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What Sponsorship Does Today... And Tomorrow

Does sponsorship make a difference?

You may wonder about that when you pray over the photo of a child you've put on your fridge, or when you get communications from us in the mail. This commitment I've made, does it matter?

A few months ago, two staff from One Child Matters headquarters in Colorado Springs traveled through Ethiopia and Kenya on their way to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

As always, God directed their steps, bringing two children to the projects just so they could meet. Our friends had other meetings on their schedule, but when they met these two, it was obvious that God had something to say to us through them.

First: Antony. He attends a One Child Matters project in Kenya which helps him succeed in the nearby government school. Antony was eager to tell us all about his sponsors, even begging us to go to his house so he could show us their picture.

Antony's home is a simple mud structure, and when our friends stepped inside the dark hut, they were astonished to see a shelf built into the mud wall. Antony's mother had ensured her son would have a place to study by candelight. It is that little mud shelf you see at the beginning of this video:

Antony's love for his sponsor is so clear, so profound. His prayers are sincere, and their photo cherished.

We wanted to share Antony's story with you because sometimes it's hard to see the difference you are making on this side of eternity. But oh, just imagine the reunion in heaven when Antony will finally meet those who invested in him!

We pray that as you seek ways to make a difference in the life a child today, you recognize that sponsoring a child is effective and important. Which is why we've been talking so much about Hiwot, a young woman in Ethiopia who was sponsored from age 8 until she graduated.

Hiwot's gratitude was so evident, we asked her to share her story with all of our sponsors. Today, Hiwot has a bright future, and her heart for God continues to grow. Take a few moments and learn more about how sponsorship continues to shape Hiwot's life.

We love how sponsorship reflects the love of God into the heart of a child in need. And we are so grateful for your partnership in transforming the lives of children all over the world. Thank you for standing up, for proving that one child matters to you!

Massive Storm Strikes Philippines

Another massive storm is barreling down on an area where One Child Matters' projects are located, and we are requesting your prayers for the children and staff in that area.

Typhoon Haiyan is equivalent to a category 5 hurricane, with winds over 150mph and heavy rains, and is considered the strongest storm seen this year. The areas our projects serve are expecting to be hit hard.

We will post updates as we are able -- the staff have been able to report that they have preemptively sent additional food and supplies to areas that may be in greatest need. Please be patient as we wait for updates -- disasters like this often make communication difficult.

When natural disasters and personal emergencies strike the children we serve, we rely on the Children's Crisis Fund to respond. A small donation can go a long way in helping a family get back on their feet. Please consider making a donation today to help us meet the tremendous needs created by storms such as Haiyan.

Thanks as always for your prayers. In the past we have asked for prayer and seen storms turn around -- such is the power of our God, the storm-stiller. Please join us in praying for protection and provision for these children and their families.

How Children Are Affected In Disasters

A little more than two weeks ago, we asked you to pray for the children in our care in a region called Coastal Orissa in northeast India as a super cyclone came ashore, devastating this impoverished area.

Cyclone Phailin’s force as it made landfall was comparable to Hurricane Katrina – and given the fact that most people lived in fishing villages in simple structures of thatch and tin, the scale of this disaster is vast.

We’ve received an update on the damage to the communities our projects serve. If you’d like to help us respond to the urgent needs in this area, please consider making a donation to the Children’s Crisis Fund. Here are a few of the ways the children have been affected in the wake of the storm:

  • In some areas, the storm surge was between 6 and 12 feet high. Many people took shelter in our schools during the storm, yet the buildings also sustained significant damage. Many of the buildings lost their roofs or windows, and classrooms were damaged by the winds and rains.
  • Families in this region tried to make a living by fishing; the storm not only destroyed their homes, it swept their fishing boats out to sea, leaving many without means to earn an income.
  • Food is scarce and expensive – the cost of staples like onions and potatoes has risen 600 percent. Most families are living off of dal (lentils) and rice. Currently the projects are feeding the children each day (even if school is not held) but there is not enough food to feed their parents and siblings, too.
  • Thankfully, the government is trucking in clean water twice a day, but it is not enough to sustain people. In some areas, our projects had wells, but many are now filled with sand or polluted with runoff and not suitable for drinking.
  • Sanitation methods were destroyed, putting people at increased risk for illnesses – whatever water that was left has stagnated; many doctors fear an outbreak of cholera.

