Monday, July 30, 2012

Corresponding with your Godchild!

The children eagerly await any correspondence from their Godparents. We strongly encourage letter writing as it helps create a special loving relationship. Even short notes will elicit a smile from your Godchild. 

To send a card or letter, simply place it in an unsealed envelope and mark it with your Godchild’s full name, country and your name. (Please do not put return addresses on the envelopes.) Then place the unsealed envelope and its contents into another envelope and mail it as follows: Child’s Full Name c/o Friends of the Orphans 134 North LaSalle Street Suite 500 Chicago, IL 60602-1036. 

We will have your message translated if necessary, before sending it on to the NPH home of your child. Please allow 10-16 weeks for return correspondence from your Godchild. 

Here are some writing tips

  • Keep your letters simple. 
  • Write about things your Godchild will understand, such as family, pets, hobbies and activities. 
  • Encourage your child’s learning activities and special interests such as art, dance and sports. 
  • Emphasize things you have in common. As time goes on, you will discover shared interests, perhaps a favorite school subject or a love of music. Because of your significance in the life of the child you sponsor, these common interests will enhance the child’s self-esteem. 
  • Please avoid discussing material possessions, which will emphasize differences. 
  • Send pictures of yourself and your family. Such photographs will become prized possessions. 
  • Send postcards or photos of where you live and places you have visited. Postcards and photos are fun and educational for your Godchild. However, please help us safeguard your family’s privacy—do not include any direct contact information (including but not limited to: home, work or e-mail addresses) anywhere in your correspondence. 
  • Flat paper items are the only things we can forward to your Godchild. Bookmarks, pages from coloring books, stickers, flat magnets, photos, postcards and prayer cards are all acceptable. Items such as jewelry or anything that changes the shape of the envelope can be confiscated by customs officials in other countries. 

For more information on corresponding, including phrases in Spanish/Creole, please visit or call 1-866-690-1703. 

Thank you for being a sponsor!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Great Friend, Tricia Daly, awarded for her above and beyond work!

We are thrilled to announce our long time volunteer and Friend, Tricia Daly as one of the 20 recipients of 2012 Outstanding Nurses Award, given by the Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. Readers were asked to nominate nurses who go above and beyond the call of duty in all areas of health care. Over 100 nominations were reviewed and Tricia was chosen to be one of the “Best of the Best”.

Tricia is currently a Registered nurse working in United Hospital with Allina Health. She is quoted in the article to say:

“I strive to do little things every day. Whether that means reassuring an anxious patient or bringing a patient a warm blanket, I make a conscious effort to make them feel someone truly cares.”

“My inclination to care for others extends beyond the hospital. I travel to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, twice a year with medical-surgical brigades at the Holy Family Surgery Center located on the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos Orphanage. I’ve cultivated a love for other cultures and fervor for serving marginalized citizens who need quality health care.”

Tricia has a true passion for others and we are so lucky to call her a Friend. 

Please join us in congratulating Tricia Daly as one of the top 20 nurses in the Twin Cities.
To read more about the 20 recipients of the 2012 Outstanding Nurses Award, visit Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's amazing how universal a smile or laugh can be...

Below is a blog post from Upper Midwest volunteer, Katie! She shares about her trip to visit NPH Guatemala and how it inspired her to do some of her own fundraising back home! 

Last June, I was privileged enough to travel down to Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos in Guatemala with my church sponsored youth group. The nine days that I spent at the orphanage were ones that I will never forget. When we first arrived onto the orphanage grounds, we were greeted by the hundreds of kids cheering and clapping complete with a full marching band. I had never in my life been more overwhelmed than I was at that moment. The kids were patting the bus as it rode in, and as soon as my feet hit the ground I was bombarded with hugs. 

