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Sponsorship Builds Leaders

That's why we say change the world for one child, change the world forever. The benefits of sponsorship go beyond the child you minister to -- you are praying for and writing to a world changer! Sponsorship opens doors that allow children to flourish and grow into their God-given potential. How have you seen the fruit of sponsorship in your sponsored child?

Sponsorship Impact: Redefining "Smart"

 The question was simple, yet the young boy’s answer shocked us.

“I’m not smart,” he said.

The Medical Mercy volunteer had asked Melvin if he felt okay, if he had anything wrong with him – a common question for older children to help the teams identify potential issues during checkups. Most kids reveal stomach aches or coughs. Not Melvin.

We wondered if we heard him correctly but when asked again, Melvin repeated his answer.

“I’m not smart.”

Melvin is 10 years old and lives with his mother and two younger sisters in a simple home near the project. His father had abandoned the family years ago.

Dee and I had sponsored Melvin for several months before I went down to the Dominican Republic. Our staff brought him from his project to the Mission Valiente Child Development Center (also known as The Baseball Project) so we could meet him. The baseball field was a flurry of activity, and Melvin and I were both hanging back, so I gestured toward the basketball court.

We connected that day as I taught him to dribble and pass, and sports became our language. First basketball, then soccer. His face lit up as he picked up new skills.

I kept hearing his response in my head. “I’m not smart.” We had consulted with the school counselor, and she relayed that one of his sisters is two years younger, but she and Melvin are in the same grade. “Melvin struggles in his studies,” she said, “but everything seems to come easily for his sister.”

Knowing more of Melvin's story helped me realize that I had a unique opportunity to speak into his life that day, as a sponsor and a father figure. I knew God was prompting me to reframe Melvin’s idea of himself.

Dee and I sat with the project director and Melvin’s mother as I revealed all I had learned from him that day. You ARE smart, I said again and again, reminding him how quickly he picked up new skills on the court and on the field. That's not easy to do. It takes real intelligence, and he had it.

I tried to encourage him to ask for help in school, and reiterated how important he was to God and to Dee and me. The project director and I discussed the tutoring options available for Melvin, and we made sure he could get the help he needed to grow in confidence.

It would take practice and determination for Melvin to succeed, but we needed him to know that we believed in him and would pray for him.

Sometimes all it takes is encouragement from somebody on the outside to let a child know that they are okay, that they are greatly loved, and that they can do it. By the end of that day, we had a special bond.

Soon it was time to say goodbye. Melvin and his mother were walking away when suddenly Melvin turned back and ran to me, throwing his arms around me in a long hug.

Once again I was shocked – in the best way – and so glad. I can only pray Melvin is learning as much as I have learned from him.

The Essential Third Question

As we shared yesterday, receiving a letter can be a great encouragement – and a wonderful educational opportunity for your sponsored child.

Of all the questions we included on the “When I Was In School” letter, we agreed that one of the most significant answers your sponsored child will read is the third one:

I had a difficult time learning about _______________________.

Why did we include this question? We want our letters to be uplifting and inspiring, so how can listing our academic struggles encourage a child?

Do you remember your most difficult subject in school? I had several – mostly in math and science. I was a voracious reader, and I relished my history and English classes. Yet one particular teacher shook my confidence in math in late elementary school… and it seems like (looking at my grades after that point) I never quite recovered.

The further I went in school, the more complex the classes became, and the more my misery grew. It was so hard to ask for help, but I had many resources at my disposal -- friends who were more than happy to sit with me as I pushed through, teachers to meet with after school, and most importantly parents who supported me and made sure I could get the help I needed.

Now put yourself in your sponsored child’s shoes. Perhaps they are the first in their family to go to school – maybe their parents aren’t literate and can’t offer help. Many teachers in the developing world work second or third jobs and aren’t available to help. Classrooms are crowded and competitive.

