Monday, June 30, 2008

Bloggers on a mission: Meet Jayson

Jayson lives in Tabaco, Philippines and has been waiting for a sponsor for over three years. At thirteen years of age, life is already tough enough, but Jayson has the odds stacked against him. His father passed away, leaving Jayson, his mother and his siblings to live on just $27 a month. Sponsorship would offer Jayson medical and dental care, educational support, clothing and even nutritional aid if necessary.

As a sponsored teen Jayson would also have the opportunity to join Children International’s Youth Program and meet other youth his age who are striving to make a difference in their communities. The Youth Health Corps could also help him to learn valuable information on personal hygiene, sexual education and general wellness that perhaps life without a father has not been able to offer him.

If you know someone who would be interested in sponsoring Jayson, please have them contact us at It could be as simple as putting his story and picture up on a bulletin board at work. Thank you so much.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Angela, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore…Part 2

Posted on behalf of Bailey Armstrong.

After visiting our operations in San Pedro Sula we made the three-hour drive to Copán, a beautiful little colonial town in the mountains.
We started early to tour all that Children International does for families in Copán. First, we wound our way into the mountains on a scary dirt road up to an impressive school that was constructed by a generous donor. They had five large classrooms, and a separate building for restrooms. In America, we take public restrooms for granted, but in Honduras this is often not the case. Having a bathroom for the teachers and the students goes a long way in preventing diseases caused by poor sanitation. While there, I also learned that most of the children don’t achieve higher than a sixth-grade education, a requirement by the government. It was hard for me to believe that many won’t be able to pursue their educations further, since all of the children in the classrooms seemed so enthusiastic about their studies.

Next, we visited some families in the neighborhood. We climbed up the mountainside on steep dirt roads, and I couldn’t help but wonder how the children did this every day just to get to and from school – I was exhausted from the climb and the heat halfway through the walk! It showed just how much they value their education and don’t take it for granted. I was able to meet with a couple of nice families. One family showed me their collection of jewelry made from beads and semillas, local seeds. They explained to me that they had partnered with about ten other families in the neighborhood to make the jewelry and then sell it in Copán to make a living for their families.

After making our way back down the mountain, we toured the Copán Community Center. I met some adorable children there! Initially they were rather shy, but soon warmed up to me when I gave them granola bars after I took their pictures and talked with them a bit on the playground. I was also introduced to the sewing program they have there. I was told by a woman in the program that she and her friends hope to get jobs in a maquiladora (clothing factory) once they finish the program.

Students in the sewing class trace clothing patterns.

After our busy and exciting visit to Copán we made the long drive back to San Pedro Sula where we (reluctantly) left Honduras and began our journey back home to Kansas City. I had such a great time in Honduras. This trip was such an eye-opener for me.

Of course, from all of my coworkers I’ve learned about many aspects of the services that Children International offers needy families in the world. However, I don’t think I ever really grasped all that we do until I actually experienced it. It was very hard seeing how those families live and get by, but the children were still so happy and playful; I can’t comprehend how they stay so positive. It must be because they have no other choice, and because they know nothing better, but I think a lot of it has to do with the innocence and happiness that is innate in every child – and of course, the hope they draw from the sponsorship program. I’ll never forget all of their smiling faces!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lift One Project Question of the Month

You're probably acquainted by now with Children International's advocacy initiative, the Lift One Project. If you're not, why not take a moment to learn more about it?

Here's our question of the month for you. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Angela, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore…

Posted on behalf of Bailey Armstrong.

What a whirlwind of a first day…

My first glimpse of San Pedro Sula, Honduras was from the plane. At first glance from above, it looked surprisingly like Kansas’ landscape, with its patchwork fields and thick stands of trees. But once we landed I quickly learned that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Spanish Spanish Spanish everywhere! Even with six years of Spanish under my belt, I still felt a little uneasy trying to navigate through the busy airport, trying to communicate with people for instructions.

I found it humorous and almost comforting that the airport officials in Honduras are also agitated when you forget to fill out the proper immigration forms in customs – just like back home.

Once we finally made it through customs, Angela (CI Program Information Officer) and I were immediately whisked from the airport and taken to Children International’s Community Center in El Milagro. On the way, I saw a great deal of the city and surrounding countryside. I was surprised by how green the area was – especially since I had been constantly warned about how hot it would be there (and it was warm).

At El Milagro, I got to see a school full of children with smiling faces, having a great time on the playground. Unfortunately, I did not get to play with them on the see-saw….