This is why the Children's Crisis Fund (CCF) is so important. It enables us to respond quickly to meet the urgent needs of families who may have lost everything. We can also use the CCF to help projects repair damage, allowing ministry to the children to continue during a critical time.

As always, we will contact you if your sponsored child was directly affected by Phailin or by any other disaster. Your sponsorship, combined with measures like the Children's Crisis Fund, help meet the needs of your child who otherwise may be overlooked in times of disaster.

Your prayers for the children and their families in Costal Orissa are as valuable as ever. Thank you for standing with us in prayer and support for the children!

 

Hiwot's Story: What Sponsorship Means

With your help, One Child Matters ministers to 40,000 children in 16 countries. Each year, equipped by your encouragement and prayers, more than one thousand children graduate from our programs and move on to what God has for them. For some it's university, while others find work in their community or a nearby city. But each child has had the opportunity to learn and grow in a place that emphasizes their worth in God's eyes and ours. Each child graduates knowing that he or she matters.

That's why we love what Hiwot is about to share with you. Hiwot attended one of our projects in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She met some of our staff this summer and was quick to share her heartfelt thanks with them. And we are so glad we can share it with you, too! Hiwot wanted every sponsor to understand the difference their sponsorship makes in the life a child. Watch her story below:

We hope you treasure Hiwot's encouragement as much as we have. May you see the same fruit in the life of your sponsored child!

Ready For The Kilimanjaro Trip Details? 

Update On India And Cyclone Damage

Thank you for your prayers for the children and those who serve them in India!

We praise God that so many people were able to evacuate (more than 1 million people fled from the coastal region in the cyclone's path) and so many lives were spared given cyclone Phailin's scope and strength.

However, the storm response and clean-up are just beginning. We  have received preliminary word from our country staff about damage to some project buildings. Several families also lost their homes, especially in the coastal fishing villages.

As is the case with any natural disaster, we will notify you if your sponsored child is directly affected. We appreciate your patience as the project staff continues to check on areas damaged by the storm; most of the power lines were destroyed and train service disrupted, making communication difficult.

Please join us in praying that those whose homes were damaged can find shelter and food as they begin rebuilding efforts. Water sources may have also been contaminated by flood waters, so please pray for the health of the children and their families.

You can help us respond to natural disasters and medical emergencies by giving to the Children's Crisis Fund. And thank you, as always, for your prayers and support!

Prayer Request: "Super Cyclone" Hits India

Tropical Cyclone Phailin's path as of noon on Saturday. Image courtesy of the Pacific Disaster Center's weather unit. pdc.org/weatherTropical Cyclone Phailin made landfall near coastal Orissa (also called Odisha in some news reports), a region with several One Child Matters programs.

Our staff reports that several thousand people have been evacuated from the fishing villages along the coast, and news stories mention that as many as 500,000 people had been evacuated before the storm hit.

Tropical Cyclone Phailin is considered a severe storm, with winds well over 100mph; it is expected to dump at least 4-8 inches of rain in most areas. In strength and size, Phailin is considered comparable to Hurricane Katrina, and the area in which it made landfall is home to thousands who live in simple homes made of thatch and tin. Bangladesh is also receiving massive amounts of rain as the storm surges.

(The Medical Mercy team that was serving in India this week is departing from another region and is thus far unaffected by the storm.)

Please pray with us for the safety of the children and their families, for our staff who have families of their own, and for our projects that often become places of refuge in times like this.

You can help us respond to the crises wrought by storms such as Phailin by making a donation to our Children's Crisis Fund. Every donation helps us meet the immediate needs of families devastated by disasters and illnesses.

Thank again for your prayers, and for your partnership for the benefit of the children!

 

The Best Way To Measure Success

In our latest update from Dr. Beyda, he tells us the story of a child he met and why numbers aren't the only way they measure success.

So let's see. Over 1100 children seen in 4 days, one more day to go. I wonder what impact we'll have. It's not about the numbers – although we all are intrigued by the number, me included. It gives us a sense of accomplishment, a sense of completion.