A child’s academic confidence – even in the best of environments – is fragile. Education isn’t an expectation or a right for a child in poverty, and small struggles may quickly build into seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Your sponsorship provides incredible educational support – and we will share more about that in coming weeks. Before we get there, however, I really want you to focus on that third question. Imagine learning that your sponsor – the person you so admire, the person you know prays for
you – also struggled with a subject in school.

Maybe you can share with your child how you were able to overcome it, or what you learned from those struggles. The best metaphor I’ve seen yet is from a sponsor who knew her sponsored boy loved soccer, and shared how practicing math problems helped her strengthen her skills. She compared it to the need to learn to juggle a ball with your weak foot to make sure you could be a strong, well-rounded soccer player. What a powerful way to share some helpful hints!

That’s why the second side of the letter has space for a message for your sponsored child – consider it an opportunity to share encouragement from your own seasons of struggle.

We’d love to hear from you – how did you answer the third question, and what advice would you have for your sponsored child?

Kate is a regular writer for the One Child Matters blog, and continues to be amazed that God saw fit to find a position that uses her passion for writing and general geopolitical nerdness to help others see how sponsorship furthers His kingdom!

The Lesson Of A Letter

Each summer, we send you a special mailing to help you bless your sponsored child. When we first did this in 2010, you sent postcards that said You Are Loved! In 2011, you wrote out prayers for your child’s well-being and future. Last year, you focused your prayers on your child’s health.

We have been so encouraged by your heartfelt messages and prayers, and we know the sponsored children in our programs are even more blessed by it!

With that in mind, we are asking you to write another letter – this time focused on your own education along with a special message for your child. Why are we focusing on education?

Education is so vitally important to breaking the cycle of poverty that we try and make every activity an opportunity to learn and grow.

Did you know that receiving a letter from you helps your sponsored child learn?

We've written before that a letter from you is a tangible reminder that they are loved. The encouragement they receive cannot be underestimated.

Yet letters can be more than that! Reading a letter is an interactive literacy lesson, and one loaded with joy and delight because each note is a gift, something wholly devoted to them.

Receiving a letter is also a chance to exercise reasoning. As they read through what you wrote, your child can connect the dots from previous questions they may have asked and formulate new ones. They get to practice their penmanship, too!

All of these are new skills rarely if ever taught (let alone practiced) in a traditional classroom in their country, yet each is an incredibly valuable skill to have later in life.

And what if your child is young and doesn’t know how to read yet? Can you imagine how much more eager to learn so they can read your letters again and again? Just look at how Miguel responded to a letter:

“Miguel says hello. Child is 7 years old now. He also says he likes school. He also says he wants to learn writing for writing his letters by himself. – Miguel, Dominican Republic

Tomorrow we’ll share why it’s important to share about your own school experience. In the meantime, take a moment to read over these snippets from other child letters.

"Thank you for loving me so much and sent me a nice message, and soon learn it by heart and use it in my life. I love you very much." – Damarais, Dominican Republic

“I have received your sweet letter thank you so much for the lovely letter. I can feel your love through every line of your letter that you loves me so much. Now I am in class III and I am doing hard work in my study. My favorite subject is Bengali. I do pray to my Lord Jesus Christ for your wellbeing. I am fine here. Please take my love." – Your sponsored child Pratik, India

“I forgive you for take so long to reply to my lovely letter. I know education is very important because will save me all the rest of my life. I like you so much. My God bless you garden and the vegetables. Did you enjoy soccer? I enjoy it.” – Tebesutfu, Swaziland

"Your letter is in my hand, I have read it so many times. I like to read it again and again, thank you so much for your nice letter and help. You have written that God is wonderful and he forgives us again and again, but I want to know is it necessary to ask forgiveness if we say lies for something good? Thank you for praying for me to be a doctor." – Sangeeta, India

“Thank you for spending your time to wrote me a letter. Even if it’s just a letter it was valuable because it shows your love and care for me. I am so lucky that God loves and cares for us. And I also have you as my sponsor. You know what I feel when you sent me a letter? I am so happy that I almost reach the stars in the sky… – Ivan, the Philippines

How has your sponsored child expressed their thanks for your letters?