We also visited the Community Center in Asentamientos Humanos. After that we drove to a neighborhood where sponsored children live. There I met this absolutely adorable boy named Kevin whose family has greatly benefited from his sponsor’s generosity. With the sponsor’s support, they were able to buy multiple fans for their cement home, as well as a fridge and other household supplies, including the plastic chairs that they pulled outside for us to sit on while we were visiting.

This family lived comparatively well. Earlier that day, I met a family that lived in a house made of scraps of metal and wood pieced together. Upon asking, I found out that they somehow fit 10 people into a home that is smaller than my kitchen, and they have only two beds to accommodate all of these family members. Behind their home was a river that they used for bathing, and that the children sometimes play in. During the recent hurricane, this river destroyed much of the neighborhood when it flooded. Now it’s full of pollutants from the city.

Despite all of this difficulty, the families were incredibly gracious toward me. It was a very eye-opening welcome to the country and to the daily lives of the children who are touched by Children International.

Bailey and Angela are employees of Children International’s Program Services Department. This was Bailey’s first visit to Honduras. Check back on Friday for part two of her Honduras travelogue.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bloggers On A Mission: Meet Daniel

This week we’re featuring a young scrapper from Chile. Daniel is 6 years old and suffers from spastic diparesis. He’s currently receiving physical therapy through Teletón, a national fundraiser in Chile to help children with disabilities. The good news is that there is a very good chance Daniel will be able to walk some day!

Daniel has been waiting for a sponsor for two years. A caring sponsor just might be the friend Daniel needs to give him inspiration and courage to keep fighting! While Daniel is receiving physical therapy through the efforts of Teletón, he still faces all the normal challenges any other sponsored child faces: school supplies, routine health and dental care, etc. Sponsorship can be vital in helping meet these needs.

Know someone who’d make a great sponsor? Share Daniel’s story with them and help him take a giant step toward success.

Contact us at and we'll be happy to set up sponsorship for Daniel.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Filthy and Sad...Like Dolls in the Darkness

I’ve spent a lot of time in desperately poor neighborhoods, and I’ve witnessed scenes very similar to this one. You never quite get used to it. In this post, Javier Cárcamo, our Communications Coordinator in Rural Guatemala, shares the stark, ugly reality of poverty. In cases like these, sponsorship just might be the only frail thread that keeps families from total devastation:

I almost turned on my heel, as though I had been halted abruptly by an invisible barrier; it was the penetrating smell of human feces and the buzzing of the flies – more like an enormous beehive. There, inside that tiny house, were volcanoes of diapers and piles of dirty clothes strewn around the floor, emitting a terrible stench and steaming from the suffocating heat under the tin roof.

On the floor, sitting on old, dirty clothes and on the few areas of concrete that could be seen, were two girls and a baby – seated like plastic dolls, the girls with their fingers in their mouths and the baby with a bottle covered in dirt and ants and filled with murky water.

The walls, blackened by filth and damp, are little hiding places for spiders and cockroach eggs. The overpowering smell makes it hard for me to breathe; I can’t even open my mouth. The heat mingles with my desperation at not being able to find a space to step to get close to the children, who remain motionless in the darkness, seated in front of a tiny window that was only opened for my visit.

The oldest girl’s eyes are averted; her dirty face and tangled hair speak of neglect. The white spots on her skin are from poor nutrition. And the children have little sores from their environment – the rocks, bushes and barbed wire that surround the river that gives them the water they need to survive.

Childhood stress has taken on a new meaning for me. Lidia, the oldest child at just 10, is responsible for the younger children, but she has to do the household chores so she won’t be scolded. The time it takes for me to visit worries her, because she’s afraid her parents will come home.

The baby looks like an inanimate object, while the flies and ants celebrate the conquest of the tip of the baby bottle – the same spot where he’s trying to put his mouth. I don’t even want to imagine what experience has motivated him to try to coordinate the hand movement he needs to clean it off, but his little hand is dirty because he’s left on the floor with no care whatsoever. His clothes smell terrible, and from what I can tell he doesn’t have another change of clothes.

Lidia, who is the other children's aunt but is more like a sister to them, shows me the old mattress where she sleeps. It’s covered in unidentifiable stains, and when she tosses it to the floor it releases a cloud of dust and a heavy smell of urine. Volatile…truly indescribable.

