and see how your dollars are literally changing their lives and opening doors to new possibilities.

 

Story by: Susan Anderson

One Home’s Unique Approach towards Sustainability amidst Orphan Crisis in Eastern Ukraine.

by susantanderson

War, substance abuse, unemployment, and poverty have fueled the growing orphan crisis in Eastern Ukraine, leaving communities burdened without the capacity to care for them.

Although we know that adoption and family reunification achieve the best outcomes for orphaned and vulnerable children, it is not an immediate option for most children in Eastern Ukraine. That is why high-quality children’s homes are a necessary part in the continuum of orphan care. However, when children’s homes begin to work alongside their community, sharing resources and knowledge, they can together become empowered to develop systems of care that are not only culturally appropriate, but are also long term and sustainable. This is the approach that Sails of Hope, one of our partner homes decided to adopt to improve sustainability for them as well as achieve the best outcomes of orphans in their city.

Slavyansk, located in Eastern Ukraine has struggled since the collapse of the Soviet Union. While conditions have improved in recent years, the people continue to grapple with poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, and high HIV and crime rates. Many are incarcerated, leaving children on their own and too often, parents die early because of poor access to healthcare.

With limited spots, and with so many children needing immediate care, Sails of Hope had to work in collaboration with their local community. With the economic uncertainty brought about by the war, fear became the biggest barrier that prevented local and extended family members to take in children long term. Despite this fear, some families in Slavyansk have stepped up to foster and adopt, giving Sails of Hope the freedom to take in those who have the most immediate needs. Although still an issue, it alleviated the burden of having to decide which child needed care the most and which child had to return to the streets.

Knowing the economic turmoil, and that in many cases, children who belong to struggling families end up being dropped off at the orphanage, Staff at Sails of Hope realized that perhaps, by investing in a program that supports and empowers families who have taken in orphaned children through the difficult times will in turn, help them with their own sustainability plan. This would be both cost effective for the home and gives the child the benefit of being part of a family.

They got creative and found a way to stretch their support dollars to develop a livestock program. The aim of this program is to get these families, many who have taken in orphaned children through these uncertain times by generating a stream of income and putting food on the table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This livestock program has been extremely helpful to Anya. Anya’s father was killed in the war in 2014. Her mother suffers from substance abuse and addiction, leaving Anya to care for her own baby and younger siblings with little to no support. As part of the livestock program, Sails of Hope wanted to empower Anya to continue caring for her family by purchasing 20 chicks to help support her and her family.  She will be able to produce eggs, sell them on the market and provide food on the table.

              

In addition, they purchased two beehives for the Khamidulnik family, who took in two disabled children, so they could produce and sell honey on the market.

Serving Orphans Worldwide is proud to support Sails of Hope, along with two other homes in Ukraine. Currently, Sails of Hope is caring for 39 children who are long term residents and are about to receive 3 additional children. They not only provide basic needs such as shelter, nutritious meals and a warm bed, but they also provide access to healthcare, education, and extra-curricular activities and programs such as summer camps, hiking, bicycling and much more. Bible studies and Christ centered activities give all the children the opportunity to know that they are loved unconditionally by their heavenly Father, and that they have a promising future despite their circumstances.

         

Sails of Hope and the recipients of the livestock program are continuing to care for these children, impacting the orphan crisis in Slavyansk one child at a time.

 

Story by: Susan Anderson

 

 

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