The Power Of Education: More To Come!

Happy Independence Day!

A thought-provoking phrase is on the Korean War Memorial in Washington D.C., "Freedom is not free."

Today is a day we celebrate our country's independence, and the One Child Matters office is closed so we can spend time with our family and friends.

And yet, it is a day like today that reminds us of all we have and all those who sacrificed to secure it for us. And that's what sponsors do -- you sacrifice for the good of others. You give of your own selves to help children have a better chance at life.

Thank you for all you do -- for the way you are rescuing children from the grip of poverty, and how you do it so humbly, with a smile and prayer. Thank you for bringing children freedom!

Coming Soon!

What Is Ramadan?

Muslims around the world are preparing to celebrate the beginning of Ramadan. If you sponsor a child with a Muslim background, what does that mean for daily life?

Click to read more ...

Modern-Day Nehemiahs

"Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert."-- Nehemiah 9:19

The book of Nehemiah tells the story of a man of considerable leadership faced with a daunting task: rebuilding the walls, and consequently, the heart of Jerusalem.

We face a similar task when we sponsor a child from Jordan or Lebanon. And just like Nehemiah, we need to be wise and sensitive to both the task at hand and the people we are working with because just as in Nehemiah's time, there are people who oppose the work in progress.

Many laws in Jordan and Lebanon prohibit overtly Christian work -- especially evangelism -- yet God has opened doors for our ministries to continue working in areas that desperately need love and support. And so we continue to serve the children, meeting their physical needs and praying to provide for their spiritual ones.

This honor and responsibility is not something we take lightly. Program workers creatively share their faith and love on these children in tangible and powerful ways. Outside of the school or center's environment, our programs put together summer activities and camps where they can continue to minister to the children.

Yet in the current political climate, any organization with international ties is subject to scrutiny. In response, we operate in a sensitive, careful way to protect the work we feel God has given us for the sake of His children.

We don't live in a culture with such consequences for faith. We rightly see sponsorship as a ministry. And because we are spurred on by the Great Commission and accustomed to our freedom of expression, we often seek to proclaim Christ with our sponsored child in explicit ways: sharing the gospel in our letters, writing out Bible verses for our child, declaring Jesus' great love.

These are not bad things but they are dangerous for our workers and ministry there. We cannot send letters with explicitly Christian content to these areas. The heart behind the words is beyond honorable, but the risk is too great: parents may withdraw their children, and schools already closely monitored will be shut down, effectively ending a ministry for all of the children in that community.

When faced with threats and intimidation, Nehemiah had but one effective weapon: prayer. In Nehemiah 4:9, we read that the people prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

Please help us guard against the threats to our work. Do not include Bible verses or references to Jesus Christ in your letters. It may seem counterintuitive, but references to Christianity or the gospel puts this life-changing ministry in danger. Stickers or cards with Bible verses or Christian symbols cannot be sent on.

Although these restrictions may be frustrating, please continue to write to your child. This region is rife with turmoil and hardship. Your letters are an invaluable source of stability and encouragement. Tell your sponsored child that you are proud of them. That you care for them. Ask about their daily lives.

Be assured that your sponsored child is learning about Jesus from people who love them and live out the faith before them. Our staff members are modern day Nehemiahs, burdened for these people yet savvy in this perilous environment. And like Nehemiah, they need to know that they have allies and partners in this great yet subtle work.

As sponsors of children in these countries, we need your help to further our ministry among children there. Thank you for your faithful prayers and support. Your commitment is helping us build into the children of this storied region.

Giving Children A New Place To Play

How many of us grew up on a playground, chasing friends and competing to see how high we could swing?

Should children growing up in poverty be denied that opportunity?

Get a glimpse at what one devoted group of generous donors did for thousands of kids in Swaziland!