The next few days I met young boys and girls with such vibrant personalities and good-natured humor that I was never without a smile on my face. I met María, who was a strong young girl that could hold her own in a fútbol match with the boys. I also met Pablo, who had a fascination with photography and loved to take silly pictures of himself. Then there was Alejandro, or Ale Flo as he called himself, who dreamed of becoming a DJ when he was older. I also was able to spend time with some of the special needs kids of the orphanage. We went horse back riding with them on a trail in the local village of Parramos. I was surprised at how easy it was communicating with all of the kids, with my little Spanish and their little English--it's amazing how universal a smile or laugh can be. 

When I was given the option to participate in another mission trip to various other locations in Central America, there was no hesitation in my choice to return to NPH Guatemala. I will be returning this summer, and every day I look forward to it. This year when I go down I will be able to meet Wilson, a child that my family began to sponsor after I returned from my first trip. 

I also was motivated to do some fundraising for NPH, and this winter I raised over $650 for the orphanage and also helped my youth group in furthering our coffee sales to fund the upcoming trip. Traveling to Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos truly changed my outlook on life, and it is a mission I see myself supporting for many years to come!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

"The children's pain is washed away because of others' love for them."

Below is a letter great Friend, Madison, wrote to Friends of the Orphans on the last night of her mission trip.

Thank you for this opportunity to witness and take part in this amazing experience. At first I didn't know what to expect; speaking a different language and traveling alone (without my parents or family) to another country was a very large leap to take in my life. Now, I've never been to such an amazing place. Some call it home, others, it is the last place left in the world for them to go; it is like a passage into a new life; and some like to think of it as the answer to their prayers. NPH has changed me as a person, throughout my heart, soul and mind.

I am now fully understanding of how thankful and gracious I should be for what I receive, my family, my belongings, my home, my life. When some people say they are thankful for these things, they don't understand what it really means. Once you go through and witness the life of the pequenos, you may not look at life the same way as before. This happened to me. I don't feel bad for them, only what they have gone through because the place they are at now is almost magical. The sun shines on the trees' leaves and creates a mystical glow, the bright flowers float to the ground, the smiles and laughter of the children must make God smile as well, birds singing their bountiful tunes and the triumphant wings of butterflies. The children's pain is washed away because of others' love for them. I thank you so much for this.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

“Do you have a letter for me?”

Bill Griffin is a member of the Northwest Regional Board. He and his wife, Cathy, have sponsored their Godson, Erick, for 14 years. They both volunteer locally for Friends and have hosted pequeños from NPH in their home a number of times. Bill was inspired to write this blog post by the many sponsors who tell him they have never written to their Godchildren because they don’t know what to write. 

Can you take a few minutes and write a letter to make your Godchild very happy? 

Our Godchild, Erick, from Honduras, was just 10 years old. He could barely read or write. How were we supposed to write a letter to him? 

So we sent a short letter about our kids and dog. A few months passed and we received a very simple drawing, signed “Erick.” So we wrote back thanking him for his drawing, asking about his life at the Ranch. We also sent a picture of his photo mounted on our refrigerator, so that he knew he was part of our family. A few months later, we received another drawing with some words. We did not understand how important these letters were to Erick – that some strangers really cared about him. We treasure his first “art/letters” to us. 

We began to receive his report cards. He was struggling with life and school. Our next letters told him how proud and excited we were because he was working so hard, even though those math and English classes were really tough. We started asking all kinds of questions about his life and interests: about school, how many classes each day? Does he play soccer? Like music? Any special ceremonies, birthdays, holidays – how did they celebrate? What chores did he have to do? 

After a few years, Erick’s letters started to get a little longer, although he didn’t feel any real urge to use spaces, capitals or periods. It was a challenge for the translators. 

We try to send photos or some funny animal picture along with our letters. Photos would be of just the family eating, or kids hanging out together or maybe some sights around the area or the local school, or the dog, etc. 

We would always try to explain how he is part of our life: his picture on the refrigerator, saying “Good Morning” to him while getting ready for the day, letting him know that family, friends and neighbors are asking about how he was doing, etc. Erick took woodworking classes and also has some artistic abilities. He tells us about his projects. He has become a leader and is a very good example for the kids because he understands where they are coming from. 