I can’t stay inside any longer. I can’t find any space, any angle. All mobility is reduced and the atmosphere inside is dense. Outside the weather is fresh and bright, but the children have to stay inside so they won’t get lost or be robbed.

As I leave I keep trying to explain to myself why there are so many families that can’t overcome poverty even with the help of the organization. Immediately, the answer comes to my head like a chilling sentence. Simply this: without the organization, they’d be even worse off….

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Lift One Project Sweepstakes: Pass it on

If you’ve already received your letter or email announcement, you know what the Lift One Sweepstakes is all about. But for those of you who are still waiting, here’s a hint: Create a Lift One webpage or get a child sponsored through your site, and you’re entered into a drawing to win a free trip for two to visit your sponsored child, plus a $200 shopping spree for your sponsored child. (If you already have a Lift One site, you’re automatically entered!) Click here for all the exciting details.

The Sweepstakes is a way of doing something nice for one lucky sponsor, but most importantly, we’re doing it for the children. Our goal with the Sweepstakes is to generate 300 more sponsorships – 300 children who have been desperately waiting for a sponsor – in some cases; they’ve been on our waiting list for up to two years.

Of course, we would love to far surpass that goal. So how about it? Are you ready to start lifting? Go to to create your account and begin sharing your sponsorship experience with your friends and family. Your personal story on your very own website just might inspire others to help a needy child. And if you’re lucky, soon you could be on a plane to meet your sponsored child in person!

Photo by Vong Hamilton. Thermometer courtesy of Ana Camere.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bloggers On A Mission: Meet Allison

I’m excited to report that all the children we’ve featured so far who have been waiting for some time for a sponsor have now been sponsored! Last week Lizeth was the lucky girl.

Today I’d like you to meet Allison, from Guayaquil, Ecuador. Allison is eleven years old. Her parents are separated, and she lives with her mom. Their monthly income is only $60.

Allison has been waiting for a sponsor since 2005. Are you the one? Or maybe you know someone who would enjoy the satisfaction of helping Allison have a shot at a better future. Please feel free to click on the little white envelope at the bottom of this post to forward it on to your friends and family.

A quick email to is all it takes. Thanks!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Power Outage

Good morning all!

As much as we bloggers like to keep our readers in the know, we have to admit that today we're kind of in the dark ourselves -- literally.

Due to an unfortunate accident that damaged power lines near Children International's offices in Kansas City, our entire building is without power. Crews from the electric company are working to restore service, but it appears it will be several hours before everything is working normally.

So if you try to reach our office today and can't, we promise we're not ignoring you! Thanks for your understanding, and I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It’s that time again...

Another edition of eNews will be arriving in your inbox today. Take a peek inside. You won’t be disappointed. Here are just a few of the articles and photo pieces in the June edition:

- A one-of-a-kind comic strip about our anti-parasite program. Our translator David Nebel has a way with words ...and artistic talent.

-A timely Father’s Day story and slideshow detailing an outstanding dad, Eliseo, in Mexico.

-A look at Stephanie Wahl’s “On the Needles” blog where she shares her love of sponsorship and knitting.

Intrigued? Check your email, and let us know what you think. Happy reading.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Bloggers On A Mission

Good morning, all!

I hope you had a great weekend. Here in Kansas City we’re pretty much waterlogged!

As you may have noticed, the CI bloggers are on a personal crusade to help find sponsors for some of our children who have been waiting the longest. That’s why you’ll be reading about these children on a regular basis.

We understand that many of our blog readers already sponsor several children and may not be personally able to take on another sponsorship; however, we’re hoping you can take this information to friends, family and coworkers and ask them to help. And of course, if you’re registered for the Lift One Project, each new sponsor you find through your project adds to your chances of winning a trip to visit one of your own sponsored children!

Today we’re featuring Lizeth, who is 12 years old and lives in Manila. Lizeth has been waiting for a sponsor since May of 2005…three long years. She lives with her mom and dad, three brothers and one sister in a one-room house. Just like many children in her circumstances (her family’s income is only $133 a month), Lizeth has no bed and sleeps on a mat on the floor.

If you have the answer to Lizeth’s dreams of finding a sponsor, please drop us a line at We’ll set the sponsorship up personally.


Friday, June 6, 2008

Sixteen to Life

Posted on behalf of Damon Guinn

Sixteen-year-old Wilmer of Honduras raised his two younger sisters while his mother served a sentence for dealing drugs...

Shots rang out, and suddenly, the dead of night erupted into a frenzy of shouts and screams.