Click to read more ...

Mlandvo's Story -- John 14:18

When five-year-old Mlandvo’s mother died, the cause was listed as “undisclosed sickness.”

In Swaziland, this is how a community refers to the fact that the person had HIV/AIDS. Mlandvo’s mother succumbed just as several of his father’s other wives had. Polygamy is common in Swaziland, and in some ways this hastens the spread of the disease.

In some ways, it also explains why so many children are left to fend for themselves.

In other ways, it does not – although Mlandvo’s father was still alive, he did not live in the same house. And as is common with these polygamous family situation, his father’s other wives were not interested in caring for Mlandvo and his younger brother, Simiso.

Instead, Mlandvo and Simiso were left in the care of their older sister. She was enrolled in the equivalent of 9th grade and had a chance at creating a better life if she completed school. And so Mlandvo and Simiso would stay at home while their sister was in class.

With these additional responsibilities, Mlandvo’s sister was soon overwhelmed. Mlandvo became very sick, and Simiso was growing weaker and weaker. Their father did not believe in seeking medical treatment, and thus their little lives were in peril.

And yet nearby was a One Child Matters child development center. The staff at the Ludzeludze center became aware of Mlandvo and Simiso’s situation and intervened. Because the center had access to a local clinic, they secured testing and treatment for HIV and tuberculosis.

One staff member relates that “Mlandvo would be lying helpless on a sick bed or even have died a long time ago” without the assistance of the center staff. One Child Matters' Children’s Crisis Fund provided consistent support so Mlandvo and his brother could continue their treatments.

Mlandvo is slowly gaining weight and growing stronger. He receives daily meals at the child development center, and special protein-enriched rice packs are available for him to take home to supplement those meals. He is enrolled in the center’s preschool and is excited about learning and playing like all little boys.

This is the ministry you support – help to those physically orphaned and left with little recourse. Because of your giving, we can continue to offer help to children like Mlandvo – and that help comes in the form of medical assistance, nutritious food, and love and support from caring adults.

When speaking to his anxious disciples before his crucifixion, Jesus comforted them by saying, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you" (John 14:18.) And so do we. One Child Matters works to help those in the greatest need, especially the children.

To learn more about the Children’s Crisis Fund that helps children like Mlandvo, click here.

Snapshot: Swaziland

This week we turn our focus to Swaziland, a small country situated between Mozambique and South Africa. Swaziland is slightly smaller than New Jersey, but with 1.4 million inhabitants, has one-sixth the population.

As we’ve written here before, the problems Swaziland faces are so much bigger than the country itself. Swaziland continues to have the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world; estimates from several years ago found that one in four adults had HIV.

Where does that leave the children?

A member of the mission team from Connection Pointe Christian Church in Brownsburg, Indiana, was reminded of “Kings and Queens,” a song by Audio Adrenaline:

Little hands, shoeless feet, lonely eyes looking back at me
Will we leave behind the innocent too brief
On their own, on the run when their lives have only begun
These could be our daughters and our sons
And just like a drum I can hear their hearts beating
I know my God won’t let them be defeated
Every child has a dream to belong and be loved

Children in Swaziland face tremendous instability. If a parent falls ill of “the sickness” as they sometimes call HIV there, they are often sent to live with relatives, who may be caring for several children or grandchildren. The mission team met a 93-year-old grandfather living with his daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. A grandmother with five children in her home, whose husband left her. A mother who at 29 is dying of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS could no longer care for her 9-year-old daughter and sent her to live with relatives.

When stability fails, it is the children who suffer. And so with the help of our partner, Children’s Cup, we work to meet the needs of children by offering nutritious meals, medical attention and screenings, educational support, Bible clubs and discipleship by caring adults who can be positive role models in their lives.