Last year, Erick took off a wooden cross that he had carved and always wore and gave it to one of the Friends of the Orphans staff [who visited the Ranch] to give to us. Recently, he was having some girlfriend problems and asked us for advice on how to handle it! 

No, we have never met Erick in person, but it just shows how important your letters and caring can be. Even if you have never written, write a letter today. 

Your letters to them are like long-distance hugs! 

Just ask about their daily lives. Tell them about your lives. Ask them to write to you because you really treasure their letters. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

“We are called to LOVE and BE LOVED by doing SMALL THINGS with GREAT LOVE.” –Mother Teresa

My name is Sara Joyce and I’ve been an employee of Friends of the Orphans for a little over a year. When I jumped on board, I knew the work we were doing was both necessary and good. Though sitting behind a desk eight hours every day and having this head knowledge, I was still unable to see clearly the impact that each one of us in the Friends/NPH family truly makes in the lives of these individual children. 

The last week in March I had the privilege of traveling to NPH Honduras with a group of seminarians and students from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. This trip surpassed my wildest expectations. I could tell you extensively about the beautiful children, the wonderful staff, and volunteers that I met, but I’d prefer to tell you my favorite story: That of my encounter with one particular child, mi ahijado (my godchild), Osman Ariel Aguilar Avila. 

As I walked along a path at “The Ranch,” I came across a boy who seemed to be crying. Internally I debated: Do I stop? Should I keep walking? Is my Spanish good enough to get me through figuring out what’s going on with this kid? Without really thinking what this interaction would actually look like, I stopped. At that moment, I had no idea the effect that miniscule decision would have. After inquiring and consoling him in my arms while he explained his various ailments to me, his tears dried up and looking me right in the eyes he said, “Como se llama usted (What is your name)?” 

He wanted to know everything about me. Where was I from? How old was I? Why was I visiting Honduras? My favorite color…and the list went on. As we walked and talked while I quizzed him on English (and he tested my Spanish skills), I asked him my own list of questions about himself and as I did his smile grew more radiant. You see, not only did he want to know about me, but he also wanted to be known and he rejoiced in the opportunity. At one point he asked me, “Eres mi madrina?” Without giving it a second thought I told him yes, that now I was his godmother. Never in my life have I seen a more beautiful, pure, and joyful smile than I did at that moment. 

The next three days I spent nearly every waking hour with Osman. I ate lunch in his hogar (the house he lives in with the other 12-13 year old boys). I helped him with chores, we walked together, went to Mass together, played together, we laughed, and had wonderful conversation. I found out that Osman’s father had died recently, his mother abandoned him, and his sister was too poor and sick to care for him. But, interacting with this beautiful 12 year old boy, you would never guess that the slightest thing was troubling him. I also found out how compassionate, caring, intelligent, and funny he is. In spending three days with Osman, my heart was stretched. He taught me about selflessness, about sacrificing for someone else’s good, about joy in the midst of suffering, and about hope. 

Before we said our final farewells we exchanged letters and bracelets. I told Osman how much I loved him, would miss him, how special he was, and that he had the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen. Graciously he said thank you, cried again in my arms, and reciprocated the sentiments. While saying good-bye to him left me with a heavy heart, I left knowing that he is surrounded by a family that gives him an opportunity to love and to be loved daily. And while I said my farewell to him, I know that it was not a final good-bye, but “hasta luego (see you later).” Though I may not be able to visit NPH Honduras as soon or often as I would like, I am able to continue being a real part of his life since returning to the States by sponsoring him. 

I may not be able to sustain the entire orphan home in Honduras financially or interact with Osman on a daily basis, but I give as I can. That’s what it’s about—letting the love we encounter in these children permeate every other aspect of our lives. By sponsoring Osman I am able to remain in contact with him, be a support who he knows cares deeply about him, encourage him to be the best that he can, and challenge him to love more intensely. And while in some way I do all of these things, the gift that Osman gives to me is far greater than that, and something I will never take for granted. We can each do our part, and while this looks different for each of us, I invite you to ask yourself the question: How can I make a difference in the life of a child in need?