Really? Not so fast. It's really about the reason why and the way we do what we do, and what the children receive. I'll let you decide what all those things are at least from the stories you read here. For me, it is simple. We have a reason why: to serve; and the way is to give of ourselves and do our best to ensure the health of the children. Today is an example.

We are still in a remote area of India, isolated and far from a big city. We saw about 320 children today, many still presenting with stunting, the product of severe malnutrition before the age of 5 years. One child in particular, the child you see above, is one of those. She is 8 years old and is the size of a 5 year old. She is chronically ill, has a persistent cough, pneumonia, may have TB, no appetite. A lack for life. She had no breakfast this morning. There was no food in the house. The parents have been "quarreling" according to the child, the mother is sick, and the father is rarely home.

She is a sponsored child, and because of that she is one of the lucky ones. She gets a noon-time meal Monday through Friday because of the partnership One Child Matters has with a school that she attends, and she is cared for by OCM staff. Medical Mercy now gives her a chance for health. I gave her medications, put her in our follow-up system, and the local OCM staff will follow closely and send me a report in 2 weeks as to how she is doing. We did a full nutritional assessment on her, and she'll be assessed every 6 months so I can see how she is doing. Without the medications, the follow up, the care and the intentional effort to get her better, she would pass away slowly and alone. There in lies the why and the way. She will do well, she will survive, she will grow and she will be able to live her life to her potential. 

We have one more clinic tomorrow. We'll see a couple of hundred children and finish out the week with a "total number." But more importantly, we will finish out the week having served and leaving behind a chance for the children to see a lifetime of love.

Medical Mercy Sees The Difference

The Medical Mercy team continued to serve children in our programs today, and Dr. Beyda shares the difference sponsorship can make for children in poverty.

Whatever the reason, life comes at us from directions unexpected. Today I expected to travel on a bumpy road, to a project with significantly impoverished children who longed for a decent life. That is not what happened today.

We travelled to our clinic site, saw about 185 children, identified a number of children in need of advanced care, and participated in the feeding program watching the children eat their meal that is given to them by One Child Matters daily. We noticed that because of this program, the children were much more nutritionally on target for their age as compared to the children yesterday.

And here is where the expectations turned to the positive. Since we were in a locale much poorer than where we were yesterday, I expected to see children who were sicker, more malnourished, more impoverished. The children were in fact a little sicker, more impoverished but relatively well nourished and well-adjusted despite the conditions they lived in. They were happy, content and interactive.

The two projects that the children came from today embraced a holistic approach in giving the children what they needed and deserved in order for them to experience life to their fullest potential. It is because of the dedication of the teachers, the project leaders, the pastors and the local One Child Matters leadership, that the children were moving in the direction of personhood and worth.

One child who was born with a significant discrepancy in leg length had surgery a few months ago that One Child Matters financially supported through our Children's Crisis Fund to correct his gait. He walks without a limp now, is self-confident and plays with the other children. It is things like this that make what we do worthwhile. Giving a child a chance to be a child.

The team worked flawlessly. After yesterday nothing could slow us down. Everyone made the most of their individual talents and served the children. We leave tomorrow for another remote area and will be there for a few days. I'll wait to see where the road takes us. No expectations this time. I'll go where the road leads us and trust that it will end in a safe haven for children who have had little and now have something. Love and caring.

We are so grateful for this medical team and for all of you who make sacrifices to improve the life of a child and ensure they know they have tremendous worth in God's eyes.

First Day Of Clinics In India

Children wait patiently to be seen by the Medical Mercy's team.After 30 hours of traveling, the Medical Mercy team arrived safely in India with all their luggage -- praise God! They had an afternoon of orientation to prepare for their first set of clinics. Here, Dr. Beyda recounts their day:

Every now and then we have a day that we want to forget -- or remember. A day that is so out of the ordinary, so different, that it strikes a chord in our hearts and minds and plays a tune that makes us smile or gives us pause. Today was one of those days.

Not knowing what to expect, we drove almost 2 hours to a remote province where we walked down a dirt road to a hidden school, a haven with children waiting. All were in uniform, white shirts, pants, skirts and blue ties for both boys and girls.

