Friday, October 31, 2008

The Hoarse Drum

This is the fourth and final legend from the field in our series of Halloween stories. Andrés Barreno, Communications Coordinator brings us a tale from Quito, Ecuador.

In the dark of night the drum produces a hoarse, distant sound, usually accompanied by the melancholic sound of a small flute. It announces the beginning and the end of the procession of doomed souls and demons who travel south through small Andean towns to the highlands of Ecuador. Two ghosts dressed in red play the drum as a coffin and packs of howling dogs follow.

Sounds of the drum can be heard from far away, warning those who wander the night to beware and return to their homes as quickly as possible. If they fail to heed the warning, they could be taken by the souls of those who have risen from their graves. Some people even say that the devil himself plays the hoarse drum...

Let this be a warning to all those sponsors who wish to visit their sponsored children in Ecuador. Enjoy your time with your child in the daylight, but when darkness falls and the faint sound of drumming can be heard in the distance, make haste back to your hotel room and lock the door behind you. The hoarse drum is calling, and the doomed souls have come out to play.

Have a safe and happy Halloween from all of us at Children International!

The picture (courtesy of Nicolás Herrera at depicts the funeral procession of the hoarse drum.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

An Unexpected Visitor

You may know by now that in preparation for Halloween, we asked all of our Communications Coordinators to send us scary tales from their countries. Our Communications Coordinator in Quezon City, Philippines, Margaret Tadeja-Cruz didn’t have a story to share, but she did send us two very interesting photos.

Margaret tells us that a couple of months ago she went to one of Children International's community centers in Quezon City to take photos of Rovelyn, a young sponsored girl who dances. It was about 7 o’clock at night and there was no one around except the guard and two other people who were sitting down outside. The community center was closed, and the children you see inside the community center in the second picture are actually statues. She began snapping pictures of Rovelyn standing in front of the door of the center, and she ended up capturing something she cannot explain...

Who’s the girl standing behind Rovelyn in the first picture? (Click the photos to enlarge.) Was it just someone walking by that Margaret didn’t notice or is the community center haunted? You be the judge.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Veiled Lady

A legend submitted by Communications Coordinator, Patricia Huerta.

Circa 1700, Guayaquil, Ecuador: She is never seen before midnight. Where did she come from? Nobody knows, but any man wandering around at night is sure to see her walking just six feet ahead of him, close, but unattainable. Although her face is always wrapped in a veil or shawl, anyone can tell she is beautiful, and as she walks, the soft scent of flowers follows.

Every Casanova, old or young, feels irresistibly attracted to her and inspired to tell her some flattering words. Yet she walks ahead, as he follows her footsteps… walking and walking, she never changes her pace, walking in a steady rhythm. No matter how fast he walks, he can never reach her. Under the influence of her charm, he pursues her. Expertly traversing alleyways and crossing streets, the starched fabric of her skirt swooshes in the darkness. She invites him to follow her by simply nodding her lovely head.

A vision only for her pursuer, no one else sees her. He follows her, hypnotized, not knowing where they are going. Then suddenly, the veiled lady stops, and with military precision, she turns around and uncovers her face. The beautiful face with its porcelain complexion and sparkling eyes stare back at the man. But in an instant the magnificent features melt into a cadaverous skull and her flowery perfume is replaced with the smell of decay. “Now that you can see what I am, follow me if you will,” she tells him.

She quickly turns around and vanishes into an old abandoned house. Paralyzed and trembling, her pursuer stands in the darkness, terrified and confused.

Legend has it that this lost soul was once a beautiful woman who gave into the sins of the flesh. In her death she walks the streets at night searching for an eligible suitor.

Portrait by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, courtesy of

Monday, October 27, 2008

More Scary Legends from the Field

In honor of Halloween, we’ve asked our Communications Coordinators to send us spooky legends from their countries that have been scaring generation after generation. Javier Cárcamo, Communications Coordinator in Rural Guatemala, brings you the first in a series of frightening and mysterious tales:


Hundreds of years ago in colonial times, a beautiful woman came to the quiet streets of Antigua Guatemala. Her long black hair and big eyes caught the attention of all the neighbors, but nobody knew her or why she was living alone in that old house.

Shortly thereafter she introduced herself as Manuelita, and her reputation as a witch and healer grew. Her remedies were very effective and the people would see her gathering herbs and colored candles to carry out her rituals.

