Friday, August 29, 2008

Getting Ahead on the Mean Streets

Before he attended a life skills workshop offered by Children International, Harold Osorio, 10, followed a precarious path that was full of potential for disaster.

“Harold lives in one of the most dangerous zones of the city,” reports Patricia Calderón, Communications Coordinator for Children International’s agency in Barranquilla, Colombia. “Often, he witnessed armed robberies and saw his neighbors and relatives taking drugs. He was always out on the streets, and that exposed him to the danger of picking up vices.”

The workshop changed Harold’s entire perspective. Now he understands the dangers of his environment and realizes that the wrong kind of behavior could put his life at risk. Harold is now convinced that there is a better way to live, in spite of the pressure from his friends.

In fact, Harold has decided he wants to be a businessman and become someone in life. Now that’s what you call “street-smart”!

Photo and reporting assistance by Patricia Calderón.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Q&A with a Boy Named Gift

What is your favorite part of sponsorship?
My favorite part of sponsorship is when I receive things. My favorite was a set of pots I recently got. My mum was very excited and happy to have new pots.

What is your best memory about coming to the community center?

I was happy the first day I was allowed to read the the nice books on the shelves in the library.

What would you like to tell your sponsor?
I would like my sponsor to see my books and also visit my school and see how well I am performing - all because of her help.

Photo and reporting by Clementina Chapusha, Communications Coordinator in Lusaka, Zambia.

Monday, August 25, 2008

These are a Few of My Favorite Things...about Sponsorship

I have fond childhood memories of sitting down with my family, the Trapp family, and watching the The Sound of Music together. Listening to Julie Andrews happily singing “My Favorite Things,” we couldn’t help but join in too. “Silver-white winters that melt into spring, these are few of my favorite things...” It’s a catchy tune.

Sponsorship is no doubt one of my favorite things too. Now, I know I’m a little biased since I work for Children International, but I’m also a sponsor. I sponsor a little boy in Mexico, and a group of my coworkers and I sponsor a young lady in Rural Guatemala. While I’m not going to sing about it, I thought I would take a moment today to share just a few of my favorite things about sponsorship:

-Letters from my sponsored child. I love getting mail, and if it comes from my sponsored kiddos, all the better.

- The pictures of course. I always get a kick out of their toothy grins (or seeing how many teeth they’ve lost since the last photo.)

-Knowing that I’m helping a needy child.

If you’d like to share your favorite things about sponsorship, we’d love to hear from you. Open a thread on our Google Groups page and tell us your story.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Joy and Fulfillment through Volunteering

Posted on behalf of Sarah Jane Velasco, Communications Coordinator in Tabaco, Philippines.

Ermilinda Bigol has been a volunteer mother for almost five years now. She is also a widow single-handedly raising five children.

Considering that her hands are already full with family responsibilities, how Ate Emmy (Sister Emmy), as she is fondly called in the community, manages to devote time to volunteer in the sponsorship program is indeed a wonder. But for her, it’s just a matter of time management and setting priorities: “Family comes first and volunteering follows closely.”

Since her husband died in a vehicular accident years ago, she had to learn to accept the fact that she must raise five children on her own. She knew it wouldn’t be easy, but she had to step up to it. The family gets by with the monthly pension she receives after the death of her husband. But for a family of seven, including Ate Emmy’s mother, a Php 3000 monthly budget is not enough, especially if all of her five children are in school. Because of this, she decided to go into rope-making. If done alone, it would take some time before a person could weave one bundle of rope. That is why the whole family shares this task, taking turns weaving bundle after bundle.

At 4:30 in the morning, Ate Emmy gets up to prepare breakfast for the family and begins weaving rope. By 5, two of her children are already up to help. After three hours, they already have 70 bundles of rope. Also by this time, the kids are all set to go to school. After going through her domestic routine, Ate Emmy transforms from being the super mom to being a tireless volunteer.