We were surprised. Where were the poor and the isolated? Where were the malnourished and the weak? Where were the sick? Wait for it. They were there, but hidden behind smiles and a sense of community in a school that offered an education and an opportunity to pursue a better life than the one the children were born into.

And now here is what's behind the uniforms and the smiles. Severe effects of malnutrition resulting in stunting. A 9 year old who was the size of a 6 year old. A 12 year old who looked like a 7 year old. Short stature with long-term effects.  Healthy looking on the outside but compromised for life due to malnutrition before the age of 5 years, a deficit that cannot be made up now. Girls who will deliver prematurely once they become women and get pregnant. Boys who will grow up with weakened physiques limiting them to vocations that they may not be given an opportunity to succeed in. The pictures here are of how children are affected. The tragedy behind the veil of presumed health.

We left feeling like we impacted lives. First aid training given and first aid kits left behind. A water filtration system left behind. Dental hygiene taught and toothbrushes left behind. Medications given and left behind. Children with illnesses identified who needed advance care sent to facilities who could help. Love and validation that they were children who deserved nothing less than that they were children who were treasured and cared for and cared about. All 462 of them.

Yes, we saw, played with, treated, cared about, and loved on 462 children. Today. What a day. A day of sadness behind our smiles knowing that the children were going to be stunted for the rest of their loves. A day of happiness for leaving something good behind. A day so out of the ordinary that it made us both smile and give pause. Bittersweet, but what a wonderful day all the same.

We praise God for the attentive care the Medical Mercy team provides for the children we serve. Although many children in India are physically stunted, we know that your sponsorship and the support you provide can ensure a child's success is not dependent on their physical stature. Thank you for all you do to help the children, and please continue to pray with us for the Medical Mercy team!

Medical Mercy Leaves For India

Please join us in praying for the Medical Mercy team which leaves tomorrow for their third trip to India. Medical Mercy last served children in India in January of 2012. Dr. Beyda shared how they choose where to serve and what they expect to do during this trip.

I am often asked how and why we choose the countries we go to. It is not that complex. We go where we think the greatest need is for the children at that point in time. So off we go to India, to a different location. South, on the very tip of India where One Child Matters has several projects with many children who are in need of medical care and nutritional assessments. A team of of several doctors and more than a dozen nurses and lay members will be leaving.

I remember India well. The children have an aura of the unkempt, many with bags under their eyes, sunken and void of emotion, and with hair that is coated with dirt. I remember the times that we were faced with making critical decisions as to whether we could help a child or not. We did most of the time.

Sometimes we can’t for reasons that may surprise you. No medical facility to send the child to that can offer the medical interventions that are needed and sometimes (yes, hard to believe) parents who don’t see the need to pursue medical treatment, believing instead in an obscure spiritual healing that is contrary to the evidence that there needs to be a partnership between medicine and religion. It is then that I realize that the critical moments in life always arrive with astonishing suddenness and then they are gone without us being able to do anything about them.

I try to make the right decisions for my patients but there are times when I am in a moral gray area. How far can we go with limited resources and realistic outcomes? It’s the age-old battle between mind and heart, which seldom want the same thing.

We will see over 1500 patients in five days if all works out as planned. I pray that as we serve those who come to us for help, they will be comforted by the fact that whatever we do, it will be a validation of who they are: persons. No judgment, no pity, simply caring and love. For me, each day that we are with them, we validate that the power of the human spirit and faith can endure any challenge, no matter how daunting.

We will post updates from the team as they are able to send them -- sometimes the internet does not always cooperate. But as this special team ministers to the children in southern India, we hope you join us in prayer and praise God with us for the way He equips His people to meet the needs of others.

Reading And Writing Can Right Your Child's World

September 8th is International Literacy Day, designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1965 to focus on the development of a crucial life skill for people all over the world. 

Literacy is traditionally defined as the ability to read and write, and to gain further knowledge through those skills.

In the United States, it’s the building block of all education, and for many, a basic right. The U.S. literacy rate is estimated at 99%.