Despite her success as a healer, one of her clients went to the Governor and accused her of witchcraft and casting curses. Because of this accusation, she was put on trial in the Court of the Holy Inquisition, and sentenced to burn alive in the town’s central square. She was taken to the jail as she waited for her punishment, but as Christmas was nearing, her execution was postponed until the first week of January.

Despite her imprisonment the beautiful woman did not show any signs of anxiety, and on the night of December 24, Manuelita humbly begged the prison guard for one last favor. She asked for a piece of coal. Touched by the sadness in the woman’s eyes, the prison guard could not refuse her request, and he handed her a small lump of coal.

As legend goes, Manuelita took the coal and, murmuring secret conjurations, she drew a ship on the wall. Mysteriously, she boarded the ship and sailed between the bars of her cell, leaving nothing behind except the drawing of the ship on the wall...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hope for Wilmer

You may remember reading about Wilmer in the blog post “Sixteen to Life.” While his mother was in jail, Wilmer was forced to quit school and struggled to take care of his younger sisters.

I remember interviewing this family in Honduras. In a small, resigned voice Wilmer told us about the days they went hungry and how alone they felt while their mother was away. As the interview came to an end, I urged Wilmer to go to the Children International community center just five minutes away from his home and enroll for sponsorship. He took that to mean that his sisters could be sponsored. When I explained that he could be sponsored too and might have the possibility of returning to school, his sad eyes lit up a little. But then he said something that broke my heart. “I’ll have to ask my mother.” I knew what those words meant. My eyes welled with tears and I had to excuse myself for a moment. I was losing hope for him or his sisters ever enjoying the benefits of sponsorship that could ease some of their hardships. We thanked them for their time, and I slowly walked away from their home feeling sad and defeated.

I still think about Wilmer and his sisters. A story like theirs is not easily forgotten. I looked up his record the other day just to see if he’d taken that one crucial step, and there it was, staring at me on the computer screen. At the urging of our field staff, Wilmer finally made his way to the community center and enrolled himself for sponsorship.

It may have taken Wilmer a while to go to the community center and enroll, but it didn’t take long for Wilmer and his little sisters to find sponsors. In fact, when I told our new writer, Garrett Kenyon, about Wilmer's story, he immediately decided to make Wilmer his very first sponsored child. I’m sure things will still be difficult for Wilmer and his siblings, but knowing that they are sponsored renews my hope that their lives might just be a little bit better.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Second Chances

Posted on behalf of Vong Hamilton, proofreader for Children International.

I don’t remember much of anything of that time or place as I was only 3. However, one scene stays in my mind and I recall it often – not sure if it is a real memory or a byproduct of storytelling.

But I am leaving a village through a thick cloud of dust…I drag along behind my parents and brothers as part of a large migration out of a refugee camp. Lining the road are grass huts with people everywhere; some clothed, others naked – exiled by the Vietnam War.

Despite the excitement of those hustling to leave, melancholy saturates the air and settles heavily on the shoulders of those left behind. I look back and see an elderly man sitting on the ground with a haunting look on his face, sadness and hopelessness emanating from the black beads of his eyes. And I suddenly feel overwhelmed with sorrow because I know his life will probably end in the loneliness of the camp...his joy taken from him to accept, in his last days, grief that only a refugee can experience.

And I think about where I am today and how fortunate I am for my parents’ love, sacrifice and courage. Not yet 30 with four kids (and my mother pregnant!), they were stripped of the only home they’d known and ushered into a foreign land with a different culture and a mammoth language barrier.

But they lived one day at a time, looking to the future, yet also honoring the past, and slowly acquired new dreams. They were lucky enough to get a second chance. And today, it is because of that second chance, for which I am appreciative every day, that I could give something back to the world by playing a part, albeit minor, in bringing someone else hope.

The children and their families from our sponsorship program epitomize the strength, determination and hopefulness exhibited by my parents and other survivors (from any war in history) who try to make each day count.

I believe in the work of Children International and the hope it brings to the children and families around the world who didn’t choose to live a life of poverty but are all holding out for that second chance. And with the continuous help of our devoted supporters, we all can contribute to helping give someone a second chance at life.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Blog Action Day: The Results

Thanks to everyone who participated in Blog Action Day whether by simply viewing our blog and slideshow, sharing our message with friends or sponsoring a child. Five fortunate special needs children found sponsors, and with the support of their sponsors, these children will receive the care they need.