In her five years of serving as a CI volunteer, she’s already gone through some ups and downs. According to her, handling an area with almost a thousand sponsored children is not an easy feat. She has to deal with the parents, regular requirements, CI staff and fellow volunteers. “I think the key is proper communication and leading by example. I try to be honest with them, give them the facts, and tell them what we have to do. They know I’m not doing it for myself, so we help each other out,” she added.

Despite her seemingly tireless efforts, Ate Emmy admits that being a mother and a volunteer can be exhausting at times but “the satisfaction I get makes the hard work worthwhile.” This plus her acknowledgement of the help the sponsorship program extends to her two children is what keeps her going. “As a widow, having two of my children sponsored is really a blessing. The assistance we get is already a big help.”

“As a mother, seeing my children grow up to be good individuals is more than enough reward; as a volunteer, knowing that I’m able to help even in a small way and getting personal affirmations tells me that I’m doing the job right, and that keeps me motivated,” said Ate Emmy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Have You Hugged Your (Sponsored) Child Today?

Chances are, you’ve heard from us by mail, email or both in the last few days about something we call “Special Hug.”

And you may be asking yourself, “What in the world is Special Hug?”

Most of our activities center specifically around our sponsored children. However, once a year -- September 17 -- we give them a gift that is designed to help their whole family.

For most of us, it’s hard to imagine a plastic chair, a laundry bucket or a set of dishes being a major investment. But that’s exactly what it would be for most of our sponsored children’s families.

By giving them items similar to these each year, we let the moms and dads of sponsored children know we think about them as well…and we want to make their lives just a little bit easier.

I hope you’ll take a moment if you haven’t already – either through our website,, or by filling in the form you receive in the mail – to send a small gift for the children and their families.

It may be a small gift – but it’s a big deal for them.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

Thanks to sponsor Alice...Liliam is no longer waiting! We trust Alice and Liliam will have a long and rewarding friendship.

Liliam Still Needs Our Help!

I hope everybody had a fantastic weekend! Despite dire forecasts of heavy rains, Kansas City stayed dry and sunshiny…with unseasonably cool temperatures. Lovely!

It promises to be a busy week, but top on my list is reminding our readers about Liliam Lissette, our featured child from August 4.

As you may recall, Liliam is 12 years old and lives with her parents and her brother in Guayaquil, Ecuador. She has been waiting for a sponsor for over three years.

Liliam’s dad works as a street vendor, and the family struggles to survive on the barely $100 a month he’s able to earn. But in spite of her family’s difficult situation, Liliam loves to sing and dance and works hard on her studies.

We’ve yet to find a sponsor for Liliam, so once again I’d like to appeal to our readers to help us get the word out. Some of you have even printed out pictures of children we’ve featured before and pinned them to your bulletin boards at work. Whatever you’re able to do will be greatly appreciated…and as always, Sarah and I are standing by to personally help Liliam’s new sponsor get started.

Thanks for your help…we – and Liliam – appreciate it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Sweet Bite of the Big Apple

Sponsored Youth Lara Villanueva reflects on her visit to New York for International Youth Day.

People would say that dreams are too far from reality and are only achieved within one's illusion. But for me, if dreams are mixed up with faith, patience, and hard work, it can break the limits of imagination and definitely become real.

This UN trip is beyond the boundaries of my dreams. This is such an unforgettable experience of mine that will never fade in my memory until the time comes to say "adios" to this world. I had a lot of happy moments even from getting my US visa, the security in the international airports, the experience inside the airplanes, the foods and beverages, gigantic buildings and precious scenery, walking in the sleepless streets of New York, the time adjustments, the United Nations Building, staff and comprehensive activities, the Youth Achievement Awardees, and the special luncheon wherein the youth awardees had their blue-plate lunch with Kathy Ireland and top officials from the United Nations.