If we look at the countries we serve, a few countries can come close to that. The Philippines, Jordan, and Zimbabwe have literacy rates above 92%. The Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Kenya, and Swaziland are all in the high 80s, and if we were listing these by highest rates, Honduras wouldn’t be far behind with just over 84% literacy rate.

And then for the second half of the countries where we minister, literacy rates plummet. Cambodia hovers around 74%, still recovering from the devastation of the Khmer Rouge era in the late 1970s that specifically targeted the educated classes and wiped out their education system.

India has 62% literacy; although barely half of all women over the age of 15 know how to read, 3 out of 4 men do, highlighting a disparity in educational opportunity based on gender. Nepal boasts just over 60% literacy with a similar breakdown along gender lines.

Bangladesh and Mozambique both struggle with a 56% literacy rate. Haiti’s rate in the most recent figures before the 2010 earthquake devastated its capital, found less than half (48%) of Haitians could read. And Ethiopia comes in last for our countries with an astonishing 39% literacy rate.

If those statistics didn’t make your eyes glaze over, we’re glad. Because you are making a tremendous difference in the lives of children who may be the first in their families to learn to read. Because of your sponsorship, your child can continue to receive an education and the support he or she needs to succeed. Because of sponsorship, we will see those country statistics change -- for the better.

Studies show that the gift of literacy continues to give – women with higher rates of education have healthier children and make more money. Older children who can read can encourage their younger siblings, ensuring more children stay in school.

We’ve shared before how your letters are mini-literacy lessons, giving your child (and possibly other family members) a chance to practice both reading and writing.

Your letters also break through the isolation of poverty and shatter the messages children hear through their circumstances – that no one cares, that they are the only ones who struggle, that they’ll never amount to more than this.

That’s why we’re focusing on education this year, because as a sponsor you can play a major role in encouraging your child’s schooling. Over the years, your sponsorship ensures your child can get the help they need to succeed while gaining confidence as they discover that the God who created them in His image also loves them dearly. We think that’s the best foundation for the future growth of any child, and we are so grateful for you for helping us build it!

If you haven’t sent in your “What I Learned” letter, please do so! We’ve received thousands of them, and they are incredible pieces of encouragement and strength for the children. Thank you for partnering with us. 

Warmly Welcomed At New Life Home

The New Life Home exists to care for children at their most vulnerable state: abandoned, many with serious illnesses during a crucial time of life. The ministry that takes place at the New Life Home is miraculous.

This is Kenya’s cooler season of the year, and the staff were pleased to receive a donation of warm woolen hats, blankets, sweaters, and bears for the children. They think these warm gifts helped ward off the rounds of viral pneumonia that are so common this time of year!

Baby Linda was born in April and came to the New Life Home in May weighing in at a little over 7 pounds. Initial tests found that she had tuberculosis and HIV, and she was slow to respond to treatment.

The staff started Linda on Plumpy Nut, a nutritious peanut-butter based supplement that works wonders for malnourished children, and sweet Linda has transformed in recent weeks! At last weigh in, she had gained almost 5 pounds!

Linda recently moved up to the crawler unit with other more mobile children. Her sweet smile lights up the room!

The New Life Home also welcomed twins this summer! Marcus and Marissa were born premature. Marcus weighed just over 5 pounds at admission, and tiny Marissa was just over 3.5 pounds when they were given up for adoption by their mother. They were in the incubator together as this often comforts twins, but after a few weeks they were considered quite healthy and moved into another unit to make room for other infants needing special care. The staff is delighted by their progress.

Victor was discovered when he began to cry in a trash dumpster. Wrapped in a green plastic bag, his umbilical cord and placenta were still attached. Victor was taken to a district hospital and was diagnosed with neonatal sepsis and hypothermia. After a round of IV antibiotics, Victor was discharged to the New Life Home. He arrived weighing 6.6 pounds and is a happier and more content child than his admission picture reflects!

You can help the New Life Home continue this unique and valuable ministry by making a donation on our website. Thank you for supporting these precious little ones with your prayers and financial help!

Children Who Say “I Have A Dream”

Today is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. On August 28, 1963, more than 200,000 people gathered to demand equal opportunity: they marched "for jobs and freedom." Martin Luther King, Jr.'s moving proclamation -- what we now call the "I Have A Dream" speech -- has challenged and inspired this nation ever since.