Kelly and I would like to extend a special thanks to Cathy, Brandye, Heather and Alice who generously requested to sponsor a special needs child. Your sponsorship and kindness will help to make a difference in their lives.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


All right…listen up, everybody!!! :)

We still need to find sponsors for 13 of the special needs kids featured in our slideshow, “Don’t Look Away.”

And once we find sponsors for all of them, there are still several thousand other special needs children we can help.


We’ve decided to extend Blog Action Day. And, we’ve also decided to up the stakes a bit!

Anyone who sponsors a special needs child through Children International between now and the end-of-day on Friday (tomorrow), October 17, will receive a FREE Children International t-shirt! Sponsor several special needs children, get one t-shirt for each one you sponsor!

To qualify, you must email us at once the new sponsorship has been set up. Let us know you’ve sponsored, and be sure and include your t-shirt size. We’ll take it from there.

Since a number of people may call about the same child, we can’t guarantee the availability of any particular child until you call. So don’t wait – call 1-800-888-3089 now!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blog Action Day: October 15!

[Lea este artículo en español]

Thank you for joining Children International for Blog Action Day! On this day, thousands of bloggers around the world are coming together to take action against poverty. Please read CI writer Garrett Kenyon's urgent message below...and then take action.

Write this number down: 1-800-888-3089.

Now, Picture This...

AIDS, epilepsy, sickle-cell, Down syndrome: these are just a few of the afflictions that haunt the slums and villages where Children International works. As a newcomer to CI, it’s nearly impossible for me to fully comprehend what it means to live in abject poverty. Without experiencing it firsthand, I’ll never truly know what it’s like to struggle for my life every single day. But in order to help these children, it’s necessary first to understand the obstacles that stand in their way.

It’s not easy. Close your eyes and try to imagine what it’s like for a child with a debilitating disease to live in devastating poverty. To exist in the middle of a desperate struggle for survival in which you cannot participate. Seeing your family members (if you’re lucky) forgo their own needs to fulfill yours. That’s the reality thousands of kids face every morning when they open their eyes. For them, there is no escape, no choice in the matter.

Fortunately, we do have a choice. We can come together to right this wrong.

Click here to view our featured slideshow.

Join the Fight

Here are two ways we can take action today:

1. Make a donation – donations help pay for doctor’s visits, medicine, emergency food and other provisions these kids urgently need.

2. Sponsor a child – become a hero to one of these children by sponsoring them for just $22 a month.

Call 1-800-888-3089 now to let us know how you would like to help. Be sure to mention Blog Action Day to the Sponsor Services representative who assists you; and if you'd like to sponsor one of the children featured in the slideshow, please mention this as well.

Whether you decide to make a one-time donation or sponsor one of these special needs children, your contribution will be greatly appreciated. Our Sponsor Services staff is standing by to take your call!

If you are calling from outside the U.S., please call 816-942-2000.

¡El 15 de octubre es el Día de Acción Contra la Pobreza -- El Día de Acción Blog 2008!

[See this post in English]

¡Gracias por unirse a Children International para el Día de Acción Blog! En este día, miles de blogueros alrededor del mundo se unen para tomar acción contra la pobreza. Por favor lea el mensaje urgente de abajo, de parte del escritor Garrett Kenyon, de Children International...y luego entre en acción.

Apunte este número: 1-800-888-3089.

Ahora, imagine esto...

El SIDA, la epilepsia, la anemia falciforme, el síndrome de Down: éstas son solamente algunas de las muchas aflicciones que abundan en los barrios marginados y las aldeas donde trabaja Children International. Como empleado nuevo de CI, para mí es casi imposible comprender plenamente lo que significa vivir en una pobreza extrema. Sin presenciarla en persona, nunca sabré cómo se siente luchar por mi vida cada día. Pero para ayudar a estos niños, primero es necesario entender los obstáculos que impiden su progreso.

No es fácil. Cierre sus ojos y trate de imaginar lo que siente un niño con una enfermedad debilitante al vivir en una pobreza devastadora. Cómo se siente existir en medio de una desesperada lucha por sobrevivir en la cual usted no puede participar. El ver a sus familiares (si tiene la dicha) hacer enormes sacrificios para satisfacer las necesidades de usted. Ésta es la realidad que miles de niños enfrentan cada mañana al abrir sus ojos. Para ellos, no hay escape ni opciones.

Afortunadamente, nosotros sí tenemos una opción. Podemos unirnos para corregir este mal.

Pulse aquí para ver nuestro ensayo fotográfico especial.