These child development centers also offer another crucial opportunity: the chance to be a kid again. The kids in Swaziland celebrate the birth of Jesus in a huge way (you can see photos of their Christmas parties here), because it’s made all the difference in the world. There is playground equipment thanks to the efforts of several partner churches, and fun activities galore.

It’s so important to offer a safe and engaging place for children to come, learn, and grow. We are grateful for our partnerships with Children’s Cup and several churches who have stepped up to meet the needs of these children.

One of the Connection Pointe team members wrote of her experience interacting with the children at the center her church helps support.

What I noticed more than anything was their joy. The kids you see in the sponsor pictures look so serious or even sad. But if you tell them to “schlega!” they will smile so big! They are happy to be alive. The kids play well together, poke and tickle each other, chase each other, kick the soccer ball (really well), and are just kids. But they have so little. It truly amazed me how much joy they have just having their clothes, maybe shoes, and food. It makes me think – do we really have more?

Thank you for ensuring that children all over the world have not just a little more, but enough to thrive. Sponsorship builds hope-bringing, world-changing, God-serving young adults. We are proud to be a part of what God is doing in countries like Swaziland and others around the world.

Prayer Request: Colorado

The Black Forest Fire is affecting the northeast side of Colorado Springs. (Photo taken June 11, by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

UPDATE (June 17, 2013):

Friends, we praise God for the progress in containing the Black Forest Fire. Although the fire has devastated the area, destroying more than 480 homes and burning nearly 15,000 acres, we have hope. At this writing it is 65% contained, and fire officials estimate it will be controlled and contained later this week.

We have seen time and again how prayers make all the difference. At the end of last week, Colorado Springs received several much-needed rain storms, giving firefighters a bit of an edge as they fought for people's homes.

Still, there were too many losses, including two deaths. We grieve with our city and friends as we look toward restoration and healing for this beautiful area of the city. Thank you for all of your prayers and support; please continue to pray for the families affected.

Our office is no longer under pre-evacuation status, and we are back at work for the children. Thank you for your patience and prayers!

 

ORIGINAL POST:

Dear friends - please pray for Colorado!

As you may know, there have already been several wildfires in Colorado this year.

On Tuesday, June 11th, a wildfire started in Black Forest on the northeast side of Colorado Springs, the city where One Child Matters is headquartered.  Due to extreme temperatures, drought, and high winds, this fire has quickly spread to more than 15,000 acres. 

More than 40,000 people have already been evacuated, and at last report more than 360 homes have been destroyed, the most in Colorado history.

Our offices are located directly west of these fires, in an area that is currently being evacuated as this devastating wildfire continues to move and grow.  As a result, we have evacuated and closed our offices to allow our staff to be with their families and make necessary preparations.
 
While we ask for your prayers for protection and peace for those displaced (including some of our staff members) we also want to assure you that ministry to the children we serve will not be affected in any way.
 
We praise God that our organization can operate remotely thanks to the contingency planning of our executive leadership team and the tireless efforts of our staff.  Our office is just a building – the ministry goes on, and we are steadfast in our efforts to bring hope, truth, life, love, and mercy to the children we serve all over the world.
 
We covet your prayers as we transition into our contingency work systems over the next couple of days.  Please be patient with us during this time, as some of our administrative support services will be disrupted temporarily. Here’s how we’re praying for the situation – please join us!

  • Pray for rain, cooler temperatures, and calm winds.
  • Pray for the safety and strength of the first responders as they fight this unpredictable fire.
  • Pray for those who have been displaced and may have lost their homes.
  • Pray for the One Child Matters family.
  • Pray that God will be glorified and accomplish His purposes in the midst of this tragedy.

We are so grateful for your continued friendship and support of the ministry of One Child Matters.  We are strengthened by your commitment and by the faithfulness of our Father, who is greater than any fire.

Snapshot: Haiti

Dèyè mon, gen mon.

Beyond the mountains, more mountains.

This proverb is familiar to Haitians. Some say it is a proverb about patience – others, that there is more to someone or something then you can see at first.