“We were all inside the house,” recalls Wilmer, a tall, thin, sullen teenager who speaks with the gravity of an adult. “I was giving the youngest one a bottle, and we started hearing gunshots. They came to the house like thieves in the night.”

Four years have passed since the police raided Wilmer’s house in Vida Nueva, Honduras. At first, his two older brothers were taken away to prison. When his mother, Margarita, went to bail them out, the police released her sons and arrested her instead.

“She ended up in jail because she sold drugs to support us,” Wilmer says with a shrug and a sigh. “She was a single mother. She had to take care of us. Just her, by herself, and us.”

Ever since his mom was sentenced to prison, Wilmer has raised his younger sisters, 5-year-old Alison and 6-year-old Yosselyn, to the best of his ability. “We all help each other out here,” Wilmer confides. “You wouldn’t say it’s an easy life. When there’s food, we eat...when there’s not any food, we go hungry.”

Luckily for Wilmer and his sisters, Jacky Valdez, a well-respected volunteer mother at our local community center, found out about the situation and began checking on the kids. “The children were there all by themselves for four years,” Jacky says. “I would go over there and say, ‘Wilmer, do you need help?’ I would give him 20 lempiras (about $1) so he could go and buy food.”

Jacky tried to enroll the children in sponsorship, but Wilmer‪ was reluctant to sign up without his mother’s permission. So he and his sisters kept to themselves, making sure to heed their mother’s advice to be good kids and stay off the streets.

When Margarita was released on parole a few months ago, Wilmer and his sisters couldn’t have been happier. They’re eating regularly now that their mom is home and working as a maid at a public school.

But even as Margarita repays her debt to society, the financial debt she amassed in fines and lawyer fees may have sentenced her children to a bleak future. Desperate for a new start, Margarita fears she may have to sell her house to free her family once and for all. The decision could uproot her children and potentially leave them homeless. It could also bar them from getting an education.

Wilmer has completed sixth grade – the last grade required by Honduran law – but he would love to finish school and become a teacher. And his sisters, Alison and Yosselyn, are old enough to attend school, but it’s doubtful they’ll be enrolled without help from sponsorship.

With the right support, we may be able to build a case that will convince Margarita to keep her home and enroll her children in sponsorship. It may be the only way Wilmer and his sisters can separate themselves from their mother’s criminal past and finally break free from the shackles of poverty.

Photo 1: Wilmer and his sisters, Yosselyn (right) and Alison (middle), need a good role model they can look up to

Photo 2: Yosselyn, Alison and their niece, Nelsy, (right to left) may wind up trapped behind the wire without help from sponsorship.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

It’s so much more than design... It’s creativity!

Every wonder what’s behind the design of the child letters you receive? Javier Cárcamo, the Communications Coordinator at our agency in rural Guatemala, explains how the letters from children at his agency reach their finished form.

The forms that children use to write letters to their sponsors are something more than just graphic design. In our agency, these forms are an exercise in creativity that go through many processes to guarantee that the letter templates are attractive and functional. We keep the sponsors who receive them in mind, as well as the children who must feel motivated to write.

The process begins when the bilingual assistants give their recommendations based on their translation methods in order to maximize their output.

The Communications Coordinator immediately gets to work interpreting their suggestions into graphic designs. These designs are based on several factors: the appearance that the agency decides upon, educational principles that are sensitive to the rural Guatemalan culture, achievements and limitations, as well as the social obligation to make the letters have an educational function. All of the above must respect the guidelines set by Children International. The templates are then proofed by children, youth and Field Officers who make their observations.

Once the changes are made, our Director supervises and checks the final designs so that the Sponsor Relations Departments in both the Regional Office and in Kansas City can authorize their printing. Then follow up work is performed in color mixing and in the actual printing of the letter templates. Now that’s TEAM WORK!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Phone Service at CI is Down

Silence is golden…or in our case, copper.

If you call our offices this morning you’ll know what I mean. Over the weekend, thieves attacked the telephone and data cables that service Children International and a number of our neighbors in search of copper to be sold for scrap.

While our Internet service has been restored and our website,, is back up and running, the phone lines present a greater challenge and will not be working until this afternoon at the earliest. If you need to reach our Sponsor Services Department, please do so by emailing

But on a happier note, I’m excited to inform you that Twinkle, the young lady we featured on Friday’s blog, has found a sponsor! Thanks to sponsor Steve for writing a happy ending to this chapter of her story.