Amidst some trials and hindrances on getting along with the schedules, my smile remains for I had a chance to meet Rocío, Charday and Jiyaul. Indeed, they became my Empire State Building on viewing and exploring the incomparable city of New York.

Children International Youth Delegates, Jiyaul, Lara, Charday and Rocío.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Straight to Your Inbox from Children International

Got a minute? We’re bursting with news!

Any time now this month’s edition of eNews should appear in your inbox. Take a second to check it out! You’ll find…

...How a visit to their sponsored child caused a sponsor and his wife to discover the power of working together for a cause – and how their child and her family are better for it today.

...What can happen through a single donation! See how one sponsor’s generosity has enabled at least 50 people to achieve a higher standard of living by virtue of hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit.

...How the power of collaboration is embodied in the “Six Degrees of Sponsorship.”

...That hard work and determination are still an unstoppable combination! Travel along with four outstanding young people who have made their mark in their communities…and now are leaving their mark on New York City.

We hope you find these stories enjoyable and thought-provoking. If you do, leave us a comment and let us hear from you!

If you do not currently subscribe to eNews, visit our website. Signing up is a snap!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rocío's Defining Moment: A New York City Experience

Posted on behalf of Rafael Mejía, Agency Director, Dominican Republic.

It was early Sunday morning. After a lot of excitement, nervousness, the hustle and bustle, trying to get Rocío's tourist visa, preparations and anxiety for the upcoming trip, since she first heard of her selection, the day had finally arrived. Sunday, August 10, 2008. Rocío's mom, little brother, and grandfather met me at the airport filled with mixed emotions.

Pride, happiness, worries and, most of all, gratitude that because of Children International and generous sponsors, their dream had come true.

I felt honored to have escorted Rocío throughout the entire process of the airport protocol and experience many firsts. First airplane ride. First immigration process. Rocío seemed very poised throughout the plane ride trying to absorb every detail – every millimeter of everything that was going on. But, deep inside, she was shaking with excitement, shocked, numbed almost like walking through a dream – literally. She could not believe this was happening to her!

Upon arriving to JFK International airport in New York City and answering some questions from the U.S. Immigration Officer, we finally got out, grabbed our suitcases and met a nice driver who took our luggage and escorted us to the parking lot and told us to wait for him while he got the car. Smiling and shocked, throughout the entire ride towards the hotel, she was in awe looking at all the tall buildings of the Manhattan skyline and trying to figure out which one was the Empire State Building.

She took pictures and said to me that this trip was a true inspiration and a high point in her life. Now more than ever, she will strive even harder, study and graduate from college so that this trip wouldn't be the first and last one.

Nighttime arrived and we had dinner with friends and colleagues from India and Kansas City. After dinner, I offered to take them for a walk downtown to Times Square!

Lights, signs, hot dog vendors, typical yellow cabs and with people all over the place, Rocío stayed poised, but could not take enough pictures. At every corner, she took pictures. Her face was bright as all the New York night lights.

Rocío was trying to capture and freeze in time every image and piece of NYC in order to take back home and share with her family and friends this wonderful experience – a very, very defining and enriching moment!

Learn more about Rocío and the other delegates on our International Youth Day page.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Youth Day in Zambia

On March 12th Zambia celebrated its youth day, a day that reminded all Zambians that youths are important. The theme of the day was “Promoting partnerships between youths and stakeholders for national development.” The celebrations were held at the Chibolya center and graced with the presence of Mary Emmett, widow of the late David Emmett (in whose honor the center is named), and her sister Judy Durr. Our Communications Coordinator in Zambia, Clementina Chapusha explains the significance of Youth Day in Zambia:

The theme Partnership between the youth and other stakeholders for national development does not simply end at youths being incorporated into adult decision making processes but must be institutionalized in issues, settings and practices that are very much part of the young people’s lives.

The partnership is about doing things together and also listening to everyone’s voice, regardless of their status in society, and embracing divergent ideas. The principle was embraced because it makes adults accountable to young people for their decisions and actions, as accountability is an integral aspect.