Únase a la lucha

A continuación, dos maneras en las que podemos actuar hoy:

1. Haciendo una donación – Las donaciones ayudan a pagar las visitas médicas, los medicamentos, los alimentos de emergencia y otras provisiones que estos niños necesitan con urgencia.

2. Apadrinando un niño – conviértase en el héroe de uno de estos niños al apadrinarlo por sólo $22 al mes.

Llame al 1-800-888-3089 ahora (816-942-2000 fuera de los EE.UU.) para hacernos saber cómo usted desea ayudar. Asegúrese de mencionar al representante de Servicios a Padrinos que le atiende que usted está llamando respecto al Día de Acción Blog; y si usted desea apadrinar a uno de los niños destacados en el ensayo fotográfico, por favor mencione esto también.

Ya sea haciendo una donación, apadrinando a un niño con necesidades especiales, o ambas donación será muy apreciada. ¡Nuestro personal de Servicios a Padrinos está esperando para atender a su llamada!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Countdown to Action

In just two short days we will ask our Children International blog readers to join us for Blog Action Day. United with over 8,000 other bloggers around the world, this day is our opportunity to do something to make a difference in the global fight against poverty.

Wednesday you will be able to view a blog and slideshow with just a few of the many children who face not only the hardships that poverty places upon them, but must also deal with physical and or mental disabilities and diseases.

If you haven’t already shared our commitment to helping poor children with your friends and family, now is the perfect time. Please join us on Wednesday as we take action to help these special children.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Just for Grins, Part 3

Nebel's Notes

"You know, Sarah....There's an easier way to do these blog posts!"

* * *

Meet Nebel:

Hi, blog readers. I hope you’ve enjoyed my sketches.

Although I work as a translator for CI, I find myself doodling every now and then in my spare time. Sarah and Kelly somehow found this out and graciously asked me to create and share some illustrations with you.

I’ve been wearing down pencils and drying up pens since I was about 3 years old. That being said, I don’t consider myself artist; from my point of view, I merely possess an inherent affinity towards illustration, one that I’m happy to use now as it relates to CI and child sponsorship.

Comments and/or suggestions are always welcome!

©2008 Children International. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Just for Grins, Part 2

Nebel's Notes
©2008 Children International. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Just for Grins

Nebel's Notes

“Great, Honey. Time to start packing again.”

David Nebel has worked as a translator for Children International since 2005. Raised in Honduras and the United States, David holds a degree in Art History from Tulane University and is a talented artist and illustrator. We’ll be featuring sponsorship-related cartoons from David all week, so keep checking back…and feel free to comment. David will be thrilled to “meet” you here on the blog.

©2008 Children International. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Your Chance to Help

October 15 is a big day…a day known as “Blog Action Day.”

In recent years the world has come to recognize the power of the blog. And this year, bloggers from around the world are joining forces to combat world poverty.

We know we aren’t going to fix the poverty problem in a single day, with a single event – nevertheless, we’re convinced we can make a real difference for quite a few needy children.

Children International has been invited to participate in Blog Action Day, and we’re excited about it. As our contribution to the event, we’ve decided to focus on one of the neediest of all sectors of the world’s impoverished population: children with special needs.

If you’ve been one of our readers for very long, you know we have a great big soft spot in our hearts for children with special needs. We’ve identified several thousand of these kids in the communities where we work – children with disabilities ranging from Down syndrome to critical heart problems, sickle-cell anemia or even AIDS.

We’ll be asking specifically for our readers to consider either making a donation to help these children or sponsoring a special-needs child – or both. And we’ll be standing by to help you do it.

Please join our effort. Between now and October 15, please make your friends and coworkers aware of what Children International plans to do. Let them know CI is a reliable organization with a track record of helping children around the world for over 70 years. Let them know we work with over 300,000 children…and ask them to get involved.

Our new writer, Garrett Kenyon, is passionate about this project. Beginning October 14 and continuing through October 16, he will be issuing a special call to action…so stay tuned.

On October 15 we’re going to help change somebody’s world.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Making Memories at the Community Center

Q: Tell me your favorite memory about coming to the community center.

A: When I came here the first time they were delivering school supplies. It was incredible to see that all the notebooks, pencils, erasers and other things we need for school were just handed to us by Children International. And when I received my schoolbag, I couldn’t believe it. It was very nice.

Photo and reporting assistance by Jesús Almendárez, Communications Coordinator in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.