children in poverty

After School Education Program Equips Vulnerable Students to Succeed

Keyling is a student who has grown in self-confidence and improved performance in reading and math

The ORPHANetwork Local Church Initiative (LCI) After School Education Program (ASEP) builds upon the platform of health that our LCIs establish through nourishing meals and routine nutritional assessments. The purpose of the ASEP is to provide our children the skills and strategies needed to learn and advance in the public school system and break the cycle of poverty in their lives.

The broad goals of the program are to:

  • Increase student aptitude and capacity while developing their faith in Jesus
  • Improve student academic performance in reading and math
  • Educate parents regarding their responsibility to participate in their children’s development and educational success

 

Instruction takes place Monday through Thursday, 2 hours per day for a total of eight hours per week for the 2-3 levels (depending on needs) of instruction.

The first parents’ meeting at Keyling’s LCI

 

Parent Involvement: 

The program strategically includes parents so that they can be empowered to take an active role in their child’s education. Parent workshops help parents learn how to support their children’s learning and parents have shared positive changes they’ve witnessed in their children, like better behavior and more self-confidence, since joining the program.

Last year the ASEP was piloted in 8 LCIs, impacting 300 students. In 2017, the program will reach 800 students in 16 LCIs!

 

The first mini-library was resourced from an elementary school in Jacksonville, IL!

 

Would you like to help a child break the cycle of poverty through our LCI ASEP? Each of our locations needs a mini-library and at a cost of $1,200, what a great thing to involve your friends and family in through a peer-to-peer fundraiser!

Check out our online fundraising tool here, and please let us know if we can help you along the way!

 

 

 

Our Angel “Angelita”

Angela Del Socorro Castro copyAngela’s story could be considered one of abandonment, disease and death, but that’s just not how our Creator works. God designed Angela’s story to be one of Forgiveness, Courage and Faith. Her story is not only her own, but also the entire home of 80 children at el Canyon and loving staff as well as our ORPHANetwork Nica staff who have walked along side her in this past year during her inspiring fight against cancer.

Late last year, Angela’s mother abandoned her at the hospital – she was 14 years old and undergoing chemotherapy for a rare cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma, most commonly occurring in children.

Mi Familia (similar to social services in the US) presented her case to the staff at El Canyon, and in December they took on the daunting challenge of caring for an abandoned teenager with cancer. Weekly doctor visits, surgeries, and discouraging reports from the doctors were overshadowed by Angela’s fighting spirit. Cinthia, the home’s director shared this earlier in the year, “Angela is a warrior, always facing things with great Faith that God will completely heal her. She has many plans for the future and although her family abandoned her in the hospital, she does not harbor resentments and she forgives them.”

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 NIV

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Angela with Home Director, Carolina, in April 2016

While God’s plan did not encompass healing Angela from cancer, He did design her time at the home to unite the children and staff, inspiring them to live life fully and unselfishly. “Everyone here has felt the presence of God in our lives, allowing us to accompany her in this battle, she has united us as a family. Our hearts are grateful for what we have; we have learned to be less selfish, which fills us with much joy and peace. We are very grateful for all of the signs of affection and solidarity that have been given to “Angelita” and to us in these difficult times. The prayers, the visits and everyone’s concern has been very comforting to us.” ~ Cinthia, Director of El Canyon

 

We would like to extend a very special thank you to our church partners at Dulles Community Church (VA) for making some really special celebrations possible this year at El Canyon. A formal Quinceñera party for Angela and all of the girls who celebrated this big day in 2016 and also a very special surprise Titanic movie party for her 15th birthday in which Angela was dressed like a princess.  Our partners at Grace City (MD) also supported the staff at el Canyon to provide specialized counsel from a Child Life Specialist from Johns Hopkins.

Angela

Angelita, you have touched the hearts of so many people. Thank you for teaching us how to better love each other. We know you are living a beautiful, pain free life in Heaven with our Father God.

Angela del Socorro Castro García

August 25, 2001-November 1, 2016

Hillier Ignite & Zac Brown Band “Fired Up” Virginia Beach

M23A0011In 2015, Hillier Ignite wanted to expand their footprint into Rivas, Nicaragua and the first annual Ignite the Night Party was born. One month later 3,000 vulnerable children were being nourished through the local Nicaraguan church!

Hillier Ignite’s vision for a Hope and a Future for each of these children led them to pull out all the stops for 2016’s party and team up with the legendary Zac Brown Band. Together they Fired Up! Virginia Beach with a private concert that raised almost $200,000 for our children!

Thanks to this incredible night, not only will these children to continue to be nourished, but many of these Local Church Initiatives will launch deeper levels of holistic care designed to fight malnourishment and give children a healthy start in life. 