We think it captures an essence of Haiti not often understood. Today, most people in the US associate one thing with Haiti: a terrible earthquake in January of 2010 that killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The crowded capital of Port-au-Prince. The earthquake will likely be a defining moment in Haiti’s modern history, but that tragedy stuck the nation’s capital, and a majority of Haitians live outside of Port-au-Prince.  

The challenges Haiti faces – both pre- and post-earthquake – are numerous and complex, but so too is the country’s beauty. The name Haiti comes from the indigenous Taino people’s name for the island, Ayiti, or land of high mountains.

A view of Cap Haitian and an approaching storm.We serve several communities in Haiti in addition to Port-au-Prince. Cap Haitien, one of Haiti’s largest cities outside the capital, is in the far north on the coast that overlooks many of Haiti’s mountains.

The mountains beyond the mountains near Limbe.Limbe, technically a group of communities to the west of Cap Haitien along the Limbe River, is much more rural. Like many of the smaller cities and villages in Haiti, Limbe has received little to no investment in infrastructure and other important resources.

Ouanaminthe, a city just across the river from another city we serve, Dajabon in the Dominican Republic, is home to one of the four border crossings into the DR. The Massacre River is shallow enough for crossing by foot, and many Haitians use it to bathe or wash their clothing.

Are you surprised by the diversity of this small country? We hope to broaden your perspective beyond the traditional news story. Many of the countries we serve could be defined by horrible events in their history; while these events and tragedies provide important context, we hope instead to define a country by the endless potential of their greatest resource: their children.

Snapshot: Mozambique

Mozambique is one of those countries that remind us how little we understand geography – especially in terms of comparable land masses. So, if you had to guess, which of our fellow United States would be closest to Mozambique’s size?

Here’s a hint: think big.

Twice the size of California, Mozambique is also larger than Texas. Only the land mass of Alaska can dwarf this country in southern Africa.

We partner with two churches to meet the needs of children in Mozambique. And these children have pressing needs – here are just a few of them.

Family Instability

Many factors put pressure on families in Mozambique. Unemployment is incredibly high, and some parents may leave the country in search of work. More often than not, children are left in the care of aunts, uncles, or grandparents because of the high rate of HIV/AIDS (it’s estimated that one in nine have the infection, the 8th highest rate in the world).

Child Headed Households

Perhaps it’s a mix of necessity and cultural expectation that older children will care for their younger siblings. Still, it’s amazing to see children with infants wrapped on their backs.

One of the most important resources our programs provide are role models in the caring adults who serve the kids, and the tutoring and educational support available at the projects. Recent studies showed that less than half of the population over the age of 15 can write. If you sponsor a child in Mozambique, sending letters provides a great exercise in reading and writing skills and provides valuable, tangible encouragement.

Did you know? Many children in Mozambique give their sponsors telling nicknames in the national language of Portuguese – madrinha or padrinho – godmother or godfather. This endearing term points to both the respect they have for you and the impact you have on their lives.

Do you sponsor a child in Mozambique? How have they honored the support and encouragement they receive from you?

Hibraimo: A Better Chance In School

When a child joins a One Child Matters program, do his parents notice a change?

Six-year-old Marielsy’s mother did. In a letter to her sponsor, a project worker relayed a sweet scene: 

“Marielsy says that when her family is having lunch she prays for the food and her mother cry of joy for having her praying.”

It could be the smallest little change, but what an encouragement to a parent’s heart!

Hibraimo’s mother had a similar experience. Her son was a shy little boy who was often scared of others. And yet after a year of attending one of One Child Matters' child development centers in Mozambique, her son was confident enough to correct her before dinner.

“I used to always eat without praying over my food,” his mother said, “but one day Hibraimo corrected me and told me that we needed to pray before we ate.” Where would her son have learned such a thing?

The child development center Hibraimo attends is like many of One Child Matters' programs around the world: it provides a space to minister to children physically, socially, educationally, and spiritually.

