vulnerable children


Equipping Caregivers with Trauma Informed Care Training

ORPHANetwork has partnered with LAMb International to train caregivers, social workers, psychologists and leaders to better understand and manage the impact of trauma on the lives of the children with whom they have responsibility. In addition, we are helping those caregivers and leaders who are personally experiencing the impact of secondary trauma in their own lives.

Participant feedback from 2016 allowed LAMb to hone in on specific issues facing our children and the caregivers who are raising them during our 4th training series which was conducted on both the east and west coasts in June. Below is an overview of the topics covered and the strategies developed:

  • A one-day learning lab was conducted to reinforce managing adolescents with trauma. Our Nicaraguan partners brought real cases of youth that they are working with and practiced team treatment planning to support the adolescents. This was an interactive day where treatment plans were developed, approved and there is a plan to implement them, reporting on results at our next training this fall.
    1. Each team conducted an evaluation of a child – behaviors (positive and negative), history, current relationships, trauma history.This information was handed off to another team to develop a plan for the child to meet their needs, develop trust and ensure that the child feels safe. The handoff was to illustrate the need to be comprehensive so that if outside psychologists, Mi Familia, etc. are brought in, they will have a full history and be able to make informed recommendations.

      An example is a 15 year old girl who experiences anger and impulsive behavior, low esteem and is verbally aggressive. Lacks social skills and anxiety. Her mother, a prostitute, had 10 children.   She was separated from her Mom as an infant and later from her siblings. She does see her siblings occasionally. She likes to help out at the home.

      The plan included:

      1. Work with her to develop a schedule to help her with life skills.

      2. Develop her leadership with activities such as cooking

      3. Maintain open communication

      4. Team will meet weekly to evaluate her progress using tools from training.

  • A one-day training was conducted on child sexual abuse – this was an introduction and we will go deeper at our fall training. The focus of the training was to orient the attendees to sexual abuse and the impact on the child. We reviewed the spectrum of behaviors that are considered sexual abuse, how sexual deviance occurs and we walked through the indicators of sexual abuse and the effect on children. In our fall training we will focus on strategies for supporting the sexually abused child. The teams will be developing “House Rules” to protect children from potential inappropriate behaviors.
  • Compassion Fatigue/Secondary Trauma Stress of the Caregiver/Worker – Anyone working with traumatized children is at high risk for secondary trauma. If this is not addressed it leads to ineffectiveness, burn out and potential health and psychological issues. Included in the training were self-assessments so that the individual could identify stressors and discussion of strategies that can be applied to the individual.

We are so thankful for our strategic partners at The Compass Church in Naperville, IL, for their investments that are making this invaluable training possible this year.

Coming in the Fall 2017

  • Child Sexual Abuse Part 2
  • Helping A Child Become More Resilient to the Impact of Trauma

Also available, our blog post from last year’s training with LAMb International. 


Penny Challenge Raises $2,300 for Books!

Each of our eleven After School Education Programs (ASEP) needs a mini-library of books to support the children’s pursuit of fundamental reading skills.  In one week, the children at Eisenhower Elementary in Jacksonville, IL raised $2,300 to help purchase books for our kids in Nicaragua! At a cost of $1,200 per mini-library their awesome work supplied two ASEPs with much needed books for their mini-libraries!

Feeling inspired to help a child in Nicaragua learn to read through our After School Education Program? You can launch a peer-to-peer fundraiser and help purchase books for mini-libraries too! Click here to learn more!

Blessing Mothers and Children through the Local Church

Yuneysi  has been attending the new Local Church Initiative (LCI) in La Dalia, Matagalpa for five months. This is what her mother, Yenling, shared about their experience so far :

As her mom I feel blessed because there are people who care about the children of the community. As her parents we did not have the money to provide a very nutritious meal to our daughter, just the basics (rice and beans). The medical team is often visiting the children so we are very lucky to have free medical care for our kids too. Read More

Welcome National Relationship Director, Chessney Barrick


We recently welcomed Chessney Barrick to our staff as National Relationship Director. Chessney comes to ORPHANetwork with 10 years of non-profit experience, having served as Director of Development and Marketing at Stop Hunger Now and as Founder of Fill the Bowls. Chessney has been serving as a volunteer with ORPHANetwork since 2007.

In this week’s post, we feature Chessney’s reflections on following her Calling to Nicaragua and her new role at ORPHANetwork.

In 2007 I traveled to Nicaragua as a student leader with my church. I had recently been hired as the Director of Development with Stop Hunger Now, a hunger relief organization. We witnessed the work ORPHANetwork was doing in impoverished communities to break the cycle of poverty.

A powerful collaborative partnership started to take shape, the goal was to get rice/soy fortified meals donated to support the development of a new ORPHANetwork feeding center program in a community serving 1,200 kids. In 2009, ORPHANetwork received its first shipment of 285,000 fortified rice meals to serve this one community. To date, ORPHANetwork’s feeding programs have evolved to 245 Local Church Initiatives serving more than 22,000 kids. To date, Stop Hunger Now has donated more than 6.2 million meals.

Each time I visited Nicaragua thereafter, I left awe-inspired. The impact of the ministry was clear, ORPHANetwork and its partners were changing the lives of children and creating new opportunities for their future. I challenged myself to consider making a decision on how I was going to commit both professionally and personally to this cause. I went from thinking about it to doing it.

This lead me to founding Fill the Bowls.

In the organization’s inaugural year we partnered with ORPHANetwork to launch four Life Changing Local Church Initiatives in Matagalpa, one of the least food secure regions of Nicaragua. We are delighted to report that 412 children are being nourished through daily hot meals, medical care, spiritual development and so much more.

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 3.58.02 PMGod has lead me every step of the way in this journey to answer His Call to serve children in Nicaragua.  He opened the door for me to go all-in. I am thrilled to serve as National Relationship Director for ORPHANetwork.  

ORPHANetwork partners with churches, non-profits, individual investors and families to build long-term relationships with national leaders, children and parents of each community we serve. Working together we address the specific needs of each community, continually working towards the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty through health, education and jobs.

God has answered my prayer.  He has used my journey over the past 10 years and more than 20 trips to Nicaragua to equip me to serve alongside the passionate ORPHANetwork staff and supporters who have dedicated their lives to this ministry.

Through committing myself to working with kids, I hope to encourage others to pour themselves into what matters most to them.  How will you go from thinking about it to doing it?

To learn how you can take action click here.

Brightest Blessings,


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