Thank you to Melissa J. Davis Photography and Kimberly Florence Photography for volunteering your time and talents to photograph the evening!

Music Sponsors with Zac Brown Band Before the Show

Friends Enjoying the Atmosphere and the Silent Auction

“White Carpet” Moments

Guava Jam – Opened and Closed the Evening

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Luke Hillier Sharing His Heart for Rivas, Nicaragua

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Zac Brown Band Plays An Awesome Hour and a Half SetHillier Ignite Zac Brown Band July 302

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Hillier Ignite Zac Brown Band July 304

Thank you Hillier Ignite, Chesapeake Bay Catering and Our ONET Volunteers for Not Letting the Rain Dampen Your Spirits!

Check out Hillier Ignite on Facebook or Instagram to see all photos from the unforgettable 2nd annual Ignite the Night event.

Trauma Informed Care Training with LAMb International

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This image is used simply to give context to the story, this is not the child referenced in the example.

From the outside she looks like a sweet and somewhat shy 11-year-old girl, for the sake of privacy we’ve changed her name to “Cinthia.” Her story is an all too familiar one for many of the rescued children who find refuge at one of our six partner orphanage homes across Nicaragua.

When her caregivers first met Cinthia they saw a child who needed a shower, clean clothes and a pair of shoes. They knew it would be tough to get her acclimated to school because she tells them she’s never been before. As they do with each child in their care, they welcomed her with open arms and prayed for the Lord’s blessing over Cinthia’s adjustment into her new home.

However, soon the child’s night terrors begin wreaking havoc on her and the 10 other girls she shares a room with. Her caregiver spends hours each night trying to comfort her back to sleep. During the day, she is anxious, she has no desire to care for personal hygiene, she is not behaving in school and she refuses to do her work. Then the most concerning behavior sets in, she begins acting out in sexually inappropriate ways.

It is hard to imagine caring for one child exhibiting such behaviors, but imagine caring for 10-15 children, 24-7, and Cinthia’s behaviors are not limited to only herself. All too often, caregivers struggle to adequately care for traumatized children and are left feeling helpless, exhausted and defeated.

As part of a three year partnership with LAMb International to develop Caregiver skills, 60 caregivers, psychologists, social workers, and educators were recently certified in Trauma Informed Care. Check out LAMb’s blog posts about the Managua and Puerto Cabezas trainings that took place this Spring.

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The Goals of Trauma Informed Care are to provide children:
  • safety
  • permanency
  • well-being

The Skills of Trauma Informed Care:

  • Understand trauma’s impact
  • Maximize felt safety
  • Help child to manage emotions
  • Help child to manage behavior
  • Support Relationships
  • Help child to understand their life story
  • Personal self-care (caregiver)

Trauma Training2Caregivers learned when working with a traumatized child, it is critical to remember that all behavior has meaning.  During one of the exercises, caregivers identified the behaviors of traumatized children and then mapped out the known traumas the children had experienced. Looking back at “Cinthia,” these were some of her behaviors:

  • Night terrors
  • Self-neglect
  • Learning problems
  • Anxiety
  • Acting out in sexually inappropriate ways
  • low self-esteem

When mapping out her known traumas, this is what her caregivers were able to identify:

age 0-1  ages 2 – 5   ages 6 – 7  ages 8 – 10  age 11 
  • Living with stepfather addicted to drugs
  • Physical and emotional abuse
  • Moved to live with her maternal grandmother
  • Suffers abuse by Grandma
  • Returns with her mother and another stepfather at age 6
  • Sexually abused by a neighbor
  • Lives with Grandmother for 6 months and then returns to mother who has a new boyfriend
  • Sexually and physically abused by stepfather
  • Physically abused by her older sister
  • Moves to orphanage home

 

 

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Once identifying the traumas this child has endured and understanding the impact each trauma has on the life of a child, caregivers can develop a personalized plan for each traumatized child. This plan will help the child feel safe, feel permanency from their surroundings and stability from those caring for them, and foster a sense of well-being.

 

 

These are some of the strategies identified to help Cinthia reach these goals:

  • psychological help (comprehensive plan and follow up care)
  • Nutritional plan
  • Medical assessment
  • Develop skills to cope with anxiety
  • Attention to her personal needs
  • Spiritual development

This exercise opened the eyes of our partner home caregivers, social workers, psychologists and directors and it introduced practical strategies and tools to help them understand and navigate the emotional and behavioral needs of traumatized children.

“This is the best training we have had in years. We have started teaching the rest of our staff and we are reproducing the trauma training so we can all be on the same page. This way we can improve in how to better care for our kids.” – Ewner (Director, Arms of Love Orphanage Home)

The next caregiver training sessions will take place in September of 2016. Many thanks to our partners at Mission14 and Trinity Church for funding this incredible training.

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