The last two areas were especially important for Hibraimo. Entrance into the Mozambican school system is difficult for two reasons: schools are overcrowded and places are limited for new students.

To make matters worse, there is no national preparatory kindergarten to help children learn how to learn. Mozambican schools start at first grade, but many young students do not have a solid foundation to begin learning and quickly flounder.

One Child Matters' programs, however, allow children to grow socially as they learn the basic educational skills needed to succeed in school. Hibraimo was enrolled before his 4th birthday but did not have much self-confidence. “When he started here he did not want to learn and participate,” his teacher says, “but now he has learned letters and numbers and is asking a lot of questions.”

After a year of attending the program, Hibraimo's reading and writing skills have progressed. Self-assured and quite helpful in the classroom, Hibraimo is well behaved and a great example to the other children.

No longer the shyest child in class, he is the first to befriend visitors and is always bringing new friends to Sunday school. Hibraimo also takes the Bible stories he hears to heart, remembering every detail. His teachers can only smile at his precociousness. “Every time I tell a Bible story and I say something that is not as he learned, he speaks up and corrects me and explains how it’s supposed to be,” she says.

Because of his mother’s proactive efforts, Hibraimo stands a much better chance of succeeding in school. The child development center he attends has a partnership with a local preschool, which helps ensure that Hibraimo will have a spot in the public school. When he starts first grade, he will do so with a solid moral compass and strong educational skills.

Have you noticed a change in your sponsored child’s confidence? Sometimes it is reflected in the child’s letters, but you can also see the difference in their pictures. Hibraimo has a wide smile, an eager heart, and a bright future because of your faithful giving. May you see such growth in the children you sponsor as well!

The Ministry Of Summer Camps

Can something as simple as summer camp help a child see the love of God?
One child shares her experience...

Click to read more ...

School Snapshot: Jordan

Yesterday we shared a wonderful recipe from Jordan, and today we’ll examine one of the schools we serve there. In many ways, this school provides a glimpse of the greater picture in Jordan.

Jordan may be considered more developed than many of those we serve, yet the children of Jordan face numerous challenges. The influx of refugees into Jordan has only increased (from Iraqi and Palestinian refugees earlier in the decade, to nearly a third of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees fleeing their country’s civil war in the last two years).

Jordan has a long history of sheltering asylum-seekers and refugees, but Jordan’s infrastructure, including its schools, is increasingly strained. Schooling is compulsory until age fifteen, but with increasing class sizes, it is difficult to meet the needs of Jordan’s children, let alone the ever-growing refugee population.     

Several of the schools we partner with provide opportunities for students in unique ways. The Theodor Schneller School has a long and storied history (the late King of Jordan, His Majesty Hussein Bin Talal laid the cornerstone in 1959) and was opened next to the Hitteen refugee camp to meet the needs of poor, orphaned and neglected children from all walks of life. It was named after a missionary who opened schools and orphanages in the Middle East.

In addition to standard academics, the school has a gymnasium, a computer lab, sports clubs, a garden, and sporting teams. Students learn important skills in metal and wood working or automobile mechanics. These are opportunities not normally available to refugee families who struggle to meet basic needs, let alone pay for school fees and activities.

Children like Mahmood, Aadil, and Abdas, found hope for their future at the school. Mahmood, as the oldest, had been caring for his siblings even though he was only 6 years old. His parents, recently divorced, were mostly absent from the boys’ lives, but Mahmood found a place at the Theodor Schneller School and began to flourish.

Soon Aadil and Abdas were also enrolled. Nearly 10 years later, the boys have strong characters and are near the top of their classes. The love and acceptance they found at the school shaped their lives.

For many children, the Theodor Schneller School is a refuge of safety and security, providing opportunities they would have never received on their own. These are the life-changing opportunities you provide when you choose to sponsor a child. Thank you!