As we remember that powerful time in U.S. history, we also look around the world at the countries we serve and are reminded that many children are denied opportunities to achieve their own potential at nearly every turn, often due to circumstances and cultures that formed long before their time.

Husni in 2008, with his slum behind him. Dreaming is a rare privilege for children living in extreme
poverty – but as sponsors, we’re in the dream business. The faithfulness of your support opens doors once forcefully closed for children living in rural Kenya and the refugee camps of the Middle East and other areas around the world.

In the slums of Delhi, India, we have several projects who have seen how sponsorship nourishes the dreams of children.

In the neighborhood where Husni grew up, darkness and hopelessness seemed to be everywhere. His father was a day laborer and struggled to find enough work to support Husni, his brother and three sisters. When his mother learned of the child development center opening, she rushed to enroll young Husni in the program for young children. Because of the lack of stable income, the family could only afford to send one child to school, and that was Husni.

Husni’s family faced many challenges. His father died in 2007, leaving only his mother to care for the children. She began selling vegetables house to house to try and make ends meet; Husni’s brother fell in with bad company and became an alcoholic.

Husni with his mother this year.Husni worked hard to help his mother, but he never let his dream of finishing school die. The staff and teachers at the child development center inspired him and kept him on steady moral footing through the Bible teachings. Many of Husni’s young friends became aimless and ran in the wrong crowds, but not Husni. Because of the influence of the teachers and staff, Husni knew that he was a young man with purpose and promise.

As Husni matured and succeeded in school, the project staff recommended him for a diploma program in computers run by the government of Delhi, and Husni was accepted! He continues to help his mother and always dreams big. “I want to achieve great things in life, and I want to help other children who are suffering and have no one to stand with them,” Husni says. “I know that whatever I am today it is because of this program and the love of my sponsor.”

Alleemah in 2008.

Aleemah also lives with many dreams, but this was not always the case. Although her family was considered part of an upper caste and middle class, things fell apart after her father became mentally ill and began wandering the streets. With no income, Aleemah’s mother tried to become a day laborer but could not make enough to feed Aleemah and her older brother and sister. The family lost everything.

Moving into the slums of Delhi was difficult on everyone, but Aleemah’s mother suffered the most. A month before her death, Aleemah’s mother went to the local One Child Matters program and pleaded with the staff to take care of her children if something happened to her. After their mother died, Aleemah and her siblings were forced out of their rented room and had nowhere to turn but the child development center.

Aleemah looks back on that time as the valley of death, but now she looks forward to a great future. “I could see the hand of a living God as I studied and understood that the Bible talked to me. The loving God was taking care of me, and I could not help but fall in love with this great and mighty God.”

Aleemah today. “My God and my sponsor stood with me during these hardships, they helped me find hope and life,” she says. Aleemah is finishing her 12th grade and wants to become a nurse to help other children. “One Child Matters helped snatch me from death and hopelessness,” she shares. “I have been sustained and educated, and I live with a purpose. And I am eternally grateful.”

You can also help a child rise above the fear and hopelessness of extreme poverty through sponsorship. Sponsors are tangible reminders of God's love during the most formative times in a child's life. Thank you for considering the unique opportunities sponsorship provides for children who can go forward with purpose, because they often go on to selflessly help others!

Your Letters Are Amazing!

For weeks now, we’ve received mail bin after mail bin of your “When I was in school” letters.

And just to be clear, they are so wonderful! So many of you have gone above and beyond what we imagined with these letters.

We asked you to include photos or to draw pictures of your own time in school to help emphasize that you understand the importance of school, and that you experienced the challenges and joys of this unique time of life yourself.

That’s been our favorite part – you all are so creative and so generous with your photos! We know that the children and their families truly treasure photos of you, and these will be no exception!

Check out a few of your letters that really moved us! Thank you for including your sponsored children in your lives in such a creative way!

We loved how this sponsor highlighted specific phrases in the background for encouragement!

This sponsor included a drawing by her daughter -- we LOVED this! We know that many of you don't have copies of your old school pictures, but your sponsored child would love to see any sort of picture from you, we promise!