The children performed various dances and presented poems. Most of the poems were about how much they are affected by poverty and how HIV/AIDS has left them orphaned and at the mercy of the extended family.

Mrs Emmett was so touched by what she saw and heard from the children that she could not help shedding tears. She said her husband, who made the centre possible, was a very wonderful person who had a heart for others.

Mrs. Mary Emmett took time to dance with the youths.

Agency Director John Mufumbi thanked Mrs Emmett for her visit to Zambia and for making Youth Day a memorable day for the sponsored children.

“The help that we receive goes a long way in making significant difference in the lives of our sponsored children. Most of these are disadvantaged as they lack the basic needs such as education, health care and opportunities for promoting self esteem. With the support of our wonderful contributors we are able to make life worth living for the children.”

Photo by Clementina Chapusha.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's All about Youth!

That’s right. In honor of International Youth Day on August 12th, all this week we will be blogging about our fantastic sponsored youth. Our youths are doing great things, including making their own videos to explain what sponsorship means to them. Check out the "Lights, Camera, Action" section of our International Youth Day page to see the top three youth videos. Looks like we have some budding directors, actors and screenwriters among us!

And don’t forget to stop back by throughout the week to read about the four lucky Children International youths who have been selected to attend the 5th Annual Youth Assembly, a three day conference in New York. We will be bringing you blogs from an Agency Director, Children International staff and of course, the youths themselves.

Photo by Javier Cárcamo, Communications Coordinator in Rural Guatemala.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Meet Angel, from Manila, Philippines

We recently asked Angel what makes her happy. Here's what she shared:

"My parents make me happy. They tell me stories. They take care of me. The gifts I receive from my sponsor make me happy too. My sponsor cares for me like my parents. And I am very happy because I have many people who love me."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Before and After: Feels like Home

You may remember reading about Jim Cook’s trip to India in his March blogs. Visiting sponsored child Shuva Khanra and his family was just one of several important stops along the way.

Strong storms during the monsoon season had damaged many homes, including Shuva’s. Knowing the instability of their home, Nilima, Shuva’s mother, kept her guard up and instructed her children to sleep under their bed on one particularly stormy night. Rain poured in and the very wall that the children slept next to collapsed. Thanks to their mother’s foresight the children were unharmed, but their home was a wreck. The family was forced to construct a temporary shelter to live in.

Not long after, they received wonderful news - Children International would build them a new home thanks to a donation from Gastinger Walker Harden Architects- and best of all, Nilima would no longer have to worry about her children’s safety.

Jim Cook visited the happy family halfway through the construction.

In April this family’s dreams came true when they were finally able to move into their new stable home thanks to the caring donors.

Photos and reporting assistance by Nivedita Moitra, Communications Coordinator in India.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Bloggers on a Mission: Meet Liliam Lissette

Liliam is 12 years old and lives with her parents and her brother in Guayaquil, Ecuador. She has been waiting for a sponsor for over three years.

Liliam’s dad works as a street vendor, and the family struggles to survive on the barely $100 a month he’s able to earn. But in spite of her family’s difficult situation, Liliam loves to sing and dance and works hard on her studies.

We’re calling on our family of blog readers to help us get the word out about Liliam. Take a look at her picture and think of a friend, relative or coworker who might like to be her sponsor…and then have them contact us at We’ll take care of the rest!


Friday, August 1, 2008

Faces of Joy

While sponsored children may be in dire need and condition with very limited choices in life, faces of joy are seen in every visit to the community center: whether it be in receiving gifts such as shoes below…

Waiting for a vaccine…

Receiving a birthday gift from a sponsor…

Writing letters of gratitude to sponsors…

Braving the needle during vaccination…

Or simply enjoying meals during the Feeding Program…

Posted on behalf of Margaret Cruz from Children International’s Quezon City Agency. Photos by Margaret Cruz.