 

Taste Of Sponsorship: Jordan

When we asked for recipes from our field staff for our Taste of Sponsorship series, our friends in Jordan were very quick to send this recipe. Mansaf is more than a meal – it’s a cultural tradition and Jordan’s national dish. Many consider it the heart of Jordanian cuisine.

Mansaf is traditionally made of meat stewed in fermented goat’s milk. The Bedouin people, a nomadic tribe looking for water and shelter in the harsh desert, made this meal with the limited ingredients in their environment.

Mansaf makes use of jameed, a fermented goat’s milk yoghurt which is separated, mixed with salt, and formed into balls (called jabjab) which can be stored up to a year (very convenient for the desert-roaming Bedouins). The best type of jameed comes from a community we serve in southern Jordan, the town of Karak, which was known as Moab in Bible times.

Like many of the recipes we will share, we test them first to prove that you can make this in your own kitchen. While it probably didn’t have the same flavor as mansaf made with true jameed, we found plain yoghurt worked well.

We were able to share this special meal with a family who came to visit One Child Matters and volunteered to read letters. The boys were eager to learn this new meal, so they helped us with the prep and cooking.

Mansaf can be made with goat, lamb, or beef (goat was valued more highly than lamb and communicated the host’s respect for their guests), but we had an easier time finding beef, of course.

The recipe involves boiling the yoghurt, something we were slightly nervous to do. But the yoghurt got thinner as it heated up, so it boiled quickly and without scorching. Our Jordanian staff gave us the tip to stir the yoghurt in one direction only or the yoghurt would curdle.

Served on a large platter, mansaf is traditionally eaten with the fingertips of your right hand. The meat is continually drenched with the yoghurt sauce by the host as a sign of hospitality and celebration.

Our president, Mark Pluimer, and his wife Dee ate mansaf during a trip to the Middle East – he was quite excited that we decided to create this culinary experience in the office.

We served the mansaf on a plate of pita bread, covered with rice and then the meat and sauce. The pine nuts and almonds added a nice crunch. Meghan also made a minted zucchini salad as side. For a special treat, we made minted lemonade (a very simple recipe) that is served all over the Middle East.

This was a hearty meal that we all found tasty. Food is central to fellowship in the Middle East, so we were thrilled to share this Jordanian tradition with our guests.

Click here to download the recipe.

Have you ever eaten mansaf? Let us know if you decide to try this recipe!

Powerful Prayers For Parents

If you want to pray for an issue that affects your sponsored child’s quality of life, one of the best things you can pray for is their parents’ jobs.

Many adults in the developing world work in jobs that are considered part of the “informal economy” – they may work as a street vendor or day laborer, working in an unofficial capacity, using whatever money they earn to feed their families.

We’ve learned a lot about what drives Bangladesh’s industrial economy since the collapse of a multi-story garment factory that claimed over 1,100 lives. The images of family members waiting tearfully for news on loved ones were heartbreaking.

After the factory collapse, however, some attention was paid to the average wage earned by a garment worker – roughly $38 a month, or $456 a year, one of the lowest minimum wages in the world.

We prayed hard for those families, knowing that securing a job in a garment factory is often considered a boon for a family, because it provided a more stable source of income than the agricultural jobs most Bangladeshi’s work, especially in rural areas. It is accidents like these and the loss of a stable income that push many families into the crushing poverty we are trying to alleviate.

So how can you pray for those who also provide for your sponsored child?

  • Pray for their health and safety as they work
  • For jobs that provide a stable income
  • For reasonable hours that allow them to see their children, especially if they work more than one job to try and make ends meet
  • For the parents to value education (for many families, keeping a child in school means two less hands in the field to earn money, and it is difficult for them to see the long-term benefit of an education)

Be sure to check out this amazing gallery of Bangladeshis at work -- some of their skills will simply amaze you. We praise God that we can partner with these parents, helping them care for the children and improve their chances at a brighter future.

If you're having trouble viewing this slideshow, you can view the gallery separately here.