Yet so many of you chose to send your own personal photos. If you would prefer to make a copy and use that to send on, your sponsored child will still love it. But we thoroughly enjoyed these blasts from the past! We highlighted a few more of these photos below so you can see the detail.

We also really appreciate that you took the time to include captions. Noting your age in the photo is a great point of reference for your child. What a neat photo!

Here's another great one. Some team sports shots never change, do they?

Here's a wonderful class photo. We are so glad the sponsor pointed out where she was in the photo. In some regions, especially India, similar class photos still occur.

If you haven't sent in your letter, there's still time! And if you couldn't seem to find a photo for this activity, please send more photos when you get the chance. They don't have to be school photos, but your child will treasure any glimpse of you.

Thank you for all you do for the children, for sacrificing your own personal mementos and photos to encourage a child halfway across the world.

 

Genn: A Sponsorship Success Story

At first glance, Genn blends right in with her students. A slight young woman, you’d easily think she was only 12 or 13. Sweet and shy, Genn has undergone tremendous transformation.

Ten years ago, life was tenuous. Genn, one of five children, knew that her widowed mother, Francine, was struggling to support Genn and her siblings as well as their grandmother. They lived in a three-sided hut (often called a squatter’s hut) made out of scavenged materials; the entire family slept on the floor. They cooked meals over a fire outside and had no bathroom.

Every day was a struggle for Genn’s family. Genn and her siblings should have been in elementary school, but often her mother needed them to help take vegetables into the city to sell. On the days they were able to attend, many times they only made it a half day – the children were so malnourished and weak that they were often ill.

At age nine, Genn and three of her siblings were enrolled at Happy Horizons Academy, a One Child Matters program. The project found work for Genn’s mother in the kitchen. With more stable income, the children were able to stay in school, and the health of the entire family improved.

Genn began to enjoy school and never missed the Saturday and Sunday group activities where they learned about God’s love and how to be healthier and happier citizens of the world. The faithfulness of her childrens’ sponsors made an impact on Francine, who often remarked that she learned about God and how He took care of them through the love and kindness of the others.

As she grew older, Genn wanted to find a way to reinvest what was given to her – the project had restored her and her family to health, they had nurtured them with love, and they had given her hope for the future. She announced she wanted to go to college and become a teacher.

Genn excelled in her first few semesters at the college, and her siblings continued to do well at the project. Her mother, now a full-time cook at Happy Horizons, was providing for the family. But then Francine fell ill with a fever and was taken to the hospital. Within a few days, Francine died.

The family was devastated. Three of Genn’s siblings were still at home with their elderly grandmother. Without an income, they could not pay for her mother’s funeral expenses, and Genn could not pay to finish college.

And yet, God continued to be faithful. The sponsors stood by the children, and the project pooled resources to pay for the funeral for their friend and fellow coworker. Genn qualified for an extra scholarship and returned to school.

Earlier this year, she graduated and fulfilled a dream: she was hired to teach at the Happy Horizons Academy. Now Genn is providing for her siblings while investing in children in her community.

Genn looks back on her time at the project as absolutely formative, and as she graduated, she sent a letter to her sponsor:

"No words can express how grateful I am to have a sponsor like you. Thanks to God so much for that. After four years in college, now I am soon to graduate and it would not be possible without your kind heart and support. Thank you so much for leading me towards this achievements. You are a great part of my success. Thank you. Thank you so much! I know God will bless you more and more and give you strength always. May you help and change more lives. May God take care of you always. I love you dear sponsor."

Genn’s sponsor shared this with us and provided her own acknowledgement:

The thing is, I think of Genn as so much more than a "sponsor child".... she is like my own daughter. It is I who has been blessed by God to have her in my life. I thank God for HIS faithfulness when it came to being able to help support Genn through the years. Genn, I am so proud of how hard you have worked in spite of all the challenges you have faced... you are beautifully and wonderfully made! God truly is amazing that He brought you into my life!

Taste Of Sponsorship: The Philippines

It's time for another recipe -- and trust us, you want to try this one whether you sponsor a child in the Philippines or not!

Pansit Bam-I (also sometimes spelled Pancit) is Cebuano dish, meaning it is a specialty of Cebu Island where One Child Matters has several projects. The mix of mushrooms and meat with the two types of noodles (egg noodles and bean thread or vermicelli noodles) create fantastic flavor.

We used chicken, shrimp, and pork to create this tasty dish. We had trouble finding chorizo bilbao, but you can probably find it at an Asian market.

As you can see, there are a lot of ingredients that go into this. We had to divide the ingredients among two skillets (a wok would be ideal), so make sure you use a larger pan available, or halve this recipe. As currently written, this easily fed 8 people with plenty of leftovers!

Overall cook time was over an hour but well worth it.

Pansit Bam-I is traditionally served at birthdays because the long noodles signify longevity, but it is served all over the Philippines' southern islands.

Have you had Pansit Bam-I? Would you consider making this recipe? We highly recommend it!

To download the entire recipe, click here!

Beyond The Classroom

For years, our mission has driven us forward: to equip children in developing nations to reach their God-given potential by creating opportunities for spiritual, physical, social, mental and emotional development.

Over the past two summers, you have helped us address spiritual needs as you wrote out prayers for your child. Last year you learned about the way we address your child’s physical health needs at the project level.

So this summer, as we focus on education and that crucial level of mental development, it may help to think outside the classroom.

As we shared earlier, less than half of our programs are schools who provide formal education. The rest focus on educational activities and support, from field trips to group and individual tutoring if needed.

Yet to continue helping children reach their God-given potential, the educational elements in our programs must venture beyond a blackboard and textbook. Our staff work hard to develop vocational programs – things we call “life skills” such as gardening, barbering, and wood working to help children gain training and experience to help them later in life.

We were thrilled when we saw the fruit of these vocational skills on children in our programs in the Philippines – because of a government-certified sewing program, older students are learning tailoring techniques. And this year they made the uniforms for children in the Happy Horizons Academy.

They created the design and were taught to measure and cut pieces, not using a pattern to ensure the uniforms fit their fellow customers. They are paid per piece, a portion of which is put into their own savings account so when they graduate the program, they have funds set aside to help them on their way.

They also make all the bedding including sheets and pillow cases. They sew curtains for the buildings, make the physical education uniforms, costumes for plays, and nurses uniforms.

Because the program is government-certified, this invaluable experience can help the students get employment at factories or small shops – some are already dreaming of starting their own business!

We’ll share more about other countries and the vocational programs they’ve developed for the older children. We praise God for how he is building the confidence of students in these programs – something especially critical in impoverished areas where educational opportunities are minimal, and vocational options even less.

What do you think of this program? Can you see the pride they students take in their products?

Letters From All Over!

Have you sent in your letter yet? We’ve been thrilled with your response as the letters have poured in from all over the country!

We've got so many bins, filled with your heartfelt messages and fun school memories. Going through them has been so enjoyable!

If you haven’t sent your letter in, take heart and take a moment to fill out the letter for your child. Perhaps your own children are getting ready to start school – maybe you can take a photo of them with their backpacks, ready for their first day!

Schooling is such a huge part of your sponsored child's life. Thanks for carving some time out of your own day to share memories and advice from your own school days!

And tell us -- what was your favorite part of the letter to do?

A Colorful Guide To What We Provide

Sponsorship is a unique gift for a child. Your support opens doors, builds up confidence, and encourages your child’s heart.

Because we often emphasize the importance educational support plays in your child’s life, it’s natural for many sponsors to assume that all of our programs are schools.

Although the roots of our ministry trace back to schools in India, less than half of our programs are schools in the formal sense. Roughly 55% of our programs are child development centers (CDCs), and children attend on certain afternoons or Saturdays for fun activities that help them learn and grow.

Do schools and child development centers differ much in what they provide for children?

Yes and no – because both ministry settings are designed toward meeting the holistic needs of the children, there is some overlap. If something will help a child reach their God-given potential, we want to provide it.

Each project and program is designed to meet the needs of children in a particular region, yet those needs may vary greatly. Some services are provided by the government, as well. Does it help to see the common elements for our ministries in 15 countries around the world?